About Us

The Ladies of Hope Ministries (The LOHM) is working to end the crisis of poverty and the incarceration of women and girls. We offer safe housing, reentry support, and advocacy programs that are grounded in the lived experiences, insights, and ideas of people with direct, lived experience with the criminal justice system. The LOHM was founded, and is led, operated by, and serves primarily women of color who understand the value and importance of new approaches to addressing behaviors that may arise as responses to trauma and violence.

The women we meet every day have a variety of service needs that range from basic survival such as safe shelter and food, employment and long-term sustainability in the community, and spiritual and existential needs.

Our Vision is EPIC – Ending Poverty and Incarceration of Women and Girls – and we address this crisis through our interrelated core mission program areas:

The LOHM Our Model Diagram

The Staff


Board of Directors

The LOHM understands the value of proximate leadership. Our core team includes formerly incarcerated leaders and others with first-hand lived experience in the fields in which we work.

We pair this lived experience with technical and professional expertise, allowing us to address structural inequities that prevent the advancement of solutions developed by people closest to the communities being served.

Our staff's strong networks in their respective fields have allowed the LOHM to have an outsized impact with a small team.

We are entrepreneurs. At our core, we believe that reducing barriers and creating opportunities are often the most direct path towards true self-sufficiency and independence.

We are unstoppable. The barriers that our participants face can seem insurmountably high, but our staff model success and demonstrate what is possible when we pair access to opportunity with commitment and perseverance


Luis Ramos, Chief Financial Officer

Luis Ramos

Chief Financial Officer

Throughout his professional career, he's paid close attention to data and created personalized plans to optimize the workflow of financial departments. He realized how often data is overlooked when it comes to financial management and is focused on using his expertise to find the data you need to make your company an industry leader.

How do you unwind?
I play chess, usually online, to offset any stress

What is your life motto?
"Don't worry, be happy"

Starling Thomas, Communications Director

Starling Thomas

Communications Director

Starling Thomas is the Communications Director. She has been impacted by the criminal legal system by witnessing her mother brutally beaten at the hands of police as a child and then being wrongfully incarcerated as an adult. She appealed her case while incarcerated and is part of the 2% of the American prison population that wins their federal case on appeal. She is a graduate of the inaugural Faces of Women Imprisoned Cohort and understands firsthand the detrimental effects the criminal legal system can have on women and their families.

Starling has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from Florida A&M University and is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from Regent University. She brings to The LOHM a broad range of experience as a Public Relations Specialist, Creative Director, and Video Production Manager and has been featured as a freelance writer in a plethora of publications including, Sheen Magazine, Rolling Out, Divine Voice, and Page Magazine.

Belinda Fly, Human resources Consultant

Belinda Fly

Human resources Consultant

Belinda Fly is the Human Resources Consultant for The LOHM. Belinda has worked in the nonprofit management, human resources management, board development, and operations management spaces for more than 20 years with the majority of that experience in the nonprofit industry. Her work spans the social justice, criminal justice reform, faith-based, and education spaces. She believes in working collaboratively while ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local laws and is driven by the ability to create safe spaces for nonprofit leaders to be vulnerable enough to say what they do not know and trust Belinda’s commitment to confidentiality and desire to share proven best practices.

Belinda is a graduate of the University of New Orleans with a degree in Business Management, with a concentration in Human Resources Management. She is a Certified Professional (CP) member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Patricia Lewis

Patricia “Trish” Lewis

Faces of Women Imprisoned Program Director

Trish is the Faces of Women Imprisoned Program Director. Trish spent most of her young adult life in the army and in that time she lost her cousin to a vehicle explosion in Baghdad, fought to survive while being deployed to the same base camp that claimed her cousins life and spent her 21st birthday dodging bombs and bullets. During this time, her perspective on life changed tremendously. Upon returning home, Trish found it difficult to adjust to the unstructured civilian life, much like those who are integrating after incarceration. She joined the police force but later turned to politics as she saw the systemic injustices ran deeper than her job ensuring community safety on the streets. Trish strives to enhance the lives of those who, like her, have been impacted by the justice system and she believes that the LOHM is the first of its kind to address the needs of returning citizens on a multifaceted level. Her work at the organization revolves around reducing recidivism and bolstering community healing.

Trish attended Fordham University and earned her B.A. in Business Mgt. She went on to obtain a double MBA in Business Administration and International Business with a Certification in Global Leadership from Georgia State University and Sorbonne Business School - IAE de Paris, France.


Arlene Benavidez

Program Director - Pathways for Equity

Arlene is the Pathway for Equity Program Director. Arlene is a high school dropout who learned the value of education the hard way. She comes from a highly impoverished community and is the first in her family to go to college. Arlene has 25 years of experience in higher education, and over 35 years of professional experience. During this time she has gained the reputation of being a consummate professional and a mission-driven, service-oriented leader. She sees herself as a catalyst for systemic change and she looks for opportunities that will lead to greater impact and improve the lives of ALL people from ALL backgrounds. Arlene is passionate about helping people change their life and enjoys watching each individual she encounters “unfold” through the development process.  

Arlene has a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education from the University of Arizona, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a minor in Spanish from Arizona State University.

Melaney Batiste, Hope House Manager

Melaney Batiste

Hope House Manager

Melaney Batiste is the Hope House Manager and is responsible for the implementation and delivery of program and house guest-related services. She develops and manages relationships with social service providers to support Hope House guests. Melaney is from Picayune, MS, and has lived in New Orleans since she attended Xavier University in Louisiana. She has a B.S. in Speech Pathology and an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling. Melaney was incarcerated in 2014 and dedicated her time inside to helping the ladies she met. While there, she saw that many women who were recently released, but had nowhere to go, would often end up back in prison. Melaney vowed to focus on reentry services for the people she left behind. The LOHM's vision aligns with her purpose to ensure women have the skills and support needed to reintegrate into society, be self-sufficient, and not be judged by their past mistakes.

Nia Cosby Smiling Portrait Image

Nia Cosby

Training Coordinator - Pathways for Equity Program

Nia has been active in her community since childhood where she first began volunteering at voter registration drives with her grandmother. Nia’s passion and motivation to help formerly incarcerated individuals stems from her being the child of a formerly incarcerated mother, who served 15 years in federal prison. This difficult time in her life gave her the drive to become the successful woman she is today.

Nia has been giving the opportunity to be featured and share her story on several media outlets including, National Public Radio (NPR), PBS News, and ACLU publications. Nia has worked with several organizations that serve justice impacted individuals, she has been tasked with building client databases and writing parole packets for individuals who received life sentences. Nia received her post secondary education from Florida A&M University were she studied business administration.

Judith Negron

Judith Negron

Partnership Lead - Pathways for Equity Program

Judith Negron serves as the Partnership Lead for the Pathways 4 Equity Program. She is responsible for business outreach, employer partnerships, corporate sponsorships, and providing information on fair chance hiring. As Partnership Lead, she aims to bridge the gap between justice-impacted women and employers to provide equitable employment opportunities.

Judith is an accomplished leader and innovator with an impressive career spanning over three decades in the mental health and community services fields. While Vice President of Medlink Professional, she led the company's growth from a small operation to a large, multi-location corporation. She is also an experienced educator, mentor, and counselor who has helped hundreds of justice-impacted women in various correctional institutions.

As a formerly incarcerated Hispanic mother, she has experienced first-hand the countless barriers and collateral consequences attached to having a conviction. She has since dedicated her freedom to advocate for those who have been directly and indirectly impacted by the criminal legal system.

Judith has a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from St. Thomas University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and holds several certifications, including Seeking Safety, Cognitive Behavioral Training, Comprehensive Overview of Immigration Law, and QuickBooks.