The Board of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) is made up of dedicated and passionate people who have experienced the murder of a family member, experienced the execution of a family member and/or have histories advocating for victims or abolition of the death penalty.
Jeremy Collins, Chair
Durham, North Carolina
Jeremy is the family member of two victims of homicide. Jeremy graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002. He has served as Director of the North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium, Field Director for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty and as a Grassroots Organizer for Democracy North Carolina, a nonprofit nonpartisan electoral process and voting rights organization. He is in his third year of law school at the University of North Carolina. Jeremy serves on the board of directors for several organizations and is extremely involved in his local community.
Aqeela Sherrills, Vice Chair
Los Angeles, California
Aqeela grew up in Watts in South-Central Los Angeles. After seeing 13 friends killed in gang wars, he was inspired to bring the warring factions, the Crips and Bloods, together to create a peace treaty between the gangs in 1992. He continued to work for peace and reconciliation, but in January 2004, his convictions were tested when his 18-year-old son, Terrell, was murdered while on a break from college. Aqeela opposed execution of his son’s killer, convinced it would only continue the cycle of violence. Aqeela’s rich experience includes co-founding the Community Self-Determination Institute in 1999 to address the personal and social issues that underlie crime, drugs, and violence. In 2002, CSDI employed over 80 people from the community and held 18 contracts with the County, City and State. Aqeela has served on Boards of numerous community organizations, including Fathers of Watts and Transformative Change. He consults with violence intervention/prevention agencies locally, nationally and internationally. Aqeela is currently the Regional Director of Resources for Human Development (RHD), California. In January 2010, Aqeela joined California Crime Victims (CCV) for Alternatives to the Death Penalty as an Outreach Coordinator for Southern California in January 2010.
Rosemary Harris Lytle, Secretary
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Rosemary Harris Lytle has spent 20 plus years fighting for diversity and inclusion – first in her career as a newspaper journalist, later as a trainer and speaker, and most recently in her role with the NAACP as State President for Colorado, Montana and Wyoming and as President of the Colorado Springs Branch. She is also very active in many other community organizations and has received many awards and honors pertaining to those activities, including the “Making Democracy Work” award from the League of Women Voters. Rosemary’s father, Johnnie Banks Sr. was shot to death during a robbery and the murderer was never found. She believes that fighting for justice and healing for murder victim families and fighting for an end to the death penalty are the best ways she can honor her father. Rosemary is a graduate of the Journalism School at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. and holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Ron Steiner, Treasurer
Ron is presently retired from a career as a marketing executive and consultant. He continues to consult with various non-profits around marketing. Ron was an asset to the New Mexico Repeal Coalition Steering Committee that was successful in bringing about repeal in that state. He brings that experience with him to the Board of MVFR. Ron also serves as Board Chair for Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP). While he typically resides for half the year in New Mexico and the other half in Oregon, Ron plans to reside full-time in Oregon until repeal of the death penalty is achieved in that state.
Catherine Crino is the sister of Stephanie Crino, who was murdered in El Paso, Texas in 1995. Cathy lives in Chicago, where she ministers as a Pastoral Associate at St. Alphonsus Church. She has also served on the Boards of the National Association for Lay Ministry and the Pastoral Associates of the Archdiocese of Chicago. As part of her work in the Catholic Church, she has long taught about and spoken against the death penalty. After Stephanie’s death, Cathy’s experience convinced her that the deterrence factor had not prevented the murder, nor did the perpetrator’s subsequent death bring any closure to her family. She has been active in MVFR since 2002 and also with theIllinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Cathy took an active part as a speaker, as well as lobbying and testifying on behalf of the successful repeal effort in Illinois. She has seen how effective the testimony of victim family members is in helping legislators understand the futility of capital punishment and she hopes to help more victims learn to tell their stories as we move along the path toward abolition.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Judith Elane is a retired attorney. She is an active member and Board member of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Judith’s tireless advocacy for justice is inspired in part by her own experience of injustice. Her brother was murdered in 1968 and no one was prosecuted for the crime. Judith has been an extremely active volunteer for Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation for several years.