Meet the Team

Lara Sedaghat

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Lara Sedaghat has been a dedicated advocate and friend to trauma-impacted and currently and formerly incarcerated people for over a decade. She is determined on transforming public perceptions around incarcerated people, breaking the cycle of trauma, healing, ending the prison system, and teaching the importance of love, kindness, and respect.

 

Lara has worked with California Prison Focus, a nonprofit that works to end human rights abuses against incarcerated people; the Human Rights Pen Pal Program, a project of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition (PHSS) whose goals are to amplify the voices of people imprisoned in long-term solitary confinement; led re-entry career workshops in San Quentin State Prison's EOP H-Unit; created cover letter curriculum for Last Mile Org, a program that assists incarcerated individuals prepare for re-entry through business and technology; and collaborated with California Re-entry Program, Hustle 2.0, Project Rebound, and Just Us 4 Youth to provide resumes, housing, and mentorship to upcoming and recently paroled individuals.

 

Lara works hard to cease the cycle of "hurt people hurt people," and envisions a world where the phrase "if you can't help someone, don't hurt them," is honored. 

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Sophie Squire

Executive Assistant

Sophie Squire is a first year law student at Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is originally from Berkeley, California and has her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with a focus in criminology, as well as a certificate in Public Health.

 

Sophie has experience working with individuals who are on probation and has seen the terrible effects that the system has on individuals involved in it first-hand.

 

Sophie plans to dedicate her future career to addressing and challenging the many issues inherent within the United States criminal legal system. She is particularly passionate about death penalty abolition and wrongful convictions.

 

In her free time Sophie enjoys skateboarding, trying new foods and spending time with her pets.

Carolina Hernandez

Spanish Program Coordinator

Carolina Hernandez was born in México but her life journey brought her to the United States in 1999, where she grew up in San Diego, California. Carolina is a mother, daughter, wife, and friend, and now lives with her husband and daughter in Washington state. She enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones and going for long walks in nature. Her passion lies in the overall health of her mind, body, and soul so that she can put good out into the world.

For over four years, Carolina Hernandez has graciously and tirelessly worked alongside Elevate You Foundation as a translator. She is the bridge that allows for both communication and connection to occur between our Spanish-speaking community members and the organization.  
 

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Mikhaila Fendor

Board Member 

Mikhaila Fendor is the founder of Equilibrium: Center for Restorative Wellness, a virtual conflict resolution center that works primarily with women of color and organizations who are having deep conflicts around race.

 

She is also a trainer in homeless services and is incredibly impacted by how much homelessness is intersected and perpetuated by the systematic incarceration of unhoused individuals. Overall, she feels motivated by the concepts of narrative and redemption because the opportunity to tell one's story and find redemption is so valuable--especially in regard to humanizing people who’ve been incarcerated.

 

Born to West African immigrants but raised in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, Mikhaila has a perspective on life that has mainly been informed by the "first generation" experience. Her most impactful teachers have been people who know what it takes to survive with very little resources and who have been forced to be resilient in the face of a traumatizing system working against them. 

 

Outside of that, she spends a lot of time gardening, cooking, discovering new music, biking, dancing, swimming and taking photos.

Arthur Bush

Board Member

Arthur Bush is an incarcerated individual who has served over 26 years of a Life Without the Possibility of Parole sentence. He has taken the steps to change his life by becoming the Team Coordinator for the Alternatives to Violence Project, receiving an Associate's Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and in training to become a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Counselor. He is also a lead bass guitarist and a Screenwriter/Concept Developer for "The Brain Cell" writing group.

He has had the opportunity to view many incarcerated people parole from prison and is aware of what is needed to succeed. He is confident that with the proper support, incarcerated individuals can parlay their incarceration periods into productive experiences.

 

Arthur is a firm believer in making dreams into realities and believes in "Elevating."

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Eric Pereira

Board Member

Eric Pereira is an alumni of Rutgers University and has worked for the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP) as the Senior Program Coordinator at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

 

Having been incarcerated for many years of his life, Eric is an arduous advocate around issues of access to higher education at the intersection of economic equity and racial justice. He is a strong and positive pillar within the formerly incarcerated community as well as a relentless advocate of college-in-prison programs as pathways to address cross-generational poverty.

 

Eric is a firm believer in transformative justice and amplifies approaches rooted in community-based alternatives that keep communities safe while accessing the healing we need and deserve.

Genae Templeton

Board Member

Genae Templeton is a San Diego native who runs a successful woman and Black-owned business addressing the physical and emotional well-being of her community.

 

She is system-impacted, having been significantly impacted by the system and business of mass incarceration by witnessing and experiencing the incarceration of family and friends throughout her life.

Genae firmly believes in second chances as well as the opportunity to provide a helping hand for personal and professional growth. 

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Jeff Stein

Board Member

After 10 years on a Level 4 Yard, Jeff Stein returned home and partnered with two renowned organizations to provide positive services to both currently and formerly incarcerated individuals with Project Rebound and GOGI (Getting Out by Going In). In addition, he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Communication in 2019 and will earn his Master's in Rhetoric & Civic Engagement next year.

 

Jeff sees the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as a human trafficking network, and is passionate about rescuing and preventing as many bodies and souls from being taken as possible. His extensive experience of being both formerly incarcerated and a witness to the incarceration of many others is what drives him to be of service.