Growing up, Brandee Izquierdo’s childhood was marked by a crisis of confidence. As a kid from the wrong side of the tracks in Baltimore, she constantly felt inferior to her peers. Her father was absent, and early on, she suffered sexual abuse from a neighbor, which caused trauma that impacted Brandee’s relationships and sense of self-worth.
In high school, Brandee got pregnant and ultimately dropped out of school, continuing in an unhealthy relationship that would last decades. Relying on substances to cope, she developed an addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Brandee found herself on a road that eventually led to her incarceration in Pennsylvania’s Adams County Prison.
But while locked up, she received treatment for her addiction. She also discovered she had a deep empathy for the women she was imprisoned with—and a genuine curiosity about why they had ended up where they were.
After her release in 2011, Brandee strove to put herself on a new path, eventually reuniting with her family and building a career as a behavioral health and addiction recovery expert and advocate. Today, she is Executive Director of S.A.F.E. Project, a national nonprofit with a goal of ending addiction fatalities in the United States.
Listen to hear more about Brandee’s story, and stay tuned until the end of the episode for our “Deep Dive” segment, where we discuss community colleges as a resource to help get formerly incarcerated people from Jail to Jobs.