May 11, 2023

The Clean Slate Initiative CEO Sheena Meade to Deliver Commencement Address at Cheyney University

The Clean Slate Initiative CEO Sheena Meade to Deliver Commencement Address at Cheyney University

Meade’s national bipartisan organization has provided a path for three million people to receive full or partial clearances for eligible conviction records

CHEYNEY, PA – Leader, advocate, and organizer, Sheena Meade, CEO of The Clean Slate Initiative (CSI) — which advances policy to clear all eligible arrest and conviction records across the United States — will give this year’s commencement address at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

“Sheena takes her passion and skills to advocate for those who need it most. Her experience and ability to achieve ongoing success represent the leadership characteristics we teach our students every day,” said Cheyney University President Aaron A. Walton. “In what can be a divisive environment, she brings together elected leaders and decision-makers to address critical issues related to justice.”

Under Meade’s leadership, CSI has helped pass legislation that provided a path for three million people to receive a full or partial record clearance. Last month, CSI received a landmark financial commitment through The Audacious Project to support the organization’s strategy to unlock opportunities for up to 14 million people across the U.S. to invest in second chances. She describes her efforts as being a walking barrier breaker and one of the country’s leading experts on legal system reform.

“Across the country there are 30 million people today who are eligible for expungement,” said Meade. “But the process is costly. It’s confusing. It’s complex. Think about all the second chances you’ve gotten in life. Whether it’s from your teachers, your parents, your loved ones, your community, and even our children — and how that felt. There is power in second chances and a clean slate.”

Prior to becoming CEO of CSI, Meade helped found the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition while also working as a senior advisor to the Second Chances Amendment 4 Florida Campaign. During the statewide, grassroots effort to return voting rights to people experiencing felony disenfranchisement, Meade mobilized thousands of impacted families and supporters to get to the polls, trained hundreds of activists to engage within their communities on the issue of criminal justice, and brought together hundreds of faith congregations to support Amendment 4 efforts.

Meade is regularly featured in national media as a premier voice for criminal justice reform. Her work has involved the likes of Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, John Legend, and Roc Nation. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Welfare Foundation and sits on the boards of the Policing Project at NYU School of Law, Live Free USA, and the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Engagement.

“Being able to address the Cheyney University community is an honor,” noted Meade. “My family has deep personal ties to this institution, and I am humbled at the opportunity to share my story in the hopes of inspiring this year’s graduating class as they go out into the world. Existing and thriving as a young Black person in today’s society is no easy feat and if I can, by example, motivate even one student to turn any pain they may have experienced into purpose, then I will be forever grateful.”

She is the proud mother of five children, and is half of one of America’s most dynamic power couples. Her husband, Desmond, shares her passion for criminal justice reform and voting rights. His organization was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Along with Meade’s commencement address, the ceremony will include several speakers and award recipients, including Ryan Boyer, Chairman of the Cheyney University Council of Trustees; honorary degree recipient Kelvin Jeremiah, CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority; and Valedictorian Curtis Stockley IV, who majored in Social Relations with a concentration in American Political Studies with a 4.0 GPA.

“Commencement recognizes the successes of those who inspire and those who embrace our history and progress,” said President Walton. “Cheyney’s successful transformation is making a positive impact for everyone we have helped set on a path to achieving success.”

The commencement ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday, May 13, 2023, at 10 a.m., at The Quad.


About Cheyney – Founded in 1837, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is the nation’s oldest historically Black institution of higher education. Building on this legacy, the vision for Cheyney is to become the premier model for academic excellence, character development, and social responsibility among not only Historically Black Colleges and Universities, but in all of American higher education. The campus is located on 275 acres straddling Delaware and Chester Counties. Read more at