Reforming Arts helps those under carceral control in Georgia explore creative solutions and build livable lives. We apply arts, theater-infused education, and reentry services to foster the development of creative critical thinking.
Provide an environment where students can achieve educational goals in order to examine their experiences and build purposeful, meaningful lives.
Deliver exemplary higher education classes to women in Georgia’s criminal justice system.
Participate in a national criminal justice reform movement focused on education in order to reduce recidivism.
Enhance the lives of Reforming Arts alumnae through dynamic educational assistance and overall re-entry support through a network of partnering agencies.
Build community awareness of the impacts of the criminal justice system on the individuals affected by incarceration.
Officially founded as a Georgia nonprofit corporation in 2010, Reforming Arts has grown from one person teaching one class to a thriving organization that provides top quality arts and humanities higher education classes to over forty students each quarter.
In a short time, we went from a couple of concerned individuals to a growing movement of artists, educators, and citizens who are impacting the lives of imprisoned women and giving them the tools to change their lives.
Along the way, our executive director, Wende Ballew researched the history of criminal justice in the United States, prison theatre programs, and prison education programs. What Wende found was a glimmer of hope buried within a disturbing history of punitive measures that profits a small group of stakeholders.
This glimmer of hope was education. Wende also found women who longed to learn, who wanted to be challenged, and who wanted more for themselves than their current environment provided. Thus, Reforming Arts was born.
Gwendelyn (Wende) Ballew, MBA
Our executive director, Wende Ballew is our artistic and administrative leader. They founded Reforming Arts in 2010 as an arts and humanities education program for people incarcerated in women’s prisons in Georgia.
Wende has taught at Kennesaw State University and continues to teach and direct Reforming Arts classes inside women's prison facilities in Georgia and facilitate Reforming Arts’ Theatre Reentry Project. Wende is a co-founder of the Georgia Coalition of Higher Education in Prison and the Southern Higher Education in Prison Collective. Wende has a bachelor’s degree in Theatre, a MBA, a Master in American Studies, a graduate certificate in Women's Studies, and is a PhD candidate in Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methodologies at the University of Georgia.
In 2018, Wende was named a Woman Making a Mark by Atlanta Magazine and a Woman to Watch by Weight Watchers Magazine. In 2019, The Arts Xchange awarded Wende and Reforming Arts with an Elon Dooley Arts and Social Justice Champion award.
Audrey Gámez is the Program Director for Reforming Arts. An experienced educator, Audrey has taught for over 16 years. She brings over 10 years of experience in program management and 8 years of nonprofit administration to her role. She is a sought-after speaker for panels and events.
Audrey has presented nationally at several conferences and festivals including the Association of Performing Arts Service Organization Conference, Artists Thrive Conference, ELEVATE, and others. In 2018, Audrey was selected for the Points of Light American Express Leadership Academy.
In addition to her responsibilities with Reforming Arts, Audrey continues to work as a professional singer and music educator, maintaining a private voice studio. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and Master of Music degree from Louisiana State University.
Our Board of Directors
Gwendelyn (Wende) Ballew, MBA
Christine Gautreaux, MSW
Anna Schachner, MFA
Joshilyn Jackson, MA