Posts Tagged ‘bridgeway houston’

Below is a press release from Bridgeway about our 2014 Volunteer Keith Okano (pictured).


Bridgeway's Keith Okano with the finalists of PEP's Class 21 Business Plan Competition

Bridgeway’s Keith Okano with the finalists of PEP’s Class 21 Business Plan Competition

HOUSTON, Oct. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Bridgeway Software, the most recommended provider of legal services management solutions, today announced that president Keith Okano was named Houston 2014 Volunteer of the Year by the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP). Established in 2004, PEP is a Houston-based nonprofit organization that operates as a public-private partnership with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. PEP has pioneered innovative programs that connect the nation’s top executives, entrepreneurs, and MBA students with convicted felons.

“I strongly believe in second chances, particularly with programs that help people who want to help themselves,” said Keith Okano, president of Bridgeway Software. “As positive advocates of change, PEP’s goal is to be on the front line, diving into the source of the problem and reclaiming the human spirit.  I am honored to be associated with such an important organization and to helping these men discover their untapped potential.”

A former member of PEP’s Houston Advisory Board, Mr. Okano has volunteered in prison more than 30 days in the past three years alone. He has also served as a business plan advisor for four incarcerated men; one of whom won PEP’s business plan competition thanks in large part to Keith’s support. Outside of prison, he has served as a mentor to a released graduate and taught classes in PEP’s eSchool program—a continuing education program offered to released graduates. Beyond volunteering, Keith has been a faithful donor and outspoken advocate for PEP in the community.  He has brought friends and coworkers to visit prisons, and even travelled to North Texas to speak to a group of students from the University of North Texas about his involvement in PEP.

Keith Okano models servant leadership, humility, and generosity in a way that makes an enormous impact on everyone around him including those who are incarcerated and his fellow volunteers. We are very proud to recognize him as our 2014 Houston Volunteer of the Year,” said Bert Smith, CEO of PEP.

PEP’s entrepreneurship boot camp and re-entry programs are proven solutions for preventing recidivism, maximizing self-sufficiency and transforming broken lives. According to a recent study from Baylor University, PEP out-performs all nine of the state’s other major prison rehabilitation programs while delivering a 340% ROI for every dollar invested by private donors.

One of the major reasons for PEP’s success is it engages nearly one thousand different volunteers each year as either in-prison volunteers, remote business plan advisors, or “free world” volunteers. These amazing servant leaders provide critical support to PEP and ensure that it can continue to deliver best-in-class results while maximizing the impact of the community’s financial support.

“Keith is a wonderful source of encouragement and wise counsel for our men,” said Kristie Wisniewski, Chief of Staff for PEP. “Keith is a man of few words, is very deep and thinks carefully before speaking. He reminds me of Albert Einstein’s quote, ‘Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.’ I think Keith is a man of value to his family, his co-workers and to PEP, and we are honored to name him our volunteer of the year.”

About the Prison Entrepreneurship Program
Established in 2004, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) is a Houston-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The program’s mission is to transform inmates and executives by unlocking human potential through entrepreneurial passion, education, and mentoring.  PEP’s groundbreaking results include a return-to-prison rate of less than 5%, employment rate of 100% within 90 days, and the successful launch of more than 100 businesses. To learn more, visit

About Bridgeway
Bridgeway is dedicated to providing software solutions and professional services to implement best practices for the offices of the general counsel and corporate secretary. Most recommended by clients, Bridgeway enables leading corporations and government agencies to optimize productivity, reduce cost, and mitigate risk with an integrated technology approach for legal services management. Bridgeway implements systems in the areas of matter and case management, electronic invoicing, cost management, corporate governance, contract management, litigation risk assessment, and entity management. Founded in 1989, the company is headquartered in Houston, Texas with representative offices in Philadelphia and Toronto. More information about eCounsel®, LawManager®, Smart InvoiceCorridor™, Bridgeway Legal Hold, and Secretariat® is available at or by calling 888-272-4699.

SOURCE Bridgeway Software

PEP graduate Bryan Kelley was recently invited to speak to students at the University of North Texas about entrepreneurship. The invitation came through PEP’s 2014 Houston Volunteer of the Year, Keith Okano (President of Bridgeway Software), who was also part of the presentation.

Thank you, Keith, for being such an amazing advocate for PEP!

The following originally appeared in the 2013 annual report from Bridgeway Capital Management. It is reprinted here with permission from the author, Bridgeway’s Head of Equity Trading, Dick Cancelmo.

Transformative Change
Prison Entrepreneurship Program — authored by Dick Cancelmo

Dick Cancelmo

Dick Cancelmo

In my mind happiness and the pursuit of satisfaction in life evolves around a common theme of People, Places and Purpose. Little did I know that prison could be a Place to evoke happiness until I participated in the Prison Entrepreneurship Program or PEP. This very well run and successful program transforms “inmates and executives by unlocking human potential through entrepreneurial passion, education and mentoring.” One of the outcomes of PEP’s mission is that it tackles a tremendous problem in Texas prisons: that 25% of prisoners return to jail within 3 years. PEP’s 700+ graduates have a recidivism rate of less than 5% since PEP started operations in 2004. In addition, the employment rate for graduates within 90 days of release is 100%, with more than 120 businesses launched from the program.

Three Bridgeway Partners, Kai Liu, Cindy Griffin and Tammira Philippe, have been active in this program for several years. They organized a small group of Partners, family members and a business associate to see what PEP was all about. Recently, we went to the Cleveland Correctional Center just north of Houston and spent the better part of the day in prison. We participated in “Pitch Day,” an exercise where select prisoners “pitch” business plans for their hopeful post-prison businesses. As members of the volunteer executive panels, we offered insight, suggestions and encouragement to this group of men.

When we arrived at the Cleveland Correctional Center, the first thing that was obvious was that there are very few things that differentiate us from the inmates in the program. If it weren’t for luck or grace or whatever you choose to call it, any of us could be the ones on the other side. Secondly, they were very well prepared for this event after spending many hours of hard work studying an outstanding curriculum. Third, they were incredibly articulate, passionate, friendly and thankful for our help, and more importantly the help of the dedicated leaders of PEP who have given these men the tremendous gift of Purpose.

Perhaps the experience was best summed up by Matt Hall, our business associate who joined us – “I’m very cognizant of what gives me energy and of activities that are energy thieves. If I think about how I feel after being away on a ten day vacation and compare that feeling to one day at PEP, there’s no question that PEP is the winner. Three weeks later, I’m still energized by the men of PEP.”

PEP’s success in reducing recidivism rates and changing lives has been growing. They hope to soon include all inmates at the Cleveland Correctional Center, which would double the program size. Check out PEP for yourself –