Noting that ex-offenders look to the Office of Reentry for guidance and help, DeAndre Brown said, "They need to know that hope exists and not only that it exists but that they can have it."

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has chosen DeAndre Brown, executive director of the nonprofit organization LifeLine to Success, as the acting executive director of the Shelby County Office of Reentry.

Brown, who spent nearly two years in prison, founded the nonprofit in 2009 with his wife to help ex-offenders reenter society. Brown’s own criminal history had blocked him from becoming a volunteer chaplain at a local hospital. That experience fueled his commitment to help other ex-offenders develop skills to reenter the community and find meaningful employment.

“I believe that DeAndre Brown will approach his work at the Office of Reentry with the same commitment he’s shown while building LifeLine to Success,” Harris said. 

“He has the opportunity to hit the ground running with our existing programs to reduce recidivism and give ex-offenders tools to successfully reenter society. We hope that his experience and connections to the community will help grow our reentry program and change more lives.”

Brown said it was clear when LifeLine to Success was started that “if given the tools and the opportunities, ex-offenders could become successful and productive citizens. It’s the same for people who look to the Office of Reentry for guidance and help. They need to know that hope exists and not only that it exist, but that they can have it. 

“This office has an impressive list of programs and partners, but I believe I will be able to build on what other leaders there have accomplished.”

Brown steps into the position following Harold Collin’s departure to serve as deputy director of corrections.

The Shelby County Office of Reentry is located at 1362 Mississippi Blvd. It connects ex-offenders to resources and employers willing to hire them. There is technical and vocational training for small engine repair, construction, low voltage electrical apprenticeships, and forklift operation.

Through the 10-to-12-week FOCUSED program, ex-offenders can get help with employment deficiencies, mental and emotional needs, family reconnection, financial literacy and the restoration of their rights. Partners with the Office of Reentry include Workforce Mid-South, Hope Works, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology and the University of Memphis.

Shelly Rice, president of the Frayser Exchange Club, said Brown will bring bring a wealth of knowledge to the Reentry office. 

“He’s proven he knows how to work in that environment and he’s walked every one of those steps and persevered,” Rice sai.

“He’s no stranger to it and he cares so much about these people. They want to get on the right path and he helps everybody get that trust back.”

(For more information, visit reentry.shelbycountytn.gov.)