MVFR staff provides a welcoming and supportive space for family members of murder victims to be heard, to connect with other murder victim family members who oppose the death penalty, and to more effectively raise their voices to advocate for victim family member needs – needs shared by victims/survivors regardless of their views on capital punishment. Our Staff includes victims/survivors of violence and persons with extensive training and experience in working with persons who have experienced sudden, traumatic loss.
National Office Staff
Jack Sullivan Jr., Executive Director
MVFR’s Executive Director, Jack Sullivan, Jr., is a native of Cleveland, OH. He is a racial justice activist, an ordained minister, and, of course, an advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty.
Jack has been justice-focused since 1968, when, as an eight-year old, he joined his family, community and nation in expressing outrage and grief over the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After Dr. King’s murder, the pivotal question that was asked in Jack’s neighborhood was, “Who will replace Dr. King?” Like many others of his generation, Jack indicated his interest in working for justice and peace. During childhood he joined his mother and grandmother as they walked picket lines demanding fair treatment as garment workers.
As a young adult serving as a church pastor, Jack participated in marches and candlelight vigils protesting death sentences and execution dates at Missouri’s state prison in Jefferson City, while working with clergy colleagues to demand the hiring of African American educators in the local high school. He would later lead faith leaders in Washington State as they lobbied elected officials, including then Governor Gary Locke, to abolish the death penalty. Jack worked with these same faith leaders to demand living wages, the exposure and dismantling of systemic racism, the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected class in discrimination laws, global economic justice, and peace between nations.
Jack comes to MVFR as one whose life has been altered by murder. In 1997, Jack’s younger sister, Jennifer, was slain in Cleveland at the age of 21. In the traumatic days, weeks and months that followed, Jack’s family steadfastly rejected any notion that the killer(s) be sentenced to death if apprehended. No one was ever arrested in Jennifer’s death.
With over 32 years of service as a minister, Jack has led congregations in Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, Washington State, and Ohio. He has been regional minister (bishop) of two distinct regional configurations of his church body, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) US and Canada. In 2009, while a pastor in Cleveland, Jack worked with ministerial colleagues and congregants in providing pastoral care and economic support for the families of 11 African American women who were murdered by a serial killer.
Jack holds a Bachelor of Science from Ohio University, Athens, OH; a Master of Divinity from Lexington (KY) Theological Seminary; a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH; and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Bethany College, Bethany, WV. He is a life member of both the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Jack is married to the Reverend Sèkinah Hamlin who is the Director of the Washington, DC-based Ecumenical Poverty Initiative. He is the father of Nia, a college senior, and Jackie, a high school senior. Jack and Sèkinah are in the process of adopting two young children.
Teresa Avent, Office Manager/Executive Assistant
Teresa is a native of Battleboro, North Carolina located in the heart of Edgecombe County. Teresa relocated to Raleigh in 1995 to start anew after 1992 murder of her brother, Terry Avent. Teresa was a high school student when her brother was murdered and intimately experienced how the murder damaged her, her family, and the entire community. As she pursued educational and career opportunities in the following years, she was brought face to face with the disabling effects of the trauma that her brother's murder had inflicted.
Teresa found healing and renewed strength through her faith community and eventually became a licensed minister. Thereafter, she has pursued work in various faith based and non-profit organizations with a passion toward preventing and addressing harms that she and her community have experienced. She is actively pursing a Bachelors of Public Administration at Shaw University with a passion to make a greater impact in communities.
In addition to her work with MVFR, Teresa sits on the Advisory council for the Campbell University School of Law.
George Johnson Smith, Communication & Research Associate
George was born to tobacco and sweet potato farmers in rural Johnston County, N.C., an area where the systematic oppression towards marginalized groups was blatant even to the uninformed child. As a kid he followed the post-trial motions, Nobel Peace Prize Nomination and execution of Stanley Tookie Williams in 2005.The trial was his first observational encounter with the death penalty, and his analysis sparked an ongoing interest to become a criminal attorney.
Although George has not been personally impacted by a homicide within his immediate family, he has witnessed gun violence and mourned the deaths of classmates and community members. He specializes in research and case law, and his previous work includes assisting with educational sociology research for young African students in American classrooms. He has also assisted his family business with office technology and managing living conditions for their migrant employees. He worked as an unpaid intern under U.S. Senator Richard Burr and has worked in the client service division of Strategic Migration in Sydney, Australia.
George is currently finishing a B.A. in public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with minors in American Studies and politics, philosophy and economics and serves on the Honor Court, the student judicial board that determines verdicts and sentencing for academic and conduct violations. He joined MVFR in July 2016 as a Communication and Research Associate (Volunteer).
Deirdre Douglas-Hubbard, Southern Coordinator
A native of Lancaster, SC, Deirdre relocated to Charleston, SC to pursue a degree in Psychology and Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston, where she was inducted into the Honor Society for Academic Achievement. While attending the College of Charleston, Deirdre was selected to assist with the educational efforts of prominent scholars of Jewish and African American History. Deirdre led Holocaust classes at the College of Charleston, panel discussions relating to discrimination, intolerance, and reconciliation, as well as study abroad trips to Eastern Europe under the guidance of Dr. Theodore Rosengarten. In 2015, Deirdre was selected to intern at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands. While working in the Human and Civil Rights Education Department, she created and implemented community projects to encourage awareness of the effects of violence, prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance.
In addition to her international work, Deirdre worked closely with the Charleston Promise Neighborhood where her community organization skills were implemented to provide family therapy and other vital community resources to strengthen underserved families in the Charleston area.
Recently, Deirdre was faced with two tragic deaths; her uncle and cousin were both shot and killed in March of 2016. This horrific tragedy has deeply propelled her advocacy for the needs of victims' families and to promote healing and reconciliation. Due to her vast international and local experiences, she has developed a strong desire to foster understanding, community involvement, and provide a nurturing space for victims’ families and communities affected by murder, violence, and discrimination.
Horace Knight Jr., Delaware Coordinator
New Castle, DE
Horace Knight, Jr. joined MVFR in November 2012 as the Delaware Coordinator. Horace, a native of Burlington, New Jersey, brings an array of personal and professional skills that enable him to provide members with support while advocating for the needs of family members following murder. Recently he served as the Marketing Director on a political campaign where he was able to create many relationships that enhance his work in Delaware.
He has worked in the Human Services field for more than 10 years compiling experience that includes working as a Behavioral Assistant/Consultant, a Case Manager working with high school students who self- identified as teenage parents and most recently, a case manager for the state of Delaware working with Developmentally Disabled Individuals. Horace received his B.S. in Business (Marketing) from the Richard Stockton College of NJ. Horace studies photography and champions social media technology for personal enrichment.