Tommy Safian

Tommy Safian believes that criminal justice is impossible without economic justice.

After earning his Masters in Literature in 1991, Tommy Safian moved to Los Angeles and started picking up furniture out of the garbage, refurbishing it, and selling it in weekly sales. Retailers began purchasing his products, and before long he had a factory in South Central Los Angeles with more than 30 employees. Resettling in Brooklyn in 1998, he opened a retail store, Nova Zembla, that was voted Best Furniture Store in NYC by Citysearch users.

In 2015, with co-founder Cisco Pinedo, Tommy established Refoundry. An innovative non-profit, Refoundry aims to reduce the 2.2 million U.S. prison population and 75% recidivism rate by empowering people most affected by our criminal justice system to transform their lives and become leaders and economic engines in their communities.

As the organization’s Executive Director, Tommy was named a NY1 NYer of the Week, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Forbes, and Inc., and in videos on Huffington Post, Upworthy, and the US Chamber of Commerce’s online magazine Free Enterprise. He was selected by Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Chief Purpose Officer for a featured interview at the 2016 Social Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley, and is on advisory councils for the ReEntry Acceleration Program (REAP) at Columbia University’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, and CHOOSE Creator of The Classroom Index, a resource for teaching racial literacy in K-12.


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