Our Team

Founding Team Members

Juan Haines

Juan Haines is an incarcerated journalist whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal, and UCLA Law Review. He is the senior editor of the award-winning San Quentin News, and a contributing writer for Solitary Watch. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), where he was awarded its Silver Heart Award in 2017 for providing a ‘voice to the voiceless.’ In 2020 and 2021, the California Newspaper Publishers Association recognized Juan with awards for his coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. He holds fellowships from both PEN America’s Writers for Justice and Shadowproof’s Marvel Cooke programs. Type Investigations, UCLA Law Review, Empowerment Avenue, Next City,  and The Appeal support Juan’s reporting.

 

Eddie Herena

Throughout the final four years of his incarceration, Eddie Herena worked as a photographer for the San Quentin News. His work has been published in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Athletic, Mercury News, The Boston Globe, and San Francisco Chronicle. Herena is a TEDx speaker, who also appeared in the award-winning documentary film, The Prison Within. He was recently celebrated by the San Francisco Foundation as one of the nation’s largest community foundations dedicated to social justice. After 14 years of incarceration, he became a father on April 4, 2020. Herena works as a freelance photographer whose portraits and photo essays have appeared at SF Arts, Prison Journalism Project, SF Camerawork, Variable West, Ear Hustle, Thacher Gallery, and the University of San Francisco.

Diane Kahn with a prisoner

Diane Kahn

Diane Kahn brings more than two decades of leadership and experience as a teacher and a social justice advocate to her work with HoSQ. For the past six years, Kahn has been teaching men inside San Quentin to attain their high school diplomas. She presently co-directs the prison’s Academic Peer Education Project (APEP) providing teacher training for incarcerated men to educate and mentor their peers. In 2017 she successfully helped drive the Rehabilitative Achievement Credit approval process in the state of California enabling participants of programs like APEP to earn time off their parole date. Diane holds an MA from the University of San Francisco’s School of Education (SOE), where she served as Women in Leadership and Philanthropy board member and SOE Dean’s Circle member. Diane currently serves as a volunteer board member for MarinHealth and the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) of Tamalpais Union High School District.

Diane is continuously overwhelmed by the vulnerability and emotional intelligence the men bring to each class and reveal to each other. She feels compelled to share the stories and the lives she meets on the inside with the outside world.

Outside Team Members

Joseph Krauter, Editor

Joe is a 38-year-old Autistic writer, who paroled in December of 2019 and is happy to have rejoined society.

Joe comes to Humans of San Quentin as an editor and outreach coordinator, helping us network as we mature in our mission of showing the humanity of the lives behind the walls of prisons around the country. This is Joe’s first job as an editor and is grateful that his boss Diane, thinks his work is worthy to represent our brothers and sisters incarcerated across the nation.

During his incarceration, he was fortunate to have many of his pieces published. Joe advocates for Autistics in prison who receive no accommodations or treatments, pulling from his own experience of being diagnosed at the age of 32 while incarcerated. Joe enjoys helping his fellow autistics prepare for their Board of Parole Hearings and reentry into society. In his spare time,

Joe attends San Francisco State University and is pursuing a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Linguistics. One of his goals is to publish a novel, several years in the making, in order to give back to his family who he feels indebted for their care and loyalty. Joe loves to write fiction. He is a horror writer by trade and loves scary stories. When he isn’t writing, you can find him drawing and water coloring things that fascinate him in the world.

 

Rosita Cifuentes

Rosita Cifuentes, Administrative Assistant

Rosita was born and raised in San Rafael, California, ten minutes away from San Quentin. She graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Business Administration. Following her graduation, she felt compelled to return and serve her community. Her passion for helping others has led her to work in the nonprofit space. It is her goal to uphold the basic human dignity of those who live on the margins of society-the excluded, alienated, and disempowered. Rosita hopes to continue amplifying the voices of people incarcerated: those deemed unworthy to be heard.

 

Marcus Blevins, Editor

Marcus began his writing career while taking English courses at Patten College at San Quentin State Prison in January of 2018. His first published writing was featured in The Beat Within, a workshop for the intersection of the arts.

His first article was published in the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, entitled, Dancing Tears And The Ancestral Plane.

He recently received a scholarship from the Prison Journalism Project, resulting in the production of an op-ed piece that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Marcus believes these accomplishments are a testament to the value of rehabilitation. “Through self-help and the help of others, the worst moment in your life can be a stepping stone to success if you just hold your head up long enough to keep your mind focused on the future.”

Wayne Boatwright, Website Developer

Wayne is a 5th-generation Californian and proud father of two. Wayne caused a fatal drunk driving accident and served time in San Quentin prison. He was an active prison reporter,  managing editor, and Webmaster at the San Quentin News. He now applies his skills working with numerous philanthropic organizations and sits on the Man to Man board, a nonprofit committed to breaking the cycle of Father Absence. Wayne is a published author with works in various publications including the San Quentin News, Wall City Magazine, Life of the Law, Anderson Valley Advertiser, Option  B, Mount Tamalpais College Alumni spotlight, San Francisco Chronicle, Medium Stories, Politics Policy and Prosperity, and Data-Driven Investor.  

Inside Team Members

Miguel Sifuentes, Editor

Miquel Sifuentes, 42, has been incarcerated for 23 years and is serving 26 years to life sentence for robbery and felony murder. He went before the board in December 2021.

He’s a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, which recognized him with its Excellence in Journalism award in 2018 for a feature radio story about an incarcerated man reflecting on his family’s cycle of imprisonment.

Miquel has reported for the San Quentin News and KALW/San Quentin Radio. He is a social justice advocate for the incarcerated and anyone who has suffered harm.

He was an original contributor for Humans of San Quentin pre-launch, conducting interviews, writing and editing their first stories before the Covid-19 pandemic. You can watch an interview in Live from Inside.

 

Michael

Michael Moore, Editor

Michael Moore, 61, has been incarcerated for 22 years serving a 35 to life for bank robbery. The Elderly Parole Law allows him to go before the parole board by December 2022.

He has earned an Associates of Arts degree at Mount Tamalpais College in San Quentin, with future plans to attend the University of California at Berkeley upon his release.

Michael is writing a book about his journey from poverty to prison and his remarkable path to finding freedom in a cage. He is committed to social justice and is grateful to be a part of the Humans of San Quentin Team. Read more about Michael in our Longer Stories from the Cell.

 

Read Michael’s Story

Alex Ross, Poetry Director

Alex Ross, 55, has been down 27 years. He is currently a student at Mount Tamalpais College and a teacher’s aide for the GED classes. He came to education later in life and sees it as a benefit since school was very difficult in his teens. He was the slower one among his peers.

He is proud to be a part of the Humans of San Quentin team. It makes him feel as though his life actually has purpose. He enjoys writing poems as it allows him to go to unknown places. He would like to say hi and thank you for giving us an opportunity to be heard.

 

Read Alex’s Story

George "Mesro" Coles, Editor

 George “Mesro”, the Human Sun, is an emcee and a graffiti artist who writes all manner of strange tales, some of them in iambic pentameter. When he is not tutoring students or working on extended projects, you can find him gaming with his friends. His first book, Triumph, has been published by Capital Gaines LLC. Mesro has also had the honor of co-imaging three classes with the indefatigable Dr. Selby Winn Schwartz at Stanford University. Mesro also has the incredible privilege to write for The Beat Within and the Humans of San Quentin. Mesro is rumored to have said, “The best damn thing about me is my impeccable taste in friends!”

 

Read Mesro’s Story

Raiveon Wooden, Administrative Assistant

Raiveon or RayRay is 26 years old and has been incarcerated for seven years. He is serving an 11 year sentence for attempted murder. Due to good behavior and achieving his high school diploma, he has received time off his sentence. While in San Quentin, he works as a teacher’s aide, participating in the Marin Shakespear group, is an administrative assistant for HoSQ, a tour guide for Lt. Sam Robinson our Public information officer and a Mount Tamalpais student. He contributes to HoSQ with his impeccable memory, his writing skills and creativity. These tools have allowed him to be an invaluable part of the team. What interested him in HoSQ was its name “Humans.” He believes that word alone represents everything the HoSQ stands for. Their actions speak louder than their words. He states, “When I was going through my darkest times HoSQ was there for me. They made me feel like a human again. Their work and what they embody shows me that people on the other side of these walls see me as a Human.”

Edwin Chavez, Spanish Director

Edwin chairs the Spanish Journalism Guild for San Quentin News, is on their video production team, and is a member of the editorial board. Edwin’s accomplishments inside are many: he is a facilitator for No More Tears, an alternative to violence program. On the team that provides correspondence classes for AIDA (Awareness into Domestic Abuse). He is on the leadership team of Adverse Childhood Experiences, which creates personal narratives in order for policymakers to have a reality-based source to help guide allocations. Edwin thinks as a bi-lingual facilitator, “My purpose is to bring healing and compassion to all those who have not yet explored their childhood traumas.” Chavez has been incarcerated for 28 years.

 

Read Edwin’s Story

White Eagle Coates, Community Outreach Coordinator

Greg ‘White Eagle’ was born April 18th in 1957 at Edwards Airforce Base in the high desert of the Mojave Southern Sierras. He always knew his family had Indian bloodlines, but he had never sat in ceremony or danced at a powwow until coming to San Quentin State Prison. When he first arrived on October 20, 1975, he was an angry, hurting 18-year-old high school student. White Eagle has not wasted his 45 years inside. He founded the Red Road Way of Life in 1982, the first Sweat Lodge inside a United States prison, a ceremony that opened his heart and mind. In order to stay grounded in a 170-year-old institution, built on land stolen from O’holone and Coastal Miwok tribes, he plays his handmade cedar flute, does beadwork, reads, paints, and is a certified drug and alcohol counselor. He has chosen to become someone who experiences the thoughts and feelings of other human beings, some of which are on their last chance to turn their lives around or make peace with their higher power. He asks himself if what he is doing is self-serving. Will it hurt others? Will it help others heal? White Eagle lives in prayer and in service to help others and for the opportunity of freedom and parole.

White Eagle is a student at Mount Tamalpais College. He is a member of the Creating Awareness Together program (Kid C.A.T.) He is an Alcohol and Drug Counselor for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition program (RAC), a Brother’s Keeper member, an Alcoholics Anonymous chairman, and a community outreach coordinator for Humans of San Quentin.

 

Read White Eagle’s Story
Michael

Bruce "Brew" Fowler, Art Director

Brew was born in Southern California, incarcerated in 1998. A carpenter by trade thinks of himself as a craftsman more than an artist but does enjoy painting. He has a deep love of the ocean and all things nautical. Since his incarceration, he has taught himself to paint and now has a large body of work. After being transferred to San Quentin in 2011 and joining the Arts in Corrections program as a teacher’s assistant he helped to rebuild the art studio and became one of the lead artists on the Mural Crew. He now dedicates most of his free time to giving back to the community through donations, mentoring and facilitating self-help groups. Brew feels blessed to have met so many kinds and generous staff members that give him the opportunity to be of service.

Likes:
Handball, Dominoes, cooking, meeting people, getting feedback on his art projects. California at Berkeley upon his release.

Earnest Woods, II, Videographer

 Ernest C. Woods II, Videographer Earnest is 57 and he has been incarcerated for over 36 years. He works as a videographer in the San Quentin media center and is a proud student of Mt. Tamalpais College. He thanks God for his opportunity to be a part of Humans of San Quentin. He has been able to work with award winning incarcerated journalists Steve Brooks and Juan Haines. Men who are trying to change the narrative and reshape America. Mrs. Kahn has used angelic qualities to unlock the qualities of redemption in the investment of humanity. Humans of San Quentin has brought light in the darkest time of a pandemic. It’s story of love is what the world needs right now. Thank you for sharing my voice, sincerely EC Woods II.

 

Read Earnest’s Story

Volunteer & Intern Team Members

Susan Hirsh, Volunteer Editor

Susan is a career educator who believes education is transformational. She taught English to middle school students before joining the faculty of Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education at Sonoma State University. She has written and published curriculum to support reading and writing instruction, developed and facilitated professional development workshops for teachers of English and English learners. She has been teaching English for Mt Tamalpais College located inside San Quentin since 2016.

Susan believes words can change your life. A precision of words, a silvering tone, a tidal flow, is the door, as the poet Mary Oliver says in an essay on literature, “past myself…the means to notice, to contemplate, to praise, and, thus, to come into power.”

Susan lives on a wooded hill near the Russian River in northern California. Most mornings an ocean fog trails the canyon below. She plays banjo and enjoys spending time with my Pyrenees pup Polly; She watches birds and quarrel with the privilege of beauty.

Amanda Koeppel, Intern

Amanda is a high school Junior at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California. The summer between her sophomore and junior years she worked on a mentored research project on the death penalty. Amanda learned about the political history that backs the justice system. Her work culminated in an op-ed on how and why the death penalty should be abolished. Amanda’s dedication and passion for working with the American political system led her to strongly sympathize with people incarcerated. Working for HoSQ has been an amazing experience for her, as she loves getting to share the perspectives of people who have been denied a voice. HoSQ has also provided Amanda with firsthand perspective of the daily discrimination that inmates experience. She is passionate about helping people incarcerated and supporting them in any way possible.

In her free time, Amanda sings with her chorus and works as an assistant to help elementary school students. She leads her school’s satirical newspaper and Queer Affinity, an LGBTQIA+ community. Amanda is a lawyer on her school’s mock trial team. She swam prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and now spends as much time as possible skiing. During the recent presidential election, Amanda served as an elections ambassador and member of her school’s elections committee, which aimed to motivate students to register and pre-register to vote.

Nicole Johnson, Intern

Nicole Johnson is a student at the University of Santa Barbara. A trip to San Quentin coordinated by her high school’s student paper put her into close contact with several determined incarcerated men, whose stories splintered her faith in our country’s justice system. She perceived an unparalleled desire among the men, especially those involved in the prison’s media center, to better themselves and all that surrounded them, and lamented for the fact that most of their work would always be bound by prison walls. Since joining in 2020, HOSQ has given her a platform to help mend that grief and expand the reach of those mens’ words, and as she shares the stories of incarcerated people with the world, she hopes to shift public priorities of punitive incarceration to rehabilitative healing.

As an incoming sophomore at UCSB, Nicole is majoring in Communication to eventually pursue a career in print journalism, and hopes to add courses related to criminal justice, policy, and history to her workload to dive even deeper into her passion for social justice. Throughout high school, she also channeled her desire to affect change as the Marin Youth Advisory Council’s Restorative Justice Team leader, in which she aimed to educate Marin County on youth substance access and address the equity issues inherent in substance use prevention. She was recently recognized for this community-based work through an award granted by the Marin County Board of Supervisors. Nicole was also a varsity rower at Marin Rowing Association, and stays active now by playing with her dog and hiking local trails.

Anne Fedoroff, Volunteer Editor

Anne had a thirty year career as a Registered Nurse specializing in the neurosciences. After her retirement, she revisited two areas she had always been interested in pursuing – social justice and writing. While attending U.C. Santa Cruz back in the early 80’s, she took classes in Prison Reform taught by a renowned professor in the field. Anne believed she could make a difference and began volunteering in San Quentin State Prison both as a tutor for Free To Succeed and as an advisor within The California Reentry Program. Both programs have given her first hand insight into the lives of the incarcerated. She has had the privilege to work with incarcerated men who have put great effort into changing their lives. Anne believes that through the many programs offered at San Quentin plus the men’s determination they can change and grow and ready themselves to reenter the outside world as proactive members of the community. Anne feels honored to have met, helped and gotten to know these men and has learned as much from her clients as they have from her. She believes everyone has the capacity to make their lives better, the ability to educate others and to be a mentor.

Anne has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She has written many stories and has had one published (so far), and is finishing up her first book. She is an animal lover, rock and roll aficionado, novice tennis player, traveler, and enjoys all types of puzzles and games.

Katie Parsons, Intern

Katie is a rising sophomore at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She was the first intern at Humans of San Quentin, starting in the summer of 2020. After visiting San Quentin with her high school journalism program, The Redwood Bark, Parsons was amazed hearing the men tell their stories in person and wanted to involve herself with that community. She believed that their stories needed to be heard, so when she found out about HoSQ, she reached out to Diane and got involved.                           

In high school, Katie volunteered at numerous substance abuse prevention organizations including Marin Youth Advisory Council, Being Adept, co-chair of RX Safe Marin and in her school’s Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) receiving a special honor from the Marin County Board of Supervisors for her work in community internships. Additionally, she wrote  for the school’s newspaper, previously working as the business manager, and as a senior staff writer to explore the question, ‘What is the meaning of justice and how is it defined by different communities?’. For fun, Katie plays lacrosse and enjoys hanging out with friends.

Parker Rothbart, Intern

Parker is a senior at Marin Academy High School in San Rafael, California. She has been a part of Humans of San Quentin since the fall of 2021 when she wanted to do more in the field of criminal justice after participating in the restorative justice organization, Marin Youth Court (MYC). She noticed that the participants who come through MYC have already taken accountability for their actions, and were open to learning from their mistakes. She found working with kids in the justice system gratifying. Parker aspired to support a larger incarcerated community and correspond with those already incarcerated. She heard about Humans of San Quentin, emailed Diane and was immediately welcomed into the supportive and loving community of HoSQ. She aspires to learn more about the injustices in the system and support those who are wrongfully convicted. She and HoSQ were a natural fit.

Parker also works with disadvantaged youth as a tutor for her school-run program called Crossroads. She is editor-in-chief of her school’s yearbook, making sure that everyone has a voice at Marin Academy, and captain of the women’s golf team at MA, which she helped establish. Finally, in her free time, she plays piano, reads a lot, and can binge TV shows with astonishing speed.

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