Jennifer Freed, Executive Director
Jennifer Freed, PhD is a psychotherapist, mediator, and author with over 30 years’ experience working with youth and deep roots in the Santa Barbara area. She began at age 19, running a peer counselor training program at Dos Pueblos High School; shortly thereafter, she began working for YouthWorks. She became Statewide Director of that program, which conducted research into reasons why young people were dropping out of school. Dr. Freed then worked in the field of job rehabilitation, where she helped people find job placements following illness or injury. She underwent training at the Rape Crisis Center, Domestic Violence Solutions, Pacific Pride Foundation, and the Community Counseling Center, and earned her Master’s in psychology from Antioch University by age 23.
Rendy Freedman, MFT, Co-Founder, Education and Clinical Director
Rendy Freedman has been a psychotherapist and mediator for over 20 years, and an educator for over 35 years. She specializes in working with adolescents, couples, families, groups, and trauma issues through EMDR. She has worked extensively with women’s issues and leads groups for parents of teens. She is a licensed mediator and certified EMDR practitioner and has had significant training and experience in body related healing modalities, as well as in relational therapy systems including self psychology, family systems, the mutuality philosophy of the Stone Center at Wellesley College, and council practice from The Ojai Foundation.
Molly Green, Development Director
Molly Green is an eight-year development professional. She attended University of Texas at Austin and has continued her education at universities in Santa Barbara and New York. She is honored to work with the amazing team at AHA! serving teens and the greater community and has a strong interest in promoting restorative approaches. Molly has been involved with many local non-profit organizations and served on the Advisory Committee for Storyteller Children’s Center. She has a freelance graphic design business, m.green graphic design, and is a passionate art lover, traveler, reader, hiker, and proud mother of a college student.
Melissa Lowenstein, Grant Writer and Facilitator
Melissa Lowenstein (formerly Block), M.Ed., is AHA!’s Grant Writer, a Core Facilitator in the in-school and after-school programs, and co-leader of the after-school Creative Discoveries group. She holds a BA in Theater and Dance from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and a Master’s in Education from the University of Virginia. Melissa has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 1997 and has authored, co-authored, and ghostwritten over 25 books on topics including education, psychology, parenting, relationships, social-emotional learning, intentional community, and health.
Roxana Petty, Office Administrator and Executive Assistant
Roxana Petty was born and raised in Santa Barbara. Her professional background includes 16 years of a combination of administrative management, banking and finance positions that make her a great asset to our AHA! team.
Kristi Converse, Administrative and Finance Assistant
Kristi Converse, a licensed MFT working withAHA! since 2006, graduated from UCSB in 1998 with degrees in Studio Art and Religious Studies, and received her Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2006. Prior to her work with AHA!, Kristi worked with several teens and their families at Domestic Violence Solutions and the Family Therapy Institute of Santa Barbara. She has experience running AHA! in-school and after-school groups, as well as providing therapy for AHA! teens and their families, including EMDR. Kristi also enjoys creating art, swimming in the ocean, and spending time with her husband and their two children.
Ben Zimmer, Peace Builders Administrator
Ben Zimmer is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving teens, families, and individuals in the Santa Barbara area. After graduating with a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in 2012, Ben found his passion in working with teens and families. Ben has been facilitating, creating curriculum, and coordinating programs for AHA! for the past four years and has been working with teens and children for the last seven years. In addition to his work with AHA!, Ben has a private practice in Santa Barbara and is trained in EMDR.
Leo Caporal, Research Director and Peace Builders Administrator
Leonisia Caporal graduated from UCSB with a BA in Sociology and Chicano Studies and a minor in Applied Psychology. She worked at CALM (Child Abuse, Listening & Mediation) for seven years, providing counseling services to foster children and families. For a year and a half, she worked at Santa Barbara County for the SPIRIT Program, serving high-risk families as a Parent Partner. She has worked for AHA! since 2007. Leo is bilingual and well-connected with the Latino community; she is committed to applying the skills she has learned to working with teens and families from different backgrounds. She plans to return to graduate school and get her Master’s Degree in Social Work.
Haley Beckwith, Director of Enrollment
Haley Beckwith is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving young adults and their families in the Santa Barbara area. Haley eared her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University and has since been working with AHA! and in private practice. Haley’s work is person-centered and aims at helping young adults reach their potential, find their purpose in life, and live happy meaningful lives. Additionally, Haley has over 12 years experience working with and mentoring children and teens through after-school theater arts, dance, and voice classes. Haley is thrilled to be working with the AHA! team and helping our teens and community thrive.
Sabrina Geshay, Team Leader
Sabrina Geshay is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with 14 years of experience counseling children, teens and families. She received her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from CIIS in 2003 and spent several years providing services in Bay Area schools (grades K-12). She also spent two years in San Diego supporting military children and their families through the Military and Family Life Counselor program. Sabrina relocated back to her hometown of Santa Barbara in July, 2013, opened her private practice, and joined AHA! in April, 2014. A passionate advocate for children and teens, Sabrina is thrilled to be working with a team that empowers and teaches young people about social-emotional intelligence and the importance of community.
Caitlin Slutzky, Team Leader
Caitlin Slutzky holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Naropa University and is a LicensedMarriage and Family Therapist. Caitlin’s work emphasizes empowering individuals to restore relationships with self, others, and nature. This passion has underscored her 10+ years of professional experience working in a variety of therapeutic and educational roles, including: elementary and high school educator, wilderness guide for teens and young adults, mindfulness instructor, and psychotherapist. She has a private psychotherapy practice in Santa Barbara, sits on the board of directors as Vice President for New House (a sober living program for men), and is a core facilitator for CenterPoint Retreats (a program designed for women military veterans).
Martin Leyva, Peace Builders Coordinator
Martin Leyva holds a BA in Liberal Arts/Psychology from Antioch University and is a CAADE Certified Drug and Alcohol Treatment Counselor. He has a strong passion for social justice and human rights issues. In 2008, he founded the SBCC/EOPS Transitions Program, which offers therapeutic and educational opportunities to those affected by the criminal justice system who wish to reintegrate into society. The program won The John G. Rice Award for Diversity and Equity in 2012. He also authored a scholarly article, From CorrectionstoCollege: The Valueof a Convict’s Voice. He has spoken and shared at multiple venues including universities throughout California and the American Society of Criminology. He is well known for his abilities with gang intervention/prevention & mediation skills and helping those with AOD issues.
Michelle Lebeau, Peace Builders Coordinator
Michelle LeBeau has a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Community Mental Health from California State University Dominguez Hills and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Colorado. She has seven years of experience as a behavior therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her passion is in helping children and adolescents. She currently splits her time between AHA! and CALM (Child Abuse, Listening & Mediation) as a mental health therapist for children, teens, and families.
Laurel O’Connor holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University and is a Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern (MFTI) currently working towards licensure. After witnessing the transformative effects the AHA! program had on her own teen daughter, Laurel joined the AHA! staff in 2015. She is a facilitator with the In-School program and provides individual therapy to teens affiliated with the After-School program. Beginning in 2017, Laurel will also be the Program Coordinator for a pilot program teaching educators the AHA! method of social and emotional learning. In addition to AHA!, Laurel works as a MFTI at the Community Counseling and Education Center where her life experience informs her work with people of all ages and backgrounds. She has a private practice in Santa Barbara, is trained in EMDR and is proud to be a volunteer with Hospice of Santa Barbara.
Kris’ experience as a youth mentor began at a licensed group home in San Diego. There, he also worked for the Toussaint Academy of Arts from 2004-2008 as a Case Manager and Activity Coordinator. In addition to being an AHA! Facilitator, Kris is activity involved in the development of our local youth music scene as the Regional Director for Notes For Notes.
Nicolas A. Aguilar
Nic attended SBCC for psychology & child development and is looking to pursue a BA in Liberal Arts at Antioch with a focus on social justice. He interned at the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara’s Resident Services Department, working on year-round programming for elementary to high school aged kids/teens, family and senior participants and as property manager for a family complex. Nic went on to work for A-OK! (After School Opportunities for Kids) as a program leader at Franklin Elementary & Adalante Charter School, then as the site coordinator at Franklin Elementary.
Paul Lewis was born and raised in Santa Barbara. He became involved with AHA! as a teen at age 14. He has been a facilitator for AHA since Spring ’15. He is a kinesiology student and is passionate about sharing healthy lifestyle lessons with AHA! youth.
Julian Henderson earned his BA in Psychology from San Diego State University. He returned to Santa Barbara to work for AHA!, a program that was beneficial for him as a teen. AHA! helped Julian to develop social-emotional intelligence and to create the strong sense of self that he now holds today. He is beginning his Masters education in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University in fall of 2016. His future goal is to become a licensed MFT. He is an excellent addition to the AHA! staff given his experience and natural leadership abilities. Julian is trained in hypnosis and NLP. He lives with his girlfriend and cat on West Camino Cielo. He enjoys lounging in his forested back yard, playing basketball with friends, and swimming in the ocean.
Alia Aizenstat holds a BA in Liberal Studies from Antioch University, a Leadership Certificate from Leadership Santa Barbara County, and is a registered yoga teacher (RYT-440). She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Counseling Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute and is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) trainee. Alia brings to AHA! years of experience leading mindfulness meditations and working as a counselor to youth with learning differences. In addition to Alia’s work as a Facilitator for AHA!’s in-school and after-school programs, Alia provides therapy as a MFT trainee at the Community Counseling and Education Center.
Facilitators in Training
Brandon Battle is a Santa Barbara local and studied music composition at Santa Barbara City College. Brandon has been a care taker for children of single moms at St. Vincents and a personal attendent to mentally disabled individuals at Devereux. Brandon’s goal is to use music education to develop life skills, creative expression, and overall happiness in the youth. Brandon became a AHA facilitator the summer of 2015.