Press release: Chicago mother, nonprofit director named honoree of Boston’s Good News Experiment

Lisa D. Daniels recognized for exceptional commitment to delivering restorative healing to local communities impacted by gun violence


BOSTON — Lisa D. Daniels, Founder and Executive Director of The Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices in Chicago, has been named an honoree of The Good News Experiment, a Boston-based initiative that recognizes neighborhood innovators with stories that are publicly distributed through blog, social media and traditional media formats.

Photo of Lisa D. Daniels, Courtesy of The Darren B. Easterling Center

Photo of Lisa D. Daniels, Courtesy of The Darren B. Easterling Center

Daniels, a Morgan Park native, is being recognized for her exceptional commitment to providing trauma-centered recovery services to women and children impacted by the loss of a loved one. Most recently, Daniels has begun plans to bring lessons from South Africa’s apartheid healing to Chicago communities. On July 20, 2018, The Darren B. Easterling Center will hold a Truth and Reconciliation Summit to provide people who have been affected by violence with the opportunity to listen to keynote speeches and participate in breakout sessions that highlight Desmond Tutu’s four pillars of forgiveness as outlined in Tutu’s “The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World.” In addition, Daniels is planning an ongoing forgiveness curriculum at The Center for mothers who have lost children to violence or incarceration.

“Offering a space where people can actually tell their stories and be heard is vital in communities where harm has been done,” said Daniels. “From there, participants will have the opportunity to identify the hurt and describe what a particular experience did to them. Where did it leave them? Next steps include granting forgiveness and deciding whether they want to relinquish or restore the relationship. These are the best practices of South African apartheid healing that we will bring to Chicago. These steps toward forgiveness are so vitally important for change to happen.”

The Good News Experiment was created through a partnership between Boston’s Mothers for Justice and Equality (MJE) Founder and President Monalisa Smith and writer Andrea Cale, author of the novel The Corn Husk Experiment. Prior to their present positions, the women worked together in the public affairs department of a large bank in Boston. As part of their partnership today, Smith leverages her knowledge of community work to gather ideas about potential honorees. Half of The Good News Experiment’s honorees are selected from a variety
of service areas. Half of the honorees are recognized for their support of families affected by gun violence, a service area close to the heart of Smith, who lost her nephew to Boston street violence before creating MJE in 2010. Cale leverages her background in journalism to write and share the stories on neighborhood innovators.

“So many times, gun violence stories are depicted as ‘another son lost,’” said Smith, whose organization is providing more than 500 Boston mothers with tools to become community leaders. “The untold, bigger story is the amazing growth that comes from women after they lose something so precious. This is an international story. Through the Good News Experiment, we start to show the faces. We’re honored to help share the inspirational work of Lisa Daniels and The Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices.”

The Center is named after Daniels’s beloved son Darren who passed away in 2012 from gun violence in Chicago. Today, Daniels dedicates her work to helping others restore their lives.

“People are so much more than their worst mistakes,” Daniels said.

In October, MJE hosted its third annual national conference in Boston on “Empowering Women to Action” where Daniels served as a keynote speaker alongside Smith, Boston City Mayor Marty Walsh, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Amanda Merricks and others. Daniels said she was inspired by the women participating in the conference.

“I noticed that we’re all one,” she said. “We’re all connected. I think that the sooner humanity begins to recognize that we are more alike than we are different, we’ll see a shift in the way that we behave and the way that we treat each other.”

For more information on The Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices, the Truth and Reconciliation Summit or The Center’s annual benefit, which is scheduled to be held on July 21, 2018, please visit

For more information on Mothers for Justice and Equality programs and annual national conference, please visit

To follow The Good News Experiment stories or nominate an individual for his or her inspirational work, please visit for more information.