A new kind of movement that trains and equips public defenders to coalesce their individual experiences into a nationwide push for a more compassionate justice system.

A minimalist design with the word "Zealous" in bold, uppercase letters. The text is creatively arranged with "ZEAL" and "OUS" stacked vertically in red on a light peach background.

The challenge

Public Defenders are witnesses to daily discriminations, inside and outside of court. Whether fighting tooth and nail for the rights of their clients or navigating the complex machinations of our criminal justice system, public defenders are experts with a deep well of untapped knowledge and appetite for reform.

Three smartphone screens showcase different sections of the Zealous website. The left shows a "Speakers & Facilitators" announcement. The middle screen displays the Zealous logo and an overview. The right screen features a conversation titled "Shifting the Narrative" with a moderator's photo.

Across the country, courageous and reform-minded defenders were speaking out about what they were seeing. Alone, their actions had limited impact. But what if they could be brought together, with their efforts combined and multiplied in order to build a shared vision, strategy, and action plan for deep, systemic change?

A three-column webpage featuring event information. The left column includes an overview and public learning information. The middle column lists speakers and facilitators with photos. The right column features logos and a section about The Hoxton with more text and an image.
A panel of five speakers sits on stage in front of a large audience. Behind them, a screen displays their names: Emily Bazelon, Soledad O’Brien, Scott Hechinger, Rachael Rollins, and Reginald Dwayne Betts, under the title "Impact Storytelling to Help End Mass Criminalization.

The start of something new

Created and led by public defenders, Zealous focuses on training, advocacy, and movement-building.

Zealous started as a 2-day transformative experience that built belief, community, and momentum. Zealous catalyzed a collective of like-minded advocates with a powerful shared vision to end mass incarceration in the United States. Each public defender went back to their home office inspired to push change from within, supported by a national community, and energized to ask bigger and better questions.

A collage of ten presentation slides with various titles related to criminal justice reform, featuring different speakers. The slides have a cohesive red and white color scheme and include headshots of the speakers along with titles such as "Story-Centered Advocacy" and "Shifting the Narrative.

An organization is born

Today, Zealous has burgeoned into an independent organization, committed to recruiting defenders from across the country and training them to spread powerful stories that speak truth and spark change, maximize policy impact, and reform the legal system from the ground up.

A person wearing a black long-sleeve shirt with the word "ZEALOUS" printed in large red letters on the front stands against a gray background. They are also wearing light gray sweatpants. Only their torso and part of their head are visible.
Four circular pins with vibrant designs are displayed on a light pink background. Two pins read "ZEALOUS" in bold letters with "Moving advocacy outside of court" beneath it. Another pin reads "Moving advocacy outside of court" in red text. The fourth pin is partially open, its inscription is obscured. The pins are in yellow, white, and red color schemes.

A power play

Branding Zealous was all about amplifying the voices of public defenders and the clients they represent both inside and outside of court. The cascading letter forms in the wordmark, set in Culver, a custom font created by Frere-Jones Type, depict this amplification literally. The supporting elements build on the brand’s momentum and power through conceptual iconography, bold statements, and a warm color palette.

Individuals seated in chairs holding or placing canvas tote bags with the word "ZEALOUS" printed in bold red letters. The individuals wear black attire and black shoes.
A person with light skin wearing a wristwatch and holding a yellow speckled mug that says "Zeal Us" on it. The person is sitting at a wooden table with a napkin and a red spoon. In the background, there is a bowl filled with sugar packets and some papers.

At the kickoff event in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the brand helped channel the energy, excitement, and power embodied by the incredible participants and star-studded line-up of speakers and facilitators.

Glass door of a building with "Zealous: Media training and movement building for public defenders" in red and white text. Event dates "September 20-22" are also displayed. Partially visible interior shows tables and chairs under modern lighting.

Intention and innovation

Conversations, and not just around big topics like criminal justice reform, can be big and messy. They ebb and flow, grow loud, then silent, and are generally hard to steer. With over 52 public defenders and countless other experts in the room, we needed to define what we wanted every individual to walk away with.

The two days were anchored in experiential learning, a series of carefully designed activities that allowed participants to learn by doing. Through story slams, Twitter workshops, role-playing activities, and fishbowl-style listening sessions, attendees were asked to examine old challenges in new ways and approach new challenges through time-tested frameworks. Participants gained media skills, coalition building, power mapping, campaign strategy, narrative change, and the art of storytelling, and learned from a range of experts.

A person with curly hair writes on a large whiteboard filled with text and diagrams. They use black and orange markers to add content about leadership and community action. Their focus is on a section titled "Henry Ford." The atmosphere appears educational.
A detailed illustration of the NY Campaign for Pretrial Justice Panel. The image features sketches of panelists, key discussion points, diagrams, speech bubbles, and visual elements highlighting topics like bail reform, community impact, and raising awareness.

Graphic Recordings by Claudia Lopez of On the Right Mind

Hyperakt took an idea, an important yet complicated concept in which we believed deeply, and they made it concrete. Beautiful and powerful. They gave it shape and character. And in doing so, they enabled us to have immediate and growing impact.
Scott Hechinger
Director & Founder, Zealous

Behind the Scenes

Project Credits

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