Transition from Corrections to Community Education March 17 - 21, 2008

Beginning on March 17th, on the Special Topics discussion list, we are pleased to have a discussion about transition from corrections education to community education. Our guests include Dr. Carolyn Buser, Steve Schwalb, John Gordon, and Dr. Stephen Steurer.

I hope you will join our esteemed guests for this discussion. You will find background information on them below.

Background on Discussion Guests

Carolyn (Cay) Buser

Cay Buser joined the United States Department of Education in May of 2006 as an adult education program specialist with duties as the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) liaison with correctional education. Dr. Buser works with the Western States to assist them in the administration of adult education grants. She also is the national resource for coordination with correctional education programs and adult education grants.

Prior to her federal appointment, Dr. Buser was director of correctional education for the Maryland State Department of Education. Her responsibilities entailed management of the education and library programs in Maryland’s adult and juvenile correctional systems. She provided direct support to Maryland’s Educational Coordinating Council for Correctional Institutions, the “school board” for correctional education headed by the State Superintendent of Schools with the State Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services as a member.

Dr. Buser has been an active member of the Correctional Education Association serving as a regional director and is currently on the editorial board of the Journal of Correctional Education. Her academic background includes a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in educational policy and administration. Dr. Buser taught English in public middle and high schools in the Midwest, and in community colleges in Maryland. She taught for seven years in Maryland’s correctional education program and served as a principal in three correctional settings before her appointment as director of the State program.


Steve Schwalb
Steve Schwalb has served as President and CEO of Pioneer Human Services since April, 2007. Prior to that, Steve had a 33-year career in the field of corrections.

After receiving his B.A. degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington, he began his corrections career as a Personnel Management Specialist trainee with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He subsequently held various positions of additional responsibility, including Personnel Director, Chief of Internal Affairs, Warden, Deputy Regional Director and Assistant Director.

In the latter position, Steve was responsible for nationwide oversight of the education, vocational training, recreation, parenting, transition preparation, citizen volunteers and industrial work programs. Serving in the role of Chief Operating Officer of Federal Prison Industries, Inc., he oversaw over 100 factories that employ 21,000 inmates and 1,400 staff, and that generated $800 million in annual sales.

In the mid-1980’s, Steve served as Associate Superintendent and Program Manager with the Washington State Department of Corrections, and as Director of the King County Jail in Seattle.

During his federal career, Steve was appointed by the President to the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, and served as chairman for four of his twelve years on the committee.


John Gordon
John has worked at the Fortune Society since 2001, first as Director of its Education program and more recently as an Associate President of Programs. The Fortune Society works with people after they’ve come home from prison or jail. Their Education program serves 200-300 students per year; they offer classes in Adult Basic Education, ESOL, and computer skills. Many students are on probation or parole; others are mandated by the courts to one of Fortune’s Alternatives to Incarceration programs; some are no longer under any criminal justice supervision.

Before coming to the Fortune Society, John worked for 16 years as Teacher-Director of the Open Book, a community based literacy program in Brooklyn, NY. At the Open Book, some of his central concerns revolved around developing student leadership and student participation in program decision-making; publishing student writing and oral histories, and welfare and literacy issues. He published several articles on these topics as well as More Than a Job: A Curriculum on Work and Society (New Readers Press). He is an active participant in the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy.

The Fortune Society was founded in 1967 with two main goals: (1) to educate the public about prisons, criminal justice issues, and the root causes of crime and (2) to provide support for people as they come home from prison. Fortune serves over 3,000 former prisoners a year, offering education, career development, counseling, substance abuse treatment, housing, health services, and alternatives to incarceration. It continues to play a strong role in advocating for criminal justice and prison reform.


Stephen J. Steurer, Ph.D.

Steve is the Executive Director of the Correctional Education Association, a professional organization of educators who work in prisons, jails and juvenile settings.


David J. Rosen

Special Topics Discussion Moderator