Omari Amili is an author and community leader who lives in Spanaway, Washington with his spouse and six children. He has most recently worked as a juvenile justice researcher for the ACLU of Washington and prior to that he was a faculty member and case manager with South Seattle College.
Omari came from a very disadvantaged background that included neglect, abandonment, and chronic instability as a result of his parents’ addiction to crack cocaine. He is a product of poverty whose childhood experiences included homelessness and foster care. Omari attended over 15 schools growing up before dropping out and becoming a product of the school-to-prison pipeline. With a lack of positive influences and a set of life circumstances that did not allow for positive development, Omari engaged in a life of crime at an early age to support himself and ultimately was convicted of 30 felonies related to a bank fraud scheme.
Upon his release from prison in 2008, utilizing his GED, Omari began an educational journey at the age of 23 that has led him to four college degrees including an AA, two BA’s and a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Washington. Omari’s graduate research was on preventing recidivism through post-secondary education and for his Master’s project he developed a workshop to help other people go from prison to college as he had done.
Omari is on a mission to serve others from backgrounds similar to his and introduce them to new possibilities. A major focus of that mission is to change the narrative surrounding people like him so that they may be seen for their potential instead of their risk.
Omari has been doing just that and his highlights from 2018 include being named a Distinguished Alumni award winner by Pierce College, participating alongside Washington state governor Jay Inslee on the Results Washington panel, delivering a Keynote speech at the University of Missouri Kansas City’s 10th International Conference on Supplemental Instruction, participating as a table author at the University of Washington’s Literary Voices, and publishing the children’s book “In Search of Role Models”