Staff and Board
Jody Lewen is the founder and President of Mount Tamalpais College.
Jody’s involvement dates back to 1999, when she started working as a volunteer. Over the years, she has served as a thought leader in the field of prison education, advocating for the values of high academic quality and inclusivity, as well as serving as a resource to policymakers, practitioners, academics, and the administrations at San Quentin State Prison and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She was the 2006 recipient of the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from the University of California, Berkeley, and a 2015 recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award in recognition of her work to support higher education for incarcerated people in California. In 2016, the organization received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.
Jody received her BA from Wesleyan University in Modern European History; her MA from the Freie Universität, Berlin in Comparative Literature and Philosophy; and her PhD in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. Her publications include “Punishing Evil: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Spectre of Inmates in the Public Imagination” (in Evil, Truth, and Reconciliation, Rodopi, 2004) and “’So eine Gemeinheit’: On the Use of Irony in Hugo Bettauer’s Die Stadt Ohne Juden” (in Austria and Austrians: Images in World Literature. Stauffenburg Verlag, 2003).
Amy Jamgochian is the Chief Academic Officer and Accreditation Liaison Officer of Mount Tamalpais College. She received her BA in English from Mills College, her MA in English from Auckland University in New Zealand, and her PhD in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley. She taught in the Rhetoric Department at UC Berkeley for almost 15 years, first as a graduate student and then as a lecturer. As a lecturer in the Rhetoric Department, she ran the pedagogy seminar for graduate student instructors, and taught all levels of courses, with topics ranging from freshman composition to introductory rhetorical theory to hermeneutics. Amy’s research interests include the 19th and 20th century British and American novel, ethics, political theory, and pedagogy.
Dmitriy started taking classes with Mount Tamalpais College in the fall of 2013. Encouraged by the teachers and tutors who volunteered at San Quentin, Dmitriy wanted to find a way to give back to the program and was hired on as a program clerk in 2015, helping to manage supplies and the library inside San Quentin. Prior to his current position as office manager, he served as program assistant coordinating class registration, credit requirement analyses (CRAs), and grades. He is currently taking classes at the local community college and plans to continue his pursuit of a higher education.
Corey has been a student since 2011 and joined the staff of Mount Tamalpais College as a program clerk in 2017 until recently when he became MTC’s Alumni Affairs Assistant. He graduated in 2019. He enjoys studying languages, theology, and history.
Marcus Williams is a former student of Mount Tamalpais College and proud to continue his involvement as a returned citizen.
Makenzie brings over a decade of experience in nonprofit fundraising to Mount Tamalpais College. Prior to joining the team, she worked in development operations and management at several organizations around the Bay Area. Most recently, she was director of development operations at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, and many of her previous roles were similarly focused on education and community-building. Makenzie holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University, San Marcos and MA’s in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from the University of Southern California and Hebrew Union College.
Arthur has been a student with Mount Tamalpais College since 2016 and joined the staff as a clerk in 2019. He served as a teaching assistant for English 99A and currently serves on the student-led academic conference committee. Arthur presented a paper at the 2018 conference at San Quentin, “Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reform: 21st Century Solutions for 20th Century Problems”. Outside of academics, Arthur is training to become a yoga instructor and working to develop a peer mentorship program for incarcerated youth.
Before joining Mount Tamalpais College, Denisse worked as the Development Coordinator for the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco for five years. She has been involved with several organizations, including WashPIRG, La Voz Latina, and Glide. She brings with her a passion for equity and creating community. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Sociology and Philosophy.
Jacob joined the staff at Mount Tamalpais College after working for nearly ten years serving students and staff in higher education. Through his work as an educator and manager of student systems and records, he has developed a keen devotion to student needs and well-being. He is dedicated to serving marginalized students, especially in the creation of policies and procedures, so he is thrilled to contribute to the Mount Tamalpais College team in their mission. He holds an interdisciplinary BA focused on ethics and leadership from California State University, Monterey Bay.
Jen brings a unique blend of community research and higher education institutional research experience to Mount Tamalpais College. She began her career in Michigan, where she earned her PhD in Community Psychology with concentrations in evaluation research and statistics and methodology. While in graduate school, she was the research director for a statewide nonprofit focused on criminal and juvenile justice reform. She has focused her career on research, evaluation, and participatory action research to create healthier and more equitable communities. Before joining the staff at Mount Tamalpais College, she was the Director of Institutional Research at California College of the Arts for five years. She served on the American Public Health Association’s Book Publications Board for eight years and often speaks at conferences and writes about community driven change efforts.
Kirsten is a former philosophy instructor and tutor at Mount Tamalpais College, where she co-taught her first course in 2011. She served as the college’s first Accreditation Liaison Officer in its successful candidacy application in 2019. As the Research and Program Fellow, Kirsten supports college staff as they restart in-person courses, and carries out research projects aimed at strengthening the field of higher education in prisons. Outside her work for Mount Tam, Kirsten is a co-founder of Mourning Our Losses, a national memorialization project to remember people who have passed away behind bars during the COVID-19 pandemic. She enjoys thinking about ethics and political philosophy, watching movies, and reading mystery novels.
Mauricio brings more than 13 years of experience in leadership and higher education in Chile and the US. Before joining Mount Tamalpais College, he worked in community colleges serving economic and academically underserved students. He received his BS from the Pontific Catholic University in Chile and holds a Master’s degree in Organization and Leadership from the University of San Francisco.
Danielle brings seven year’s experience in grant writing to Mount Tamalpais College. Prior to joining the Development team, she served as the Director of Institutional Giving at Jewish Family and Children’s Services and as the Institutional Giving Manager at Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. A lifelong student herself, she is passionate about the power of education to expand possibilities and enrich life. When she is not fundraising, you can find her in a local park walking her beloved bulldog, Ruby.
Molly brings to Mount Tamalpais College a decade of experience in nonprofit communications and education. She previously worked at 826 Valencia, where she led communications and developed programs to help young people build writing skills and share their stories. Molly is also the co-owner of Point Reyes Books, a local independent bookstore. She holds a degree in Literature and Writing from UC San Diego, and is thrilled to be part of this powerful and impactful organization advancing equity and lifelong learning.
Amy Shea has a PhD and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow, where she has written a collection of essays titled, Not All Deaths are Created Equal. Her work has appeared in the Portland Review, The Massachusetts Review, Spry Literary Journal, Fat City Review, From Glasgow to Saturn, & the Journal of Sociology of Health & Illness. As an avid hiker, she likens her doctoral experience to that of her climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro – both immensely challenging and rewarding.
Richard Bonaru Richardson
An alumnus of Mount Tamalpais College, Bonaru was also the college’s program clerk in 2008. Inspired by higher education and the faculty’s willingness to build a healthy community, he soon joined the prison newspaper (San Quentin News) to help disseminate this information to all 35 prisons in California. On December 24, 2018, his prison sentence was commuted by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. With the help of the Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project, Michael Romano, Bonaru came home on April 15, 2021. Bonaru is now working to build healthy communities through education.
In addition to being a student at Mount Tamalpais College, Carl Raybon has been a Teacher’s Aide and an ORST Clerk at San Quentin. Prior to his incarceration, Carl served in the U.S Marine Corps and worked as an electrician, and received his Industrial Technology diploma from Columbus Technical Institute in 1991. As Program Clerk, Carl assists with coordinating classes, supplies, and keeping the program smooth and organized.
Wendy has more than twenty years’ experience in non-profit management and administration. Prior to joining MTC as its COO, she consulted with smaller organizations in helping them to better understand and manage their financial resources. Prior to her consulting career, she was the CFAO of Children’s Council of San Francisco, COO of the Jewish Film Institute, and Associate Director of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. She has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BS Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. She hopes one day to get back to finish her MA in geography, which she began a few years ago with classes at City College and at San Francisco State, and has not seen the world in the same way ever since. She believes that all students deserve that opportunity and is excited to be a part of MTC.
Amy brings eight years of experience in public libraries to her role at MTC. She was instrumental in establishing outreach services for incarcerated people during her time as a Community Services Librarian at the Suffolk Public Library in Virginia. Most recently, Amy served as a Teen Services and Digital Media Lab Supervisor at the Henrico County Public Library. She earned her BA in English from Arkansas Tech University and her MSIS from the University of Tennessee. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, obsessing over The Bachelor franchise, and walking her dog, Joy.
Windy Franklin Martinez
Windy Franklin Martinez brings more than 24 years of professional experience as a faculty member and administrator of student services in the California community colleges. She received a BA in Economics and an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from San Francisco State University, and a PhD in Adult & Higher Education from Oregon State University. Her teaching interests include student development, administrative leadership development, and the psycho-social aspects of disability.
Volker Kirchharz received a business degree from a professional academy in Germany and started working with non-profit organizations until he moved to the US over 20 years ago. He continued his work in non-profit administrative and finance with a variety of human and social service agencies, mainly in the Bay Area. Most recently he was the school administrator for a German Saturday school, responsible for the entire operation of the school. He enjoys working in teams and likes to apply his experience to strengthen organizational structures.
Bekki has dedicated her career to supporting organizations that work to benefit marginalized communities. She hopes to bring the best of her experience to her work for MTC’s students.
Carson brings five years of development experience to Mount Tamalpais College. She previously worked as the Development Coordinator at At The Crossroads, and prior to that as the Intake Assistant at the New England Innocence Project. She is passionate about permanent criminal justice reform and ensuring every person has access to high-quality higher education. She graduated from Northeastern University with a BS in Criminal Justice and Political Science. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and finding the best nachos in the Bay Area.
Nandita holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, an MA in Performance Studies from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and a BA in Economics & Theater from Wellesley College. An alumna of the United World College movement, Nandita has conducted community-based theatre projects in Kashmir, India, the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. In 2017, she was awarded the Elliott Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramaturgy by Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. Nandita has been involved in prison education since 2015 and founded the Prison Education Portals program in New Mexico. For more information about Nandita’s work as a scholar and author, please see: www.NanditaDinesh.com
Frances brings over five years of experience in student learning disability resources to Mount Tamalpais College. Her passion for social justice and serving students from marginalized backgrounds has positively impacted families and students with disabilities in meeting their academic goals. She holds a master’s degree in Special Education with a concentration in Mild/ Moderate Disabilities from San Francisco State University. In her free time, she enjoys a variety of crafts including cross stitching images of her favorite musicians.
An innovator in the field of philanthropy, Neela Gentile is a leader in organizational capacity building, strategic growth, and increasing efficiencies for organizations committed to making an impact on social issues. Neela has spent her career steeped in the nonprofit sector, working in a variety of fields. In addition, Neela spent more than a decade working with social benefit organizations within the corporate sector. At the end of the day, Neela enjoys the privilege of working with passionate and committed people to making the world a better place, and she’s thrilled to now do so as the Chief Advancement Officer at MTC.
Astrid brings multiple years of experience in various facets of the communications field to Mount Tamalpais College. Prior to joining the team, she worked in public relations in the medical technology field and is passionate about creating a more equitable world for all. Astrid holds a BA in Communications and a minor in Earth and Space Sciences from the University of Washington, and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of San Francisco.
Sarah Manley has been involved in prison higher education since 2017. Prior to joining Mount Tamalpais College, she worked as the Program Coordinator for the University of Utah Prison Education Project (UPEP). Sarah earned her MA in World Languages and Cultures from the University of Utah and her BA in Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her academic research has appeared in the Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature and is forthcoming in the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies.
Zaw Min Htet
Zaw holds a PhD in Biophysics from Harvard University and a BS in Engineering Physics from UC Berkeley. Prior to joining Mount Tamalpais College, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher studying the essential cellular process called protein degradation at UC Berkeley. During that time, he volunteered in several programs that aim to promote the retention of historically underrepresented minorities in higher STEM education. He is excited to continue his passion to promote equitable higher education opportunities at Mount Tamalpais College. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies, hiking, and photography.
Danny Ho completed his Associate of Arts degree from Mount Tamalpais College in Spring, 2016, and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Adams State University in June, 2021. Higher education has been truly exciting for him; he envisions himself obtaining a Master’s degree in Business Administration by 2026. Danny joined the MTC team in October, 2022. He enjoys hiking, traveling, visiting family and friends, singing karaoke, and playing guitar.
We’ve become adept at throwing certain people away, depriving society of their unique gifts and wisdom. Mount Tamalpais College reaffirms the humanity and incredible potential of hundreds of ‘thrown away’ students.
Senior Policy Associate
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
I’m honored to share in Mount Tamalpais College’s work. I have witnessed our program offering hope and possibility, along with dignity and respect, and often new ideas for incarcerated people.
Professor of Education
My experience working with graduates of the program has completely changed my perception of the talent, drive, and potential of incarcerated students.
Senior Director of Finance and Administration
The George Lucas Education Foundation
I support Mount Tamalpais College because its work is life-affirming, liberatory, and engenders dignity. I’m motivated to see this model expand beyond San Quentin.
Vice President of Partnerships
Mount Tamalpais College students are humbling with their thirst for learning. Society has left so many of them behind, but education is transforming them, helping them to realize their potential!
Professor of Decision Sciences
San Francisco State University
Education opens a path for incarcerated people to move forward to self-respect, opportunity and fulfillment. Beyond that, education is proven to be the single most effective means of reducing recidivism. Thus, Mount Tamalpais College changes lives and is helping to change the world. Who would not support this work?
California State University System
To instructors at Mount Tamalpais College, it becomes abundantly clear that our incarcerated students have vast potential and deep passion for their education. It is my hope and belief that the college courses offered enable our students to become change-agents for their communities and for our society more broadly.
Chief Financial Officer
Mt. Tamalpais College is about equity; it sees no color, class, age, gender, criminal conviction, or infirmity. The learning environment, along with the education I received, transformed my life and placed me and so many others in a better position to succeed upon returning home.
Reentry Success Center
Prison felt like a place where the objective was to remove the dignity of the people forced to live there. During my nearly 2 decades of incarceration, the only times that I felt like a dignified person and not a stereotypical prisoner, was when I was in a classroom being taught something. MTC is important because for many students this program is much bigger than an Associate’s Degree, for many, it’s a way to regain a sense of normalcy. And words can’t describe how important it is to feel normal when incarcerated.
Slow And Steady Media
It is my privilege to serve on the governing board of Mount Tamalpais College. As a volunteer instructor over the years, I have drawn great inspiration from the students’ love and pursuit of learning. I have also come to be impressed with the passion, insight, experience, and dedication of the leadership, staff, and volunteers that make this learning possible. I look forward to working with and supporting them, and ultimately the students we all serve, as a trustee.
Education is not just about gaining knowledge, but also about shaping character and enabling individuals to make a positive impact. I am honored to serve Mt Tamalpais College, where we are committed to providing our students with a transformative educational experience that empowers them with dignity and opportunity.