Anthony Childs, C.A.R.E. Coordinator

Anthony Childs, C.A.R.E. Coordinator

Pronouns: He / Him

I grew up in the inner city and was incarcerated for over 10 years, and I understand the struggle of inner-city life, and I understand the trauma of being incarcerated. I also understand the strength it takes to overcome. I’m a firm believer in “Once you get out of a ditch, it’s your duty to help others out of a ditch.” Alone, one can do a little; together we can do a lot.

David Heppard, Executive Director

David Heppard, Executive Director

Pronouns: He / Him

David knows first-hand the impacts of mass incarceration after being incarcerated at 16 years old with a de facto life sentence. Due to his juvenile status when he was convicted, and the passage of the 5064 bill, he was released after 24 years of confinement. He now works toward developing partnerships with other community providers whose mission is in alignment with making advancements in criminal justice and prison reform. He is also a Credible Messenger, which is a national initiative of adult men and women from similar backgrounds who equip young people with the tools to heal their lives and provide them with a living example of hope and transformation. He is on the Board of What’s Next Washington, which believes every person has a right to a life of dignity and right to full participation in society, with an emphasis on stripping away the barriers in employment for those with conviction histories.

David Lujano, C.A.R.E. Coordinator

David Lujano, C.A.R.E. Coordinator

Pronouns: He / Him

 David Lujano is a CARE Coordinator, youth mentor, and certified Credible Messenger. He is proud to be able to do this work. He works with St. Vincent de Paul, managing gang prevention programs for 11-17 years olds and supports youth ages 16-24 who have been disengaged from the educational system. David also facilitates a weekly group for young people, exploring life lessons, choices and consequences. Prior to connecting with St. Vincent de Paul, David worked as an Outreach Supervisor for the YMCA doing street outreach in South King Country, supervising a staff of 5, and supporting young people, ages 13-21. He has also served as a youth mentor for Washington Youth Academy in Bremerton for over 7 years. David completed the Credible Messengers training and draws on this model to support people and lead groups. He is skilled at connecting, building relationships, effective listening, and using his own experience and extensive trainings to support others. As a young person, David was involved in gangs and ended up in the system for over 16 years. “This background and understanding the power of choices motivates me to do the work I do today. I feel blessed to have gotten guidance and training to better serve those we are working with.”  

Ebonee Heller, C.A.R.E. Coordinator

Ebonee Heller, C.A.R.E. Coordinator

Pronouns: She / Her

Ebonee provides one-on-one resource navigation support for people releasing from prison and in the reentry process. She supports participants with resources such as housing, CCO appointments, court appointments, DSHS, rides, and offers emotional support while actively navigating systems. Ebonee is also a Program Manager with G.R.O.O.M. (Gifted Regardless Of Oppressive Methods), a program of the Urban League modeled after the national Credible Messengers model that offers prevention and diversion programs for youth at risk of justice-involvement. As a trained Credible Messenger, she works with youth and their families in a variety of capacities, to ensure that participants are supported mentally, socially, behaviorally, and legally. After leaving prison in 2014, Ebonee became an apprentice with AJAC (Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee) while simultaneously completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Green River College, graduating magna cum laude. She was the first woman to complete the journeyman program with Pioneer Human Services, and she was recognized as the Tradeswoman of the Year by Washington Women in Trade in 2019. In all of her work, Ebonee is dedicated to fostering transformational healing and healthy living in her communities and with people who are coming out of institutions.

Ilhan Dere, Reentry Resource Director

Pronouns: She / Her

Jermaine Williams, Director, Freedom Project East

Pronouns: He / Him

 Jermaine Williams is the Director of Freedom Project East, serving in Spokane County and the eastern part of the state. As an impacted person, his aim is to build bridges that will empower other impacted individuals to cross over into their humanity. This journey is one of healing. Jermaine believes when our thoughts, words, and deeds are in concert only then will our lives have harmony. Jermaine has been a peer mentor for two decades.  Part of his healing journey has been owning the height of his virtues and the depth of his vices while developing the courage to truly represent himself good bad ugly indifferent. Jermaine’s versatility is unquestionable from Tchaikovsky and Wolfgang Mozart to DaBaby. You couldn’t tell by looking at him but Footloose (1984) and Hairspray (2007) are two of his all time favorite movies. 

Joanie Fuller, Logistics & Data Director

Joanie Fuller, Logistics & Data Director

Pronouns: She / Her

Joanie coordinates the databases and systems that support Freedom Project operations. She works to develop and implement strategies to organize, store, and track both data and project management. Using these tools, she especially supports collaborations around program development, program implementation, and grant-writing. Joanie has a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Washington.

Karen Dhaliwal, Development Director

Karen Dhaliwal, Development Director

Pronouns: She / Her

As Development Director, Karen works collaboratively with Freedom Project staff to develop long-term strategies for funding sustainability. Prior to working at the Freedom Project, Karen spent the past ten years connecting women and men to educational, apprenticeship, and basic needs resources as they transitioned out of incarceration. Outside of her work with Freedom Project, Karen enjoys her work as a facilitator in Pierce County for the Community Partnership Transition Solutions hub. She also is currently a Graduate Student at Western Washington University studying Adult Higher Education with an eye to working on ways to reduce the cycle of the School to Prison Pipeline.

Kiki Elfendahl, Operations Director

Kiki Elfendahl, Operations Director

Pronouns: She / Her

Kiki manages day-to-day operations and works to build a strong foundation of clarity and collaborative systems upon which Freedom Project can grow further into its mission. She brings over 20 years experience in business management, organizational development and personal growth, as well as a rich meditation practice of over 15 years. Kiki has a Bachelor’s Degree with High Honors in American Studies from Smith College.

Lauren Ephriam, Prison Program Director

Lauren Ephriam, Prison Program Director

Pronouns: She / Her

Lauren works closely with folks inside as well as coordinating volunteer support. She joined Freedom Project after serving downtown Seattle’s least resourced and most stigmatized communities where she provided direct clinical service and outreach to those living within the intersections of homelessness, incarceration, addiction, complex mental health experiences, acute crises and trauma. She brings a trauma-based approach to developing and decolonizing NVC curriculum while centering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in all aspects of her work. She also brings her own experiences with the legal system as a youth and witnessing irreversible racial and carceral trauma in her community. She is passionate about exploring how we can hold and heal the traumas we all experience from systemic violence. 

Orlando Ames, Reentry Director

Orlando Ames, Reentry Director

Pronouns: He /Him

Orlando was incarcerated at the age of 27 and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole due to the 3 strikes law. In 2014, Orlando went before the clemency and pardons’ board and received a unanimous decision to commute his sentence of life without parole to one of freedom. After serving 21 years he did just that, walked into his freedom going from never to now. He has witnessed firsthand the mass incarceration of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other youth of Color and focuses on dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline from the inside out.  Orlando is also a Credible Messenger who works as a Care Coordinator with a focus on our youth that have been incarcerated or impacted by the criminal justice and public school systems.

Tonya Wilson, Reentry Outreach Coordinator

Tonya Wilson, Reentry Outreach Coordinator

Pronouns: She / Her

Tonya endeavors to manage and broaden community resources offered to men and women returning to the community after incarceration. A Black woman directly impacted by the prison system, Tonya knows that the needs of previously incarcerated women often go unacknowledged and unmet. She realizes that as the Reentry Outreach Coordinator of an organization that seeks to disrupt White Supremacy and center the voices and leadership of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and all people of Color, she stands in a position of responsibility for those coming after her. Tonya values the mindfulness and empathy-building potential of the Nonviolent Communication model and works with others in the organization to refresh the model to be one of true inclusion and relevance for all people. Tonya is also a board member of the Freedom Education Project of Puget Sound (FEPPS) and a native of Tacoma. She has presented as a TEDx speaker and spoken word artist, as well as appearing in the documentary Since I’ve Been Down. Her greatest joy is being part of an extensive and vibrant family in Tacoma, Washington.

Willard Jimerson, Jr., Transformative Engagement Specialist

Willard Jimerson, Jr., Transformative Engagement Specialist

Pronouns: He / Him

Willard C. Jimerson Jr. is a prominent Youth Advocate, Social Justice Reformer, Community Activist, and a Race Relation’s Strategist working throughout Seattle and South King County. His organization, United Better Thinking, provides support for the Credible Allies C.A.R.E. Coordinators (Coordinate: Look into, combine, and build off of strengths; Awareness: Be cognitive of the person, desires, needs and develop a person-centered action plan accordingly; Real: Be authentic, personable, and realistic in approach and design; Engage: Be effective in looking into what they person wants and how do they plan to get there and what they are willing to do to hold and maintain it when they do get it.)

Willard received his certification in Sociology and Philosophy from Ohio University and graduated top of his class from Bellevue College. Professionally, Will has worked effortlessly and tirelessly as a Program Coordinator, Program Manager, Director of Education and Youth Development, and a Project Program Manager Community Facilitator for Public Health Zero Youth Detention and also as a prominent consultant in overseeing reentry support and program development. Willard helped to develop and oversees a transformational process under the national model Credible Messengers called G.R.O.O.M. (Gifted Regardless Of Oppressive Methods). In this capacity, Willard and his team work with youth between the ages of 12-24 who are justice-involved and/or at-risk of justice involvement, while also providing a specialized street-level intervention and reentry support for 18-24-year-olds through the development of Deep Dive and Credible Allies working respectively with Community Passageways and Freedom Project. 

In addition to developing this transformational process, Willard works on advocating legal support for youth and adults in the juvenile, state, and federal judiciaries for diversions, sentence reduction, and/or seeking charges to be completely dropped. Between the years of 2017-2019 Willard has helped to keep youth and young adults in the community and with their families where they can best access services and resources of support by diverting over 25 years of jail and prison time. Willard also provides professional development and curriculum steeped in Positive Youth Development (PYD), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Family Engagement (FE), and Healing Centered Engagement (HCE). Through the provisions of a culturally relevant service, we have been able to reduce reentry barriers, jail/prison time through the increase of support in the form of employment, education, housing and no new negative law enforcement contact within 6 months.

Willard also provides enriching, informative, and culturally relevant workshops and trainings all in the interest of disrupting and dismantling the school-to- prison-pipeline. Willard does freelance journalism and is also the Edward R. Murrow 2019 Award Recipient for Excellence in Innovation.