Donna Hylton

Campaign Ambassador

Donna Hylton is the first awardee of the Civil Rights Ann Atwater Award. She has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the world and draws upon her experience imprisoned in a women’s correctional facility for 27 years, with some of that time spent in solitary confinement. Now released, Donna encourages systems to recognize how the trauma of sexual violence and abuse are often root causes that result in victimization and that 90% of women who have been abused are being incarcerated, especially women of color.

Donna’s work focuses on building communities through economic, racial and gender justice, and the correlation between sexual violence and abuses and victim trauma and  response.

Donna is a founding member of A Little Piece Of Light Inc., a national initiative dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex.

She is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to a prison system that preys upon the weak and victimized; she urges communities to think seriously about the school to prison pipelines.

Donna is a key member of the Correctional Association’s “Violence Against Women Committee on the Inside”, an advisory committee member for the Parole Prep Project, a 2015 JustleadershipUSA Inaugural Fellow, a Board Member of the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and, an advisory Board Member of Mr. Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa organization. She is also a member of the Women and Justice Project that is “re-imagining” the former Bayview Correctional facility into a Women’s Resource Building.

She is also the author of her memoir “A Little Piece of Light” published by Hachette Books in June 2018.

During her incarceration, Donna earned an Associate of Science degree, a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Social Psychology and a Master’s of Arts degree in English Literature from Mercy College.