Jan. 6, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
The founder of a Long Island City-based non-profit that provides services to the families of incarcerated women— and the women themselves—has left her leadership position.
Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, who established Hour Children in 1992 and was the executive director, has taken a new position as president of the Sisters of St Joseph’s religious congregation, located in Brentwood, Suffolk County.
Hour Children, headquartered at 36-11 12th St., made the announcement Monday. The non-profit said that Fitzgerald will still have ties to the organization and will be a consultant.
Fitzgerald has been replaced by Dr. Alethea Taylor, a former doctoral lecturer at Hunter College School of Education in Manhattan and the executive director of Greenhope Services for Women, an East Harlem-based organization that supports formerly incarcerated women with a history of substance abuse.
Taylor has more than 20 years of experience serving incarcerated or formerly incarcerated women, according to Hour Children.
“I welcome Alethea with an open heart and the utmost support,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “It is a sacred and honored role to be of service to Hour families and to grow Hour programs inside prisons and in the community.”
The organization was established in 1992 by Fitzgerald– six years after she started providing accommodation in Long Island City to children whose mothers had been incarcerated.
She then realized that the incarcerated women would need support if they were to successfully reunite with their children upon their release.
Hour Children was then officially created and has since become a leading provider of prison and community-based services to support incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children.
The nonprofit provides prison-based services such as an infant nursery, parenting education, advocacy, as well as transportation and visiting programs.
Hour Children’s community programming includes supportive housing, job training, childcare support, mentoring for children and a community food pantry. The organization also operates a thrift shop at 12-10 36th Ave., which helps to financially support the non-profit.
During Fitzgerald’s tenure, Hour Children grew to include six communal homes, three apartment houses and two housing partnerships — to facilitate mothers and children reuniting.
She was recognized by former President Barack Obama at the White House in 2014 for her dedication to the well-being of children of incarcerated parents.
Taylor, upon her appointment, praised Fitzgerald’s decades-long role at Hour Children and said she will strive to continue her legacy.
“The mission that Sister Tesa started is phenomenal,” Taylor said.
“We will continue to help advance the fight to end mass incarceration of women. The mission has not changed, the commitment has not changed, but we still have much work to do.”
Taylor is a member of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and serves as a consultant with New York Women’s Foundation on its Justice Fund initiative. The Manhattan-based foundation works to bring economic security, safety and reproductive justice to women and girls.
She holds a doctorate in Rehabilitation Counseling as well as a master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling. Taylor is a certified Rehabilitation Counselor.