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Staff

Staff

Staff

Staff

Executive Team:

 

Jimmy Wu (he/him)

Executive Director 

Jimmy Wu's remarkable journey from incarceration to leadership stands as a beacon of hope and transformation. As the Executive Director of InsideOUT Writers (IOW), Jimmy draws from his profound personal experiences to drive change and advocate for juvenile justice reform.

Over twenty-five years ago, at the age of 16, Jimmy made a decision that led to 13 ½ years of incarceration. It was during his time in a Los Angeles juvenile detention facility that he encountered IOW and became one of its first creative writing students. This encounter ignited a spark within him, fueling his passion for writing and planting the seeds for his future advocacy.

Today, Jimmy's work at IOW encompasses coordinating comprehensive reentry services and support for young individuals returning to their communities. He also oversees administrative functions and spearheads fundraising initiatives to ensure the sustainability of IOW’s mission. His heartfelt hope is that the young people IOW serves will learn from his journey and choose a path of resilience and positive change.

Throughout his nine years with IOW, Jimmy has taken on various roles, including Case Manager, Alumni Advocacy Director, Interim Executive Director, and now Executive Director. Each role has further solidified his commitment to empowering youth and fostering transformative opportunities.

Beyond his work at IOW, Jimmy's dedication to justice reform extends to his involvement with the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) Work Group, formed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. As a voting member, he has played a crucial role in developing strategies for community safety and prioritizing reforms for justice-impacted populations. Additionally, he has contributed to The Ride Home Program, part of Stanford Law School's Justice Advocacy Project, providing essential support to nonviolent inmates reentering society under California's "three strikes" law.

Jimmy's personal journey of redemption and resilience has deepened his resolve to advocate for systemic change. In recognition of his impactful work, he was honored in Good Morning America's "Who is Making AAPI History in 2021: The GMA Inspiration List."

Through his leadership and unwavering dedication, Jimmy Wu continues to inspire and drive meaningful progress in the realm of juvenile justice reform. His story is a testament to the power of transformation and the profound impact of second chances.

Rodrigo Anthony Guardado, Jr. (he/him)

Chief Development and Operations Officer

Rodrigo Anthony Guardado, Jr. is a seasoned executive professional with over 16 years of nonprofit experience. At InsideOUT Writers, Rodrigo oversees the day-to-day operations, as well as the fundraising, marketing, and communications functions of the organization. He leads a team of 14 Teaching Artists to provide trauma-informed, strength-based, and restorative programming at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall and Barry J. Nidorf TRI-Academy. Additionally, he oversees the Alumni and Youth Diversion Programs, which focus on re-entry services and youth diversion initiatives, respectively.

A native Angeleno, Rodrigo has always been passionate about serving his community, particularly in areas related to incarceration, health, and LGBTQ+ issues. His career includes various roles at prestigious organizations such as Children's Hospital Los Angeles Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, American Red Cross, Sierra Club, First Financial Mortgage in Brentwood/Palm Springs, and the Democratic National Committee. Rodrigo's extensive experience and dedication to social justice have made him a prominent figure in the nonprofit sector.

Rodrigo has been a featured guest lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California, and has spoken at various conferences in the region. Rodrigo serves in the Tri-County Collaborative Safety Conference Steering Committee at the Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California, which advocates for public policies to tackle violence prevention in the Los Angeles area by championing community voices and solutions. He was also a proxy voting member at the Alternatives to Incarceration Workgroup under Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Kathryn Barger, an initiative that led to Measure J and the Care First, Jails Last report, which serves as the guide for LA County's reducing incarceration policies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Government from California State University, Los Angeles.

Alumni Program:


Monica Vega, MS (she/her)

Programs Manager

Monica Vega serves as the Programs Manager at InsideOUT Writers (IOW). In her role, she serves as the manager for the alumni and diversion program case managers, forges partnerships with external organizations, and organizes prosocial events like open mic nights, field trips, and workshops. Monica also leads weekly creative writing circles within Juvenile Facilities and the broader community.

Before joining IOW, Monica gained extensive experience as a cognitive behavioral therapist for adults on probation, a crime analyst for a police department, and a research assistant specializing in human trafficking and sexual assault. She holds both a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice & Criminology from Northeastern University. Monica is passionate about creating authentic and empowering community spaces that nurture the emotional resilience and growth of youth and young adults.

Danny Camarena (he/him)

Alumni Program Case Manager

Danny is the Alumni Program Case Manager at InsideOUT Writers. Hailing from Compton, CA, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Studies from Pitzer College and an Associate of Arts in Social Behavioral Science from Norco College. Danny is a certified CalMHSA Peer Support Specialist and a recipient of the Napier Fellowship for his dedication to social change. He also serves on the Justice Education Center Steering Committee at the Claremont Colleges, advocating for improved higher education opportunities for individuals in carceral settings.

Previously, Danny was a Non-Credit Instructor at Temple University and an intern for Designing Creative Futures. He has been accepted to the University of Southern California (USC) Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work (MSW) for the fall 2024 semester.

 

Youth Diversion Program:

 

Malika Spencer, MS (she/her)

Youth Diversion Case Manager

Malika Spencer is a Youth Diversion Case Manager at InsideOUT Writers originally from Inglewood, California. Her role involves supporting at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated individuals by tailoring support services to their specific needs. She is deeply passionate about empowering individuals with choices and resources to achieve their goals, believing everyone deserves a second chance. Her experience spans working in detention centers and completing internships focused on reentry, rehabilitation, and crime analysis, which has enriched her understanding and skills in this field. Her personal and educational journey has equipped her to effectively work with diverse groups, addressing the underlying issues they face. Her favorite quote is, "It’s not about how you start, but how you finish," which encapsulates the mission of our work. Regardless of initial challenges, she believes that each day presents an opportunity for change, perseverance, progress, and goal attainment. 

She holds an MA in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University, a BA in Criminal Justice from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an AA in Social Science from Long Beach City College. Additionally, she is honored to be a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, which strives to enhance the quality of life for women and their families through community service, civil and social action. Overall, Malika looks forward to continue working and encouraging others to make a positive change. 

 

Destiny Meda (she/her)

Youth Diversion Case Manager

Destiny Meda received her Bachelor degree in Psychology from California State University Northridge. She has always found that understanding and supporting people with mental, physical or social hardships to be an essential part of her life growing up in East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights. Destiny work experience involves an extensive background in working with individuals in the mental health field. Destiny was a school behavioral therapist in several schools across Pasadena, Glendale, and La Cresenta California school districts for 3 years before transitioning to Enki Health Services Inc. where she worked as a Rehabilitation Specialist case manager providing behavioral health services to low-income families and adults in one the most known recovery centered youth and family Mental Health programs in the Los Angeles County area. Destiny dedication and experience has contributed to her expertise in her current role as a Youth Diversion Case Manager at Inside Out Writers providing case management services to youth and formerly incarcerated individuals. Destiny finds her job very rewarding when providing her clients with ongoing support in obtaining an overall better quality of life and future.

Haven Younghorse (she/her)

Youth Diversion Case Manager

Haven Younghorse is a Case Manager at InsideOut Writers (IOW). At IOW, she provides diversion services for youth impacted by the legal system, supporting them in achieving their goals and improving their futures. Before joining IOW, Haven worked as a behavioral interventionist, assisting children with developmental disabilities, and worked as a youth educational specialist supporting foster and at-risk youth in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Cal State Los Angeles. With a strong commitment to social justice and youth empowerment, Haven is dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of the youth she serves.

Vacant

Youth Diversion Case Manager

Writing Program:


Susan Cuscuna (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Lauren Dani, MBA (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Alyssa DeVivo, MSW (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Katherinne Gamez (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Michelle Gubbay, MA (she/her)

Teaching Artist

April Hong, MS (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Shane Jones (he/him)

Teaching Artist

Deborah Kanter, JD (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Molly Ott, MFA (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Michelle Gubbay, MA (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Lauren Siegel, MSW (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Mindy Velasco, MA (she/her)

Teaching Artist

Kate Wells (she/her)

Teaching Artist

 

California Justice Leaders

Christine Alegre (she/her)
California Justice Leader Member

Julio Landaverde (he/him)
California Justice Leader Member

LeadOn Interns

Jeremy Price (he/him)

LeadOn Member

 

Steven Jennings (he/him)

LeadOn Member

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