Board of Directors & Executive Staff

William CanavanExecutive Director & Board Member: Bill assists men being released from civil commitment and those being discharged from other federal, state and county correctional facilities with all their essential needs when returning to the community. Many of these men have served several years of incarceration and are homeless. Bill is uniquely qualified to assist because he too spent more than three decades in prison.

He started doing this work on a volunteer basis in August 2013. As a result, the Boston Release Network was formed. It is comprised of men and women formerly convicted of a sex offense who know first-hand the difficulties encountered when returning to the community. A grant was received in November 2016 by the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition that has enabled Bill to do this important work full-time. That grant expired in 2018 and the Boston Release Network has now become a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation.

Prior to starting his new job in November 2016, Bill worked as a paralegal primarily on Sexually Dangerous Person (SDP) trials, assisting in all aspects of the trial.

William Stevens – Assistant Director & Board Member: Bill started doing this work on a volunteer basis in July 2016 with Bill Canavan, and as a result, the Boston Release Network was formed. It is comprised of men and women formerly convicted of a sex offense who know first-hand the difficulties encountered when returning to the community. It was through Bill’s efforts that Boston Release Network became a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation in January 2019.

Assisting men that are being released from civil commitment or discharged from federal, state or county correctional facilities as they are returning to the community is a natural offshoot of the prison reform work Bill performed during his more than 3 decades of incarceration. It was during this time that he became an accomplished prison litigator who was able to bring many positive changes to the prison system through the suites he filed during his incarceration.

Since his release, Mr. Stevens has dedicated his volunteer efforts to criminal justice reform with organizations such as Sex Offender Policy Reform Initiative; National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws; Black and Pink; and sat on the Board of Directors of the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition.

Michael C. Shimkin, Chair: Michael is a Summa Cum Laude Masters graduate in Business Administration from Northeastern University. With an under-graduate of Civil/Ocean Engineering from the University of Rhode Island in 1989, he pursued a consulting career in environmental engineering and in 1999 founded and remains Executive Director of the non-profit Global Village Engineers. In 2002, Mr. Shimkin was selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow.

Michael has been an invited speaker at Oxfam America; the World Bank; Boston University, Center for Energy and Environment; Tufts University; Roger Williams College; University of Massachusetts; Brandeis University; and Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Business Administration to speak about environmental professions and environmental impact evaluations. With regard to the engineer’s role in international sustainable development

Michael dedicates his volunteer efforts to the Arts, Environmental Sustainability and Criminal Justice Reform is currently or a past board member of Village Theatre Project, Boston Network for International Development, North Shore United Way, and the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws.

Erick Lans, Treasurer: Erick has volunteered in the past at Saint Francis House in Boston, as well as with the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition.

He holds a variety of advanced degrees, including a Masters of Science in Accounting and an MBA.  He is an Enrolled Agent, providing tax and business advisory, preparation, and representation services to clients.

James Mansfield, Secretary: Jim is currently the board secretary for the Boston Release Network.  Jim is a life-long resident of Boston.  Jim previously had a long career working as a manager for the City of Boston, working there for over 23 years.  In that capacity he oversaw the management of Constituent Services, Intergovernmental and Media Relations, and special projects for the Boston Transportation Department.  Mr. Mansfield was also a community organizer serving as Secretary of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council for 18 years.  Additionally he served as President of the John F. Kennedy Family Service Center, Vice Chair of the Charlestown Community Center and as a founding board member of the Dennis McLaughlin House for Women.

Forest O’Neill Greenberg, Esq.: Forest O’Neill-Greenberg is an assistant federal defender in the Federal Defender Office in Boston, MA and is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and New York. Previously, she worked as a trial attorney at the Boston criminal defense firm Hedges and Tumposky, LLP, and as a trial attorney with the Public Defender of Massachusetts (CPCS) and for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). She has defended clients against a variety of criminal cases, from simple misdemeanors like drug possession, assault and battery, and driving offenses to complex felonies like drug trafficking, sexual offenses and assaults, armed robbery, and rape. As an appellate advocate, Forest has worked on appeals of serious felonies ranging from murder, rape, and sexual assault to drug trafficking.

Forest specializes in issues related to sex offenses and collateral consequences, such as involuntary civil commitment and sex offender registry requirements.  Additionally she has extensive experience working in the field of human rights and international criminal law, and has worked at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a United Nations Atrocity Crimes Tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as was a member of a legal team representing Cambodian victims in their allegations of Crimes against Humanity before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

She is a graduate of the National Forensic College (NFC) and the National Criminal Defense College (NCDC), and is an alumnus of Northeastern University School of Law and Brandeis University.

Emily Berg, MSW, is a graduate of Harvard University, Massachusetts College of Art, and Simmons School of Social Work.  She is a retired social worker, who worked for many years in various capacities with homeless people.  She was not surprised to learn that many of this population have criminal records and that in many cases those records are a primary reason for their homelessness.  In particular, people who have been convicted of sex offenses were barred from employment, housing, and benefits and thus were condemned to permanent homelessness and complete rejection by society no matter how they changed or what they did.  Fortunately, due to massive efforts of a coalition of activist groups, there have been some real positive changes in this area, but the changes are far from sufficient.

Retirement has allowed Emily to concentrate her efforts on further criminal justice reform as well as continuing to help individuals via BRN.  She is a member of Mass Community Action Network and Sexual Offenses Policy Reform Initiative.