Jody Lewen is the founder and President of Mount Tamalpais College (formerly the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison). For more than two decades, she has served as a thought leader in the field of prison education, advocating for the values of high academic quality and inclusivity, as well as serving as a resource to policymakers, practitioners, academics, and the administrations at San Quentin State Prison and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She was the 2006 recipient of the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from the University of California, Berkeley, and a 2015 recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award in recognition of her work to support higher education for incarcerated people in California. In 2016, the organization received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.
Jody received her BA from Wesleyan University in Modern European History; her MA from the Freie Universität, Berlin in Comparative Literature and Philosophy; and her PhD in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. Her publications include “Punishing Evil: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Spectre of Inmates in the Public Imagination” (in Evil, Truth, and Reconciliation, Rodopi, 2004) and “’So eine Gemeinheit’: On the Use of Irony in Hugo Bettauer’s Die Stadt Ohne Juden” (in Austria and Austrians: Images in World Literature. Stauffenburg Verlag, 2003).