A professional barber and a battle for forgiveness… Sheba Williams is the founder of the Institute of Forgiveness; she uses her skills, training, and lived experience to change the juvenile and criminal legal systems in Virginia.

After spending years as barber stylists, Sheba decided to use her barbering and cosmetology training to make a difference in the juvenile and criminal legal systems in Virginia. She began a mentoring and trade program in 2016 after founding a nonprofit called Nolef Turns Inc., that works to reduce recidivism by supporting and advocating alongside those with court and justice involvement.

Because the barbering program is the most successful trade offered in Virginia’s Department of Corrections, Sheba made the decision to use her barbering training as a tool to help others with self-employment skills, learning what is necessary to become licensed and pass state-certified testing for the programs that they were interested in, how to maintain financial independence, and most importantly, they provided PRE-Entry services for youth who were experiencing trauma that could potentially lead them to the juvenile/criminal legal systems through the mentoring program. Partnering youth with those with learned and lived experience opened them up to opportunities to take a path of success and deter young people from entering the legal system.