TEAM

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

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

Mary Lynn Fitton

Founding Director

Our founder, Mary Lynn Fitton has a commitment to youth health, empowerment and well-being. Mary Lynn received her Masters in Science and Family Nurse Practitioner degree at the University of California, San Francisco with specialties in neuroscience and women’s and adolescent healthcare.  She is an international speaker, a Train the Trainer for the Child Trauma Academy’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics and a member of both the National Girls Initiative and Girls at the Margin National Alliance. Mary Lynn is also a member of several county juvenile justice system task forces including the Juvenile Justice 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, founding member of the Yoga Service Council, and a contributing editor for Best Practices for Yoga in the Criminal Justice System, her work has been featured in the Washington Post, NPR, Yoga Journal, The San Francisco Examiner, The Mercury News, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, and The Huffington Post. In 2015, she was honored as a “Seva Champion” by Yoga Journal and received their Good Karma Award.

Jessica Archer Nuzzo

Jessica Archer Nuzzo

Program Management

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.

Noelle Kaplan

Noelle Kaplan

Affiliate & Training

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.

Sarah Sykes

Sarah Sykes

Development Manager

Sarah joined The Art of Yoga Project as Development Manager in 2015. Prior to working for AYP, she spent two decades working in nonprofit development including grant writing, membership development and event management. Sarah began her yoga journey while in college and found herself repeatedly returning to the practice throughout her life and career. Sarah is also a registered RYT 200 + 500-hour yoga instructor, with experience teaching Ashtanga Vinyasa and Yin Yoga classes.

Amy Santullo

Amy Santullo

Chair

Amy joined The Art of Yoga Project board of directors in February 2007. She is actively involved in several organizations in Silicon Valley, including SV2, a philanthropic organization focused on building and scaling social innovations.  She also advises and chairs the college scholarship committee of Downtown College Preparatory High School, a charter high school in San Jose that prepares underachieving students for college success.  Inspired by the work of the Art of Yoga Project, Amy completed the 200+ teacher training program at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco in 2011 and now shares her practice as a teacher in several communities in the Bay Area.  Amy has a master’s degree in education policy analysis and evaluation from Stanford University, an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, and is the mother of two children.

Michele Kirsch

Michele Kirsch

CO-CHAIR

Michele brings extensive board and community non profit experience to AYP beginning with the formation of her family foundation in 1993. The Kirsch Foundation focuses on education, environment and science. Along with her husband Steve, they have received numerous national and local awards for their philanthropy work from being named one of Fortune Magazine’s (cover story) top 100 generous couples (2002) to receiving the National Caring Award from President Clinton in 2003. Michele has held numerous trustee and leadership roles with The Children’s Health Council, RAFT, The Tech Museum of San Jose, Cantor Art Museum, Family and Children Services, Castilleja School, Rebuilding Together and El Camino Hospital. She is an advocate and social activist with the Feminist Majority Foundation, advisor to Girls Learning International and honorary advisor and steering committee member to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and to the Fundraising Council of the Junior League of Palo Alto mid Peninsula where she was also awarded the prestigious President’s Cup in 2005.  Michele holds degrees from Mills College where she earned her BA and also from Santa Clara University where she earned her JD in 2001.  In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, playing golf, traveling and entertaining. Michele and Steve have three daughters and live in Los Altos Hills.

Kelli Tomlinson

Kelli Tomlinson

TREASURER

Kelli currently serves as the Director and Co-President of the Tomlinson Family Foundation working to support programs and organizations that directly improve the health and wellbeing of families and enable them to live healthy lifestyles.  In addition, she serves as Chair for the Board of Trustees at The Girls’ Middle School; is on the board of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre; and, is a Partner at SV2.  She is a member of the Common Sense Media Bay Area Council and Peninsula Bridge Parent Advisory Board.  Kelli is an active supporter of progressive education, education equality and theatre. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Government from Trinity College – Hartford.

Jennifer Friedman

Jennifer Friedman

Secretary

Jennifer is a partner in the law firm of Jorgenson, Siegel, McClure & Flegel, LLP, where she concentrates her practice in estate planning, trust, and probate law. She has served on the board of Temple Beth Jacob in Redwood City, California, and as legal counsel for a number of nonprofits, including the Center for Jewish Campus Life and the Community Working Group. Jennifer has a juris doctor from Boalt Hall School of Law and a bachelor of arts degree from Stanford University. She joined The Art of Yoga Project board of directors in February 2007.

Singmay Chou

Singmay Chou

Singmay is the Director of Kapok Tree Limited, a consulting firm in change management, strategic planning and organizational effectiveness. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business at San Jose State University and is an Honorary Institute Associate at The Asia-Pacific Institute of Business, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her prior business experience includes positions as Vice President of Marketing and Product for Luxottica Retail Greater China, General Manager of Marketing for Dragonair, and consultant with Towers Perrin. She earned a BS in Economics from the Wharton School, BA in East Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Denise Henry

Denise Henry

Denise is a mother of three daughters and has been a competitive athlete for most of her life. She always found a balance in life by incorporating sport and wellness. While working in the corporate world, she began leading innovative fitness classes and nutrition workshops. She has over 25 years of teaching experience and is a group exercise instructor and a small group training coach for cycling, athletic conditioning, core strength, and functional fitness. Denise has been able to weave in her passion and knowledge of fitness, nutrition, and wellness in various philanthropies she is involved with including The Boys & Girls Club, Each Green Corner, FitKids, and more. She has held three leadership jobs with the Mid Peninsula National Charity League and served on the board of the Menlo Atherton Education Foundation where she led a team to start the ‘Are You In Run’ 5k running event to support quality education. Denise continues to earn new certifications in exercise science and takes classes on nutrition related to fitness performance and hydration, inflammation, and plant-based wellness. She lives in Portola Valley and spends her free time on the trails, swimming, and practicing yoga.

Rebecca Padnos Altamirano

Rebecca Padnos Altamirano

Rebecca is an entrepreneur, author, and activist.  She has dedicated her professional life to working within underrepresented communities to open up access to the culture of power.  As a biracial woman from a multicultural family, she is primed for building bridges between people, networks, and communities. Her professional path has given her deep hands-on experience on working with the underserved and underrepresented. Many of these experiences she has shared as a co-author of “Be The Change: Reinventing Schools for Student Success” published by Columbia’s Teachers College Press.  Most recently she has been working on Venture Development at Tangelo Technologies, the company she co-founded with her husband in 2007. Rebecca is a partner at Backstage Capital, a venture capital fund that invests in underrepresented entrepreneurs.  Rebecca also serves on several boards and task forces including Stanford Hospital and the Stanford School of Education. She has written for the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Ms. Magazine. Rebecca practices yoga daily and loves hiking and spending time with her 4 children and husband.

Dede Barsotti (Emeritus)

Dede Barsotti (Emeritus)

Dede is the administrative partner of Crosspoint Venture Partners, a leading venture capital firm based in Woodside, California. She has 25 years of experience in a wide range of business areas, including finance and accounting, strategic planning, and investor relations. Dede is the vice chair of finance for the board of Silicon Valley Social Ventures (SV2), a venture philanthropy initiative that provides grants and technical assistance to nonprofits. She joined The Art of Yoga Project board of directors in February 2007 and has also served as a volunteer for the Center for a College Education and the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Dede has a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley.

Rebecca Horsley Bara (Emeritus)

Rebecca Horsley Bara (Emeritus)

Rebecca has been practicing and teaching yoga for more than 10 years. Having seen yoga transform her life and the lives of so many around her, Rebecca is devoted not only to her own practice but also to teaching and sharing her knowledge with others. Rebecca has taught yoga to teen girls at the East Palo Alto Academy, a charter school in East Palo Alto, California, and was Site Director for The Art of Yoga Project for three years in Santa Clara County. Rebecca loves teaching at-risk youth and seeing the impact yoga makes on their attitude and their lives. She is especially inspired by seeing girls from rival gangs practicing yoga together. “Yoga has a way of uniting these girls.”

Rebecca has completed Teacher Training Levels I and II with master teacher Baron Baptiste in the power vinyasa yoga style. She also completed a 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training at Avalon yoga studio in Palo Alto, where she studied asana, yoga theory, pranayama and meditation.

Susanna Barkataki

Susanna Barkataki

Indian Yoga Culture Advocate and Expert

An Indian yoga practitioner in the Shankaracharya tradition, Susanna Barkataki supports practitioners to lead with equity, diversity and yogic values while growing thriving practices and businesses with confidence. She is founder of Ignite Yoga and Wellness Institute and runs 200/500 Yoga Teacher Training programs. She is an E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist with International Association of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT). 

Susanna is the author of #1 New Release and International Bestseller in Yoga in Nov 2020 Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Courageous Ways to Deepen Your Yoga Practice. She holds an Honors degree in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Education from Cambridge College. Barkataki is a diversity, accessibility, inclusivity, and equity (DAIE) yoga unity educator who created the ground-breaking Honor {Don’t Appropriate} Yoga Summit with over 10,000 participants. Learn more and take her complimentary masterclass to embrace yoga’s roots without appropriation: www.www.namastemasterclass.com

Dianne Bondy

Dianne Bondy

Social Justice Activist and Yoga Expert

Dianne Bondy is a celebrated yoga teacher, social justice activist and leading voice of the Yoga For All movement. Her inclusive view of yoga asana and philosophy inspires and empowers thousands of followers around the world – regardless of their shape, size, ethnicity, or level of ability.

She applies over 1000 hours of training to help her students find freedom, self-expression and radical self-love in their yoga practice. She shares her message and provides millions of followers with affordable access to online yoga classes, workshops and tutorials at her virtual studio: Yogasteya.com. Dianne contributes to Yoga InternationalYoga JournalDo You Yoga, and Elephant Journal. She is featured and profiled in international media outlets, including The GuardianHuffington PostCosmopolitan, and more. She is a spokesperson for diversity in yoga and yoga for larger bodies, as seen in her work with Pennington’s, Gaiam, and the Yoga & Body Image Coalition. Her work is published in the books Yoga and Body Image and Yes Yoga Has Curves.

Leslie Booker

Leslie Booker

Social Justice, Mindfulness and Cultural Responsivity Expert

Booker brings her heart, wisdom, and compassion to the intersection of social justice, yoga, and mindfulness. She has shared these practices with vulnerable populations in New York City since 2006, working in juvenile detention centers, residential treatment centers, and on Riker’s Island. She travels nationally utilizing the foundation of Dharma and embodied wisdom practices to support the sustainability of front line changemakers, and offers mindful movement on meditation retreats. Booker is on faculty with the Prison Mindfulness Institute and Off the Mat Into the World. She teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society (IMS), New York Insight, Worldwide Insight, Garrison Institute and Shambhala Mountain Center. She is a co-founder of the Yoga Service Council at Omega Institute and of Urban Sangha Project in NYC. Booker is a co-author of Best Practices for Yoga in a Criminal Justice Setting, a contributor to Georgetown Law’s paper on Gender and Trauma, and Sharon Salzberg’s book ‘Real Happiness at Work’. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader’s Training, and is currently in their 4 year Retreat Dharma Teacher Training.

Stephanie S. Covington, PhD, LCSW

Stephanie S. Covington, PhD, LCSW

Co-Director Institute for Relational Development and the Center for Gender and Justice

Stephanie Covington is an internationally recognized clinician, organizational consultant, and lecturer.  For more than thirty years her work has focused on the creation of gender-responsive and trauma-informed services.  Her extensive experience includes designing women’s services at the Betty Ford Center, developing programs for girls and women in criminal justice settings, and being the featured therapist on the Oprah Winfrey Network TV show entitled Breaking Down the Bars.  She has also served as a consultant to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna and was selected for the federal Advisory Committee for Women’s Services (ACWS).  Educated at Columbia University and the Union Institute, Dr. Covington has conducted seminars for behavioral health professionals, community organizations, criminal justice professionals, and recovery groups in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa, Iceland, and New Zealand.  She has served on the faculties of the University of Southern California, San Diego State University, and the California School of Professional Psychology.  She has published extensively including Voices: A Program of Self-Discovery and Empowerment for Girls, a gender- responsive, trauma- informed treatment curricula.

Toni DeMarco, MS, MFT

Toni DeMarco, MS, MFT

Retired Deputy Director for Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Youth Division, San Mateo County Health System

Toni has worked for over thirty years in both the public and non-profit sectors as a clinician, supervisor, manager and educator, with a specific focus on trauma and its generational impact on families and children.

Toni worked directly with the Juvenile Courts systems, with Juvenile Probation and Child Protective systems related to children’s Mental Health services.  She was promoted to Clinical Services Manager, and then to Deputy Director of the Youth System of Care.  Additionally, Toni worked to create the Phoenix Permaculture Garden Project, and as the Site Coordinator for San Mateo County’s NMT (Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics), implementation and training program for over a decade.

She is a certified Phase II NMT Trainer, is currently part of the NMT teaching faculty, and a certified Master Trainer in the LivingWorks ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) model.  She has spent her career working with issues of youth suicide, self-harm, trauma recovery, horticultural therapy and social justice. She enjoys gardening, yoga, and traveling with her dog.

Rebecca Epstein, JD

Rebecca Epstein, JD

Director of Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy; Associate Director of the National Girls Initiative, a program run by the USDOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs

Rebecca Epstein is the Executive Director of the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality. She has over 20 years’ experience in litigation and policy development, and she has maintained a special focus on race and sex discrimination and the policies and practices that support marginalized girls.  Rebecca was the lead author of Blueprint:  A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Sex Trafficking of Girls (2013) and co-author of The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline:  The Girls’ Story (2015), both published by the Center on Poverty and Inequality.  Forthcoming reports include Gender and Trauma:  Somatic Interventions for Girls in Juvenile Justice and Implications for Policy and Practice, as well as reports presenting original research on the relationship between girls of color and school-based police officers, and adults’ perception of Black girls as older and less innocent than their white peers.

Rebecca’s work has been published across the country, and she has appeared as an expert speaker at numerous national and local briefings and conferences on issues affecting marginalized girls and women.  She currently serves as the Associate Director of the National Girls Initiative, a program run by the USDOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs, and is a member of the Steering Committee of the Girls @ the Margin National Alliance.  Rebecca has been proud to partner with the White House, the US Departments of Justice and Education during the Obama Administration, as well as national non-profit organizations, researchers, and other academic institutions on national conferences, in-depth reports, and other projects relating to issues affecting low-income girls and girls of color.

Rebecca received her J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was awarded a fellowship from the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program, and received her B.A. in history with honors from Brown University.

Faith Hunter

Faith Hunter

Yoga and Mindfulness Expert

Faith Hunter is a global, next-generation yoga instructor and the creator of Spiritually Fly™, which blends classic yogic principles and real world personal experiences into a grounded, integrated flow. Faith also owns Embrace Yoga DC, yoga training & community center located in a multicultural nest of Washington, DC. A favorite choice for mass yoga gatherings, Faith has taught at Yoga at the Great Lawn, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC, and The White House Easter Egg Roll. Faith is an esteemed faculty for Yoga Nation on Tour as well as Kripalu. She tours internationally, teaching yoga workshops, teacher trainings, and public appearances. Faith has also graced the covers of Yoga JournalOm Yoga & Lifestyle (UK-based), Origin Magazine, and Sweat Equity. She has also appeared in EssenceBlack EnterpriseWashington Post, several other publications, and numerous blogs.

Website:www.Faithhunter.Com

Giselle Mari

Giselle Mari

Yoga and Mindfulness Expert

Giselle Mari is an Advanced Certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher and E-RYT500 whose yogic path began in the early 90’s. She’s had the great honor to study extensively with her gurus Sharon Gannon and David Life who she also assisted throughout the western U.S. and served as a mentor on the Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training faculty.  Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Giselle presents at yoga conferences, festivals and studios around the globe teaching dynamic and insightful classes with a spunky grounded approach to yoga.  She’s appeared on the cover of Yoga Journal and Yoga International Magazine as well as being featured in many of their articles. She is also featured in Kathryn Budig’s book Women’s Health: The Big Book of Yoga published by Rodale.

Website:www.gisellemariyoga.com

Kelly McGonigal, PhD

Kelly McGonigal, PhD

Past Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, and a leading expert in the new field of “science-help.” She is passionate about translating cutting-edge research from psychology, neuroscience, and medicine into practical strategies for health, happiness, and personal success. Her psychology research on compassion, mindfulness, and emotion regulation has been published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Motivation and Emotion, The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, and The Journal of Happiness Studies. From 2005-2012, Dr. McGonigal served as the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal of mind-body research, healthcare policy, and clinical practice. For more information about Kelly, please visit her website.

Bruce Perry, MD, PhD

Bruce Perry, MD, PhD

Founder and Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy

Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D. is the Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy and adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. Over the last thirty years, Dr. Perry has been an active teacher, clinician and researcher in children’s mental health and the neurosciences holding a variety of academic positions. His clinical research over the last ten years has been focused on integrating concepts of developmental neuroscience and child development into clinical practices. This work has resulted in the development of innovative clinical practices and programs working with maltreated and traumatized children, most prominently the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT). The Child Trauma Academy has multiple partners in various sectors of the community and has created many programs in context of public-private partnerships with the goal of promoting positive change within the primary institutions that work with high risk children such as child protective services, mental health, public education and juvenile justice. Please click here for more information about Dr. Perry.

Desiree Rumbaugh

Desiree Rumbaugh

Yoga and Wellness Expert

Desirée Rumbaugh, creator of the DVD series Yoga to the Rescue travels the world and delights in teaching others what she has learned about overcoming challenges and healing body, mind and heart through the practice of Yoga. One of her strengths as a teacher is her “out of the box” thinking. Combine that with a positive attitude and you get an imagination that continually creates new ways of doing familiar things. Desirée is also a contributor to various organizations and publications, including Yoga Journal, where she was featured on the February 2008 cover. For more information.

Website:www.desireerumbaugh.com

Melanie Tervalon MD, MPH

Melanie Tervalon MD, MPH

Multiracial health educator,physician and expert on “cultural humility”

Melanie Tervalon, MD, MPH, has over 30 years’ experience in health care as a program director, advisor, teacher, clinician, strategist and consultant. She has spent 25 years of devoted work creating original approaches in the field of multicultural health with an emphasis on education within the health care professions. Dr. Tervalon’s work incorporates principles of social justice, fairness and equity in program practice. Dr. Tervalon has a reputation for building constructive, participatory relationships inside and outside of institutions, modeling respect for divergent points of view, and setting a tone of urgency for the work of inclusive policies and practices in all settings. Dr. Tervalon is well published and recognized as an excellent public speaker locally, nationally and internationally. Please visit Melanie’s website for more information.

Sadie Axley

Sadie Axley

Youth Advisory Board Member
Rocsana Enriquez

Rocsana Enriquez

Youth Advisory Board Member
Danielle Robinson

Danielle Robinson

Youth Advisory Board Member