Meet the Staff

Catherine HokeDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

Founder & CEO

Catherine Hoke

Founder & CEO

Catherine started Defy in 2010 after founding and leading the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), a nonprofit organization that serves men throughout the Texas prison system. At PEP, Catherine developed the vision, recruited and worked closely with the Governing Board and three Local and National Advisory Boards to execute the vision, led a staff of 25, raised a $2.5 million privately funded budget, taught PEP’s curriculum to men in prison, oversaw all activities with the prison system, and served as an advocate to external constituents. Under Catherine’s leadership, PEP was recognized for its innovation and results by NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, National Public Radio, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Deal Maker Magazine.

Prior to PEP, Catherine built a network of more than 4,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs during her career in venture capital and private equity. She sourced $32 million in equity investments in three technology deals at Summit Partners, a Palo Alto, California-based firm. Catherine then served as Director of Investment Development at American Securities Capital Partners, a New York City-based private equity firm. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration from University of California, Berkeley.

A three-time marathon runner, college rugby player and varsity rower, and California State Women’s Wrestling Champion, Catherine still loves training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and submission grappling. As a French Canadian-born daughter of an entrepreneurial immigrant, Catherine was an ESL student and appreciates good grammar. She’s surprisingly domesticated and feels the need to regularly experiment in the kitchen.

Sarah BedyDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Sarah Bedy

Prison Program Manager, Southern California

Sarah received her Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Michigan and went on to pursue a Master’s in Public Policy at George Mason University.

Sarah began her career as a community organizer in Toledo, Ohio where she recruited and trained diverse stakeholders to identify community problems and advocate for solutions. Sarah has worked as a Membership Manager at a national fair lending coalition, and most recently designed and managed a program to strengthen the parliament and political parties of Macedonia, while serving as Program Manager, Central & Eastern Europe at the National Democratic Institute in Washington, D.C.

As a volunteer, Sarah has coordinated an after-school program for homeless teenagers and mentored a teen in the foster care system.

Matt BellerDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Matt Beller

VP, Post-Release Programs

Matt is a seasoned operations executive with more than 15 years of experience leading cross-functional teams to produce high results in program development, multi-site operations management, strategic planning, and large-scale project management. At The College Board, Matt was responsible for reengineering the SAT division’s 32 million dollar consumer product portfolio, and led marketing operations for a global crisis communications campaign for enhanced SAT security and registration requirements.

Most recently, while serving as Director of New School Program Operations at BASIS Independent Schools, Matt led new school growth and operations, managing the complete life cycle of developing a new independent school from initial site selection to school launch. Additionally, Matt managed day-to-day operations of the organization’s national network of schools.

Matt received his Bachelor’s in Political Science from Hunter College.

Sarah BinionDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Sarah Binion

Director, Monitoring & Evaluation

Sarah received a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication and a Master’s in International Studies from Texas State University and is finishing her Ph.D. in International Development at Tulane University.

Sarah brings to Defy 9+ years of experience that includes qualitative & quantitative research design and analysis, curriculum design, and program implementation and management. Most recently, Sarah served as a Social Impact Evaluation & Strategy Consultant for Fathom, as Board President for Crime Prevention Institute (CPI), and as an Adjunct Professor at Austin Community College. Recent projects included supervising a diverse and global team of 10 to implement and facilitate the traveler experience on shore in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, as well as implementing the first ever formal CPI strategy planning session that resulted in a three-year strategic plan for growth and diversification.

Jeremy BoumanDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Jeremy Bouman

Executive Director, Nebraska

Jeremy grew up in Queens, NY and later in northern New Jersey. Because he holds a deep faith in individuals’ abilities to transform their lives, each step of Jeremy’s career advanced his capacity to empower those seeking to reinvent themselves.

He arrives at Defy from Creighton University in Omaha. In his nearly seven years at Creighton, he oversaw a staff of 28 development professionals who secured in excess of $15 million annually from prominent philanthropists in Nebraska and around the US. His service to faith-based higher education includes work as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska. He served in fundraising capacities for the ELCA Foundation in Delaware and Maryland, as well as Lutheran Social Services of New York.

Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Jeremy was partner and vice president of New York Telecom and Senior Account Executive of Cortel Business Systems. His entrepreneurial background in the private sector and subsequent 15 years committed to serving marginalized and vulnerable people drew him to Defy’s innovative mission. He has also served as a board member for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – Mid America Chapter.

Jeremy earned a bachelor of arts degree with an emphasis in journalism from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, and a master of science in leadership from Creighton University.

Elisa BrookeDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Elisa Brooke

Volunteer Relations Assistant, Southern California

Elisa is pursuing her Bachelor’s in Communications at California State, Northridge.

She has worked as an Office Manager both for a Los Angeles M.D. and for the Malibu Chamber of Commerce. In these roles, Elisa represented the Chamber on numerous community boards and coordinated projects with Malibu City Hall. Additionally, Elisa played a key role in the successful launch of a new office and implemented programs and policies addressing: training, compensation, and new hire orientation.

While at Capstone Turbine, Elisa served as a Communications and Process Specialist, where she created an online training program for 95+ global client corporations. She also managed all internal communications, created marketing collateral and managed an employee volunteer program.

Scott ChamberlainDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Scott Chamberlain

Volunteer Relations Assistant, Northern California

Scott received a Bachelor’s in Sociology and History from Boston College. Upon completion of his studies, Scott served as the Infection Control Application Coordinator for UC Health. While at UC Health, Scott managed the implementation of the infection control application for three hospital facilities and provided monitoring and allocation of the implementation budget. Most recently, Scott served as the Orders Application Coordinator for Mount Auburn Hospital, and as the Project Manager for Epic Systems. In both roles, Scott oversaw the day-to-day management of technical support analysts, the design of facility-wide workflow and hospital policy, and the allocation of a one million dollar application budget.
Rudo ChaseDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Rudo Chase

EIT-in-Residence

Rudo Chase was born in Georgetown, Guyana and lives in Newark, NJ. He joined Defy as an EIT in 2015 and completed the program as the first-place winner of our Brown Belt competition in June of 2016. Rudo has been volunteering with Defy ever since and is looking forward to providing support to our EITs and guiding them along their entrepreneurial journey. He runs his own property management business in Newark and is passionate about real estate, helping others, and spending time with his three children.
Daniel ChiaDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Daniel Chia

Software Engineer

Daniel works as a Software Engineer on Defy’s Technology Team in our NYC office. Daniel received his B.E. in Computer Engineering from City College of New York in 2016. While in college, Daniel served as a Peer Team Tutor helping other students learn the basics of various Web Development technologies. He also hosted a number of training workshops on behalf of the Association for Computing Machinery. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys reading and writing, playing basketball and tennis, and playing kendama (a Japanese skill toy).
Joanna CullomDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Joanna Cullom

Event Planner, Northern California

Joanna spent 8+ years as a consultant supporting executives in dynamic environments. Consulting projects included client relations, project management, and administrative support. Most recently, Joanna served as Director of Operations & Project Management at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international digital rights group, based in San Francisco. At EFF, Joanna was the project lead for the deployment of new locations and assisted with the design, aesthetics, and workflow of a 5-story building. Additionally, she was responsible for events management and the design of business and operational systems and processes. Joanna received an Associate’s Degree in Computer Technology at The Art Institute in Los Angeles, and her Bachelor’s in Public Administration at Ashford University in San Francisco.
Will CunninghamDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Will Cunningham

Grant Writer

Will received a Bachelor’s in English from Wofford College, a Master’s in English from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Kansas.

At KU, Will specialized in African American and Southern Literature, published articles in Mississippi Quarterly, Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, The Journal of Southwestern American Literature, and Black Magnolias Literary Journal, and presented research at numerous regional and national conferences. Will served as a Project Manager and Lead Grant Writer on several National Endowment for the Humanities grants for the Project on the History of Black Writing, a research center at KU committed to literary recovery work in black studies, public literacy, and innovative scholarship. He will continue serving HBW as their newest junior board member, assisting with research initiatives in the applied humanities.

Will has taught over 20 University-level classes, ranging from African American and American literature surveys to courses on poverty, race, and the environment in the American South. He brings 7+ years of experience that includes research design and analysis, grant writing, curriculum development and implementation, editing, and writing tutoring.

Mariah DickinsonDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Mariah Dickinson

Executive Communications Director

Mariah received her Bachelor’s in International Relations from American University.

Following graduation, Mariah spent 2 years with Teach For America, as a special education teacher on the Texas-Mexico border.

At the nonprofit education start-up, The Future Project, Mariah served as DC Deputy Director, co-leading the first operating year, planning and executing 5 major events, creating a national system to track program progress and assisting with the grant process.

Most recently, while serving as a Senior Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, Mariah managed tasks and project execution for the Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); managing relations with Department of Defense, industry, and academia.

Veronica EnsignDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Veronica Ensign

Executive Director, Bay Area

Veronica is responsible for advancing Defy’s mission and impact in the Bay Area. Having spent her entire career in social change – working on issues spanning from community-driven economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa to reforming the U.S. education system – Veronica is committed to creating a better, more just world by fighting for racial, economic, and social equity. Before Defy, Veronica served as Chief Development Officer at Oakland-based Pivot Learning, the largest and most experienced nonprofit technical assistance provider to school districts in California. There she led the development team to double and then triple fundraising revenue. She also founded a nonprofit organization that partners with rural communities in Kenya and Rwanda to kick-start development projects that are identified, designed, and owned by the people they serve. Veronica received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of San Diego and a Master’s in International Development from Tulane University.
Chris FaganDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Chris Fagan

Recruitment Associate

Chris received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Buffalo and a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham University.
While in college, Chris was an HR Intern at the City of Buffalo City Hall, and the Mercantile Adjustment Bureau.
At NYU’s Silver School of Social Work Chris worked as a Research Assistant, coordinating outreach and conducting interviews to gather and report relevant data.
Most recently, Chris worked for Henry Street Settlement where he began as an Employment Coordinator, assisting participants with job readiness skills while developing relationships with employers, attending career fairs and hosting recruiting events. Later, Chris became the organization’s first Coordinator of College Success. There, he focused on screening, matching and on-boarding students and employees, attaining 15 placements per quarter among 18-24 year-old clients.
Chinue ForemanDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Chinue Foreman

Volunteer Relations Assistant, NYC

Chinue received her Bachelor’s in History from Barnard College.

While in college, Chinue served as a Student Admissions Representative, providing administrative support and coordinating events. She also interned at the Athena Film Festival, managing student outreach, and promoting the Festival via social media engagement.

Most recently, Chinue served as Program and Development Assistant at the John A. Reisenbach Foundation, where her work included: planning and executing social and fundraising events, managing and engaging the Foundation’s social media community, restructuring the donor database and providing high-level administrative support.

Nadine Friedman-RobertsDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Nadine Friedman-Roberts

Volunteer Relations Manager

Nadine is a nonprofit administration scholar specializing in gender equity through an intersectional framework. She holds a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, where she developed a screenwriting mentorship program for girls in alternative-to-detention programs.

Her writing and video work on gender, race, and pop culture has been published in Salon, Bitch Magazine, Biographile and The Daily Beast. Nadine has also worked with progressive organizations such as Berlin-based Dropping Knowledge and Arts in a Changing America, a national project filling the urgent need to engage, from an arts perspective, the United States’ dramatic demographic transformation. Nadine is currently completing a book of essays and photographic portraits of individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis throughout the United States.

Michelle GarciaDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Michelle Garcia

Family Liaison

For ten years, Michelle worked as an Office Manager for Davilyn Corporation. Her responsibilities included resource allocation, staff training and supervision, implementation of office procedures, and customer support. Most recently, Michelle served as Regional Coordinator for Get On the Bus, an organization that brings children and their caregivers throughout the State of California to visit their mothers and fathers in prison.
Melissa Gelber-O’DellDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Melissa Gelber-O’Dell

Director, Prison Engagement

Originally from New York, Melissa Gelber-O’Dell received her BA from Franklin and Marshall College in Government and Women’s Studies and a Master’s degree from New York University in Social Work and Public Policy. She spent seven years at the Center for Court Innovation working to provide new opportunities to individuals involved in the criminal justice system and increase the efficacy of the judiciary. Most recently, Melissa served as the Program Director of the Community Assessment and Services Center, a large-scale reentry resource hub, assisting clients on probation returning from incarceration. Melissa is also an adjunct lecturer in the MPA program at San Francisco State University and is the Chairwoman of the Board for NYC TOGETHER.

As a criminal justice reform advocate, Melissa is passionate about Defy’s mission. In her role as Director, CEO YNL – California, she works to connect Entrepreneurs-in-Training to Defy’s programming and expand pre-release operations on the West Coast.

Andrew GlazierDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Andrew Glazier

Executive Director, Southern California

Andrew received his Bachelor’s in International Relations from Pomona College, and his MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Prior to joining Defy, Andrew worked at City Year Los Angeles for nearly 8 years in a variety of roles. Andrew started at City Year LA serving as their Government Relations Director, developing and managing local and statewide government relations strategy and training for 150 corps members and 28 staff. Upon promotion, additional roles included serving as City Year LA’s Chief of Staff, Managing Director Program Service and Managing Director Impact and Strategy.

Most recently, Andrew served as City Year LA’s Senior Managing Director, where he provided cross-departmental leadership, led City Year’s organizational growth strategy, oversaw the Government Relations Department, built strategic partnerships with the Los Angeles Unified School District, and sourced funds from and supported cultivation of foundation and corporate donors.

Mary GlennDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Mary Glenn

Prison Program Manager, Tri-State Area

Mary received a Bachelor’s in Spanish and Latin American Cultures/Human Rights from Barnard College, Columbia University and a Master’s of Development Practice from the University of California, Berkeley. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies, Mary worked as a Case Manager for AIDS Service Center in New York City. She managed a caseload of 50+ HIV clients, connecting them to medical care, housing, mental health services, and community resources and support. During her studies at Berkeley, Mary worked as a graduate instructor and held two fellowship positions at Pogo Park and Center for Food, Faith, and Justice where she focused on designing and leading community development programming and events around food justice, community health, and youth leadership.
Megan GoddardDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Megan Goddard

Post-Release Program Manager

Megan recently graduated from New York University (NYU), with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Social Entrepreneurship. From the young age of 17, Megan developed a fascination for the criminal justice system and prison reform efforts in America. During her college career, Megan gained experience as a Workshop Facilitator on Rikers Island, as a Communications Intern with the Reset Foundation, and as a Programs Intern with Venture for America. Her passion for entrepreneurship and for helping people with criminal histories naturally led her to Defy Ventures, where she interned on the Learning Team before joining the Program team full-time. Megan is thrilled to be living her dream, working closely with the Entrepreneurs-In-Training and helping them find success in their professional and personal lives.
Terrell HallDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Terrell Hall

Post-Release Program Associate

Terrell is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Health at CUNY, Hostos. He received CASAC Certification from St. Joseph’s Addiction and Recovery Center, and is certified as an HIV/AIDS Educator by the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York. Terrell received Offender Employment Specialist (OES) Facilitator Training at FCI-Ray Brook.

Terrell created a collaborative youth mentoring program at The Bridge. At Action for a Better Community, he served as a Health Team Member, conducting HIV/AIDS seminars and events. For the New York State Department of Corrections, Terrell facilitated Aggression Replacement Training (ART) and worked at a youth assistance program, where he assisted at-risk adolescents to develop social, communication and other skills and conducted seminars on youth and law, goal setting, and change theory.

Most recently, Terrell served as Outreach Manager at Fair Shake, where he created content for a Reentry packet, managed the organization’s website, and forged community ties on behalf of people with criminal justice involvement.

Jasmine HarrisDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Jasmine Harris

Post-Release Program Manager, Nebraska

Jasmine brings 12+ years of experience to Defy that includes non-profit program management, community engagement, and coalition building. Most recently, Jasmine served as Co-Founder/CEO of WayMaker, LLC, an organization that motivates women and girls to overcome setbacks from being involved in the criminal justice system. She also served as a Health Educator at Creighton University and as Civic Engagement Committee Chair for the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals, where she focused on advocacy and awareness around criminal justice issues. Jasmine received a Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Bill HobbsDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Bill Hobbs

Prison Program Manager, Northern California

Bill received his Bachelor’s in Business Administration at Thomas College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Golden Gate University.

For 21 years, Bill worked in the California prison system as a Correctional Counselor and Supervisor. In addition, Bill served as an adjunct professor at Palo Verde Community College for 11 years, teaching Effective Communications to community students and inmates housed at Ironwood and Chuckawalla State Prisons.

Charles HokeDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Charles Hoke

Vice President of Development & Growth

Charles oversees all of Defy’s outward-facing initiatives and programs, including fundraising, volunteer and donor relations, and strategic growth initiatives. He develops strategy and infrastructure, and is building a team of charismatic go-getters who love to rep Defy.

After obtaining his MBA from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), Charles arrived in New York to work in financial services. He started his career as a High Yield Research Analyst and later worked in High Yield Sales & Trading. Charles served as one of Defy’s most active volunteers until 2014 when he left finance behind to join the Defy Ventures staff. His passion for problem-solving, underdogs, and fighting injustice attracted him to the opportunity to help redeem one of America’s highest failure rate industries. It also attracted him to the woman he married: Defy’s founder and CEO, Catherine Hoke.

Quan HuynhDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Quan Huynh

Post-Release Program Manager, Southern California

Quan created his first company, Jade Janitors, over the span of four days, six months after he paroled from a life sentence in late 2015. In 2016, he was selected as a Peace Fellow while serving as Team Coordinator with the Alternatives to Violence Project.

Most recently, Quan worked as General Manager at the Monarch 9 Café where he managed day-to-day operations, including managing a staff of 20 employees, and oversight of inventory, finance and marketing; and at Alliance Capital Finance, where he worked as a Loan Mitigation Specialist.

Quan is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration at California State University, Fullerton. He received certification as an Addiction Specialist I & II from Palos Verde College.

Julie Jackson-ForsbergDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Julie Jackson-Forsberg

Vice President of Learning

Julie Jackson-Forsberg is Defy’s Vice President of Learning. With twenty years’ experience in education, specifically devoted to underdogs, Julie is dedicated to helping people maximize their potential. Her experience is concentrated in instructional program development, curriculum, and data analysis. Prior to joining the Defy team, she served as the Chief Academic Officer of the Public Preparatory Network of charter schools, the founder and Managing Director of Critical Thinking Works, an education consultancy; and the founder and Head of School for Oracle Charter School in Buffalo, New York, a college-preparatory charter high school. Julie has an Executive MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Saunders School of Business; she is a past Fellow of the Peabody Professional Institute in Charter School Leadership at Vanderbilt University; she has completed coursework in Educational Leadership and Administration through George Washington University; MA work in English / Composition Studies through Northeastern University; and a BA in Creative Writing and Chemistry through Hamilton College.
Brittany JohnsonDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Brittany Johnson

Event Planner, Nebraska

Brittany received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Evangel University. Since completing her studies, Brittany has worked as the Public Relations Director for Evangel University Activities Board and as the Director of PR/Communications for Venel, The Authority in Orthopedic Marketing.

Most recently, Brittany served as Co-Founder/Director of Marketing & Partnerships for Drink Local Think Global, an organization that partners with craft breweries to raise money to provide clean water in developing countries.

Rick JonesDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Rick Jones

Prison Program Manager, Northern California

Rick is currently pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice from San Joaquin Delta College.

For the last 25+ years, Rick has served as a Correctional Officer, a Correctional Sergeant, and an Employee Association President. Most recently, Rick served as a Correctional Lieutenant, where he acted as the liaison between the California City Correctional Facility and the public.

Kim KaufmannDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Kim Kaufmann

Curriculum Director

Kim received a Bachelor’s in English from Covenant College and a Master’s in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. For 15+ years, Kim has worked as a technical writer, instructional designer, and online curriculum & educational writer. Most recently, Kim served as Director of Course Development at Knowledge Delivery Systems, and as an Independent Educational Content & Curriculum Developer. Recent projects included developing multimedia online courses and writing educational content for Exploros, K12 Inc., and Six Red Marbles.
Ed KressyDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Ed Kressy

Learning Associate

After earning his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of San Francisco, Ed spent five years with a training and consulting company and five years with Genentech. He continued his career as a clinical research professional, working for Stanford University, the University of California at San Francisco, and other organizations. His responsibilities included developing educational materials for doctors and other medical professionals.

As a Defy Ventures EIT, Ed launched a corporate training business that designs and delivers adult learning courses. His clients include Cisco, Decker Communications, Google, Nest, and Slack.

Ping LieuDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Ping Lieu

Prison Program Associate

Ping was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He was recently released after serving 13 years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. While inside he earned an Associate Degree in Business, was certified as a law clerk by the state of California, and hopes to continue his education now that he is released.

Prior to coming to Defy Ventures, Ping worked in product development and marketing, creating campaigns and developing growth strategies in the fitness industry.

Before his release, Ping spent his free time tutoring others for their GEDs, was a Defy EIT at the California City Correctional Facility where he was a semi-finalist in the Business Pitch Competition, and returned as a peer facilitator to guide and support future EITs on their path to entrepreneurial success.

Dave LongDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Dave Long

Vice President of Prison Engagement

Dave started his career as a Correctional Officer at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison and was most recently Warden at California City Correctional Facility, one of Defy’s CEO YNL locations.

Dave helped pioneer the first distance learning, face to face, and online college programs in California prisons. He has been a steadfast believer in providing people in prison with innovative programs to help them successfully reintegrate into society upon parole. Dave is responsible for manage Defy’s relationships with prison officials and helping further our engagement with state systems.

Dave hails from Tehachapi, California, and is married with six sons.

Emiliano LopezDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Emiliano Lopez

Program Associate Trainee

Emiliano is currently a sophomore at Los Angeles Trade Technical College where he studies Visual Communications.

To date, Emiliano’s work experience includes serving as an intern for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and as Co-Facilitator for Grip Training Institute, where he co-facilitates an emotional intelligence curriculum at Avenal State Prison.

Julianna C. McCorkleDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Julianna C. McCorkle

Prison Program Manager, NYC

Julianna is a Massachusetts native who moved to New York City to attend Barnard College. There she studied Political Science and Biology while working in an ecological genetics lab. After college she worked as a paralegal at a law firm that catered exclusively to tech start-ups.

Julianna has interned at several non-profit organizations including the League of Women Voters, Human Rights Watch, and the Democratic National Committee. Eventually, she hopes to go to law school and serve incarcerated people as a public defender.

Danielle McMorranDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Danielle McMorran

Executive Relations Manager & Emcee

Danielle facilitates Defy’s in-prison events and focuses on development opportunities nationally.
Prior to joining Defy, Danielle served as Director of Development and Public Relations at the Williamson County CASA, in Franklin, TN, where her work involved fundraising and increasing mission awareness through social and mass media, event planning and public speaking.
Danielle received a BA in Mass Communications and Speech Communications from Ouachita University in Arkansas, and studied for one year at Seinan University in Japan, working as an English teacher for Japanese students and professionals.
Maria MorenoDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Maria Moreno

Prison Program Manager, Nebraska

Maria received her Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Over the past 10 years, Maria has served in a variety of roles in organizations addressing social justice, community development, and community engagement issues.

Most recently, Maria worked as Country Manager & Interim Volunteer Program Manager for the FutureSense Foundation in Cambodia. At FutureSense she managed day-to-day operations including developing sustainable community health and education programs, organizing logistics over 11+ project sites, cultivating strong community relationships, monitoring evaluation of projects, and developing and managing budgets.

Martha OrtizDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Martha Ortiz

Finance Associate

Martha has served as an Accounting Assistant at The Latin Center and eShave Inc., preparing financial statements and managing A/R analysis, bank reconciliation, corporate tax preparation, and accounting records management. Martha has more than ten years of accounting and administrative experience in for-profit and non-profit organizations. Martha received an Associates Degree in Accounting from LaGuardia Community College and a Bachelors in Public Accounting from Antioquia University.
Erica PieperDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Erica Pieper

Volunteer Relations Manager, Nebraska

Erica received her Bachelor’s in Social Work with a minor in Criminal Justice from Texas Christian University (TCU). She recently graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s in Social Work (MSW).

While pursuing her BA, Erica served as a Jail Advocate for The Net, visiting women in jail, and providing resources such as job training, education and housing. She also worked as a Research Assistant at TCU’s Department of Social Work, where she performed statistical analysis to determine the effects of supportive housing, and as a Rape Crisis Advocate at The Women’s Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Most recently, Erica served as a Special Victims Counselor at the NY County District Attorney’s Office, where she provided supportive counseling, court accompaniment and case advocacy for victims of violent crime.

Shanda PierceDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Shanda Pierce

Event Planner, Southern California

Shanda has worked as a Marketing and Events Coordinator in Southern California since 2011.
At Saint John’s Health Center Foundation, Shanda managed the planning and production elements for fundraisers, benefit concerts and pop-up events including: Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, The Chautauqua Educational Retreat, and The Power of Pink Benefit Concert.

While at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Shanda was responsible for the creation and execution of all brand management and marketing events including: Homewalk, the Annual Philanthropy Awards, the Annual Tocqueville Gala and LA Youth Vote.

Shanda received her Bachelor’s in Communication and Fine Arts from Loyola Marymount University.

Jeanette PineiroDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Jeanette Pineiro

Event Planner, NYC

Originally from New York City, Jeanette graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Development Sociology and Communications. After graduation she spent five years in Miami working for a young event management company where she was responsible for all day-to-day operations and events with local television stations around the country. It was this experience that first sparked her interest in working with start-up companies. Returning to New York City, Jeanette now serves as the Event Planner & Program Assistant managing the implementation of Defy’s in-person, experiential training.
Tonya PriceDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Tonya Price

Special Assistant to the CEO

Tonya received her Bachelor’s in Political Science from Western Michigan University and her JD from Michigan State University College of Law.

During Tonya’s first semester at law school, a writing class focused on social justice issues piqued her interest in leveling the playing field. She went on to work for an urban farming nonprofit and for the Community Economic Development Clinic at Yale Law School. Both provided the opportunity to be of service in low-income communities with a focus on increasing economic security.

Most recently, Tonya served as Legal Extern at Blue Dot Advocates in Denver, Colorado. At Blue Dot, Tonya edited and updated the website, posted blogs regarding impact investing and social enterprise, and assisted in the preparation of a report that included data analysis and client survey results.

Reid RansomDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Reid Ransom

Vice President of Engineering

Reid began his career in the entertainment industry working for shows on MTV and Comedy Central. He went on to edit branded content for The CW/Microsoft, NBC/Walgreens, E!/Volkswagen and many others. He has developed software to improve post-production workflow and deliver video content more efficiently. His apps have been used to back up footage for the BET Awards and rescue corrupt footage for many networks.

Recently he developed a web application that enables major movie studios to manage their content across digital distribution platforms like iTunes and Google Play.

Reid earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Carrie SimonDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1

THE STAFF

Carrie Simon

National Business Development Director


Carrie received a Bachelor’s from UC Santa Barbara and a Master’s of International Affairs from Columbia University.

Carrie’s career in the for-profit world included serving as a Partner at MKP Capital Management and founding Washington Wine 9, a concierge service focused on travel to Washington State’s wine country. In 2007, Carrie founded IR2 Inc., a fundraising and communications strategy firm. She later worked as Director of Business Development at BBR Partners, where she was charged with new business development strategy and enhancing systems and infrastructure.

Most recently, Carrie served as Director of Business Development at Farmland LP, a sustainable agriculture impact investment fund. At Farmland, Carrie identified potential high net worth and institutional investors and managed fundraising from prospect contact to close of investments. Additionally, she developed and executed unique events on farm properties for current and future investors.

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THE STAFF

Luis Spencer

Prison System Engagement Advisor

Luis S. Spencer began his corrections career in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections in 1980 as a Correction Officer. In 1982 he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he received an honorable discharge in 1985 as Sergeant. He returned to the Massachusetts Department of Correction as a correction officer and quickly advanced through the ranks of Sergeant, Captain, Director of Security, and Deputy Superintendent. In 1995, he was appointed Superintendent of MCI-Lancaster, a Co-Ed minimum/pre-release facility. Following this assignment, he was assigned to MCI Plymouth, Old Colony Correctional Center and MCI Norfolk, the state’s largest facility. In 2008, he was promoted to Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Southern Sector overseeing nine correctional facilities and their Superintendents. He was later appointed Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Prisons Division and in May 2011 he was appointed to lead the Massachusetts Department of Correction as the Commissioner. He served in the position for three and half years.

As a member of the Association of State Correctional Administrators since 2011, he has chaired the Information Sharing Committee, and served as a member of the following committees: Substance Abuse/Mental Health, Administrative Segregation/Restrictive Housing, PREA, Re-entry and Community Corrections, and Performance Measures. As an ASCA Executive member he served as the ASCA Northern Directors President. He has also been a member and Chair of ACA’s Commission on Accreditation for Corrections, and a member of the Standards Committee.

In addition, his experience includes coaching and mentoring young student athletes, teaching leadership and life skills through youth and high school athletics. Other law enforcement experience: Police officer (10yrs).

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THE STAFF

Marina Thompson

Vice President of Talent Acquisition

Director of Talent Acquisition, Marina leads recruitment initiatives for Defy nationally. Most recently, Marina served as Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Lantern Community Services. While at Lantern, Marina managed recruitment efforts for 15 Supportive Housing sites, professional development trainings and had oversight of engagement and employment practices. Prior to Lantern, Marina served as Executive Deputy Director of Workforce Innovation at New York City’s Children’s Services (ACS), with a focus on recruitment, retention and developing formal pathways from school to work in the field of Human Services. Her twenty-year career in Recruitment, Human Resources, Employee Engagement and Executive Coaching also includes positions at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and consulting roles for IT and Property Management firms. Marina received her B.A. from William Smith College, additionally she has completed coursework in Social Work at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School and holds a certificate in Coaching For Improved Work Performance from Fordham University.
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THE STAFF

Kathy Torres

Director of Finance

Kathy manages payroll, accounts receivable/payable, and purchasing for Defy Ventures. She also sets student entrepreneurs up on QuickBooks and assists them with their bookkeeping. She brings to Defy 10 years of bookkeeping and administrative experience in for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
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THE STAFF

Sean Volin

Program Director, In-Prison Program, NY

Sean has more than 15 years of experience and leadership and has globally led implementation and management of Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Operation solutions requiring collaboration of multiple factories, configuration centers, third party suppliers and various stakeholders. Sean’s experience spans demand planning, supply planning, fulfillment, logistics, sales and operations, planning systems technology, financial planning as well successfully developing and leading cross-functional teams.
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THE STAFF

Jason Wang

Executive Relations Manager

A former DEFY EIT and 2 time start-up founder, Jason joins Defy with experience in business development, management consulting and product/relationship management. In 2009, Jason Founded and served as CEO of Wang Innovations, designing 3-D computer simulation models, developing client sales strategies and supporting the design and implementation of statewide juvenile justice policy in Texas. Jason went on to work at Ericsson as a Business Analyst and Project Manager.

Most recently, Jason was Founder & CEO of Byte Size Moments, in Dallas, Texas, where he expanded service offerings to 2,600 e-commerce sites, engaging 7 million customers annually.

Jason received both a Master’s in International Business and an MBA from the University of Texas.

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THE STAFF

Elizabeth Weinberg

Senior Director, Donor and Volunteer Engagement

Elizabeth is an expert in fundraising, marketing, management, and volunteer engagement. Organizations that have benefited from her expertise include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, City Harvest, Inc., the Environmental Defense Fund, and Turnaround for Children, Inc.

Elizabeth is devoted to improving the lives of economically disadvantaged men, woman, and children, and to ending racism and sexism.

She holds a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine and an M.P.A. from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. She is a board member at L.A.C.E.R. Afterschool Programs.

 

THE STAFF

Catherine Hoke

Founder & CEO

Catherine started Defy in 2010 after founding and leading the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), a nonprofit organization that serves men throughout the Texas prison system. At PEP, Catherine developed the vision, recruited and worked closely with the Governing Board and three Local and National Advisory Boards to execute the vision, led a staff of 25, raised a $2.5 million privately funded budget, taught PEP’s curriculum to men in prison, oversaw all activities with the prison system, and served as an advocate to external constituents. Under Catherine’s leadership, PEP was recognized for its innovation and results by NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, National Public Radio, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Deal Maker Magazine.

Prior to PEP, Catherine built a network of more than 4,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs during her career in venture capital and private equity. She sourced $32 million in equity investments in three technology deals at Summit Partners, a Palo Alto, California-based firm. Catherine then served as Director of Investment Development at American Securities Capital Partners, a New York City-based private equity firm. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration from University of California, Berkeley.

A three-time marathon runner, college rugby player and varsity rower, and California State Women’s Wrestling Champion, Catherine still loves training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and submission grappling. As a French Canadian-born daughter of an entrepreneurial immigrant, Catherine was an ESL student and appreciates good grammar. She’s surprisingly domesticated and feels the need to regularly experiment in the kitchen.



The diverse team that powers Defy brings a variety of expertise to the organization, from entrepreneurship to technology to nonprofit program management. Defy is a lean, results-driven institution with a team who’s committed to and passionate about our mission. A specialized roster of consultants compliments our small full-time staff and collaborates with us to create transformational opportunities. We work exceptionally hard, play whenever we can, and, above all, value the heart behind the Entrepreneurs-in-Training, volunteers, and supporters who share in our mission.