STAFF

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR / CO-FOUNDER

Billi Jo Starr, PhD

CO-FOUNDER

MEGHANN TORRES, MSW LCSW

DEPUTY DIRECTOR EMERITUS

LAVELL BAYLOR

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

DYLAN GRIFFITH

DIRECTOR OF ADULT PROGRAMS

EDDIE PEREZ

2021-2022 F4Y Advocates Co-Chair, F4Y Mentor since 2021

Ofisa Pati

Youth Programs and Advocacy Coordinator, F4Y Mentor since 2019

Lena Mallett

Data Center Technician

Raven Scott

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR / CO-FOUNDER

Billi Jo Starr, PhD

Billi Jo Starr, PhD is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, and received her Bachelors from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Sociology with honors and distinction. Billi Jo remained at UCSB and graduated with her Masters and Doctorate in Education. Billi Jo’s research emphasis is in Special Education specifically supporting children who have emotional and behavioral challenges and are in alternative education settings. Billi Jo’s focus is to evaluate and develop effective interventions that empower youth in alternative education settings.

Billi Jo has presented her findings at the Teacher and Educators of Children with Emotional Behavioral Disorders Annual Conference and received awards such as the Gervitz Graduate School Special Education Fellowship. Through the Santa Barbara Superior Court, Judge Arthur Garcia, has appointed Billi Jo as Commissioner for the Santa Barbara County Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission.

For the last decade Billi Jo has developed curriculum, facilitated programming, and directly served 2000+ youth at Los Prietos Boys Camp (a secure-care detention facility in Santa Barbara County) as well as, youth on probation countywide. She also co-founded a nonprofit ‘Freedom 4 Youth’ (F4Y) to empower youth during their confinement and support them upon release.

In addition to her community activism Billi Jo is a Women’s Economic Ventures graduate with a background in business. She previously owned and operated a catering business for over a decade in Santa Barbara. Billi Jo shares her business expertise through the various classes she teaches and develops through the Career Skills Institute at Santa Barbara City College and in the Santa Barbara County Jail.

CO-FOUNDER

MEGHANN TORRES, MSW LCSW

Meghann Newell, MSW, LCSW, is a Social Worker in Santa Barbara County. As an undergraduate student at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), she began volunteering with Freedom 4 Youth, while she gained a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Applied Psychology. In collaboration with Freedom 4 Youth, she co-founded the Freedom 4 Youth Advocates at UCSB to support college students as mentors for youth in the juvenile justice system.

While in her Master of Social Work program at California State University Fullerton she interned as a school-based Mental Health Social Worker with the Pomona Unified School District, and as a Clinical Therapist for Riverside County Department of Mental Health at a children’s outpatient clinic. Meghann was awarded the Outstanding Master’s Project from her graduating class. Her research explored gender-specific social-environment effects on self-regulatory risk factors of delinquency among youth in the juvenile justice system. She has studied abroad in Indonesia with an emphasis on Eastern literature and philosophy and participated in the first-ever scientific survey of butterflies in the Tompotika area of Indonesia and assisted in projects that empowered local communities in conservation efforts.

Meghann’s research received the California Social Work Education Center research award and she presented her findings at the Society for Social Work Research national conference in Washington DC. Currently Meghann works as a Clinical Supervisor at Casa Pacifica. Meghann continues to volunteer with Freedom4Youth.

DEPUTY DIRECTOR EMERITUS

LAVELL BAYLOR

LaVell Baylor, an Air Force veteran, abolitionist, and a woman impacted by the justice system, who builds community and advocates for legislation on many of today’s important civil & human rights issues including mass incarceration, youth development, violence prevention, anti-sexual violence, veteran’s rights, mental health awareness and PTSD/trauma-informed healing.

In 2010, LaVell was introduced to Freedom 4 Youth and the life-changing work that Dr. Billi Jo Starr ignited with the youth inside of the justice system. She saw not only the heart-centered team (that includes UCSB student mentors) but that F4Y was the only volunteer-driven organization that, regardless of funding, was committed to providing critical resources and services to Santa Barbara County youth and its system-impacted population. This, coupled with her own desire to impact the lives of youth, prompted LaVell to choose Freedom 4 Youth.

As F4Y Deputy Director, LaVell has worked diligently to expand the organization’s state/nationwide profile, cultivating funding opportunities over the years via relationship building, strengthening alliances, operational support, public speaking, policy advocacy, and workshop facilitation throughout the nation. LaVell’s F4Y work and volunteering services continue to take her inside of prisons, juvenile detention centers, local communities, nonprofits, and the educational system on behalf of women, children, people impacted by the justice system and those disenfranchised at large.

LaVell was honored as a UCLA Beyond the Bars Fellow, a Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice Fellow, and a Fellow for the Community Justice Action Fund Speaker’s Bureau. She is an alumni and Volunteer Workshop Facilitator for the Freedom to Choose Prison Project within prisons throughout the state of California.  LaVell is also a member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children / All Of Us Or None, a guest speaker for Van Jones’s CUT#50 Women’s Dignity Campaign, etc and advocates on behalf of women, youth, and prison reform before the California State Senate and Assembly.

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

DYLAN GRIFFITH

Involved in the justice system for several years as a youth, Dylan received privileged treatment compared to his Black and Brown peers, which empowered him to successfully move beyond the system. His experience included heavily reduced charges, access to mental health services, and probation instead of incarceration. After terminating probation at the age of 16, he went on to graduate high school and attend several colleges before transferring to UCSB, eventually graduating with honors in Black Studies and Education. He loves working with Freedom 4 Youth because they are the only community based organization in Santa Barbara that curates nearly all of its services in support of those directly involved or impacted by the criminal justice system. He also works with Showing Up for Racial Justice Santa Barbara whose mission is to mobilize white people in the multiracial movement for racial justice.

DIRECTOR OF ADULT PROGRAMS

EDDIE PEREZ

I met Billi Jo at UCSB through a mutual friend, Ismael Huerta, who said I should think about getting involved with Freedom 4 Youth. He felt I would bring a lot to the table because of my past experience as an incarcerated youth. My first involvement was meeting a young man at our home with Billi Jo who had just been released from incarceration with who was struggling to understand how to reintegrate back into society, and to let go of the gang mentality. He also wanted to become a partner in his relationship with his girlfriend and her young son.  Later, I was invited to speak at Los Prietos Boys Camp. My involvement started slow and then started growing quickly, where later I was asked to serve as Chaplain for F4Y. I have taken this role serious and have prayed fervently for the youth that we want to bring stability to, as well as to the staff.  It has been a privilege and an honor to come alongside F4Y, watch the growth, and to see many who are growing into the service they are being called to. My greatest blessing is having the honor to pray for this organization, for the youth as well as the mentors, and for those who believe in F4Y and give so generously.

2021-2022 F4Y Advocates Co-Chair, F4Y Mentor since 2021

Ofisa Pati

Ofisa currently attends UCSB and majors in sociology with a minor in poverty, inequality, and social justice⁠. Although he’s not sure what field he wants to work in after graduation, he knows he wants to support others and see the world!  He lives by the mantra “Be curious, not judgmental.”
.⁠
He decided to join the Freedom 4 Youth team because he wanted to be involved with an organization that focuses on youth that have been impacted by the criminal legal system. He believes that in order to make the world a better place, we have to focus on what our young ones are being taught! Ofisa hopes that he’s able to teach people that consistency and listening go a long way. ⁠
.

Youth Programs and Advocacy Coordinator, F4Y Mentor since 2019

Lena Mallett

Lena graduated from UCSB in June 2021 ⁠with a BA in global studies. She is interested in a career that is either civil rights law or policy oriented, and wants to focus on youth and womxn who are system-impacted. She wants to be a part of a community that leads with love, compassion, and a holistic understanding of the individual. Lena believes that Santa Barbara desperately needs this support for our youth! 

Lena is always learning, evolving, and developing a better understanding the power of listening.⁠ They live by the motto “Without community, there is no liberation.”

Data Center Technician

Raven Scott

Raven Scott is a Data Center Technician and Support Operator that has provided web hosting and Technical Services for Freedom4Youth since its inception as ToastMasters Soldiers in 2008. Growing up in the foster care system in Santa Barbara County, Raven has always strived to learn and progress while providing positive reinforcement to his local community even with all the short falls of being within the state’s system, since then, Raven has continued to provide 24 hour Technical Support and Systems Administration for Freedom4Youth while honing in his technical skills innovating web hosting technologies and working on new technologies to assist in youth learning how to program websites and infrastructure.

Lived Experience Executive Division (L.E.E.D.)

Reynaldo Guzman

Angel Catalan

Angel Sanchez

Daniel Palma

Jordan Warren

Jose Flores

Khalil McWilliams

Advisory Council

YASKIN SOLANO

Reynaldo Guzman

Angel Catalan

Angel Sanchez

Daniel Palma

Jordan Warren

Jose Flores

Khalil McWilliams

Advisory Council

YASKIN SOLANO

 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Board Member

CANDICE PIPERSBURG-JOHNSON

Board Chair

Susan Washing

Board Member

Nancy J. Guthrie, J.D

Board Member

WILLIE POINDEXTER

Board Member

SHANNON MILLER

Board Member

Dr. Richard Beswick

Board Member

Melissa Cohen

Board Member

Thomas R. Parker

BOARD MEMBER

ROGER PERRY

Board Member

CANDICE PIPERSBURG-JOHNSON

Candice Pipersburg-Johnson was born and raised in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA.  She attended Santa Barbara High School as a 3rd Generation DON.  After completing high school, Candice enrolled at Santa Monica College, Santa Barbara City College, and Cal State Northridge where she completed her General Education, studied Public Administration & Dance, and was placed on the Dean’s Honor Roll.

Mrs. Pipersburg-Johnson has worked with children for over 23 years.  At the early age of 9, she started her very own babysitting club, inspired by the fictional series the Babysitters Club. The Babysitting club was very successful and launched her interest in business & child development. Candice has worked as a nanny, Assistant Daycare Director for the United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County, and a Personal Development Coach for children with her own company Preferred Image. She is a California Licensed Trust Line Provider and Foster Parent. Currently Ms. Pipersburg-Johsnon works as an Image Coach and Personal Developer for children 4-18 years old in addition to teaching gymnastics, competitive cheer, dance & fitness.

Candice’s hobbies and interests include traveling, child & community development, party planning and events, food, and distance running.

Candice and Dr. Billi Jo Starr met at Santa Barbara High School in 1998 and have worked together on several community events benefiting youth and culture in Santa Barbara.  Candice became a Board Member in 2010 and was elected as Freedom 4 Youth’s Board President in 2014. She is a proud member and supporter of Freedom 4 Youth. Candice takes ultimate pride in that the organization loves, listens and cares about each and every individual and their future, and that what makes Freedom 4 Youth stand out among community-based organizations.

“It’s an honor to be a part of an organization that has a direct, positive and meaningful impact on youth during one of the most valuable times of their lives. ”- Candice Pipersburg-Johnson, Freedom 4 Youth Board President

Board Chair

Susan Washing

Susan Washing began her professional career in a telecommunications startup company based in Colorado. She was transferred to Los Angeles to assume the management of the western region in sales and marketing. After 5 years she moved back to Colorado to work in a tax investment finance organization. Ultimately, she started a small company focused on sales training and public speaking.

Susan has served on nine non-profit boards, dealing primarily with children’s issues, including homelessness, sexual abuse and illness. Most of these NGOs were virtual startups and she built guilds and boards, and founded an annual fundraiser for most of them. In addition, Susan served as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) in Colorado and California for a decade, handling numerous cases, from D&N (dependency and neglect) to family resolutions for each. Currently she is on the Steering Committee of Human Rights Watch Santa Barbara, and on the research committee of the Women’s Fund.

Meeting the people who built Freedom 4 Youth was an inspirational moment, and she joined the board because she wanted to use her skills in building strong organizations for this amazing effort to counter judicial inequities, and build opportunities for youth in Santa Barbara.

Board Member

Nancy J. Guthrie, J.D

Nancy J. Guthrie received her BA and Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Wyoming.

She had a private law practice for 23 years.  During that time she was the Big Horn County Public Defender, Municipal Court Judge, County Attorney (the first woman County Attorney in the State), and was Special Water Master for the Big Horn River litigation.

Judge Guthrie was appointed District Court Judge in 1994 by Gov. Mike Sullivan.  She is the past president of the Wyoming Alumni Association, an Honorary Member of Rotary and legal fraternity Delta Theta Phi, a member of the Wyoming Commission for Women and has received the “Outstanding Wyoming Woman Award.”

Judge Guthrie has served on the Permanent Rules Committee, the Continuing Legal Education Committee and presently represents Wyoming on the National Committee for Juvenile Court Judges.

She is an avid reader, dog walker, and lifelong learner.   She has one son and two granddaughters. As a prosecutor and later on the bench, Nancy believed the most important and impactful decisions pertained to juveniles. Now, as a resident in Santa Barbara, she has found a home with Freedom 4 Youth where she can continue to work with that belief.

Board Member

WILLIE POINDEXTER

Willie Poindexter is a retired Police Officer with the Santa Barbara County Probation Department and currently a Personal Trainer who teaches personal peace thru martial arts classes.   He holds a B.A., in Psychology from Cal State Long Beach.
Willie found his work with the youth so rewarding that he joins our team and says, “Freedom 4 Youth is essential and different than any other organization because this program is filed with quality people who do not give up on their clients by keeping them involved and accountable. I chose to be involved because i want to be  a positive force in their life so that they suffer less and find their place in this world sooner rather than later.”

Board Member

SHANNON MILLER

Shannon runs a tax practice in Santa Barbara, California. She also enjoys gardening, exercise, traveling and trying to make the world a better place. She feels Freedom 4 Youth is essential because it offers concrete support for young people through work and education – with the world’s most dedicated staff.

Board Member

Dr. Richard Beswick

Dr. Richard Beswick comes to Cottage Health with 19 years of research experience, both as an accomplished scientist and as a research administrator with special expertise in the areas of hypertension and kidney disease.  Dr. Beswick served as the Senior Vice President and Assistant Dean for Research at the Baylor Scott & White Healthcare/Texas A&M College of Medicine.

Dr. Beswick also has an extensive experience in the Pharmaceutical environment, having worked as the Global Medical Director at Roche, and as the Manager of Clinical Affairs at Johnson &amp Johnson Laboratories. Most recently, Dr. Beswick has served as the Vice President for Research and Corporate Development/COO for the Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada.

Board Member

Melissa Cohen

Melissa Cohen was born and raised in Southern California, as well as London, and New York where she attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.   Melissa obtained her BA degree in Communication Arts from Loyola Marymount University.

Melissa is world-traveled and has a diverse work background in the Film Industry to being a substitute teacher (for the Santa Barbara Unified School District), Computer Aided Design (CAD) Specialist, Sr. Account Manager and an Higher Ed. Team Leader for BKM office environments where she project managed and designed spaces for UCSB, Cal State Channel Islands, Westmount, and California Polytechnic State University. 

Melissa has always loved to volunteer and over the years she has supported the PTA, United Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara, Food bank, Sierra Club, Girls Inc., Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, Optimist International Foundation, and Optimist Youth Home & Family Services. She served on a Parents Advisory Committee for the City of Santa Barbara and the Goleta Boys & Girls Club council. 

Prior to Melissa’s retirement, she joined the Northside Optimist Club of Santa Barbara. Her optimist titles include: Website assistant, District Photographer, Pacific Southwest District Zoom host and tutor, Northside Optimist Club President, Zone 12 Lt. Governor, Pacific Southwest Governor. Melissa is currently the President of the Northside Optimist Club of Santa Barbara. She is also a member of Toastmasters Club 5. As part of her passion for helping people, she currently hosts twice weekly free Zoom tutorials. These informal sessions are for anyone to join and learn how to navigate and become comfortable within Zoom. When the pandemic struck, Melissa realized the need for business people, less tech savvy individuals, people trying to connect with their family members and medical professionals, to have a safe place to explore, try something new, get confused and mess up in a safe Zoom environment. 

Board Member

Thomas R. Parker

Santa Barbara resident Thomas R. Parker is the retired assistant special agent in charge (i.e. deputy chief) of the FBI’s Los Angeles regional office, a former member of the City of Santa Barbara Fire & Police Commission, and a former chairman of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court Juvenile Justice/Delinquency Prevention Commission. He also is a nationally recognized criminal justice consultant, author and court-certified expert witness on political corruption, drug trafficking, police practices and police management.

BOARD MEMBER

ROGER PERRY

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ADVISORY COUNCIL

Advisory Council

YASKIN SOLANO

Advisory Council Chair

Elisabeth Leader

Advisory Council

Scott Budnick

Advisory Council

CECE HENDRIKS

Advisory Council

Geoff Green

Advisory Council

TODD RUBENSTEIN

Advisory Council

MILES ASHLOCK

Advisory Council

NOEL G

Advisory Council

Dr. GREG BENNER

Advisory Council

Elizabeth Calvin

Advisory Council

Elisabeth Fowler

Advisory Council Chair

Eva Rhodes

Advisory Council

Mikki Andina

Board Member

Barbara Lizzet Sanchez

Advisory Council

YASKIN SOLANO

Advisory Council Chair

Elisabeth Leader

Elizabeth is a philanthropist, prominent community  member and the Santa Barbara Director, Human Rights Watch.  We are happy to have her as the Chair of the Advisory Council. 

Advisory Council

Scott Budnick

Scott Budnick is an American film producer, Founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), and is currently CEO of One Community, LLC – a film, television, and new media co-financing company that uses the power of storytelling to encourage and inspire positive global change.

Recently, Budnick returned to the film business as executive producer of One Community’s first film, JUST MERCY, released in theaters on January 10, 2020.

As the former Executive Vice President of Todd Phillips’ Green Hat Films, Budnick produced OLD SCHOOL, DUE DATE, and the highest-grossing R-rated comedy trilogy in film history, THE HANGOVER’, which grossed over $1.4 billion.

Since 2004, Budnick has been a fierce advocate for social justice and a fairer judicial system. In 2003, he began volunteering with InsideOUT Writers (IOW), a program that brings creative writing into juvenile halls. In 2014, Budnick founded ARC, whose mission is to reduce incarceration, improve the outcomes of formerly incarcerated individuals, and build healthier communities. ARC provides formerly incarcerated men and women with direct services such as housing, counseling, job training and opportunities, mentoring, and education. The organization also empowers and mobilizes its members to play a role in justice reform efforts through direct policy advocacy.

For his work with youth in the criminal justice system, Governor Jerry Brown named Scott the 2012 California Governor’s Volunteer of the Year. He sits on the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) and was selected to serve as a Board Member for President Barack Obama’s foundation, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.

Advisory Council

CECE HENDRIKS

CeCe Hendriks (she/hers) is a former actress, turned socialite and is also the proud owner of Spoiled! which is located on the infamous Melrose Ave in Los Angeles. Spoiled! is a consignment store of exclusive name brands for children.  She also is a child advocate and heads the Entrepreneurial Program of Jenesse Center. 

Furthermore, CeCe is a committee member of the Entertainment Committee of Freedom4Youth in Santa Barbara. She has been awarded several times from the City of Inglewood and Santa Barbara by the California Legislature Assembly for her diligence in helping and restoring confidence in our youth. She also is a public speaker in which she speaks to the youth about today’s business world, fashion and natural climate.

She has been featured on Bravo’s “Relative Success” with Tabatha Coffey and graced many articles from Ebony and Jet as well as the Los Angeles Business Journal and Houston Chronicle and many more.

CeCe also just started The Get Spoiled Foundation to inspire and educate foster and adoptive children through entertainment and sports.

Advisory Council

Geoff Green

Geoff Green is the CEO of the SBCC Foundation, where he has led the effort to establish the SBCC Promise.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Geoff came to Santa Barbara in 1990 as a UCSB student. He found his passion in campus and community organizations working for social justice and environmental health. He was elected UCSB Associated Students President in 1993 and as a Director of the Isla Vista Park & Recreation District in 1994.

Geoff pursued his dream job as a Yosemite National Park Ranger/Naturalist for several years before returning to Santa Barbara in 1997 and joining the Fund for Santa Barbara. He served as Executive Director from 2003 to 2015, during which time the organization tripled in size, built new partnerships, and launched the Youth Making Change program.

Using his 25 years of experience in (and love of) the nonprofit sector, Geoff also consults professionally. In addition, he has raised over $4 million for more than 50 nonprofit organizations as a volunteer auctioneer, and frequently emcees events, moderates panels, and facilitates discussions on community issues.

His other community work includes more than ten years of public affairs radio programming and as a campaign field organizer. Geoff was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara North in 2006 and served on the Leadership Council that drafted Santa Barbara County’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in 2006-2007.

Geoff served as President of the Board of the Santa Barbara Ventura Counties Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2012, President of the Foundation Roundtable of Santa Barbara County from 2014 to 2015, and as Chair of the Board of Directors for the California Association of Nonprofits from 2016 to 2018, where he now serves as Treasurer. He also served on the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara from 2008 through 2021.

Geoff previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region, and co-led the three-way merger with the Goleta and Carpinteria chambers in 2020. He continues to serve on the newly merged Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

He joined the Board of Directors of Peabody Charter School in 2020 and currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Network of California Community College Foundations. He also serves on several advisory boards including KCRW Santa Barbara, the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at California Lutheran University, PATH Santa Barbara homeless center, and the Steering Committee for YouthWell.

Advisory Council

TODD RUBENSTEIN

Todd Rubenstein started his legal career in 1992 as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles County, where he worked in the juvenile court and ultimately ran the Hate Crimes Unit in the final year of his tenure.

For the past 20 years, Mr. Rubenstein has been a partner at the entertainment law firm of Morris Yorn Levine Barnes Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner, and Gellman, where he represents A-level actors, writers, directors, and artists, primarily in film and television. 

Todd is a founding board member of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and chairs the board of InsideOUT Writers, an organization offering 45 weekly creative writing classes to incarcerated minors throughout the county of Los Angeles and in California state prisons. 

Todd has other entrepreneurial interests, mentors formerly incarcerated individuals who are starting businesses, and is active in hiring and finding employment for those impacted by the system.

Advisory Council

MILES ASHLOCK

Miles Ashlock serves as the Chief of Staff/Executive Director of Planning and Administration at the UC Santa Barbara where he leads the Division of Student Affairs, overseeing human resources, strategic planning, organizational development, and operations for Student Affairs’ 29 departments. Acts as a primary and confidential advisor to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, providing the VC with complete research, analysis, advice, and recommendations at the highest and most complex levels on the widest range of issues facing the division, the campus, and the UC system.

Miles role has global responsibility for responding to all aspects of the divisional enterprise and is invested with the authority to make a range of tactical and strategic decisions on behalf of the Vice Chancellor and in the interest of the divisional mission.

As a senior member of the Division of Student Affairs management team (Executive Group), the chief of staff/executive director makes decisions related to divisional budgeting, staffing, organizational structure, policy, long-range and strategic planning, etc. Participates in administrative committees and task forces within and outside of the Division. Has signature authority over all divisional operations and is delegated authority for the division in the absence of the Vice Chancellor.

Miles Ashlock, has helped ELI students discover their best personal leadership style with a dynamic discussion.  Miles, a UCSB alum, has considerable experience working with students and in leadership training, having lead workshops for Leading from Within and in facilitating self-assessment and leadership development workshops.

ELI students learned the fundamentals of leadership, explored their own best leadership experience, and explored ways to self-assess, and learn and grow as leaders.  These fundamentals and practices will help students in implementing their ELI environmental leadership projects.

Advisory Council

NOEL G

Actor, Producer and Founder of independent film company Entangled Entertainment, Noel Guglielmi was raised in Los Angeles and first cast — without a formal audition — in a Taco Bell commercial at the age of 15.

Discovered during an acting class as a boy, today he is one of Hollywood’s most recognized faces with more than 150 large and small-screen credits to his name over a 25-year career.

Noel has worked with some of the best in the business, with roles in Fast and Furious, Training Day, Bruce Almighty, Purge Anarchy, The Dark Knight Rises, Fresh Off the Boat, CSI Miami, Bones, The Walking Dead and literally hundreds more.

His personal dedication to entertainment spans not only acting and producing but writing, digital content creation, stand-up comedy, talent recruitment, coaching and mentoring as well as motivational speaking.

For Noel, the opportunity to engage audiences across cultures, ages and borders is made even more rewarding when he can draw from his dramatically unique personal experiences to enlighten and improve the quality of life for others, especially at-risk youth and criminal offenders to pop and car culture enthusiasts and more.

After groundbreaking years in the profession as one of Hollywood’s original Latino celebrities, Noel was honored to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2017 as part of its diversity efforts and in recognition of his contributions.

Noel credits much of his success to learning from his peers. Attentive to every important aspect of film creation and being true to his roots and community help him stand out to succeed in one of the world’s most competitive professions and against challenging odds.

Today, he makes time to mentor others both in business and life.

Advisory Council

Dr. GREG BENNER

Dr. Greg Benner, O’Sullivan Professor of Special Education, Implementation Science at The University of Alabama, conceptualized and leads Whole Child transformation programs. After a decade of success in implementing Whole Child in Washington school districts, he is currently focused on developing initiatives to strengthen Alabama schools and communities. 

The Whole Child approach is a systematic blueprint for sustainable change in children, citizens, and communities. Through a comprehensive method for supporting students and teachers, streamlining existing programming, and establishing strong school-community partnerships, we redefine policies, practices, and relationships to ensure a positive, lasting impact on all youth within a community. By making a community-wide shift in how we educate and prepare our children for success in and out of school, Whole Child helps youth realize their full potential.

Advisory Council

Elizabeth Calvin

Elizabeth Calvin is the senior advocate in the Children’s Rights Division and an attorney with experience in youth justice, foster care, and education rights. At Human Rights Watch she focuses on children, youth, and emerging adults in conflict with the law. Her work includes research and writing on human rights violations against children, policy and legal advocacy, and building partnerships with community and national groups. She relies on the leadership of people directly impacted by human rights violations to determine the direction of her work.

Advisory Council

Elisabeth Fowler

Elisabeth and her family have lived in Santa Barbara for seventeen
years. Since moving here, Elisabeth has been involved in a number of
non-profits focused on health care, education and conservation. She
has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a minor degree in
political science from the University of Washington, and a career
background in public policy. She worked in Washington, D.C in the
private sector representing companies and government agencies,
senators, and various interest groups. Prior to moving to Santa
Barbara, Elisabeth lived in San Francisco and volunteered as a tutor for
several inner-city literacy programs, and served on the board of
directors at the Presidio YMCA, a three-branch program devoted to
bringing a varied and often divergent community together. Aside from
her work on several local boards, she serves as a trustee for a Honduran
based HIV/AIDS health care program. In 2021, Elisabeth was awarded
Santa Barbara County Philanthropist of the Year. Elisabeth has spent
much of her life outdoors in Washington, Alaska, Hawaii and California.
In her free time, she loves spending time hiking, laughing and traveling
with her husband and four children.

Advisory Council Chair

Eva Rhodes

Eva Rhodes is a Vice President and Banker in the Westlake Village office of J.P. Morgan Private Bank. She leverages
the full resources of J.P. Morgan’s global platform, working closely with affluent families, executives, entrepreneurs
and foundations in the Santa Barbara area to help them realize their financial goals.
Eva serves as a trusted advisor, taking a relationship-driven approach to understand each individual’s unique
aspirations and needs. She draws from her investment banking and institutional background to guide clients in
developing strategies to preserve and build wealth. With extensive international experience across several divisions
within J.P. Morgan, Eva is uniquely placed to deliver the entirety of the firm’s offering, including the thought leadership
and customized insights that are of interest to her clients.
With a career that began at BNP Paribas Investment Bank in Paris, France, Eva joined J.P. Morgan Corporate
Investment Bank in 2010 as a salesperson on the institutional trading floor. Over the years, she has held roles in
London, New York City and Paris, gaining multifaceted exposure to IPOs, M&A, securitized products, equity
derivatives, hedge funds, pension funds and product development. The depth of Eva’s knowledge base differentiates
her from many Wealth Advisors, and she brings this distinction to bear for sophisticated individuals and families.
Eva holds a B.A. in Economics and German Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a
Masters in International Political Economy from The London School of Economics (LSE). She speaks fluent German
and is currently pursuing her CFP® designation.
Originally from Santa Monica, Eva now lives in the Santa Barbara area with her husband and two children. She and
her family are outdoor enthusiasts and love hiking, running, going to the beach and exploring all that beautiful
Southern California has to offer.

Advisory Council

Mikki Andina

Mikki Andina returned from India where she ran a HIV/AIDS prevention project funded by the Gates Foundation. Trained at UCSF as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Public Health Nurse, Mikki also has a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. She has worked in 27 countries and recently retired as an International Health consultant where she was involved with grant making for the Global Fund for Women and the Global Fund for AIDS/TB/Malaria. Mikki was raised in Los Angeles (a proud original “Valley Girl”) and lived for nearly 25 years in Europe. She moved to Santa Barbara in 1995 where she worked on the Women’s Fund as a researcher for nearly ten years. She loves being outdoors with her dog, serving as a Big Sister and on the board of the Santa Barbara Symphony. She also loves to sing with SB Choral Society, Opera SB and the Music Academy as well as play bridge.

Board Member

Barbara Lizzet Sanchez

Barbara Lizzet Sanchez, hails from Mexico City, and at the age of 15 she moved to the US, where she proactively learned English and got her degree in Paralegal Studies at Oxnard College. However, Barbara always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur and in 2006, she launched her career as publicist within the entertainment, marketing and public relations industry.

Through handwork and dedication, Barbara has become one of the most sought after powerhouse publicists creating milestones in her career working with an elite list of who’s who clientele within the entertainment world such as Vanessa Simmons, Bella Thorne, Boogie Dash, Xzibit, Keith Sweat, Hana Giraldo, T-Boz (from the multi-platinum group TLC), Danny Trejo, Kristinia De Barge, Paul Rodriguez, Joey Medina, Tori Spelling, Raz B from B2K, Ray J, Bone Thugs n Harmony, Cypress Hill, Carlos Ramirez, Ernest Thomas, Mellow Man Ace, Nate Dogg, Kurupt, Roscoe, David Fernandez Jr., Kyle Massey, Snoop Dogg, and Bobby Dee of Bobby Dee Presents, just to name a few. 

Barbara Lizzet Sanchez, also made her own TV debut appearances in shows such as “The Steve Harvey Show,” VH1’s Love and Hip Hop Hollywood, WE TV’s “Growing Up Hip Hop,”, David Tuteras’ Celebrations” and she was also featured  in the documentary titled “Discovering Our Mothers” produced by Justin Wayoro. This documentary is based on the struggle of single mothers, something she has firsthand experience with. She plays an FBI agent in Andrea Ward’s film “Deception of The Streets”. 

Barbara is a strong social justice and human right’s activist, and most passionate about her advocacy against domestic violence. Growing up in a dysfunctional household herself, Barbara began repeating the same defeating cycles in her adult life that led to her being in an emotional and physical abusive relationship.  Today, Barbara now shares her own personal experiences with domestic violence throughout the nation. She now works earnestly with organizations focused on supporting families, women, men and young people that are struggling with domestic violence. 

In addition to domestic violence causes, Barbara advocates for other social causes such as farmworkers and voters’ rights, to name a few, and has dedicated her time and service to several organizations such as the United Farm Workers, Bella Foundation, League of Badass DoGooders, Dolores Huerta Foundation, The UFW and many more.

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