Donna Hilliard

Donna Hilliard

Code Tenderloin, Executive Director

Donna Hilliard was born in the majestic beauty of Colorado. However, not everyone there leads the same charming lifestyle. Donna began her journey surviving on the street when she was only thirteen years old. By the age of eighteen, she was facing up to thirty-two years for drug and gang related crimes. As an alternative sentence, Donna was placed in a San Francisco program that gave her a second chance.

That day, she started a new life. She has faced all the struggles associated with being an ex-felon and not getting hired because of her untraditional background. None of these barriers have kept her from succeeding.

After losing her mother to cancer, Donna needed a change of pace. Wanting to throw her whole self into the tech community, she ended up at Code Tenderloin. Originally, she wanted to learn coding skills to advance her career to a technical role. Through this process, she realized that her experience could be impactful for others, and she joined Code Tenderloin as the Program Manager and committed herself to showing program participants they can succeed no matter their past and now has advanced to Director of Operations.

Reentry Conference Event Page

1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
Hall A | St. Mary's Cathedral - Event Center

Employment Best Practices for People Reentering Society After Incarceration

John Cunningham
Rubicon Programs Inc., Richmond Site Manager


Terah Lawyer
President, Creating Restorative Opportunities and Programs
Donna Hilliard
Executive Director, Code Tenderloin
Mr. Chuck Etchison
Jericho Project, Founder
Liz Jackson-Simpson
Executive Director, Success Centers  


The difficulties faced by formerly incarcerated individuals upon re-entry into society highlight a critical issue in the United States criminal justice system. One significant challenge is the limited employment opportunities, often due to stigma and employer biases against hiring individuals with criminal records. These barriers not only affect the individuals themselves but also have ripple effects on their families and communities. The inability to secure stable housing, gainful employment, and access to education perpetuates cycles of poverty and social marginalization. This panel will specifically address employment barriers and propose successful reentry strategies for formerly incarcerated individuals.