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Robert J. DeSenaFounder & President Council for Unity Inc.
Robert De Sena was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. During his youth, he was
involved with several street gangs—experiences that proved invaluable in his
later work with at-risk teenagers. Despite these obstacles, he was able to obtain
a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s University and two Master of Arts, one from
New York University and one from Queens College.
In 1965, he became a high school English teacher. His skill in bringing
contending ethnic and racial groups together led to the formation of the Council
for Unity, which he founded at John Dewey High School in 1975. The Council’s
customized curriculum and program ideology created by Mr. De Sena has given
the program a national reputation for its success in promoting unity, safety and
achievement in schools and communities.
De Sena designed and implemented a correctional facility model currently employed in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility and the Suffolk County Jail that engages inmates in the Council mission. This groundbreaking initiative has led to the transformation of prisons from institutions of retribution to community assets that assist in deterring crime. The Council’s prison membership renounces violence and criminal activity, articulates with at-risk Council high school youth to demonstrate the consequences of bad choices,
ceases prison-led and prison-organized gang directives to the community and, in
support of this commitment, the Council employs CFU ex-offenders upon their
parole, thus reversing trends in recidivism with released ex-offenders. The
integration of the Council models represents one of the few systemic and holistic approaches to ending gang and criminal activity anywhere in the