Poet Ambassador & Outreach and Community Building Chair

Gene Downing is a Washington, D.C. native and Free Minds member who was recently released from prison after serving 21 years. His release came after the passage of the Second Look Amendment Act, a DC law offering young people with extreme sentences an opportunity for resentencing. After his release, he was selected as the 2022 Congressman John Lewis Fellow. Gene serves as a Poet Ambassador and as the Co-Chair of Thrive Under 25, a transformative coalition in the District that uses advocacy, legislation, and public education to end the racist, damaging, and punitive responses of DC’s adult criminal legal system toward people who came into contact with the system when they were under age 25. In addition to his work with Free Minds, Gene serves as the Galena Yorktown Fellow with the Council for Court Excellence. Gene is passionate about giving back to the youth and building up the DC community.