MEET OUR TEAM
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bertrand Christian Esq.
Bert Christian has served on the board for Spirit Awakening Foundation for the past 11 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.
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. Now she likes to do this for others.
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.
(some of) our graduates
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."
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."
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."
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."
Foster Youth Outreach Liason
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."
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."