Our Story


Drayton Nabers, Jr. and Deborah Daniels co-founded the Offender Alumni Association (OAA) in 2014 with their first support group in Birmingham, AL. This group included 5 former offenders.

After two years, OAA became an official 501(c)3 non-profit, and launched support forums in two major Alabama prisons, in addition to implementing its community revitalization initiative.

By 2017, over 500 former offenders and family members had attended the outside support forum and nearly 2000 had come to an in-prison support group.

OAA then added a family support group and hosted a Youth Career Readiness Initiative with 14 at risk youth in the summer.

In 2018, OAA launched two additional outside support forums (one in Birmingham West End and one in Atlanta Metro area), and started an inside forum for women at the Birmingham Community Base Facility. 

OAA is looking forward to hosting its additional support groups in Birmingham-Eastlake, Huntsville, with additional locations in Metro Atlanta and Murfreesboro Tennessee scheduled by the close of 2018.

Our Team


Drayton Nabers Jr., Co-Founder


Drayton is a graduate of Princeton University, earned his law degree from Yale University in 1965. Before returning to Birmingham to practice, he was a law clerk at Justice Hugo Black on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nabers has written two books on ethics and leadership: "The Case for Character" and "The Hidden Key to Happiness". 

Nabers became CEO of Birmingham-based Protective Life Corp. in 1992. He retired as chairman of the board in 2002. Drayton is former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was appointed to the court in 2003 by Governor Bob Riley. 

Nabers is board chair for Cornerstone School of Alabama and a past president of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham. He previously served as board chair for United Way of Central Alabama and Leadership Birmingham. He has been inducted into both the Alabama and Birmingham Business Halls of Fame. In 2011, he received the Birmingham Bar Association’s L. Burton Barnes Public Service Award.

Nearly 35 years ago Drayton read a book called “Born Again”, written by the late Charles Colson. Which inspires him to reach those that have been impacted by crime.
"God can use failure to do a work in us and often that is his most important work", Nabers said"

He teaches a class at in Alabama Prison every Friday morning on “Key to Happiness”. He is the co-founder of Offender Alumni Association movement.

Deborah Daniels, Co-Founder/President

OAA Founder Deborah Daniels.jpg

Deborah has championed many causes in Alabama, as well as actively serving on numerous committees and task forces focused on reducing recidivism of former offenders.  Despite having been a repeat offender herself, she has evolved as a vocal change agent for empowering former offenders.  It is her belief that having access to the necessary resources, tools and support most former offenders are more likely to transition back to society successfully and become productive citizens.  She firmly believes the missing component to reforming the criminal justice system is positioning offenders for positive change and empowerment to maintain the change.  With our incarceration being our nation’s leading crisis, Deborah is equipped to understand what is needed to make a significant difference.


Dena Dickerson, Executive Director

OAA Executive Director Dena Dickerson (1).jpg

Dena is a positive example of successfulness after incarceration.  Previously serving as a case manager for a men’s homeless shelter, she acquired greater insight for the need of assistance for former offenders.  She believes that others, through their lived experiences, are uniquely purposed to provide support, assistance and encouragement  to newly released offenders in becoming successful and productive citizens. 

Dena’s analogy of the role of OAA helping former offenders: It’s almost like coming to the edge of the forest and the person wants to come to the other side because everything is so beautiful...and they just can’t make that step...and you just reach your hand in and say “I got you..”

Contact: dena1oaa@gmail.com | 205-434-3423

Lisa Guss, Director of Development


Lisa is an example of a successful second chance. She responded to God's voice while incarcerated and subsequently began to serve her time in prison as His servant. She completed mentor training and ministry training prior to her release and served in various capacities as she continued to look forward. God is faithful and saw her through to an early release. 

Since coming home, Lisa still serves the Lord in various capacities. She volunteers with her church and other ministries, studies, and works. Lisa's mentoring experience and training within prison and reentry as well her life experience and peer specialist training help to fuel her belief in the OAA. Seeing what God has done in her life and in the lives of others is ultimately why she supports this movement and the mission. She brings a mature spiritual background with her to the group to aid her vision for development.

Ladji Ruffin, Project Manager


Ladji Ruffin is a devoted and passionate advocate for individuals impacted by mental health, substance use disorder and those who are reintegrating back into society following incarceration. Ladji utilizes his lived experience of being in prison for 23 years, personal struggle with depression, anxiety, substance use disorder and overcoming adversity, as speaking platform to evoke hope and empower individuals to re-purpose their hardships, by first giving voice to the problem while harnessing resilience.

His guiding principle “Always do with and not for” is reflected in the core of his work, as Project Manager for OAA Credible Messenger Initiative. His messages convey the importance of the community collective, access to education, and de-stigmatization, as vital aids to successful restoration of formerly incarcerated and undeserved individuals back to their communities and families. Ladji also works at Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network as a Certified Forensic Peer.

 You can connect with Ladji at ladjiruffin@gmail.com.



OAA is proud to partner with local organizations to have a meaningful impact in our communities.