Center for Council Staff
Jared Seide is the Executive Director of Center for Council. Jared has designed, piloted and coordinated Council-based programs in prisons, assisted living facilities, youth groups and a variety of non-profit, faith-based organizations and social service agencies, including the "Co-Mentoring Project,” for emancipated foster youth, the "Social Justice Council Project,” for the staff of three dozen community-based organizations, the “Inmate Council Program” active in over 20 California prisons, the "Trainer Leadership Initiative," supporting emerging Council leaders in impacted communities and the Council-based "Officer Wellness and Resiliency Skills Training" program for law enforcement and correctional officers. He has coordinated, mentored and facilitated Council programs at a dozen public schools in Southern California and has led “Rite of Passage” retreats for a host of middle and high school youth, in addition to coordinating the LA-based “Council Collaborative Initiative" for educators. Jared has also led trainings and retreats focusing on reconciliation and community-building around the world, including workshops in Rwanda, Colombia, Bosnia and Poland.
Jared co-led the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Conference on integrating Council and SRM in California and Rwandan prisons and was subsequently invited by the foundation to be 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, the Summit on Mindful Policing, Fetzer Institute’s Mindful Justice Conferenceand the Restorative Justice in Motion Conference, at Eastern Mennonite University. Seide’s educational background includes a BA with high honors from Brown University. Prior to his work with Center for Council, Seide led careers in the entertainment industry and the corporate world. He is a member of the Zen Center of Los Angeles and a graduate of the Upaya Institute Chaplaincy Program.
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.
With a degree in Producing Cinema, Heidi Spencer was influential in getting the African Artists' Association (3As) started, a non-profit designed to promote and engage African filmmakers from the diaspora through workshops and events enabling them to tell their own stories. Shortly after starting the 3As, she took the role as Secretary for the Afghan Film Project which she managed for several years before becoming the Program Director. The Afghan Film Project focuses on providing Afghans with the resources to tell their own stories and rebuild their image to the world through filmmaking. Heidi believes no person has only one-story and seeks to provide individuals with the tools to project a more dynamic individual identity to the world.
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 Inmate Council Program 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 Inmate Council Program 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.