Founder & Executive Director, Operation Restoration
As Founder and Executive Director of Operation Restoration, Syrita Steib creates opportunities for formerly incarcerated women, eradicating the roadblocks she faced when returning to society after incarceration. After serving nearly 10 years in prison, she was released into a community vastly different than the one she left. Despite her academic accomplishments while incarcerated, Syrita was denied admission at the University of New Orleans due to the criminal history question. She reapplied, unchecked the box, was granted admission, and went on to earn her B.S. from Louisiana State University. Steib wrote and advocated for Louisiana Act 276, which prohibits public post-secondary institutions from asking questions relating to criminal history for purposes of admissions. Syrita has continued to work with advocates on the ground in five states to pass legislation to ban the box in college admissions.
Syrita has also helped draft and pass legislation in other states to support currently and formerly incarcerated women, including Louisiana. As a policy consultant for Cut50’s Dignity for Incarcerated Women campaign, she worked tirelessly on the passage of the First Step Act. Syrita regularly speaks at conferences across the nation about the experiences of incarcerated women. She has served as co-chair of the healthy families committee for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s transition team; was appointed to the Executive Board for Dillard University’s new Center for Racial Justice; was appointed by the governor to the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment oversight council; and was the vice chair of the Louisiana Task Force on Women’s Incarceration. She also helped create and was featured in the Newcomb Art Museum’s Per (Sister) exhibit, which shared the stories of currently and formerly incarcerated women. Syrita was selected to participate in the 2019-2020 Unlocked Futures cohort and is a 2020 recipient of the Rubinger Fellowship.