Colleen Cunningham


Non-Profit Criminal Justice Reform

Philosophy & Political Science

October 5, 2018 11:10 AM

I am a 2006 Millikin University philosophy and political science double major and a James Millikin Scholar in the Honors Program. I earned numerous awards honoring my academic achievements during my time at Millikin, including membership in Alpha Lambda Delta. Perhaps most impressively, I was honored at the spring 2006 Honors Convocation with a Scovill Award, the highest academic honor that Millikin University bestows on its students.

I was an original participant in moot court under Dr. Money’s guidance. My team took second place at the 2005 competition. During my one year participation, I helped recruit students to the program and helped ensure its ongoing success.

I demonstrated an exceptional commitment to campus and to community leadership while at Millikin. I served in many leadership capacities on campus, including:  Chair, Student Advisory Council to the Theater Department (2003-04); Member, Environmental Affairs Council (2006); Member, Student Advisory Council to President Zemke (2004-05); and Member, Best Buddies (2003-04). Meriting special emphasis is my founding role in establishing Millikin’s chapter of Amnesty International. I was co-founder of Millikin’s chapter of AI (2003) and served as President of the Chapter from 2003-2006. In my capacity as President, I organized numerous campus events. In 2003, I helped organize “Road Trip for Justice” bringing death penalty speakers and former death row inmates to campus. In 2004, I helped organize the campus visit by David Kaczynski (brother of the “Unabomber”) – an event that drew so many people from the surrounding community that the location of the event had to be moved from Pilling Chapel to RTUC! Finally, I served as AI Student Area Coordinator (2004-06) and member of the AI Regional Planning Group (2004-06).

My political engagement did not end with my committed work to Amnesty International. I was a member of Macon County Citizens Opposing Capital Punishment and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Decatur. I also organized the Human Rights Film Festival (2004-2006), co-sponsored Tsunami Relief with IVCF (2005), and organized a campus forum to discuss the Patriot Act.

In light of my substantial and significant service to the larger campus and community, I was awarded the Millikin University Parent Association Award for Scholarship and Service (2005). My political engagement and service to the larger campus and surrounding community embodies Millikin’s ideal of preparing students for democratic citizenship in a global environment and preparing students for a personal life of value and meaning.

After graduating from Millikin, I continued my political engagement, particularly with efforts to abolish capital punishment. I continue my efforts today in my work for Equal Justice USA. Here is some basic information about me and the organization from the organization’s website:

Colleen is based in St. Petersburg, FL. Talk to her if you have questions about the efforts to repeal the death penalty in your state, or if you are a state campaign using or hoping to use the EJUSA state database.

You might call Colleen a good luck charm. She started at EJUSA in 2009 working as a close partner to the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. By 2011 Illinois ended its death penalty. Colleen then scaled up her work with the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty. She served as a lead strategist and helped to coordinate the nearly 200-strong coalition of murder victims' family members, who were central to the Connecticut campaign to repeal the death penalty. That campaign succeeded in 2012. So you could call Colleen a good luck charm but her incredible energy, dedication, and compassion are more than just luck. Colleen previously served as the first Statewide Coordinator and Executive Director for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP). Before MADP, Colleen studied philosophy and political science at Millikin University.

Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) is a national, grassroots organization working to build a criminal justice system that is fair, effective, and responsive to everyone impacted by crime. Town by town and state by state, we cut through the polarization and find common ground for lasting, real-world solutions that prevent violence and rebuild people’s lives in its aftermath, so that all of us can be safer.