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Rehabilitation Programs Division

Volunteer Services Program

2014 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Houston Man Receives Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award

From left to right: Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell, Ronald Zifer, Keynote Speaker Judge Cathy Cochran and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston.

(Austin) – Ronald Zifer was presented the Leonard Davis Award during the Governor’s 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award program today. The award is given to an individual who has served the most volunteer hours over the past year.

The award was presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell, and TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston today during a ceremony held in Austin. Zifer is one of 15 individuals and 6 organizations from across the state recognized for their efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation.

“These men and women give their time not for monetary reward,” said Livingston. “They volunteer because they have a personal passion in seeing others succeed. We are grateful for their selfless dedication.”

The award is named in recognition of Leonard Davis who passed away in 2009. He was the honored recipient of this award in 2005, 2007, 2008 and posthumously in 2010 when the award was renamed in his honor.

In 2013, Ronald Zifer recorded 1,810 hours of volunteer service to TDCJ. He is the Program Manager for the Innerchange Freedom Initiative (IFI) and has dedicated his life to working with the incarcerated. He previously worked as a Prison Fellowship employee and started the faith-based dorm at the Darrington Unit. In his role as IFI program manager he has initiated and organized several innovative programs. Just recently, he began a self-paced GED preparation program, as well as a weekly principle of marriage class where offender spouses discuss issues related to offender reentry. Zifer also manages and coordinates 425 active IFI volunteers and 300 offenders who are in the program.

Zifer says his motivation for volunteer work in TDCJ came when his son was incarcerated and he realized there was a huge need to help people and find alternatives to self-medicating for pain from life’s challenges. Zifer and his wife, Denise, have 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

Zifer is one of thousands of concerned volunteers who, like him, donate many hours of their personal time every year with the goal of changing the lives of convicted offenders, and aiding and comforting their victims. Annually, some 21,000 volunteers make 145,000 visits to criminal justice facilities and work with offenders who are on supervision, donating some 460,000 hours of service.

Note to media: For more information, contact Jason Clark by e-mail at – Photos of award recipients will be available on the TDCJ Web site at For high resolution photos, please contact Jene Andersen at