Meet the Staff

John GarofoloDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


John Garofolo

Chief Financial Officer

John received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Bucknell University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. John has been a CPA since 1992.

For 10+ years, John worked at Ernst & Young as a Senior Accountant and Manager in the Management Consulting Practice; and at IBM, Global Services as a Senior Manager in the Global Strategy & Design Practice.

Most recently, John has served as a Senior Executive Consultant at Shepherd Partners, Inc., a turnaround and financial advisory firm. While at Shepherd, John served as an interim CFO in a variety of settings; his areas of expertise include financial transformation, turnaround/restructuring advisory, capital sourcing, and M & Advisory services.

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Andrew Glazier

President & Interim CEO

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 the cultivation of foundation and corporate donors.

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Charles Hoke

Chief Development Officer

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.

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Marina Thompson

Chief People Officer

Marina leads recruitment and culture initiatives for Defy. 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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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.

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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 onshore 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


Jeremy Bouman

VP, Chapter Programs

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.

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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.
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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


Melissa Gelber-O’Dell

Director, Prison Programs

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.

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Terrell Hall

Post-Release Program Manager, NY

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.

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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. In 2017, Jasmine was awarded the Omaha NAACP Freedom Fighter Award and was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Omahans (TOYO) by the Omaha Jaycees.

Margaret HendersonDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Margaret Henderson


Margaret has 10+ years of experience acquiring in-depth practical knowledge of nonprofit accounting principles, operations, and internal controls. Her past experience includes serving as a Database Manager at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado and roles at Crowe Horwath LLP, where she served as Senior Audit Associate and was later promoted to Audit Manager.

Most recently, Margaret served as Controller at Stanley British Primary School. At Stanley, Margaret managed audit preparation, account reconciliation, payroll administration, and preparation of comprehensive financial statements.

Margaret received a Bachelor’s in Marketing and Tourism Management from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master’s of Accountancy from the University of Denver. Margaret is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Colorado.

Quan HuynhDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


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


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.
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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.

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Jason Kotas

Program Assistant, Nebraska

Jason was an EIT in Omaha Correctional Center’s first graduating class, where he completed Defy’s “CEO of Your New Life” Program. Jason currently serves as a peer facilitator and is pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Human Services at Metro Community College.

Most recently, Jason worked as a Resident Mentor and Lead Breakfast Cook at the Omaha Correctional Center. Serving in these roles, Jason facilitated small group sessions, assisted with special events and organized inventory.

Rebeccah LanniDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Rebeccah Lanni

Post-Release Program Manager

Rebeccah received a Bachelor’s in Psychology with minors in Social Service and Spanish from Knox College. Upon completion of her studies, Rebeccah served two years in AmeriCorps, a national service program, where she developed a passion for the social service field.

Most recently, Rebeccah served as Lead Coordinator for Community Works West, One Family Program. As Lead Coordinator, Rebeccah worked with currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, helping them obtain their GED, secure housing, and reconnect with their children through parent-child contact visits.

Ping LieuDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Ping Lieu

Program Operations Manager

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.

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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.

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Robert Omer

Executive Director, Colorado

Robert received a Bachelor’s from Washburn University and a J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, KS. Robert later went on to pursue an MBA in Global Finance and Management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ.

For 18+ years, Robert served as a business leader working closely with senior executives and boards of directors to implement strategies to build long-term value in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors.

Most recently, Robert served as Co-Founder of Omer Legal Group, LLC in Frankfurt, Germany and Denver, Colorado. Here he established a full-service consulting firm providing legal and advisory services to individual and corporate clients, specializing in capital development and corporate transactions.

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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.

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Stacey Putka

Prison Program Manager, Colorado

Stacey received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Colorado State University and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Denver. Upon completion of her studies, Stacey transitioned from Clinical Intern to Clinical Therapist at Behavioral Treatment Services. She conducted mental health and substance abuse evaluations and facilitated group and individual therapy to address presenting symptoms, diagnoses, and safety concerns.

Most recently, Stacey served a Clinical Team Lead at the Behavioral Treatment Services. As Clinical Team Lead, Stacey oversaw the delivery and implementation of treatment programs, supervised a five-person clinical therapy team in a men’s community corrections facility, and developed quality partnerships with local DOC, Community Corrections, and other external program resources.

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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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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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Amanda Wiggans

Event Planner

Amanda received a Bachelor’s in History with a minor in Economics from Middlebury College. In addition to her studies, Amanda served as Senior Fellow for Middlebury Programs on Creativity and Innovation, where she coordinated programs and competitions that focused on fostering creativity and entrepreneurship among students and co-chaired three annual TEDxMiddlebury events.

Most recently, Amanda worked as Program Associate at The Aspen Institute. Focusing primarily on the planning of The Aspen Ideas Festival, Amanda’s primary role was to manage speaker logistics prior to and during the Festival, hire and supervise summer interns, assist with sponsor management, and coordinate the Festival workshops.


Andrew Glazier

President & Interim CEO

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 the cultivation of foundation and corporate donors.

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 is committed to and passionate about our mission.  We work exceptionally hard, and, above all, value the heart behind the Entrepreneurs-in-Training, volunteers, and supporters who share in our mission.