Speakers – Shining Light



Prison Ministry Workers

Francisco (“Cisco”) Paulino

On the streets, Francisco Paulino became “Cisco” and developed a reputation as an enforcer for the Crips. Today he works with young people on the street or re-entering society after being locked-up through Straight Ahead Ministries, an interdenominational juvenile justice ministry organization, working globally to see Jesus Christ transform the lives of juvenile offenders. Based in New England, Straight Ahead works in many of the youth facilities we will visit. Cisco is pictured on the right with a former Bloods gang rival.

Lennie Spitale

Author (Prison Ministry: Understanding the Culture Inside & Out) and prison minister Lennie Spitale offers a unique and qualifying vantage for writing about prison culture and prison ministry. As a young man, Spitale served a prison sentence for an armed robbery that was later reduced to assault and robbery. Two years after his conversion to Christianity, he began conducting a weekly Bible study in a local jail and has been involved in prison ministry for more than three decades.


Elizabeth Davis

Elizabeth can be seen in Comedy Central’s new JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW as ‘Roxie.’ Most recently she was seen as ‘Tatania’ on CBS’s award-winning BLUE BLOODS. Other notable credits include helming Brecht’s CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE alongside 3-time Emmy winner Christopher Lloyd, and Tony & Grammy winner Duncan Sheik. Prior, Elizabeth acted, sang, danced and played in the Tony & Grammy winning ONCE the Musical on Broadway, where she received a Tony nomination. Her passion project, INDIAN JOE, for which she wrote book, music and lyrics, was also announced to be produced at the Goodspeed Opera House Fall 2015.

Stephen Trafton

Stephen Trafton lives in NYC with his wife Juliette and their son Tadd. He performed in the Original Revival Cast of Les Miserables on Broadway, in the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and in many productions at regional theatres around the country. He is currently on staff in the Youth Ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church and gets to spend a lot of time performing with and mentoring students interested in the arts. He also tours the country with Living Letters, a ministry that invites audiences to experience Scripture in a whole new way through performances of Paul’s letters including Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians. Living-letters.com

Criminal Justice Professionals

Warden Edmund Duffy

Warden Duffy was appointed as a Correction Officer in the NYC Department of Corrections in 1986. He worked his way through the ranks for over 20 years, and was anointed by his church when he became Warden in 2008. He’s been assigned to challenging Rikers Island Commands including the Robert N. Davoren Center, the Eric M. Taylor Center, and the George Motchan Detention Center where he worked with Prison Fellowship to establish Rikers’ first ever faith-based housing unit. Warden Duffy, newly retired, has served as a youth minister for over 30 years and is a member of Shining Light’s Advisory Board.

Judge Jeffrey Sprecher

Jeffrey K. Sprecher is a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, PA. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Delaware Law School. While in the private practice of law, he was elected to the bench in November 1991. From 1975 to 2000, Judge Sprecher taught various law and judicial management courses at various area colleges. He is currently assigned to the Criminal Division for murder cases, the Civil Division, as well as the Juvenile Court Division, and is an active advocate for change in the criminal justice system.

Penny Sampson

Penny is a professor at Springfield College School of Human Services (Manchester, NH) and the Bureau Chief of Clinical and Residential Services of the Division for Juvenile Justice Services in the state of New Hampshire.  At Sununu Youth Services Center for over 15 years, Penny has been instrumental in transitioning the facility’s approach to treatment from the traditional security-based model to a more controversial programs-based model, a change that has brought national and local attention.  In Shining Light’s last visit to Sununu YCS, we learned of the national research being conducted, as the facility is the first in the country to move towards removing the locks, choosing to value rehabilitative services above restrictive security.

Ted Heinrich

Ted Heinrich is a prosecutor for gang violence in the U.S. Attorney’s Boston office. In a lecture to Shining Light on the Harvard campus while he was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Heinrich shared about the root causes of violence in the United States, and what must be done to reverse the problem. His comments were very understandable and helpful in explaining the situations we see in facilities around the country, particularly youth facilities where often more than 85% of the residents are affiliated with gangs. They were also a strong reinforcement of the need for the kind of work Shining Light does in these facilities.

Karen Swanson

Dr. Karen Swanson is director of the Institute for Prison Ministries (IPM) at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College. As director, she oversees the Charles W. Colson Scholarship Program, serves on the Christian Association for Prisoner Aftercare Advisory Board, and pursues the goals of IPM through collaboration, networks and strategic partnerships that provide leadership and training to those engaged in correctional ministries for the advancement of the gospel.

She began her correctional ministry by teaching in the Life Learning Program at Cook County Jail (Chicago, Ill.). She also served three years as executive director of LifeHouse Ministries, a Christ-centered reentry program. Karen continues to serve in jails and prisons and on a rentry board of directors.

Karen serves as faculty in the Christian Formation and Ministry Department at Wheaton College and teaches courses in correctional ministry. She earned her doctorate from Northern Illinois University in Education with an emphasis in Curriculum Leadership.