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Who We Are

OUR MISSION

To transform the lives of individuals impacted by incarceration through compassionate experiential education.

OUR VISION

Every person who wants to learn the skills to become a responsible, productive member of society has the opportunity and support to do so.

OUR VALUES

1. Divinely Guided Leadership
We listen within for the still, small voice of Spirit’s inspiration as it comes through the wisdom of our hearts. Spirit is our partner in this organization and we are dedicated to acting in ways that fulfill the highest good of all concerned. When we do this, we participate in opening to Grace.

2. Flexibility 
We accept and creatively embrace the challenges of life, transforming challenges into stepping stones. We work together in cooperation and harmony, gratefully appreciating our own and each other’s strengths, contributions and value. We are soooooo flexible!

3. Walk Our Talk
We do our best to authentically “walk our talk,” demonstrating the skills that we teach. We consistently and gratefully use our skills to resolve our own emotional reactivity.

4. Excellence
Our intention is to dynamically demonstrate excellence, supporting ourselves and each other in blooming fully and sharing our gifts. We take responsibility for our actions, holding a clear intention to consistently keep our agreements. We share our ideas and listen to each other openly and creatively, working together to create a culture of friendly feedback that supports excellence, growth and joy.

5. Freedom
We delight in the opportunities we have to co-create more freedom inside ourselves and in the world. We encourage freedom of Authentic Self expression, and freedom within our roles to function in ways that are fulfilling for each person. With that freedom comes responsibility to make choices that are in the highest good of all concerned.

6. Respect
We respect the value of every person, regardless of outer circumstances. We do our best to treat ourselves and each other with kindness, care and consideration. We respect the sacred and often confidential nature of our work.

7. Lifelong Learning
We are individually and collectively dedicated to learning and growth. We take responsibility for our own growth, our emotions and attitude.

8. Loving Service
We believe that loving service is one of the highest expressions of human consciousness, and it begins with taking good care of ourselves. We recognize that at our core, we are love and we bring loving forward in all the many ways we serve.

9. Stewardship
We take loving care of our resources, first and foremost ourselves. We engage in strategic planning and optimize processes to maximize our financial and people resources. As an outflow, we enjoy an ever-increasing flow of abundance on all levels!

10. Fun!
We enjoy doing amazing work in the world, and we have a lot of fun in the process!

OUR GROUND RULES

1. Take care of yourself so you can help take care of others.

2. Don’t hurt yourself and don’t hurt others. 

3. Use everything for your upliftment, growth and learning. 

OUR STORY

The name of the organization and the signature workshop, “Freedom to Choose,” was inspired by the work of Viktor Frankl and his well-known book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Fundamental to his teaching was the lesson, hard-won as a survivor of the concentration camps, that every person always has the freedom to choose their response to the events of their life. This lesson serves as a cornerstone of what The Freedom to Choose Project teaches in prison. In Frankl’s words:

“Everything can be taken from a person but the last of the human freedoms, the freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances – to choose one’s own way.”

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

FTC has been providing programs that reduce violence and recidivism in California prisons for more than 14 years. To date, FTC has served more than 3,000 prisoners through a corps of volunteers who have donated over 74,600 hours.

The Freedom to Choose Project (FTC) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. FEIN #27-2521943.

AWARDS

The Freedom to Choose Project, along with the co-directors Drs. David and Bonnie Paul have received numerous awards:

OUR TEAM

FOUNDERS

David Paul, M.D., Ph.D.

Co-Founder | Board of Directors | Facilitator (Pro Bono) | Curriculum Development (Pro Bono)

FTC Volunteer since 2004

Bonnie Paul, Ph.D.

Co-Founder | Director of Education (Pro Bono) | Board of Directors | Facilitator (Pro Bono) | Curriculum Development (Pro Bono)

FTC Volunteer since 2004

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

David Paul, M.D., Ph.D.

Chair

FTC Volunteer since 2004

Bonnie Paul, Ph.D.

Chair

FTC Volunteer since 2004

Michael Lattimore, M.A.

Facilitator (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2009

Karen Peterson, Ph.D.

Board of Directors | Facilitator (Pro Bono) | Inmate Mentor Leadership (ILTAG) Leader – VSP (Pro Bono) | Curriculum Development (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2012

Claudia Flores, M.A.

FTC volunteer since 2014

Holly Cook

FTC volunteer since 2018

FTC STAFF

Stephanie Tan

Operations Manager

Susan Sizer

Program Coordinator | SATF YOP Groups

THE TEAM

Karen Peterson, Ph.D.

Board of Directors | Facilitator (Pro Bono) | Inmate Mentor Leadership (ILTAG) Leader – VSP (Pro Bono) | Curriculum Development (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2012

Michael Lattimore, M.A.

Board of Directors | Facilitator (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2009

Anthony Albright

Facilitator (Pro Bono) | Inmate Mentor Leadership (ILTAG) Leader – CIW (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2011

Cirese LaBerge

Facilitator (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2017

Howard Lazar

Inmate Mentor Leadership (ILTAG) Leader – VSP (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2005

Amanda Sherlock

Inmate Mentor Leadership (ILTAG) Leader – CMC (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2006

Chemin Bernard

Sabbatical

FTC volunteer since 2006

Stanley Bernard

Sabbatical

FTC volunteer since 2006

Donna Kall

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2004

Elana Christiansen

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2008

Angela Sanabria

Team Captain (Pro Bono) | Spanish Translations (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2014

Andrea Sholer

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2018

Molly Reid

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2018

Jennifer Herrera

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2013

Cynthia Chapman

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2006

Tim Cloutier

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2004

Dena Hayess-Horton

Sound Lead (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2014

Clara Naum

Spanish Translations (Pro Bono)

FTC volunteer since 2011

Larry Murphy

FTC volunteer since 2018

ALL OF OUR WORK IS MADE POSSIBLE BY OUR WONDERFUL CORP OF VOLUNTEERS

FTC is primarily a volunteer run organization and we are incredibly grateful for the dedication, heart and support of our amazing team. Our volunteers make this works possible.

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CHEMIN BERNARD

Volunteering since 2006

Chemin has been an Entertainment Executive for 20 years and a Licensed Spiritual Counselor for over 25 years. She has facilitated a variety of workshops and classes across the country - all designed to help Individuals expand their lives. Chemin sees her work with FTC as an opportunity to "Pay It Forward" and be of service by sharing life-changing tools to an under-represented population. Regardless of where we are, as humans we all deal with same emotions and internal challenges.

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David Paul, M.D., Ph.D.

David Paul 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.

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 FTC.

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Bonnie Paul, Ph.D.

Bonnie Paul 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.

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 FTC.

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Renee Croce, M.A.

Volunteering since 2016

Renee Croce grew up in a community where she watched many of her peers go to prison. She began her professional life working for the police department and witnessed firsthand good people on both sides of the fence, and also the lack of training provided to help people cope and thrive in those tough environments. Later she changed careers and became a professional fundraiser, but never forgot those early experiences which instilled in her an intention to give back. Renee is a key volunteer in supporting work that she sees making a profound difference in the world. 

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David Couper, M.A.

Volunteering since 2013

David Couper has a consulting company helping corporations, not-for-profits, and government agencies develop their leaders and change culture. His clients include Kaiser Permanente and Los Angeles World Airports. He has published seven fiction and non-fiction books and is Vice Chairman of the not-for-profit Project Angel Food which serves those who are sick with 11,000 meals weekly.

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Claudia Flores, M.A.

Volunteering since 2014

It has been such a joy to participate with FTC, organically becoming aware that beyond all personalities, contexts and beliefs, there is a fundamental essence we share as humanity.

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Michael Lattimore, M.A.

Facilitator (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2009

Michael is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Karen Peterson, Ph.D.

Board of Directors | Mentor Support Group (ILTAG) | Leader – VSP (Pro Bono) | Facilitator (Pro Bono) | Curriculum Development (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2012

Karen holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Karen has spent over three decades in the corporate sector focused on business development and organizational development. Earning her doctorate, Karen fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a clinical psychologist specializing in resolving trauma. I started volunteering with the misguided belief that I was going to be of service to incarcerated individuals. Little did I know that FTC would also be a huge catalyst for my continued growth and healing. In FTC, I have found my true calling.

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Molly Barby

Administrative Program Coordinator

Volunteering since 2017

Graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology from Seattle University. Prior crisis intervention training and experience. I'm involved with FTC as both staff and as a volunteer because this work allows me to participate in the cultivation of a safe, non-judgmental space for myself and others to explore themselves. The love and community I experience is what brings me the most joy.

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Karin Weber, M.Ed.

Director of Development (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2007

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Larry Murphy

Volunteering since 2018

Larry is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Howard Lazar

Mentor Support Group (ILTAG) Leader – VSP (Pro Bono) | Facilitator (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2005

Howard is a retired businessman. Participating in this work has given me a wonderful natural way of being. A state of always caring for others and myself with a safe and non-judgmental connection. This form of acceptance connects me to a beautiful clarity that I experience in all parts of my life as I face my universe of choices. Giving and receiving become the same.

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Stanley Bernard

Volunteering since 2006

Stanley is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Ali Boone

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2016

Ali is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Cynthia Chapman

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2006

Cynthia is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Donna Kall

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2004

Donna is an intervention specialist working with individuals returning to the community on parole or probation, a certified life coach, and former entrepreneur. We had no idea what to expect at our first visit to a men's prison and were blown away by their openness and enthusiasm. A man, incarcerated for 41 years and serving a life sentence, stood up to thank us. He referenced an animated movie and said, prison was like the Island for Misfit Toys and what they needed is the caring and support we were providing. My experience that day dispelled every pre-conceived notion I ever had about men in prison!

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Elana Christiansen

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2008

Elana is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Jennifer Herrera

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2013

Jennifer is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Nancy Staack

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2004

Nancy is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Tim Cloutier

Team Captain (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2004

Tim is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Dena Hayess-Horton

Sound Lead (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2014

Dena is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Clara Naum

Spanish Translations (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2011

Clara is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Angela Sanabria

Spanish Translations (Pro Bono)

Volunteering since 2014

Angela is a valued member of our incredible volunteer team. It is through the generous support of our dedicated community that makes this work possible. Thank you for all that you do.

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Sara Avant Stover

Director of Operations

A bestselling author, Sara was CEO of her own company for 20 years and a Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University's Barnard College. Sara moved to Thailand in her early 20s, where she embarked on a decade-long spiritual odyssey throughout Asia. Her work has uplifted the lives of tens of thousands of women worldwide and has been featured in Yoga Journal, the Huffington Post, Newsweek, ABC, NBC, and CBS. Heeding the desire to serve, Sara began working with FTC. 

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