Staff

The team at The Art of Yoga Project comes from many walks of life, passionately contributing their experience and backgrounds to help fulfill our mission. 

Lisa Pedersen
Executive Director

Lisa has been the Executive Director at The Art of Yoga Project since 2009. Before joining the Art of Yoga Project, she had a notable career in high tech with an impressive track record in the corporate sector.  Lisa has lived and worked abroad for many years and has experience in fundraising and nonprofits through her volunteer work for the Junior League of Palo Alto Mid Peninsula and other Bay Area nonprofits. She is a certified yoga and meditation instructor through the Ananda Yoga Teacher Training program, which focuses on yoga’s spiritual as well as physical dimension. She has been mentoring women and teens for many years. Lisa believes that empowering women and children builds healthy families and vibrant communities.

Mary Lynn Fitton
Founder and Program Director

Mary Lynn Fitton has a commitment to young women’s health, empowerment and well-being. She is Founder and Program Director of The Art of Yoga Project. Mary Lynn received her Masters in Science and Family Nurse Practitioner degree at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1994. She has been a registered nurse for over 25 years with specialties in neuroscience and women’s and adolescent healthcare. In 2013, she was accepted into the Child Trauma Academy’s train-the-trainer program for the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics. Mary Lynn is a member of several county juvenile justice system task forces including the Gender-Responsive Task Force, CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) Work Group, The Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force, and the GIRLS Steering Committee. A certified yoga teacher since 1998 and founding member of the Yoga Service Council, her work has been featured in Yoga Journal, The San Francisco Examiner, Spirituality and Health, The Huffington Post and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Aditi Desai
Site Director

Aditi (she/her) has been committed to service in various capacities throughout her life. Starting with healthcare related service, Aditi pursued her Bachelor’s of Science in psychology and biochemistry in hopes to enter medical school. Through a series of fortunate events, she ended up acquiring her Master’s of Public Health focusing on global health and epidemiology. Throughout her career, Aditi has strived to use holistic modalities to work with marginalized communities. Throughout her life, yoga has been a modality that has helped Aditi. After attaining her certification to teach yoga in 2016, Aditi brought trauma-sensitive yoga to the communities she worked in, including communities of people living with HIV and addiction. This naturally brought Aditi to The Art of Yoga Project in 2017. While her exposure to the juvenile justice system was limited, her passion allowed her to transition into working with this community and bring AYP programming to new populations and communities. Aditi continues her education on how yoga can support individuals as they heal through childhood and adult traumas. 

Jessica Archer Nuzzo
Site Director 

Jessica began practicing yoga in 1997, became a certified teacher in 2007, and joined The Art of Yoga Project in 2009. She found yoga at a challenging time of her life, and it became an invaluable tool of steadiness. She especially loves working with young women to help them to access yoga as a tool to navigate the rough times. Jessica is an E-RYT 500 certified Yoga Instructor with over 1500 hours of training and is also a certified Level 2 Reiki practitioner. Her foundations include in-depth study of anatomy and therapeutic alignment and training to work with high-risk youth. Her aim is to guide others clearly, safely and holistically through all the limbs of yoga, as practices that can allow us to engage in and live a more empowered life. Jessica received a BFA in Journalism and Theatre from New York University in 2001.

Katrien Burlinson
Site Director

Katrien is a Site Director for the Santa Clara County School Sites, and has been with The Art of Yoga Project since 2018. Katrien first fell in love with yoga 15 years ago, when she was fortunate enough to have Mary Lynn as one of her first teachers. Her practiced deepened four years ago when she was going through some difficult transitions in her own life, and discovered the transformational teachings behind the asana practice. Katrien comes to The Art of Yoga Project from the viewpoint of a pediatrician, who spent most of her career caring for underserved children, primarily in San Jose. So much of what walked into the door, under the guise of illness, was primarily caused by stress, anxiety, lack of access to good food and exercise. She became passionate about wellness, and yoga revealed itself to be a powerful healing modality.

Noelle Kaplan
Site Director

Noelle began studying meditation in 2002 and established a yoga practice in 2009. In 2012 she completed her 200 hour certification to teach yoga with the intention of bringing the healing benefits of yoga and meditation to those who might not otherwise have access. She subsequently began teaching yoga to incarcerated youth in San Francisco and in 2013, she joined The Art of Yoga Project. She has worked to expand the reach of The Art of Yoga Project by bringing the curriculum to teen mothers in Philadelphia. She is particularly interested in yoga’s ability to heal the negative effects of childhood trauma and plans to explore this through further academic studies. She holds a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and a MSEd in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Art of Yoga Project

The Art of Yoga Project focuses on early intervention to help marginalized and justice-involved girls prepare for a positive future. We are leaders in the treatment and rehabilitation of justice-involved girls by offering gender-responsive, trauma-informed, culturally-responsive, and strengths-based programming.

Our mission is to lead at-risk, exploited and incarcerated girls toward accountability to self, others, and community by providing practical tools to effect behavioral change. We send specially trained yoga teachers, art therapists, creative arts and writing educators into facilities to deliver our mindfulness-based curriculum.

The Art of Yoga Project is a 501(c)(3) non profit. Tax ID #20-2448697.