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 (AYP) since 2009.  Before AYP, 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 has a commitment to young women’s health, empowerment and well-being. 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. 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, Elephant Journal, The Huffington Post and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Sarah Barnard
Site Director

Sarah has been working with The Art of Yoga Project since 2007, and comes from a diverse background in yoga, nutrition and therapeutic work with teens and adults. Sarah earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology from Colorado College in 2004. She trained with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, earning a certificate in holistic health coaching in 2009. She recently completed her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology degree (MFT) at San Francisco State University. She completed her pre graduate internships with court-mandated teens in Redwood City and in SF State’s Counseling Clinic for undergraduate and graduate students. She is currently working towards her MFT license through her work with AYP and working with university students at CSU East Bay. She’s been a certified yoga teacher since 2008 and remains passionate about working with teen girls to help them find their light and their strength.

Ana Caro
Site Director

Ana became the Site Director for the James Ranch Juvenile Detention Center in March of 2016. Twenty years ago, she discovered the wonder of yoga, and later received certifications from Baron Baptist Power Yoga Institute, and a 200-hour certification from YogaWorks. Ana thrives on sharing her knowledge with others, having taught yoga in a variety of environments, such as the Gilroy studio Yoga Bella, and in the commercial world at Specialized Bicycles, and Fox Racing in Morgan Hill. She continues to instruct at the Centennial Recreation Center in Morgan Hill, and is completing a 500-hour certification with Janet Stone. An avid hiker and cyclist, Ana believes in maintaining an active lifestyle. She obtained her dual degree in Psychology and Spanish from San Jose State University. Spanish is Ana’s first language, as she was born in Mexico but raised in the United States. She frequently relates to youth on issues of cultural diversity. Ana aims to guide the girls toward better health and the specific AYP goals of self-awareness, self-respect, and self-control.

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.

Erica Magill
Site Director

Erica first began working with incarcerated juveniles in 2004, teaching poetry and creative writing to young men in Los Angeles. She found that allowing these youth to have a voice provided them the opportunity to make peace with their past, and simultaneously envision their future. She received her certification to teach yoga in 2007, and in that same year was introduced to Mary Lynn and The Art of Yoga Project, where her work with at-risk youth could continue. She is passionate about creating a safe space where girls feel cared for and loved, and are able to express their best selves. Erica holds a B.A. in Medical Anthropology from UC Berkeley, is a registered yoga teacher, and a certified massage therapist.

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.

Christina Perez-Martin
Site Director  

Christina Perez-Martin, RYT 500, PRYT, Doula, has been with AYP since 2012. Christina grew up as an at-risk youth in San Jose, California, and had her first daughter at the age of 15. As a Chicana and young mother, she set out to disprove a social system that openly called her a statistic. She began activist work in 1996 at the age of 17 by facilitating gang intervention/prevention, serving at-risk youth in East San Jose. In 2003, as a single mom, she received a full scholarship to UCSC where she studied Developmental Psychology with a minor in Nutrition. In 2004 Christina’s father, who she took care of in his last years, passed away from the AIDS virus. Soon after, she found the remedy of Yoga/Meditation to heal herself from all she had experienced while growing up.

Christina specializes in youth gang prevention/intervention, street outreach services, youth substance abuse/addition, teen-parenting, and curriculum for trauma-impacted youth. For over 17 years, Christina has implemented youth programming and served as a youth intervention specialist for programs such as City Year Silicon Valley, Clean Slate Tattoo Removal San Jose, Restorative Justice Santa Clara County, Mexican American Community Service Agency, YWCA Rape-Crisis Center, Santa Cruz Juvenile Probation, and Catholic Charities-Youth Education.

Christina’s daughter is now 21 years old and attending ASU, as Christina continues to serve at-risk teens in hopes to create a world where all worlds fit.

Monique Wright
Site Director

Monique dedicated herself to consistently practicing yoga in 2009.  She attended her first teacher training in 2012 under the guidance of Noell Clark and Angie Poon. As a certified 200-hour RYT yoga teacher she guides public and private classes in the Bay Area in the evening, while working in the hospitality industry for the past 15 years during the day.  Following the energy yoga brings her, Monique knew this passion needed to be shared.  The Art of Yoga Project allows her to provide a sincere, honest, grounded community to the classes she guides. Monique encourages the girls to find their own happiness, grace and warmth while they explore the practice of yoga and art.

Danielle A Harris, Ph.D.
Research Director

Danielle, previously an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at San Jose State University, joined The Art of Yoga Project in 2010. Danielle is responsible for survey and questionnaire design, supervising interns, ensuring integrity of data collection and analysis, and disseminating data at national conferences. Danielle recently received a grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation for an extensive follow up study of civilly committed sex offenders. She received her doctorate in Criminology in 2008 from Griffith University, Australia. Prior to that, she completed a Masters degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland (2004) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Justice Studies at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Westminster, London (1999). She has presented at numerous conferences including ATSA, ASC, and ACJS. Her research interests include many aspects of sexual offending and sexuality over the life course: specialization and versatility; the criminal career paradigm; desistance, and related public policy; the experience of women in the criminal justice system; the causes and consequences of female offending; and the nature and extent of psychopathy in women and girls.

The Art of Yoga Project

The Art of Yoga Project is designed to help at-risk girls by focusing on early intervention and preparing girls for a positive future. We are leaders in revolutionizing the rehabilitation of girls by offering trauma-informed, strength-based, gender-responsive services.

Our mission is to lead teenage girls in the California juvenile justice system toward accountability to self, others and community by providing practical tools to affect behavioral change.