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The Founding Team

Juan Haines

Founding Member

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

Founding Member

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

Founding Member

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.

Inside Team

Michael Moore

Communications Director

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Randy C. Thompson

Media Director

Randy C. Thompson is a staff writer and layout designer for San Quentin News, though his true profession is being a good husband to his wife, Ashlėėgh.

As a result of beginning his incarceration at the age of 16, he feels his growth as a human being was stunted. Now he focuses on developing the personal character to be his true self: a good man.

With Humans of SQ, he hopes to help spread awareness of the humanity within these walls. He knows from personal experience how valuable it can be to have someone listen, care, and see the truth.

George "Mesro" Coles

Literary Consultant

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!”

Earnest " Ben Shuah" Woods II


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.

Henok Rufael

Administrative Assistant

Henok Rufael has been incarcerated for 15 years. He works as an alcohol and drug counselor in the Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program. Henok is someone who understands the fundamental need to be fully seen and heard. He is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of an organization whose sole focus is to give voices to those who have been forgotten and marginalized. Mr. Rufael is committed to the healing of both communities, inside and outside of prison.

He is anticipating his return to the Bay Area in 2025, where he will share his passion for music by playing his violin, “Nebsay.”

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.

Rodney "Pitt" Baylis

Advisory Chair

Rodney “Pitt” Baylis has been incarcerated for 26 years. During his time in San Quentin, he has co-founded a GED program that is every Tuesday through Thursday called the Academic Peer Education Program, the same program Diane Kahn volunteered for five years. He is also a Certified Peer Literacy Mentor, which is a program funded by Governor Newsom. Unique to the San Quentin program, he provides three days of professional development for the San Quentin faculty where he focuses on literacy and classroom norms. In this program, he also mentors students and trains other peers to become certified Youth Offenders Mentors. He has done all of this while going to Mount Tamalpais College, where he graduated with an AA degree. 

As someone who can learn quickly and make positive improvements within HOSQ, he strives to be a key player in any team he joins. He is someone who knows that other people’s time is very important, just as much as yours. He looks forward to making a difference together and a very successful non-profit organization.

Outside Team

Jacob Kahn

Financial Manager

Jacob graduated from Chapman University, receiving a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance and a minor in English. Jacob has previously worked as a financial consultant at a wealth management firm. At an early age, he recognized the power of storytelling as a means of healing and creating social change. Jacob wanted to find a way to help advocate for the unheard voices of those behind bars. Through the implementation of financial systems, Jacob is dedicated to providing a platform for these individuals to share their experiences, challenges, and hopes with the world.

His ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between the incarcerated and society, fostering empathy, and understanding, and ultimately working towards a more just and compassionate world for all.

Laurel Wilson

First-Person Narrative Instructor

Growing up in the Air Force, Laurel moved around the country, from Newfoundland, Canada, to Indiana and Alabama, settling into Southern California for high school and college.  Moving up to Marin in the mid-70’s, Laurel’s career was dedicated to children and families, as a licensed child and family counselor serving at-risk youth, a teacher and school director, and school board trustee, as well as raising her own two boys. She joined HoSQ with retirement just ahead, to further expand her commitment to being present and available for those who too often go unseen.  “I know deep in my heart that what you do for others you do for yourself, and I have certainly received more than I have given over and over again, including inside the walls of San Quentin.”

In her free time, Laurel loves being active in the wondrous outdoors, as well as art, world travel and reading, and spending time with her family.

Joanne Lubeck Esser

Director of Development

Joanne received her BFA in Dramatic Arts from UC Santa Barbara. After many years as an actor on stage, in commercials, and in film, she discovered her passion for documentary filmmaking. Joanne has worked with renowned production companies such as Finish Line Features, Trilogy Films, and Sweet World Films. She joins the Humans of San Quentin team with a deep commitment to amplifying the voices and humanity of incarcerated men and women through spoken word, music, art, essays, and poetry. Joanne’s ultimate dream is to create a documentary that showcases these powerful stories.

Barry Stricker

Office Admin

Barry comes to Humans of San Quentin as a long-time ally of people seeking ways to give voice to their stories. A graduate of Harvard University, Barry has been a pastor, a college professor, and a writer. Most recently, Barry has served in senior adult communities caring for residents dealing with dementia. His goal at HoSQ is to build bridges between the incarcerated and the outside world. He is delighted to be part of this important work.

Colin Parker


Colin is a recent graduate from the University of California Santa Barbara who has a passion for Digital Marketing and Advertising and has found his calling at Humans of San Quentin. Driven by a deep sense of social responsibility he’s eager to shed light on the often-overlooked stories of individuals behind bars. His commitment to social justice and rehabilitation has fueled his passion to recognize the transformative power of narrative in breaking down stereotypes and fostering empathy.

Alyaa Mostafa


Alyaa Mostafa works with Humans of San Quentin to transcribe the stories of incarcerated individuals. Through her work, she feels a deep sense of gratitude, cherishing the opportunity to read and learn from these firsthand accounts. Her love for social sciences and history fuels her understanding and empathy.

An avid reader, she constantly seeks knowledge and inspiration from a variety of literary genres. In her free time, Alyaa enjoys immersing herself in nature, finding peace and rejuvenation in the great outdoors. Her work and personal interests combine to create a meaningful and fulfilling journey of continuous learning and growth.

Sohair El-Sharqawy


Sohair El-Sharqawy is a co-director of the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS). She is interested in many interdisciplinary approaches; she studied pure Mathematics and transitioned into the world of liberal arts, social sciences, language, and Journalism. Her artistic interests include theater, singing, and writing. While the worlds through which she took her path are different, she still finds her heart and the harmony in the cross worlds of the social and natural

For her, storytelling and writing are the strings that connect these worlds. That is how she views her work with Humans of San Quentin. As she reads and transcribes the stories, she feels not only gratitude but also affection and respect. With each story she transcribes, she is touched, affected, and changed.

Tiina Vuorenmaa

Web Designer and Developer

Tiina is a web designer and developer who has been working in the field since 2004. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Wellesley College and a Bachelor of Science in Web Design from the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles. Tiina has worked as a senior UX/UI Designer and Developer at CivicConnect from 2007-2021 and as a senior visual designer for Insight Terra from 2021-2022. She is familiar with HTML, CSS, and ARIA languages and Windows and Mac OS programs.

Tiina is passionate about improving user experiences both online and offline, and she believes that design is a mix of math, science, and art. She uses her knowledge of psychology to create pleasant user experiences and keeps up with the latest web trends to incorporate UI design patterns into her work. Tiina’s skills and experience make her an asset to any team looking to improve their web design and user experience.

Raiveon "RayRay" Wooden

Outreach Volunteer

RayRay is 26 years old and was incarcerated for seven years serving an 11 year sentence for attempted murder. Due to good behavior and achieving his high school diploma, he received time off his sentence. While in San Quentin, he worked as a teacher’s aide, participated in the Marin Shakespeare group, was an admininstrative assistant for HoSQ, a tour guide for Lt. Sam Robinson–our public information officer–and a Mount Tamalpais student. He contribues 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 hin in HoSQ was its name: “Humans.” He believes that word alone represents everything that 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.”

Marcus Blevins


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.”

Board of Directors

Eddie Herena

Board Chair

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.

Susan Hirsh

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 inside 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 her Pyrenees pup, Polly; she watches birds and quarrels with the privilege of beauty.

Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.)

Andrea became Chief Executive at the Howard League for Penal Reform in November 2021. She was Director of Justice from 2013 to October 2021, where she shepherded significant growth in the size and clout of the organization. Between 2002 and 2013 she was Equality Lawyer and then Legal Director at Interights, litigating strategic cases before regional human rights courts. She previously worked at the International Service for Humans Rights in Geneva and at the South Asia Documentation Centre in New Delhi. She has a BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Western Australia and an LLM (Dist.) from the London School of Economics. She sits on the advisory panels of several human rights organizations and is a trustee of BAILII. Andrea is an Honorary Master of the Bench of Middle Temple and an Affiliate Member of the Centre for Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds. Since 2019, she has served as a Lay Member of the House of Lords Conduct Committee. In 2022, Andrea was appointed Queen’s Counsel (Honoris Causa) for making a major contribution to the development of the law in England and Wales.

Andrew Kahn

Andrew is co-founder and CEO of Partners for Growth (PfG), a global private credit firm, with 35 years of expertise in structuring custom financing for tech companies. Over his career, Andrew played pivotal roles in venture capital, investment banking, private equity and debt financing. Prior to starting PFG, Andrew was a General Partner at JP Morgan’s private equity group, JP Morgan Partners.


His finance career, marked by spreadsheets and deals, extends beyond numbers. He champions a cause close to our hearts—prison reform. For the last six years he has been advocating for transformative programs that provide education, job training, and mental health services to incarcerated individuals.

Since the inception of Humans of San Quentin, Andrew has stood as our most enthusiastic supporter. His understanding infuses our team with a distinct combination of expertise and passion. Believing in second chances and the human capacity for change, he advocates for a justice system that fosters rehabilitation. He envisions a future where support and resources empower individuals to overcome mistakes and contribute positively to society. Andrew, a finance innovator with a heart for transformative change!

Desiree Shaw

Among these esteemed individuals who constitute our esteemed Board of Directors, Desiree Shaw holds a profound responsibility. She is instrumental in establishing overarching objectives, bolstering our management team in the relentless pursuit of these objectives, and ensuring that the organization possesses ample, well-administered resources.

Desiree serves as the Director of UCSF’s Pleasanton Campus and holds the distinguished position of Chair of the Honorary Degree Committee. Additionally, she serves as the Program Director for the Transfer Pathway, actively participates in the Black Community Council, and contributes her insights as a member of the President’s Advisory Committee On The Status Of Women.

Through her unwavering dedication and diligent efforts, Desiree has played an integral role in propelling us towards the realization of our mission and purpose. Her contributions have left an indelible mark on the underserved, the marginalized, and those incarcerated. We extend our heartfelt gratitude for her invaluable contributions and the transformative change they have facilitated.

Interns and Volunteers

Parker Rothbart

Head of Correspondence

Parker is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. 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, Youth Transforming Justice (YTJ). She found working with kids in the justice system gratifying but aspired to support a larger community in the criminal justice system 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 aspired to learn more about the injustices in the system and support those who are wrongfully convicted, so she and HoSQ were a natural fit. After working for years at HoSQ, she was promoted to Head Intern and was in charge of training any new interns. Eventually, she was also able to go into prison and be a part of Inside Team meetings.

At Vanderbilt, Parker is the co-chair of the Community Engagement and Advocacy Committee for VandyVotes. She is on the Campaigns Committee for the Vanderbilt Prison Project. She is the Props Master for Vanderbilt Off-Broadway and is on the Club Golf team. Finally, in her free time, she plays piano, reads a lot, and can binge TV shows with astonishing speed.

Aanika Sawhney

Head of Social Media

Aanika Sawhney is a senior at Redwood High School. She was reminded of the complexities of local institutions through Humans of San Quentin’s work and is passionate about the intersection of journalism and local impact. She was struck to learn about the zero percent recidivism rate at San Quentin for those who participated in the media center and is inspired by the unique journeys shared by many previously and currently incarcerated people. Aanika believes everyone has a meaningful voice and should be given the opportunity to share their experiences with others. Her work as a journalist has consisted of print, online, and visual media as a news and opinion editor for her high school newspaper, The Redwood Bark. She is also the executive producer for her TV and Media course. She is interested in social justice initiatives and leads the Environmental Action Club and the Black Indigenous Women of Color group at her school. Additionally, Aanika is a member of the Tamalpais Union High School District Racial Justice Youth Advisory task force.

Aanika has been a part of her leadership class for three years. As secretary for Redwood’s Film Club, she is a connoisseur of creative media. She loves to spend her free time at the beach or enjoying live music.

Madison Herrero

Head of Outreach

Madison Herrero is a rising senior at Redwood High School. As a junior, through her Student Led Anti Racism Movement (SLARM) class, she was offered the opportunity to tour San Quentin. She heard the stories of four currently incarcerated men. This experience changed her perspective on the current punitive justice system. Madison feels everyone should hear the stories of those silenced behind walls. She has been able to do this with Humans of San Quentin and enjoys every minute of it.

Madison loves to read and hang out with friends. She also volunteers with the Marin Youth Court as an advocate and peer facilitator. She leads the writing and editing team for the Youth Wellness Campaign.


College Intern

Anika is currently a freshman at the University of Michigan planning on majoring in Public Policy and Economics. She is involved with a public policy newspaper and tutors local refugee students. In high school, Anika was an Editor-in-Chief for her school paper and also led a club based on humanizing the immigration process at the US-Mexico border. Anika was interested in interning with Humans of San Quentin after doing a program in Chicago regarding the Juvenile Justice system. In her free time, Anika loves to dance, go on hikes with her dog, and go to concerts!

Lauren Olsen

High School Intern

Lauren is a current junior at Redwood High School. She is currently in the school journalism program and loves to write. She is an avid sailor, sailing on the Redwood Sailing Team. She loves to explore Marin County, through hiking.

Lauren is also passionate about art, she does the art for the Redwood Bark. She is so happy to be interning at Humans of San Quentin and is very passionate about criminal justice.

Judi Lee

High School Intern

Judi is a junior at the Urban School of San Francisco and lives in Mill Valley. Taking the Voices of Incarceration class at her school taught her about how silenced and isolated so many people feel throughout their incarceration. This class inspired her to get involved in social justice concerning the prison system with HoSQ. Judi is committed to making people feel heard and appreciated despite their incarceration. She’s excited to be a part of this team because of HoSQ’s outreach and hard work toward sharing everyone’s unique story. 

Another passion that Judi has is environmental justice, and she has done conservation work through volunteering. Outside of HoSQ, she is the captain of her school’s swim team and swims for a club team. She also plays volleyball for her school, mountain bikes, and does triathlons. In her free time, Judi loves to read, hike, teach swim lessons, spend time with her friends, and listen to music.

Helena Pflaum

High School Intern

Helena Pflaum is a rising senior at Marin Academy and has worked at Humans of San Quentin since January 2023. Outside of volunteering, she is a columnist for her school newspaper, The 1600, practicing singing with her voice coach, prepping for her independent study next involving the literary genre of magical realism, crafting culinary treats in her kitchen, working on her current creative writing project, and she loves to daydream.

Fun Facts: She frequently dreams in the third person and likes to get into other characters’ heads. Her middle school obsession was the Sony mixtape she got for her birthday.

Leila Acevedo

High School Intern

Leila Acevedo is a rising junior at Redwood High School. Through her Student Led Anti Racism Movement (SLAM) class, she was offered the opportunity to tour San Quentin State Prison. This experience changed her perspective on the justice system and the consequences of it. Leila believes more awareness should be spread about the current system, and she enjoys doing this through Humans of San Quentin.

Leila enjoys hanging out with her friends, being outdoors and going to the beach. She works at Mighty Pilates at their front desk and volunteers with Peace Ambassador Leadership Program to help spreading awareness on bullying and suicide prevention.


High School Intern

Emerson Swift is a sophomore at Tamalpais High School. She is interested in journalism, history, politics, and poetry. She is involved in her school newspaper, The Tam News and is the editor of the youth magazine FastForward. Emerson enjoys participating in Model UN and registering and pre-registering students to vote as a Student Elections Ambassador. She loves interning at Humans of San Quentin because she understands the importance of giving everyone the platform to share their voice. She is excited to learn about and get more involved in criminal justice.

In her free time, she reads articles, writes articles, plays soccer and field hockey, and hangs out with her cute golden retriever, Scout.

Natalie Vinogradsky

High School Intern

Natalie, a sophomore at Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, discovered Humans of San Quentin through her teacher and peers. Intrigued by the opportunity to shed light on the experiences of incarcerated individuals, she is passionate about spreading awareness and sharing their stories. Excited for next year’s Street Law and Psychology course, Natalie is eager to deepen her understanding of related topics.

Outside of academics, she enjoys playing guitar, basketball, and expressing herself through painting and drawing. An avid traveler, Natalie loves time spent with family, friends, and her beloved dog. Her interests include photography, graphic design, criminology, and forensics.

Gigi McAllister

High School Intern

Gigi is a junior at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California. She is a member of her school newspaper and community action leadership board. Through her work at the newspaper she became interested in the intersection of media and criminal justice. Gigi loves to highlight the voices of people who have been isolated from society and she enjoys working in the supportive and encouraging community at Humans of San Quentin. 

In addition to her work with Humans of San Quentin, Gigi is an active member of her school community. She is a member of Model UN Club and Conference on Democracy Club, an afterschool tutor, a varsity swimmer, and a competitive dancer. Her other passions include piano and surfing with friends. Her primary goal is to uplift the voices of others and highlight the experiences of incarcerated people. 

Renee Kraemling

High School Intern

Renee Kraemling is a senior at Tamalpais High School. She has interned with us for the last two years, since her sophomore year and she is now a senior. She is passionate about the work we do to share the voices of those incarcerated. She has helped us develop our Beyond The Bars program, where we interview people who we have featured inside and are now released back into our communities. She helps share voices on our social media channels and understands how impactful Humans of San Quentin is to those incarcerated.

Fun Facts: Renee is a passionate artist who primarily works with apparel designs. During her free time, you will either find her in an art studio or at her job, working for Peet’s coffee.

Quinn Newlin

High School Intern

Quinn is a senior at Redwood High School. He discovered Humans of San Quentin through a friend and became captivated by advocating for the humanity of people incarcerated. He is thriving as part of the social media team and enjoys sharing their stories. Through the power of social media he is eager to generate empathy and compassion for people in our communities often overlooked.

Quinn is an aspiring actor and filmmaker with a drive to knock on Hollywood’s doors. He also enjoys crafting fiction and immersing himself in literary classics like Catcher in the Rye. In his free time, he dedicates time to refining his musical abilities, delving into guitar chords and showcasing his proficiency on the piano.

Amanda Koeppel

High School Intern

Amanda is a 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 empathize 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.

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, a 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.

Francesca Mitchell

High School Intern

Francesca is a rising senior at Redwood High School in Marin. In her free time, Francesca enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends and family, and playing field hockey. She learned about Humans of San Quentin through friends and immediately became interested in the positive messages that they were spreading. She is also part of the Youth Transforming Justice peer team, where she helps juveniles learn from their mistakes in a more beneficial way than the juvenile justice system. 

During her time at HoSQ Francesca has learned so much and has become inspired to pursue a career in criminal justice. She values being able to give a voice to the incarcerated and hopes that her work has a positive and lasting impact on as many people as possible.

Callie Horn

High School Intern

Callie is a rising senior at Redwood High School. In her free time, Callie enjoys spending time with her friends and family, going to the beach, and traveling to new places. She also volunteers with the organization “Bridge the Gap”, where she tutors elementary school students and provides them with social, emotional, and educational support.  

Interning at HoSQ has greatly increased her interest in criminal justice and sociology. She has become very passionate about giving a voice to incarcerated individuals and sharing their stories. She enjoys assembling packets for incarcerated individuals across the globe and loves having the ability to correspond directly with so many different people.

Maren Jones

High School Intern

Maren, a rising senior at Tamalpais High School, has embarked on a journey fueled by her passion for criminology and social justice. Her interest was sparked during her enrollment in a Street Law and Psychology class, where she delved into the dynamics of the criminal justice system. Through documentaries portraying the lives of incarcerated individuals, particularly those at San Quentin, Maren felt drawn to amplify their voices and shed light on their experiences.

Upon discovering Humans of San Quentin, Maren recognized it as an ideal platform to fulfill her mission of advocacy and empathy. She resonated deeply with their commitment to raising awareness and humanizing the narratives of those behind bars. Eager to contribute her skills and compassion, Maren embraced the opportunity to intern with the organization.

Maren enjoys soccer, beach outings, and watching the sunset. Maren looks forward to her internship with Humans of San Quentin, anticipating the opportunity to continue sharing stories and fostering understanding between incarcerated individuals and the wider community.

Oliver Broek

High School Intern

Oliver Broek, a senior at Branson High School. He was hooked the moment he set foot in the Humans of San Quentin office. Oliver’s classroom studies with courses like “Soul On Ice: Incarcerated Worlds” and “Ethics and Justice” strengthened his interest in understanding marginalized communities. 


Oliver has enjoyed growing the media team at HoSQ and sharing stories with a broader audience through their website and social media channels. He has enjoyed creating marketing campaigns inside prisons to reach additional incarcerated individuals. He has also been a liaison with his community for fundraising events.

Oliver, a passionate Lacrosse player, is a dedicated leader on and off the field. He is actively involved in Branson’s Men’s Leadership Group, Civil Discourse Club, and Poetry Club. Oliver’s outside interests include music of all genres, photography/videography, impromptu sports with friends, and visiting places with aquatic life. He thrives on bringing people together and seeks ways to creatively share the stories of those around him.

Anya Ghazi

High School Intern

Anya Ghazi, a rising Senior at Redwood High School, balances her time between her roles as Copy Editor and Reporter for the school’s newspaper and as a dedicated volleyball player. With experience in publishing on social media and article reviewing, she showcases an eye for detail and effective communication skills. She loves the outdoors and spending time in nature. Volunteering at Humans of San Quentin,  she collaborates with fellow interns to create packets while gaining insight into the diverse experiences of incarcerated individuals worldwide.

Jennifer Venancio

High School Intern

Jennifer, a senior at Tamalpais High School, has found inspiration in her last two years at Humans of San Quentin to become more educated about the lives of incarcerated individuals and to support her community. She loves reading the stories of those of the incarcerated and appreciates the opportunity to give the writers a voice. Her commitment to understanding and advocating for the incarcerated demonstrates her compassion and empathy towards marginalized communities.

Gigi Walravens

High School Intern

Gigi is a student at Redwood High School, Class of 2026. She is a volunteer with Marin County’s Youth Transforming Justice  Peer Solutions Group and is passionate about juvenile justice reform. She is a starting defender on Redwood High School’s Varsity Lacrosse team and plays travel lacrosse with Bay Area Elite. 

In her free time, Gigi loves spending time at the beach and hiking with friends in the beautiful hills of Marin County. She is thrilled to be working with Humans of San Quentin and the wonderful people. 

Lucy Tusher

High School Intern

Lucy is a rising sophomore at Branson High School. Lucy loves to play volleyball, both indoor and outdoor, and plays for a club at Absolute Volleyball. She also loves to spend time with her friends and family, especially at the beach. Lucy heard about Humans of San Quentin from family friends. 

During her internship, Lucy has learned more about the stories of the incarcerated people and has gained a passion for sharing their stories. She has especially enjoyed working on the social media side, where she creates reels from Beyond the Bars interviews and more. She also likes corresponding with new people incarcerated all over the country through outreach packets.

Tessa Harrell

High School Intern

Tessa is a sophomore at Tamalpais High School. Her curiosity and passion for social justice led her to become a part of Humans of San Quentin. Intrigued by the project after hearing about it from a friend, Tessa embraced the opportunity to combine her interests in leadership, athletics, and advocacy. At Tamalpais High, Tessa is engaged in various leadership roles and thrives on the challenges and responsibilities they bring. Whether she’s leading a student organization or representing her peers, Tessa demonstrates a natural aptitude for collaboration and innovation.

Beyond her leadership pursuits, Tessa enjoys sports. Through her involvement with Humans of San Quentin, she is committed to delving deeper into issues surrounding incarceration, rehabilitation, and societal reform. Tessa believes in the power of storytelling to shed light on the human experiences often overshadowed by systemic injustices.

Hilary Knowles

High School Intern

Hilary is a Junior at Tamalpais High School. She is passionate about criminal justice, which is why she joined HoSQ, and is on the Mock Trial team at Tam. Besides her interest in the law, Hilary is also an artist, and loves to paint in her free time. She works at a local coffee house in Sausalito called Firehouse, and loves to be active in her community. 

Hilary is excited to be a part of the HoSQ team, and to amplify the voices of incarcerated individuals while learning their stories.


College Intern

Melissa is a Santa Rosa Junior College student transferring to UC Davis. She majors in Sociology and hopes to add an emphasis in Law and Society during her time at UCD. She has an enduring interest in the U.S. criminal legal system and the social construction of crime. Specifically, she is interested in how our criminal legal system upholds existing economic and social power structures. She wants to work for non-profits in the future and believes HoSQ to be an excellent opportunity to learn the inner workings of this type of organization.


College Intern

Claire is a rising senior at the University of Oregon studying French and Journalism. She writes for Align Magazine, a student-led publication at her university which gives her a similar opportunity as Humans of San Quentin to share people’s stories and build more empathy and togetherness toward other’s lives and experiences.

In her free time she enjoys cooking, running, burritos, drawing, and finding new cafes.

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