MEET OUR TEAM

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Akuyoe Graham
Founder/CEO

Award-winning actor, author and educator Akuyoe Graham founded Spirit Awakening in 1995 to give detained and at-risk youth the internal and external tools to grow beyond their circumstances. Spirit Awakening is named after Akuyoe's critically acclaimed one-woman show, which details her physical and emotional voyage from Ghana to Britain to New York.

 
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Lynn Kitchen
Board Member

Board member Lynn Kitchen has been involved with Spirit Awakening since its inception twenty years ago. One of the first women to own an investment broker-dealer in Los Angeles, CA, Lynn is passionate about helping others to achieve their dreams and contribute to an enlightened world.

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Jamie Socci
Board Chair

Jamie Socci is the founder and director of Tinker Lab Productions, a consulting group that helps companies integrate business, art, ethics, and life and become a force for social change. Based out of Los Angeles, CA, Jamie believes in a life of adventure and travels around the world connecting with and gaining inspiration from beautiful places and people.

 

Nabwire Butali
Board Member

Born and raised in Kenya, writer/producer Nabwire often draws inspiration from her African heritage, and seeks to educate and inspire audiences by particularly elevating the African narrative on a global perspective. As a Spirit Awakening board member, Nabwire's goal is to highlight the beauty in our diverse human experiences.

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Bertrand Christian Esq.
Board Treasurer

Bert Christian has served on the board for Spirit Awakening Foundation for over 15 years. His ambition has always been to give back a measure of service for the support and encouragement he received from others during his formative years. He lives in Mar Vista, Los Angeles with his spouse Tery Arnold, a dog, two cats and several freshwater fish.

 

India Radfar
Board Member

Award-winning poet India Radfar grew up in an eclectic environment created by her parents, Sheila and Lex Hixon.  Her father was a religious scholar and practiced four religious traditions:  Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.  At six years of age, she found her own practice:  poetry. Thankfully, her voice was heard as a child, and her gift was nurtured.

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Masauso Chiumya
Creative Director

A graduate of Intercollege in Larnaca, Cyprus and the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, USA, Masauso Chiumya is the Creative Director of Spirit Awakening. He believes in the power of imagination and originality as powerful tools for design, and that an artist should be open to modern forms of expressions to communicate. 

 
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Peter O'Fallon
Board Member

Peter O’Fallon was born and raised in Colorado. He has fast become known as the indy director of American TV. He directed the cult film Suicide Kings and co-wrote and directed A Rumor of Angels for MGM. He is executive producer of Agent X for the run of the series, and completed as executive producer and director for Lifetime's pilot Unreal.


(some of) our graduates

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Christine Alegre
Mentoring Services

Christine is a former Spirit Awakening student and current activist/prison abolitionist. Incarcerated at 15 and faced with life in prison, she found solace through self-discovery. She says:

"Jail changed my life. Spirit Awakening helped me begin the process of healing and self-love, and taught me to awaken my authentic self."

 
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Yahniie Bridges
Ambassador

After running away from home as a teen, Yahniie was incarcerated in the juvenile justice system. While there, Spirit Awakening gave her a new opportunity for self-empowerment and advocacy. She says:

"I was given the immense and eternal gift of hope, an escape from my life that I’d recently named a tragedy."

Aaronn Wilson
Creative Assistant

Aaron is a writer, film enthusiast and, most importantly, a youth activist. After experiencing the criminal justice system at 17, when he was tried as an adult, he felt it a necessity to give back. He says: 

"Spirit Awakening Foundation has not only given me an outlet, it has also helped me to improve myself and the world."

 
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Moriah Barrett
Peer Mentor

Moriah Barrett is a proud graduate of RTSA at Camp Scott. She is a poet, singer, and lyricist. Currently she works with the County of Los Angeles Public Works, and serves as a Peer Mentor for Spirit Awakening. She says:

"I want to open eyes, encourage, and inspire anyone who needs it in any way that is needed."

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Johna Rivers
Foster Youth Outreach

Johna Rivers, 21, is a survivor. She was put into foster care at the age of nine, and learned to tell her story through performing her original pieces in Spirit Awakening's annual celebration, Voices of the Unheard. She says:

"I am committed to helping other foster youth connect with each other and find themselves."

 
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Hunter-Marie Formica
Graduate

Hunter-Marie Formica
is a graduate of RTSA at Camp Scott. She is 17 years old doing her last 5 credits in high school and will graduate 1 year and 3 months early. She says:

"I held on to that encouragement - knowing that others believe in me and want me to succeed was an unforgettable feeling."

Frina Oakes
Peer Mentor

Frina believes that no matter where you come from, or what you may have been through, you are worthy of all the love and joy this life has to offer. She helps students make the most of out our program, and says:

"I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the way Spirit Awakening has supported me and helped me grow."

 
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Johanna Moore
Graduate / Teacher

While a student at JMHS, Johanna Moore was one of a handful of students who participated in the Spirit Awakening Foundation’s Writes of Passage group. Johanna is now a Spanish teacher and ASB Advisor at John Muir High School in Pasadena, CA. She says:

"This experience proved to help shape me both personally and professionally." 


FACILITATORS

William BT Taylor  Actor/Facilitator

Under the sponsorship of Agape International Spiritual Center, William founded and directed the Freedom Light Prison Program.  Over the past ten years, William has facilitated Spirit Awakening's writing program. For his work in the prison system, William has recieved several awards from Terminal Island Prison and the 2003 Gandhi-King Award from the Seasons of Non-Violence Organization.

Estella Holeman
Facilitator

Estella's goal is to be a beneficial presence on the earth by bringing more than twenty-five years of experience working with children, adults and families as an educator to the Rites of Passage program. As a practitioner of the healing arts, she is so grateful to spend her life empowering people and fulfilling her passions.  Estella is also a founding member of the Kuumba Foundation.

Michael Dyer
Actor/Facilitator

Michael Dyer has worked with clients ranging from inner city youth, foster children, juvenile delinquents, college-bound teenagers, public/private schools, universities, corporations, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and staff development workshops.  He's also worked to implement and facilitate after school curriculums for students of different age groups.  Working with young scholars in his passion.