At 18 years old Robert was arrested for being in a friend’s apartment that contained drugs. While Robert had no criminal history, didn’t possess drugs on his person and recorded no sale, he was sentenced to 15 years to life mandatory minimum sentence under the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws.
While incarcerated he went from a GED to a BA in Behavioral Science and master’s degree in Theology from New York Theological Seminary. He is a founding member of Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA), a program geared towards artistic expression, creativity and giving voice to those that felt voiceless. RTA , now in its 26th year, has since been replicated in 8 different state facilities in New York State serving men and women interested in the arts.
Robert was released in 2001 at the age of 33 and was connected to STRIVE employment services where he served as a counselor, mentor, and Fatherhood lead and eventually was the director of the Connections 2 Care program where he facilitated mental health trainings for staff, set up a path for mental health services for clients and managed a partnership between Union Settlement, The Silberman School of Social Work and STRIVE. Robert has also worked for Housing Works as a bilingual reentry facilitator and was the director of family services for The Neighborhood Defenders of Harlem. Robert has also attended and finished his courses at the Silberman School of Social Work but during the last internship Robert experienced kidney failure in 2014 and was unable to complete the internship that would have allowed him to graduate. Robert has also completed the Justice Through Code program at the Columbia School of Business and earned a certification in software engineering.
In September of 2007 Robert was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and immediately directed to start dialysis treatment. After two years, a friend gave him the gift of a kidney which failed after 5 years before he had to go back to dialysis. He waited for 6 ½ years before he received another kidney and underwent another transplant in October of 2020.
As a result of his battle with chronic kidney disease and his lived experience through the dialysis and transplantation process, Robert had a new sense of mission. Robert founded The Jentosy Project, an organization which aims to increase the match rate of Black and Brown people with end stage renal disease and to assist in the navigation of the organ transplant process – hopefully leading to an increase in living donations. Bringing his background in Theology, community engagement, software engineering and social work has allowed him to form the Jentosy Project with colleagues and advisors.
Robert is a poet, an illustrator, painter and has done some light acting. His interest are sports, music, and spending time with his friends.