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Using the power of Love, we educate to prevent violence, addiction & incarceration.


We value and support people in having a second chance to create a better life for themselves and their families.

It’s our experience that people can change, even after spending years in prison, or years in addiction. The capacity for the redemption of the human spirit is extraordinary and we have witnessed seeming miracles as people become peaceful, productive, responsible members of our society. Our vision is that every person who wants to learn to become a responsible, productive member of society has the opportunity and support to do so.

On July 28, 2010 we received the IRS approval as a 501 (c) (3) organization retroactive to May 6, 2010. The IRS DLN is 17053172326030. Our IRS public charity status is 170 (b) (1) (A) (vi).

Our Staff & Board


about-staff01David Paul, M.D., Ph.D. & Bonnie Paul, Ph.D.

The Freedom to Choose Project was co-founded by the husband-and-wife team Drs. David and Bonnie Paul. This program is a work of the heart, and since its inception David and Bonnie have volunteered their time and energy to co-direct, co-produce and co-facilitate these programs. David and Bonnie co-write the curriculum and are the lead facilitators/trainers for Freedom to Choose.

David Paul, M.D., Ph.D. earned his M.D. at Jefferson Medical College and his Ph.D. in Psychology at Saybrook University. He served as graduate psychology faculty for over 15 years. He also served as faculty for several Counseling Psychology courses, including Treatment of Chemical Dependency, Psychopharmacology and the Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy, and Human Sexuality in the Therapeutic Context. He was a Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Practice at Southern Illinois University Medical School. He currently is faculty at the Graduate College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences at Saybrook University. David also is an executive coach, workshop facilitator, and has a private consulting practice in mind/body medicine.

Bonnie Paul, Ph.D. earned her Ph.D. in Psychology at Saybrook University. She is also an executive coach and workshop facilitator and she served as graduate psychology faculty for over 12 years at the University of Santa Monica. She has been interviewed about her work in Freedom to Choose for Arianna Huffington’s book: On Becoming Fearless. Earlier in her career, Bonnie earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, and managed an electronics manufacturing company in Los Angeles.

Executive Director & General Counsel

bv1Barbara Van Sickle, M.A., J.D., comes to us with nonprofit board experience, corporate, entertainment and criminal law experience, and a passion for the work of Freedom to Choose.

Barbara started her legal career at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a large corporate law firm, during which time she served pro bono as co-chair of a California clemency movement addressing the rights of battered women in prison.  She also spent many hours at San Quentin in her role as one of a team of lawyers representing on appeal a death row inmate, all the while continuing to serve a full roster of corporate clients.

She transitioned her corporate experience from a law firm setting to the entertainment world where she worked as Deputy General Counsel of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. while continuing her pro bono contributions in various ways particularly as a board member of Sojourn, a nonprofit organization serving the needs of battered women and their children.

After a long tenure as Deputy General Counsel, Barbara fulfilled her original impetus for attending law school and accepted a position as a Los Angeles County Public Defender.  She also recently served as development co-chair on the board of a nonprofit that serves sexually exploited and trafficked individuals, before fully following her heart to the position of Executive Director & General Counsel of the Freedom to Choose Foundation.

Program Coordinator

KristianneIMG_1335Kristianne (Clifford) Schell, CADC-I, brings a great depth of experience to this position. She has been a first-hand recipient of the services of The Freedom to Choose Project while incarcerated at Valley State Prison for Women where she attended 16 workshops, and then developed the Mentor Leadership Team. As she says, “I attribute my successes directly to what I learned through Freedom to Choose.”Her successes are many: Creating and facilitating a variety of self-help and recovery programs while in prison; completing her AA; developing a Restorative Justice program focusing on accountability and victim awareness; completing the first Female Offender Mentor Certification Program (OMCP) where she earned her CAADAC (California Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors) certification; scoring the highest on the state CAADAC exam; and then volunteering to transfer to another prison to be in service to her peers there. She will be assisting us in developing new programs for both men’s and women’s prisons. She is also featured in the award-winning documentary.

Board of Directors

Our board of directors are also dedicated volunteers, accompanying us to many of the projects.

  • David Paul, M.D., Ph.D., Chair
  • Renée Croce, M.A.
  • Claudia Flores, M.A.
  • Darren Janger, M.B.A., C.F.A.
  • Michael Lattimore, M.A.
  • JoAnn Mermis, M.A.
  • Farrah Myers, M.A.
  • Bonnie Paul, Ph.D.
  • Karen Peterson, Ph.D.
  • Cyndi Yee, M.A.

Advisory Board

  • James P. Mayer, M.P.P.A. – President & CEO, California Forward
  • Iyanla Vanzant, J.D. – Author, Inspirational Speaker

Founding Board

  • David Paul, M.D., Ph.D., Chair
  • Angela Bell, M.S.S.
  • Donna Kall
  • Bonnie Paul, Ph.D.
  • Arlene Stepputat, M.A.