In this interview we learned about the Inside Out Network (https://insideoutnetwork.net/overview) and how useful it can be to connect returning citizens with service providers on the outside.
If you would like to support the work of Embraced:Fully and see more interviews like these, please like, subscribe, and visit https://embracedfully.org/ to sign up for our email list.
Our guest for this interview is Fred Nelson, founder and executive director of the Inside Out Network.
Fred was born in Beirut, Lebanon to an Arabic linguist father, and spent his early childhood in Asmara, Eritrea. Moving back to the States, he was raised outside of Baltimore, Maryland. He completed an undergraduate degree in theology in Canterbury, England, and several graduate degrees in Chicago, IL, and later owned and managed several travel agencies while working on doctoral studies in Christian-Muslim relations. He spent some years as a missionary in Bangladesh specializing in Christian-Muslim relations and as Country Manager for Bangladesh Lutheran Mission-Danish. While there, he oversaw a national staff of over 200, comprising a variety of social service programs such as village primary schools, women’s empowerment groups, and vocational training camps, and helped transition the work from foreign to local control. Returning to the States, he became the lead pastor of a multisite congregation located in Park Ridge and Chicago, Illinois.
Both as a father of two sons with felony convictions, and as a pastor of a congregation with 8 members who experienced incarceration, Fred’s life and work has been significantly impacted by the criminal justice system. He’s been directly involved in prison ministry since 2005: As a volunteer chaplain at Stateville Prison in Joliet, Illinois, including founding the Under the Door Prison Ministry, crafting RED Chicago, a reentry directory for the Chicago area, and writing the Spiritual Survival Guide for Prison and Beyond. Now in its second edition, over 60,000 copies have been distributed and is currently in use in prisons in South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia, and Wisconsin.
Fred is the founder and executive director of the Inside Out Network, a nonprofit birthed in Chicago and now based in Tucson, that’s helping reshape reentry for people leaving incarceration (as well as those on probation) with a ground-breaking, invisibility- busting ION online platform that allows returning citizens and service providers to see and be seen and to communicate directly with each other, beginning pre-release and continuing post-release. ION has forged partnerships with departments of corrections and successfully launched the ION platform across the states of Arizona and Illinois, and is currently expanding to the states of Oregon and Mississippi.