Abdulkadhir Ali My story began in the homeland Ethiopia, after the war where my family was forced out of their homes and fled to the refugee camps. My parents were forced to raise my older brother, sister and I. We waited for the acceptance from America. When that time came in 1997, I remember my parents lips were cheek to cheek with smiles entering the plane to this new land. But only if they knew the struggles that would face them. New languages, different cultures, new buildings. It was a dream we all weren't ready for. School began, it was hard due to the fact we were required to learn English to live in America. Coming from a background where we knew multiple languages and were required to read, write, and speak made me bilingual. But living was still very difficult. I learned that I lived in an extremely biased, non-understanding society. Also witnessing many tragic events throughout all times of my life, changed my way of life, for the better, and at times for the worse. That led me to crime, violence, negative peers, mistakes in different ways, sometimes unimaginable. There came a time where I saw an open door, rather than the closed doors I've faced all my life. And that was Maine Inside Out. These were people that not only chose, but were willing and wanted to listen. Then guide you through your own way out of the struggles through theater. I've been with the group from the start of its peak into an amazing transformation. Years later, after performing in 10+ performances, news stations, radio stations, fund raising, I am now hired on as a program facilitator of community groups and serve as a organizational evaluator and consultant. We help understand wounds, we teach within individuals, and hope to change the world from schools, prisons, communities, and to raise awareness. We grow as justice grows. We help as we heal. And we are determined to concur greatness.

Margot Fine is a co-founder, co-director and a program facilitator at Maine Inside Out. Prior to her time at MIO she served as a clinician at McGeachey Hall, Sebago Educational Alliance, as a crisis worker at Opportunity Alliance, as the the Director of LearningWorks’ Alternative to Detention program, and youth advocacy case worker at Preble Street Teen Center. Margot brings a strong anti-racist movement building orientation to all of her work. She a trained and licensed as clinical social worker, with her practice rooted in radical social change strategies for structural transformation and community justice. Margot holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Bates College and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern Maine.

Joseph Jackson is a program facilitator of Maine Inside Out's community groups. He is also the the coordinator of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, a group that engages in direct advocacy with the Maine Department of Corrections on behalf of prisoners and their families.  Mr. Jackson was convicted in 1995 of manslaughter and sentenced to the Maine Department of Corrections where he served nineteen years. As a prisoner, Mr. Jackson completed Literacy Volunteer Training, PEER Education, Work Ready Alternatives to Violence, One, Two, and Three. He is a founder of the Maine State Prison chapter of the NAACP and has served on its executive committee in several capacities from 2003-2012. While incarcerated, Mr. Jackson earned his Associate and Bachelor’s degrees with summa cum laude honors from the University of Southern Maine in Augusta. Later that year, he was selected as a member of Who's Who among students in colleges and universities in 2012. Mr. Jackson became the first prisoner in Maine to be selected to University of Southern Maine’s graduate program at StoneCoast while still a prisoner. Mr. Jackson represented the University of Southern Maine in Augusta’s 50 years 50 portraits for their 50 year anniversary in 2015. Mr. Jackson earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Southern Maine and was one of four commencement speakers for his class. Joseph Jackson has published poetry in the on-line news journal Village Soup, in 2003 & 2004. His poetry is featured in Portland and Bangor’s NAACP Martin Luther King breakfast catalogs from 2005-2012. Mr. Jackson's poem Brighter Days was published in the UMA Scholar in 2012. His poetry was featured in Bangor Daily News in 2014. In January 2016, Mr. Jackson released his master’s thesis Black In Maine to the world. You can find the digital copy at https://usm.maine.edu/library

Chiara Liberatore is a co-founder, co-director and a program facilitator at Maine Inside Out. Prior to her time at MIO she has worked in numerous settings using original theater as a tool for social change. She started as a volunteer for the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan, co facilitating ongoing theater workshops in various adult prisons in Michigan. She continued on as program staff at Music Theater Workshop (now Story Catcher's Theater) in Chicago working both with incarcerated youth inside the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center and with youth in neighborhoods greatly impacted by the Prison Industrial Complex. Chiara is committed to practicing the values and pedagogy learned through her deep study of the work of Paolo Friere and Augusto Boal Boal and Theater of the Oppressed technique. Chiara holds a B.A. in Psychology and English Literature from The University of Michigan and a completed internship at the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory in New York City.

Tessy Seward is a co-founder, co-director and program facilitator at Maine Inside Out. She has been writing, directing and performing in Maine for fifteen years, and has a long history developing and facilitating theater workshops with youth. Her work includes therapeutic theater workshops for resettled teens in Baton Rouge after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Portland-based projects at Learning Works, the Preble Street Teen Center and Portland High School, and Maine Inside Out workshops at Maine Department of Corrections’ Women’s Reentry Center and Long Creek Youth Development Center. Tessy studied with Theater of the Oppressed founder Augusto Boal at the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory in New York City. She has a Masters Degree in Counseling from the University of Southern Maine, with training in group facilitation, expressive arts therapy, multi-cultural counseling, non-violent communication, and crisis intervention, and a B.A. in English from Williams College.

Our story

Maine Inside Out was founded in 2007 by three Maine women with backgrounds in radical social work, anti-racist community organizing, and theater, with the intention of bringing creative workshops into correctional facilities and sharing original work with the community as a force for social change. We received project by project funding for a number of years. Some notable early accomplishments include a workshop with women at the former Women’s ReEntry Center in Bangor in 2008, with a performance and dialogue at UMO’s black box theater, a 2009 workshop at Learning Works in Portland with youth in the the Alternatives to Detention program, workshops at Maine's youth detention facility Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland in 2009, 2011, and 2013 followed by performances and dialogues with audiences of 25-50 people inside the facility.

2013 was a major turning point for our organization. Maine Inside Out planned and hosted a week-long symposium in Portland titled “The Culture of Punishment, from Parenting to Prisons,” featuring workshops, film screenings, panel discussions, and a keynote from author and anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean. Each of the week’s events included a performance of a play created and shared by young men incarcerated at Long Creek Youth Development Center. More than 1500 people participated in the symposium, and the young artists received an incredible community response. The facility eventually contracted with Maine Inside Out to offer ongoing theater workshops for any incarcerated youth, and we now provide year-round voluntary theater workshops for more than half of the young people at Long Creek Youth Development Center.

In 2015, Maine Inside Out launched our reintegration and transitional employment program for newly released Maine Inside Out participants. In 2016, MIO expanded our overall programing to include a robust team of volunteers and year-round interns and expanded our reintegration programming to include 2 new staff, weekly community groups, mentoring and transitional employment opportunities for youth in the three Maine communities that incarcerate the highest numbers of young people: the cities of Biddeford, Lewiston, and Greater Portland.

MIO Inside Out continues to grow!