AMY FRIEDMAN

Co-founder and Executive Director, is an author and editor who co-founded POPS the Club in 2013 at Venice High School. With the establishment of that initial club, Amy quickly understood the importance of bringing POPS the Club to high schools across the country. Amy received her training from Executive Service Corps of Southern California’s Executive Director Leadership Institute (EDLI) and Vital Voices’ Global Ambassadors Program where she worked with mentor Vera Futorjanski. In 2016. Amy credits mentors Jonathan Zeichner of A Place Called Home who worked with Amy for two years under a grant from The Durfee Foundation’s Springboard Fund and her longtime mentor Rachel Davenport for her growth as an ED. A staunch believer in freedom of expression and the power of art to change the world, Amy envisions the expansion of POPS across the country and an end to the shame and stigma that too often silences both the incarcerated and their loved ones. Amy champions POPS the Club students to tell their stories and showcases them in POPS the Club’s Annual Anthologies. For more see Amy’s website. Contact amy@popsclubs.org.

SONIA FAYE

Director of Programs & Operations, has been a volunteer in the greater Los Angeles community for most of her adult life. She has a performing arts background in music and theater and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She began her early career in the field of Information Technology, working as a server administrator, business analyst and project manager at a Amgen, Inc. for 10 years, supporting Finance Information Systems and then Manufacturing Information Systems, with the latter focused on FDA-validation and compliance.  Sonia has spent most of the past 10 years raising two children and volunteering as art program director at Woodlake Elementary Community Charter, managing and developing their PTSA-funded, volunteer-based visual arts program supporting the charter mission of delivering a robust arts program that fosters creativity and academic excellence. Sonia began volunteering with POPS the club in 2017. She collaborated with POPS on their self-empowerment club curriculum before joining the organization as a staff member. She is devoted to the POPS mission and to being a healing, compassionate presence in the world. Contact: sonia@popsclubs.org.

ARIELLE HARRIS

Program Manager, is a Graduate of The University of Nice. Arielle began her studies at UC Santa Barbara before she moving to France to continue her studies. She is completing a second degree in marketing. When she was 16, Arielle moved from her home in St. Simons Island, Georgia to Los Angeles where she found comfort and new friends in clubs at Santa Monica High School. After graduating high school, Arielle taught dance to underprivileged teens. Arielle was drawn to POPS the Club because she sees herself in the POPS students. She is thrilled to have the chance to pay it forward. Contact: arielle@popsclubs.org.

VALERIA DE LA TORRE

Volunteer Coordinator. Joining POPS in high school changed her life. She was able to share her story and help others share theirs. Now, being able to intern for POPS helps her stay in touch with her passion of helping others. As a college student trying to navigate through life, POPS has helped her break down barriers she wouldn’t have been able to do alone. Valeria hopes to continue helping POPS reach those kids who need a safe place to share their stories, to change their lives for the better. Contact: valeria@popsclubs.org.

KAREN ARELLANO

Communications Intern, grew up in Los Angeles and is currently working on a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine in Political Science with a minor in Economics. She also has an AA in Paralegal Studies from West Los Angeles College. Upon graduating, she intends to further fulfill her interest in law by pursuing a Juris Doctor degree. As a citizen who has experienced the incarceration of family members, she was drawn to POPS for its mission to enhance or transform the lives of youth affected by incarceration of family. Contact: karen@popsclubs.org.

VICTOR ZAPATA

Social Media Intern, is currently attending West Los Angeles College for an AA in Business Communications and planning on transferring for a BA in Civil Engineering. His interests in art led him to explore the world of building and designing. He was one of many students to share his story and art through the positive environment that POPS provided in his years of high school. Victor plans plans on helping others who have manifested shame and guilt from incarceration of family members.

MARIANNA HOUSTON

Regional Coordinator (NY Partner), has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University and has worked at Safe Horizon, a New York City service organization for victims of domestic violence and at CASES in Harlem, a service organization for alternatives to incarceration. She consults for the United Palace for Cultural Arts in Washington Heights on effective and sustained arts education programming. From 1994 to 2011, Ms. Houston was Director of Education at the award-winning Theatre Development Fund in New York City, running comprehensive high school student outreach programs; in 2012, TDF’s Open Doors received the prestigious Tony Honor Award. Ms. Houston also co-founded of the International Theatre and Literacy Project (ITLP) which brings top theatre artists to developing countries to conduct playwriting workshops for children, giving them a voice worldwide. Trained as an actress, with a graduate degree in theatre from New York University, Ms. Houston has performed extensively in regional and off-Broadway theatres and co-write Mama Drama, performed Off-Broadway and published Samuel French. Ms. Houston is recipient of numerous numerous award, including an Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts Education and the AAUW Legacy Ambassador Award from the American Association of University Women. In 20016, Ms. Houston was recognized by the New York Daily News as “one of New York City’s 50 Unsung New York Heroes.”