Video: White Collar Support Group™ Speaker: White Collar Week Speaker Tarra Simmons, Wash. State Rep., Lawyer, Civil Rights Activist, Formerly Incarcerated Person

Jeff Grant - White Collar Week
3 min readMay 27, 2024


On Zoom, Tues., June 4th, 7 pm ET, 4 pm PT

White Collar Support Group™ Tuesday Speaker Series: Tarra Simmons, Wash. State Representative, Lawyer, Civil Rights & Criminal Justice Reform Activist, Formerly Incarcerated Person on Zoom, June 4, 2024, Start Here™.

We were honored to have Tarra Simmons as the June speaker in our White Collar Support Group™ Tuesday Speaker Series. Open to all! Tarra’s story of coming back from life’s difficulties is an inspiring beacon of hope for us all! Tarra Simmons is a lawyer, a civil rights activist, and a national leader in the fight for criminal justice reform.

In 2011 Tarra was sentenced to 30 months in prison for theft, drug, and firearm crimes. In 2017, she graduated from Seattle University School of Law with honors. After law school, she was not allowed to sit for the Washington State bar exam due to her status as a former convicted felon, thus she challenged the Washington State Bar Association rules in the Washington State Supreme Court and won; the court unanimously ruled in her favor on the same day. She was later sworn in as an attorney in the State of Washington on June 16, 2018.

In 2020, Tarra made history when she was elected to the Washington State Legislature. She is honored to serve her community in the 23rd Legislative District and make positive change for all Washingtonians.Raised in Bremerton, WA she has faced some of the biggest barriers to success and opportunity — from poverty, to opioid use disorder and Incarceration. It was with the help of this community — friends, family, colleagues and neighbors — and its resilience — that she was able to overcome these circumstances and become a tireless advocate for change.

Tarra doesn’t simply talk about challenges; she has faced them herself. After her incarceration, she experienced firsthand the challenges of re-entry — economic insecurity, housing affordability, and lack of access to healthcare, education, and job skills training. These are big challenges that many people from all walks of life in our community face on a daily basis.

As a registered nurse, Tarra advocated for her patients and our community for over a decade. After starting her own recovery journey, she decided to go to law school to learn how to make a larger impact on the community. Tarra graduated with honors and received the prestigious Skadden fellowship to help people get the legal counsel they need to move on after criminal justice involvement. When the Washington State Bar refused to admit her, she took her fight to the State Supreme Court — and won in a unanimous same-day decision that highlighted the need for opportunities and second chances for ALL people.

Tarra is also the co-founder of the Civil Survival Project, a nonprofit organization that provides legal and policy advocacy to help formerly incarcerated people better reintegrate in their communities. In 2016, Tarra was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to the Washington State Reentry Council where she was elected by her peers as co-chair. He has also appointed her to the Public Defense Advisory Board, and she serves as an advisory board member to the Washington Supreme Court Gender and Justice Commission.

Tarra has played a key role in advocacy efforts on behalf of her community, focusing on education, healthcare, and income equality. Most recently, her activism and leadership helped pass the New Hope Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that streamlines the process for reintegration after incarceration.

In addition to her work with the Civil Survival Project, Tarra serves on the board of the Economic Opportunity Institute and volunteers with the Central Kitsap School District to support policies that end the school to prison pipeline. She recently received Sen. Patty Murray’s Golden Tennis Shoe Award and the “Woman of Achievement” award from YWCA Kitsap County.

Sponsored by Progressive Prison Ministries/White Collar Support Group™. Start Here™.

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Jeff Grant - White Collar Week

Jeff Grant is a Private General Counsel/White Collar Attorney at GrantLaw in NYC and w/ co-counsel & criminal defense counsel throughout the U.S.