OUR TEAM

Tiffany Brown

Founder & Executive Director

How did you get the idea for 3D?

I knew I wanted to be in Detroit working with young people in some sort of capacity, and so I was working with a nonprofit helping high school students with career readiness. A colleague came told me about the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative—it was so unique because you didn't have to be a nonprofit; you could just be a person with an idea. One day, I really think that it was God that put it on my heart that it cost just 50 cents to write a letter, but how impactful consistent communication between kids and their incarcerated parents is. Right there, I came up with a one part pen pal, one part support group program.
How have you been impacted by parental incarceration?

I was graduating from high school when my mother was sentenced to three years in federal prison. I saw her only one time during college because of the distance and the way my school schedule went.  I learned a lot from my mother’s incarceration that’s now at the core of how I approach this work with 3D: when you don’t have healthy coping strategies and you have all these real feelings, you’ll start making unhealthy choices for yourself, and it only hurts you and your family. So, a big part of 3D is developing these healthy coping strategies with the young men.
Why is 3D important?

We help these kids realize that they’re not alone. I was on a college campus and I really thought I was the only person with an incarcerated parent. But now I know that I was in classes with people whose fathers and mothers were incarcerated, and we just never talked about it. We aren’t sweeping things under the rug. It’s not a pretty thing, and it’s not fun, and it’s hard, and it’s heavy, and it’s real, but we’re not afraid to talk about it. And we’re gonna continue to talk about it because we have to acknowledge that this problem exists within our homes, our community, and our nation.
What's your favorite memory with 3D?

When a participant’s dad came home. He was 4 when his dad went away and 14 when he came back. The family invited us to the home the day the father came home, and the boy didn’t know his dad was be coming home, so it was a surprise. I went over to their house, and his dad was there. The boy came into the house, and I was able to see the moment they were back in each other’s arms after ten years.

Greg Baker

Volunteer Site Coordinator

How did you first get involved with 3D?

I first heard about the program through Tiffany. She told me about the program, and I thought it was a great idea.

When did you start working with 3D?

Since the beginning, in 2017.

How have you been impacted by parental incarceration?

Neither of my parents were locked up, but my stepfather was—not at the time, but before he became my stepfather. I saw how this impacted my step brother who I was really close with. And there were friends and others in the community who had parents locked up for petty things.

Why is 3D important?

It gives the young men an outlet to speak up—it gives them a voice, so to speak. We let them know what goes on in here stays in here, and this allows them to share. They hear they’re not the only one going through the problems and feelings that they’re going through. 3D is a voice for their emotions.
What's your favorite memory with 3D?

We had a program at the library and some guys came in who had been locked up and talked with the boys. I didn’t think the boys would open up like they did, but they were more open than they’d ever been, telling about things they hadn’t talked about before. 

Matt Mangan

Volunteer Site Coordinator

How did you first get involved with 3D?

I saw that 3D was partnering with the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and I was instantly drawn to their work and thought it had a transformational mission. I was a school leader at the time, and 3D was something that I would’ve loved to have around for my boys and our community.

When did you start working with 3D?

I’ve been actively involved with 3D for since 2019.

How have you been impacted by parental incarceration?

Working in Detroit for the past ten years, I’ve seen the intersection of law enforcement and incarceration with our students and their families. The intersection of juvenile justice and education was extremely present at the school I served over. I have had many students who have been impacted by parental incarceration and program like 3D provides necessary wraparound supports that schools struggle to facilitate. My ten years living and working in Detroit communities are punctuated by how deeply mass incarceration affects our families here and it is one of the major reasons why I do what I do.

Why is 3D important?

It provides a family and support that allows students to feel cared for, thought about, and special without hiding aspects of their lived experience or identity that are actively nurtured. There are aspects of the program that helps the boys maintain a strong connection with their incarcerated parent that would be difficult without the program and a conscious and knowledgeable facilitator like Tiffany. The program is very humanistic in its approach and really helps the boys strengthen their relationship with their fathers and truly prioritizes building, maintaining, and establishing true love amongst them.

What's your favorite memory with 3D?

Tiffany and I worked to get 4 of my students—all brothers—from the program I run into 3D. The first time I got to see them in their element was at one of the 3D sponsored open gyms. It was honestly such a breath of fresh air to see the boys interact with one another, other students, and the volunteers in an environment that was 100% about them. Selfishly, I had a great time with them and it significantly improved our relationship from that moment on.

Jennifer Christian

Program Manager

How did you first get involved with 3D?

I’m currently a program manager in the automotive industry. I realized that this isn’t my passion. I want to focus on the things that matter to me, and the thing that matters to me most is my community.

When did you start working with 3D?

I‘ve been directly involved since early 2020, but I’ve supported the movement from the beginning.

How have you been impacted by parental incarceration?

I don’t have a direct personal connection with parental incarceration, but several close friends have had parents who have been incarcerated. I’ve seen it impact them in different ways.

Why is 3D important?

We don’t really speak of how the children are affected when their parents are in prison, and I think that narrative should change.

What's your favorite memory with 3D?

Just the simple things like being able to sit down and have lunch and talk with the guys have been memorable.

Shailene Brown

Parent Engagement Coordinator

How and when did you first get involved with 3D?

When Tiffany (my daughter) first heard about the My Brother's Keeper grant and came up with her idea for 3D, she called me and I asked me what I thought about it. I thought it was a great idea. And I've been involved since then, even before she submitted the application.

How have you been impacted by parental incarceration?

I was incarcerated myself, and it affected each of my three daughters differently. In the two years and nine months that I was in, I saw them one time, just once. They would write me letters, and that’s how Tiffany’s idea started with this letter writing campaign. When I came home, I really noticed how me being gone affected the girls, and it affected them differently because they were different ages.

Why is 3D important?

It’s important for both sides—not just the kids. In addition to the kids who are suffering, the parents also do suffer, even the ones at home. My ex-husband, he struggled too, all of a sudden being a single parent, having to do things by himself. And in prison the connection you feel when you get mail is so important. If you don’t have that connection with the outside, you feel crazy. But for the kids, parental incarceration is a stigma. One of my daughters refused to tell anyone. Tiffany was more open with it being older, then the other daughter blew it off and didn’t care anyway. So 3D is important by providing support to these kids and helping remove the stigma. Also, in order to come back home, you need to keep that connection, so it’s easier to get back into their lives, because depending on how long you’ve been gone, the kids have grown. They have different attitudes. They’re not the same children they were when you left. It's critical to maintain that connection while the parent is gone.

What's your favorite memory with 3D?

Just seeing Tiffany walk up on that stage and win that grant, I was so proud of her. Tiffany has always been a go-getter. For her to accomplish this, I was so happy for her. And she is so passionate about it. And the reason why she is passionate about it is because of me—because of my mistakes. Who would ever think that something good like this could come from something bad like my incarceration?

Mike Houston

Volunteer Site Coordinator

How did you first get involved with 3D?

I went through the same thing as a child, and so Tiffany asked me to work with the boys.
When did you start working with 3D?

Sometime in 2019.

How have you been impacted by parental incarceration?

My father was incarcerated from the time I was 2 until about 9 or 10.
Why is 3D important?

Developing Despite Distance is an outlet for the boys. This is something that I didn’t have as a kid when my father was incarcerated.
What's your favorite memory with 3D?

My favorite memory is when the boys came up with vision boards to tell about their ideas and goals.

PO BOX 3338, SOUTHFIELD, MI 48037

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