center for council staff
Jared Seide is the Executive Director of Center for Council. He has designed, piloted and coordinated council-based programs in prisons, assisted living facilities, youth groups and a variety of non-profit, faith-based organizations, social service and law enforcement agencies, including the "Co-Mentoring Project,” for emancipated foster youth, the "Organizational Wellness Project,” for the staff of scores of community-based organizations, the “Inmate Council Program” active in more than twenty prisons throughout California and winner of the American Correctional Association’s Innovations in Corrections award, the "Trainer Leadership Initiative," supporting emerging council leaders serving impacted communities, and the council-based "Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience” (POWER) Training Program for law enforcement and correctional officers. “Compassion, Attunement & Resilience Education” (CARE) for Healthcare Professionals is a program he developed with Dr. Ann Philips Seide that focuses on burnout and dysregulation amongst physicians, nurses and other first responders and utilizes innovations mindfulness science and compassionate communication techniques like council to support a culture of professional wellness in healthcare.
Jared has coordinated, mentored and facilitated council programs at over a dozen schools in Southern California and has led trainings and retreats focusing on reconciliation and community-building throughout the U.S., and in Poland, Rwanda, France, Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Jared directed the "Center for Council Practice" initiative of The Ojai Foundation, the antecedent of Center for Council. He co-led the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Conference on integrating Council and SRM in California and Rwandan prisons and was a Resident Fellow at the Bellagio Center. He has been a presenter at conferences and seminars, speaking on the integration of Council into varied arenas, including South by Southwest, California Rehabilitation Oversight Board, Association of Change Management Professionals, Bellagio Fellows Gathering, Monterey County Community Restorative Justice Commission and the Restorative Justice in Motion Conference, at Eastern Methodist University. Jared’s educational background includes a BA with high honors from Brown University. Prior to his work with Center for Council, Jared led careers in the entertainment industry and the corporate world. He is a member of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, a graduate of the Upaya Institute Chaplaincy Program and has been a Spirit Holder for Zen Peacemaker Bearing Witness Retreats around the world.
Read articles and listen to interviews with Jared.
Director of Development
After years of studying the mechanisms of identity politics, generational conflict, and evolution of individuals and cultures, Raeesa knew she wanted to be in the nonprofit sector, working alongside individuals and organizations who uplift and empower others.
Raeesa is passionate about community-building and capacity-building, and finds fulfillment in securing investments for the greater good. She has spearheaded numerous program development, communications, and fundraising initiatives through her previous work as Graduate Associate in Public Relations and Partnerships for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Associate Director of Programs for Muscular Dystrophy Association, and most recently, Senior Development Manager for Inner-City Arts.
Raeesa has a Master of Arts in Middle East and Islamic Studies from the American University of Paris and a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from the University of California Riverside.
Director of Programs and Operations
Most recently, Josh Jentzsch was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, where he lived in a remote desert town near the border with Algeria. Through dust storms and extreme temperatures, he taught English and helped numerous Moroccans start or expand their businesses, teaching basic accounting, website development, and business soft-skills. Prior to that, he spent eleven years in the legal services industry, where he owned one firm and managed another. Because of his passion and acumen for establishing effective systems for growth, he has also helped numerous start-ups, acting as an adviser and operations manager. The vision of Center for Council dovetails perfectly with Josh's philosophy to "give back better," offering the world and our communities more than what was handed us. Josh has a degree in History from Westminster College, an intimate liberal arts university in Salt Lake City.
Development & Communications Associate
Leah Schlackman began teaching yoga in 2015 in New York City. With a professional background in the marketing and communications realm, she was looking for a more impactful way to give back to others. As a Yoga Teacher and Meditation Facilitator, she aims to hold space for others to practice mindfulness and valuable insight about themselves and how they interact with the world around them. Leah is thrilled to merge her passion for cultivating a more compassionate society with her professional experience as a communications strategist to advance the Center for Council mission.
Sam was introduced to council as a member of the inaugural Prison Council Initiative at Salinas Valley State Prison. Having witnessed the impact of council in his own life and in the lives of his fellow inmates, as well as in the lives of his family members, he has become passionate about carrying this work even further.
Sam learned the values of compassion and empathy in the most unlikely of places and chose to devote his time to mentoring other inmates in this work, while at the same time working on his own rehabilitation. Over the course of several years, Sam has participated in numerous Center for Council workshops and events in prison, as well as in Los Angeles (via speakerphone) and was able to tell the story of his transformation to groups of community leaders and program participants. His writing from prison has been published online by ATTN.COM. His voice has helped bring widespread attention to the value and effectiveness of the Prison Council Initiative and how council helps build safe spaces that allow incarcerated men to open up and be themselves without having to hide behind the masks they have learned to wear as part of "the criminal lifestyle."
As a result of his transformation, Sam received parole in 2018 and he is now working for Center for Council as its Outreach Associate. He participates in Native American spiritual communities around Southern California. In addition to the many Center for Council programs that Sam supports, he and his wife Jolene Escobar, a member of Center for Council's Trainer Leadership Initiative, look forward to co-facilitating council circles focused on the families of the incarcerated, with the hope of helping them heal from the wounds of having a loved one locked away, as well as helping the offender understand the impact of their crime on their community.
Alyssa is an educator, artist, and lifelong student with a passion for equity and inclusion. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Communication Studies from San Francisco State University and has over a decade of experience working in the nonprofit sector. Most recently, she worked as Associate Director for JCYC Upward Bound and taught summer camp with DIY Girls.
The fostering of well-being, compassion, and community has played an important role in Alyssa’s life both personally and professionally, and she is excited to be a part of an organization that embodies her values and passions.
Efrain Ortiz was introduced to Center for Council through the Prison Council Initiative at California State Prison-Los Angeles County. There he joined the first cohort on Facility B and went on to serve as a facilitator for future council circles. The empathy and compassion he learned through the teachings of council had a profound effect on him. Council allowed Efrain to release many of his past traumas and hurts. He states, “Council allowed to me take off the weight I carried from my past, the resentments, the pain, the needless suffering. It allowed me to be me and remove the façade/identity I created many years ago.” Efrain began to utilize these teachings for his personal life with his family and with other incarcerated men. He invited other incarcerated men to sign up for council and mentored them as he continued his own personal growth. His experience helped other realize the effectiveness of sitting with other human beings who shared more experiences than they could imagine.
As a returning citizen Efrain continues to train in the way of council, growing as a person and helping those surrounding him. He is looking forward to returning to the institutions to co-facilitate council for those still incarcerated as well as assisting those returning home. Efrain understands there is a need for council for returning citizens and their families.