Menu Close


The most successful community organizations know that no amount of resources can match the power of an authentic, community-focused, engagement strategy – and they know that a community-asset approach serves communities best. A community-asset approach focuses on investing in the human resources of the neighborhoods most impacted by crime and incarceration. ​ Successfully implementing a transformational engagement approach requires painstaking detail to the professional development of the individuals doing the transformation as well as its leader. For the past 11 years, The Academy for Transformational Change (ATC) team has led over 1500 community leaders in direct engagement work throughout the United States. Our experience and insight are unmatched. By incorporating ATC’s transformational change approach, your organization can better meet the challenges of preparing individuals for the task of transforming others while continuing to transform themselves.

Meet The Founders

Edward DeJesus

Community Action and Engagement
Edward DeJesus is the Co-Founder of ATC. He has trained and supervised hundreds of front-line service workers and administrators over the past thirty years. He is a top speaker and trainer at over 20 youth conferences every year. Youth, community members, parents, and policymakers all agree that DeJesus’ message about life, freedom and future economic opportunity is an important lesson that all communities must-hear. As a former VIBE magazine editor puts it: “DeJesus’ message hits home with the weight of a project building falling on your head. And once every brick has touched down, audiences will have a clear idea of what must be done.”

Through masterful storytelling, DeJesus presents a compelling case that every community has the seeds to set up the structures that lead to transformation and a positive difference in their youth’s future. And, through ATC, communities learn how to make these seeds grow.

DeJesus has dedicated his work to making sure that the formerly incarcerated are not presently disconnected. His expertise is with youth and adults in the justice system and “Opportunity Youth” in search of options beyond the streets. DeJesus’ Effective Engagement model uses the power of social networks to promote transformation and economic opportunity in populations that many others choose not to engage. DeJesus has spent the past ten years advising front-line intervention specialists for Youth Advocate Programs and other community-based groups in some of the communities hardest hit by violence and economic distress. . DeJesus is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Fellow and holds an M.S. in Management and Urban Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research. He is the author of MAKiN’ iT and Connecting the Disconnected. His work has been featured on NPR and in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and The Miami Herald.

DeJesus served as a policy expert for the Sar Levitan Center for Youth Policy at Johns Hopkins University and served on the Taskforce on Employment Opportunities for young offenders for the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He has also served as a consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Education Association.


Program Development and Management
Charles Dotson is a Co-Founder of ATC. For over a decade, Charles has specialized in building, managing and cultivating Credible Messenger initiatives for a wide variety of youth justice systems and nonprofit organizations. Charles uses his 30-plus years of managerial experience in counseling, restorative justice, trauma-informed care and motivational interviewing to help youth service organizations and violence prevention initiatives build more effective systems to serve high-risk youth and young adults. Charles is a graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz with a B.A. in African American Studies, and a Master of Public Administration from Marist College.

Charles combines his expertise as a former Federal Law Enforcement Officer, MST Therapist, and director of programs for youth in minimum- and maximum-security juvenile detention facilities to provide organizations with the skills and information to effectively transition individuals to achieve personal growth and improve chances of workforce and personal success.