TRI’s abbreviated history… through the story of two women

The following is an excerpt from our 2022 Annual Impact Report. If interested, you can find the entire report here:


The Reentry Initiative was founded in 2016 by Longmont local, Deborah Simmons. Deborah noticed a lack of services in northern Boulder County and surrounding rural areas for services that helped women heal while inside and then reintegrate successfully back into the community after incarceration.

On a shoestring budget with dedicated volunteers, Deborah began to implement pre-release programming and planning with women inside Denver Women’s Correctional Facility. As the pioneering TRI program, TRIumph trained and supported 7 women in the first cohort. In that first cohort was a woman named Dominique. She had lived a life of notoriety in Boulder County.

Dominique battled with substance use as a coping method for unresolved trauma. She ended up going in and out of prison for years as she battled addiction and mental health issues. When the timing was right, she opened her eyes and applied to the TRIumph program in Denver Women’s Correctional Facility.

Peer Mentor Dominique meeting the ED of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Dean Williams. Williams stepped down in December 2022. TRI Founder Deborah is making the introduction between the two.


Dominique is the first person to tell you she has messed up. Often. And a lot. Finally, she was ready to move on and participated fully in the programming. She excelled at the life-skills classes. She worked hard gaining employable skills. She built a release plan and identified support systems. She even role-played alternatives to risky social scenarios she had failed in before. Dominique was ready. And she was released on parole!

The TRIumph program focuses on healing from trauma and learning new coping skills with intense supports early and often as people reenter to a very changed world. There is a plan for the first 3’s: 3 hours, 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months. Upon her release, Deborah and her team picked Dominique up at the gate, took her out for a meal, and drove her to housing that was previously secured. Individual pre-release work is crucial to set our members, and our communities up for success.

TRIumph has been on hold since the prison closed its doors to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the last members of the final cohort were released. TRI has continued to support these members as they navigate life on the outside. In May of 2023, TRI has secured funding to return to programing on the inside.

On parole, Dominique walked a straight line. She appreciated the support of Deborah and the TRI team and worked hard to keep her new path.

Then she was sent back to prison on a technical violation. Deborah continued to support Dominique through the ordeal – writing letters, visiting, sending books, staying in touch.

Dominique was released again, and then hired by TRI as a Peer Mentor in 2022.

A Peer Mentor is someone with lived experience who supports others. In the case of TRI, our Peer Mentors have experienced incarceration and recovery. This lived experience has proven effective. Our members see Dominique as a mentor. All of the times Dominique messed up going in and out of prison have become her strength. She understands the nuances of staying sober while making new friends and building healthy support systems. She is a healthy support system. It’s magical to see how quickly she can build rapport with our members.

Because of Dominique’s history in our local community, she is often known by others with their own level of notoriety in Boulder County. In 2022, a member came through knowing exactly who Dominique was along with her history. This member was impressed by how she had straightened out her life and said: if you can do it, I can do it.

Dominique deserves plenty of credit for being a positive role model. She is also quick to thank Deborah for giving her a chance and for sticking with her through thick and thin. It’s this attitude that Dominique brings to TRI, everyone deserves a second chance, and we are going to stick with you no matter what.

Many of our members are seeking Peer Mentor certification to utilize their lived experience to make a difference in the lives of others, just like Dominique.

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