Staff & Board

Freedom Project Staff (in alphabetical order)

David Heppard, Executive Director
Pronouns:  he / him
As Freedom Project’s Executive Director, David works with the board, development teams, and builds collaborations with other organizations. He also coordinates marketing (social media, video production) and Reentry programming.  He has a natural passion for people and loves to see others grow to potential. He brings his creative energy and enthusiasm for the mission to build connections, community and collaboration. “Team work makes the dream work!” David is a Credible Messenger, founding member of Inside Out Toastmaster reentry club, and a popular keynote speaker.
Joanie Joanie Fuller, Prison Programs Director
Pronouns: she / her
Joanie coordinates Freedom Project’s prison programs through the Department of Corrections and in collaboration with our dedicated team of volunteers and mentors. She aims to support the variety of needs of the community members integral to Freedom Project’s work – including class participants, inside mentors/facilitators, folks returning to the community from incarceration, and those who volunteer their time on the inside/outside. Joanie has a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Washington.
Kiki Elfendahl, Chief Operating Officer
Pronouns: she / her
Kiki manages day-to-day operations and works to build a strong foundation of clarity and collaborative systems upon which Freedom Project can grow further into its mission. She brings over 20 years experience in business management, organizational development and personal growth, as well as a rich meditation practice of over 15 years. Kiki has a Bachelor’s Degree with High Honors in American Studies from Smith College.
Rusty Thomas, Re-entry Director, Volunteer Training Coordinator
Pronouns: he / him
Rusty supports volunteer orientations and trains volunteers for both inside prison programs and office volunteers. Rusty is also the Community Circle/Seattle Facilitator and is passionate about providing Nonviolent Communication and mindfulness training to Freedom Project Volunteers. Rusty’s biggest life resource is his regular meditation and living Nonviolent Communication. Rusty holds a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in psychology, spirituality from Antioch University, Seattle. Along with Lucy Leu, Rusty is the co-founder of Freedom Project.

Freedom Project Board (in alphabetical order)


Dean LaCour, Board President
Pronouns:  she / her
Dean retired from the telecommunications industry after 47 years in customer service and management. In addition to serving as the Board President, she also currently facilitates the Racial Equity and Social Justice Circle. Dean has been on Freedom Project’s board in a variety of capacities since 2013.
Gerald Labensky
Pronouns: he / him
Gerald is a Field Leader of Chipotle Mexican Grill overseeing the Pacific Northwest market. He is passionate about breaking employment barriers and supporting People of Color transitioning from incarceration to society. Gerald served 17 years of a 40-year sentence in the Washington State system from 1996 to 2013. Gerald joined the Freedom Project board in 2018.
Mike Anthony
Pronouns: he / him
Mike is a motivational and inspirational keynote speaker. He has 30 years of experience assisting people experiencing homelessness, counseling couples and families, and mentoring troubled youth. Mike is a two-time District 9 Toastmasters public speaking champion, placing third in the semi-finals at the 2015 International World Championship of Public Speaking. His company, Antics, provides keynote speeches, conference consulting, and speech coaching. Having served 3 ½ out of a 5-year sentence in Washington State, Mike has a driven purpose to see that each incarcerated person is provided the tools necessary to start rebuilding upon release.
Pam Orbach
Pronouns: she / her
Pam is a Restorative Justice practitioner, mediator, circle keeper, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) consultant and trainer. In addition, she also is an executive empathic self-leadership coach. She is moved to support the accessibility of restorative compassionate consciousness and practice in the world – a paradigm shift – involving increased self-awareness, authentic communication, and integrity in action and decision-making. Pam’s practice is grounded in Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and Dominic Barter’s model of Restorative Circles. Her ongoing engagement and learning in peacemaking, talking circle, equity consciousness and a compassionate practice of active nonviolence deepens her particular approach to community building and conflict transformation. Her work is informed by her previous experience teaching both middle and high school, and her years supporting conflict between parents and teens/youth for the City of Bellevue, where she supervised a parent-teen mediation program. Pam designs and delivers trainings and dialogue for organizations and communities with a commitment to peaceful compassionate change in the world. Her method augments an alignment of organizational direction with personal values.
Susan Mason
Pronouns: she / her
Susan Mason is a co-founder and Executive Director of What’s Next – Washington. Susan spent 15 years in the mortgage industry before becoming an advocate and organizer. She advocates for systemic policy change and the reinstatement of civil rights for people with conviction histories. Her work is centered in three key areas: collaboration, communication, and leadership. Susan is active in the reentry community and is a member of the National Council of Formerly and Currently Incarcerated Women and Girls. She is also a sought-after speaker and an advocate within organizations that seek to empower and improve the lives of the formerly incarcerated. Susan is a National Council 2019 Reimagining Communities Fellow and Just Leadership USA 2018 Leading with Conviction Fellow. She also sits on the Washington Voting Justice Coalition and the FARE (Fair and Accessible Rental [housing] for Everyone) Housing Coalition. Susan Mason was incarcerated in federal prison for 15 months and was released in 2003.
Thrett Brown
Pronouns: he / him
Thrett is the Executive Director of Young Business Men and Women, a student at Tacoma Community College and Business Coach for youth and some adults. He works as an independent mentor, keynote speaker, workshop and program developer. He is the co-director of Inside Out Toastmasters reentry club, and the co-director of Numbers 2 Names. Thrett joined the Freedom Project Board in 2019.