Former Senator, Hospital Exec Among Four New Hires at Concordance Academy of Leadership

Newcomers bring decades of experience to organization dedicated to
lowering recidivism

ST. LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Danny Ludeman, CEO and President of Concordance Academy of Leadership,
announced the addition of two senior level executives, naming Jeff Smith
as EVP, Head of Community Engagement & Policy, and Mary Beth Bulte as
EVP, Head of Comprehensive Care. Additionally, Ben Hanna joins the
Academy as Onboarding Specialist, and Monica Horton will serve as
Services & Counseling Coordinator. Bulte, Hanna and Horton have already
joined the organization, while Smith is slated to start in June. All
four hires will fill critical roles for the organization, which focuses
on assisting individuals as they re-enter society from prison.

Dr. Smith comes to the Academy with a robust record of educational and
public service achievements. A St. Louis native, Smith who graduated Phi
Beta Kappa from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, received
master’s and doctorate degrees in political science from Washington
University, where he later taught. He also has taught at Dartmouth
College and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. After narrowly losing
a 2004 U.S. Congressional bid, Smith was elected to the Missouri Senate
in 2006, where he sponsored sentencing reform legislation that was
signed into law in 2009. Smith spent 2010 in federal prison after
pleading guilty to obstruction of justice stemming from an FEC
investigation related to his 2004 race. Smith wrote about his experience
as part of a broader call for systemic reform in Mr. Smith Goes to
Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America’s Prison Crisis
which C-Span named one of 2015’s top books. Most recently, Smith
has served as assistant professor in the urban policy graduate program
at The New School in New York City.

Smith will spearhead the creation of an extensive national volunteer
network for the Academy, enlisting thousands of volunteers in the
organization’s initial years. He also will lead community engagement
efforts, pushing stakeholders and lawmakers for smart policy changes
that benefit both justice-involved adults and the communities to which
they return.

“This opportunity hits at the very heart of why Concordance Academy
exists – creating second chances that are real and tangible,” Smith
said. “I made a big mistake that led to my incarceration, and remain
grateful to The New School for hiring me after prison. Now, I am proud
to join an organization committed to helping others get the type of
second chance I received – the opportunity to own their past and
redefine their future. I’m excited to offer this perspective as I work
to engage the larger community in this endeavor.”

Bulte brings more than 30 years of behavioral health experience to the
Academy, where she will focus on delivery of services. She most recently
served as Executive Director for Behavioral Health at Mercy Hospital in
St. Louis, providing management of behavioral health services for
patients with psychiatric illness and substance abuse disorders. Bulte
managed a team of 25 specialists, a network of over 2,000 licensed
specialists and, under her leadership, Mercy managed services for more
than 400,000 people. She also worked closely with research-based
organizations to refine programs to improve outcome quality. Bulte has a
master’s degree in social work from Washington University’s Brown School
and a master’s in business administration from Maryville University.

“Mary Beth has served effectively in a practitioner role, and she has a
track record of excellence in care management models, with a proven
ability to implement them at scale,” Ludeman said. “Her leadership
skills and compassion will drive the Academy forward, helping us build a
solid infrastructure for service delivery.”

Hanna has spent nearly 10 years working with justice-involved adults,
primarily in legal defense settings. The majority of that time was spent
with The Bronx Defenders, a nationally recognized holistic public
defense office in New York. He has co-taught on criminal justice issues
at Columbia University School of Social Work, in addition to
facilitating advocacy training at New York University School of Law. He
has a master’s in social work from Columbia University and a bachelor’s
degree in mass communication and media arts from Southern Illinois
University – Carbondale. In his role at the Academy, Hanna will assist
with staff hiring and training; pre- to post-release service design and
practice approaches; and developing education and employment models.

“Ben brings direct practical experience with an organization that, like
Concordance, believes in a holistic approach to addressing these
problems,” Ludeman said.

As a Services & Counseling Coordinator, Horton will be responsible for
delivering evidence-based interventions to participants before they are
released from prison. Over the last 25 years, she has worked in case
management, clinical coordination, counseling and behavioral health
roles, specifically serving patients struggling with substance abuse
disorders. Horton received her master’s degree in professional
counseling from Lindenwood University and a bachelor’s degree in social
work from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.

“Monica’s significant experience in developing treatment and aftercare
plans for patients will be critical to the success of Academy
participants as they prepare for their transition back to their
communities,” Ludeman said. “All four of these new hires are valuable
additions to our core team.”

The Concordance Initiative was created to address reincarceration and
its many associated social problems. The Initiative is the first
holistic, integrated and evidence-driven model in the country that
engages the public, private and academic communities in providing
quality services tailored to reentering prisoners. At its foundation is
a partnership between Concordance Academy of Leadership, the
service-providing arm, and Concordance Institute for Advancing Social
Justice, a research center housed at Washington University Brown School
that identifies and tests best practices to inform the Academy’s work.

The Academy’s curriculum includes education and job readiness,
employment, substance abuse, mental health, cognitive and relationship
skills, housing and life in the community. Six months prior to release,
the Academy assesses each enrollee – academically, cognitively and
socially – to create a customized plan for each individual. Upon
release, participants engage in a yearlong integrated program. Resources
include an internal employment agency and in-patient substance abuse
treatment facility.

Led by Dr. Carrie Pettus-Davis, the Institute is the first research
center in a school of social work dedicated to scientific discovery
focusing on the issues of reincarceration. Pettus-Davis has 15 years of
experience designing and delivering programs in criminal justice and
community settings. Other national experts on the subject serve on the
Institute’s Scientific Advisory and Executive boards.

The Institute aims to advance science, igniting a real-time feedback
loop, to improve well-being of individuals and families impacted by
criminal justice system involvement. Its four primary functions are to
conduct rigorous real-world research, utilizing randomized controlled
trials; innovate and introduce new interventions and services; identify
and propose evidence-informed policy reforms; and disseminate best
practices in the field, facilitating further scientific exploration and

Concordance Academy will deliver services, first in St. Louis, and then
scaled up and replicated in other cities to achieve national impact.
Earlier this month, the organization announced nearly $2 million in
pledged funding from St. Louis County, St. Charles County and the City
of St. Louis. In total, more than $12 million in contributions from the
public and private sectors, including major employers in the region, has
been secured.

Those interested in learning more about Concordance Academy’s volunteer
movement and how to get involved as an individual, group or business,
can e-mail

The Concordance Academy of Leadership and the Concordance Institute for
Advancing Social Justice is a collaborative initiative of public,
private and academic support to offer groundbreaking services to
individuals returning to communities from incarceration, backed by
innovative research from the Brown School at Washington University. To
learn more about the Concordance Academy and its services, please visit,
and to learn more about the Concordance Institute and its research,
please visit


Erin Smith, 314-571-6313