Our Year-Round Team

Full-Time Staff

Executive Director:Lara Mendel - Executive Director

Lara Mendel

Lara Mendel co-founded The Mosaic Project with Board President, Gogi Hodder, in late 2000. Lara traces the idea for Mosaic back to her par­tic­i­pa­tion  at the age of 15 in a 4-night/5-day sum­mer camp

that addressed issues of dif­fer­ence. She stayed involved with the pro­gram through­out her teenage years. This expe­ri­ence con­vinced her that wait­ing until peo­ple are in high school to address issues of dif­fer­ence is wait­ing far too long. She noted that prej­u­dice, fear, and anger had already become so entrenched in some of her peers that vio­lence eas­ily erupted. She became deter­mined to some­day reach out to younger stu­dents to address diver­sity issues in a pos­i­tive way and pre­vent prej­u­dice, fear and anger from tak­ing hold.

This deter­mi­na­tion was strength­ened dur­ing a col­lege pro­gram which brought Jewish stu­dents to Germany. Meetings with for­mer Nazis, as well as vis­its to con­cen­tra­tion camps where mem­bers of her extended fam­ily were killed, solid­i­fied her com­mit­ment to fight all forms of hatred.

After grad­u­at­ing from Stanford in 1990 with a B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology, Lara worked in vio­lence pre­ven­tion and envi­ron­men­tal edu­ca­tion. She then worked for seven years as Program and In-Country Director for Global Routes, a non­profit pro­mot­ing cross-cultural and self-understanding through com­mu­nity ser­vice pro­grams for youth. During that time, she ran pro­grams in rural Ecuador, Costa Rica, Kenya, and India as well as directed the pro­grams from the Berkeley-based office. In addi­tion to being an avid trav­eler, Lara is an expe­ri­enced back­packer and mar­tial artist. She is a black belt in Kajukenbo Kung Fu.

The Mosaic Project is the cul­mi­na­tion of her expe­ri­ence, per­sonal and pro­fes­sional, and rep­re­sents her vision for social change.

Outreach & Administrative Director:Eden Chan - Administrator

Kara Murray

Kara’s cur­rent posi­tion with The Mosaic Project is the lat­est of what she believes will be a life­time stint with this orga­ni­za­tion. Kara began with Mosaic as a cabin leader at age 16. As a native of Oakland, CA and a stu­dent at Berkeley High School, she wit­nessed first­hand severe inequal­ity and deep class and racial divi­sions amongst her peers. Because of this, she was deeply inspired by the true diver­sity she expe­ri­enced at

Mosaic and moved by watch­ing the impact on every stu­dent of feel­ing truly val­ued as an indi­vid­ual.  Since then, she has been an inte­gral part of the Mosaic fam­ily and served sev­eral roles includ­ing that of intern, con­sul­tant, crazed fan and, most recently, a facil­i­ta­tor at the Outdoor School.

Kara’s pas­sion for work­ing with youth has also man­i­fested in other realms, such as teach­ing orphaned and aban­doned girls English in India at Aarti Home, teach­ing sex­ual health and HIV biol­ogy to stu­dents in Tanzania through Support for International Change, teach­ing his­tory and gov­ern­ment to Virgin Island teens from a wide range of eco­nomic back­grounds and teach­ing math to low-income, high poten­tial youth at Breakthrough Collaborative San Francisco.

After grad­u­at­ing from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in psy­chol­ogy in 2012, she took a year away from edu­ca­tion and worked in non-profit con­sult­ing at Harder+Company Community Research. There she assisted on eval­u­a­tions of orga­ni­za­tions such as the YMCA, Junior Achievement and First 5 San Diego. This work helped strengthen the orga­ni­za­tional and inter­per­sonal skills that she now uti­lizes to keep the Mosaic Office run­ning smoothly. Now, as full time staff, she plans to con­tinue facil­i­tat­ing when­ever and wher­ever she can, as well as con­tinue her per­sonal mis­sion to spread the word about The Mosaic Project far and wide. By doing this, she hopes that as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble can be reached by Mosaic’s uncanny abil­ity to bring con­nec­tion and com­pas­sion to even the hard­est of sit­u­a­tions.

Youth Leadership Project Director:CJ Photo

CJ Suitt

When The Mosaic Project found CJ Suitt in North Carolina in 2010 he quickly real­ized it was an orga­ni­za­tion whose work reflected many of his own pas­sions. Since then, his work with Mosaic has taken many forms, includ­ing Staff Facilitator, the What’s-Up-With-That Guy, DJ CJ “can I get a re-play?” (aka Mosaic’s pos­i­tive dis­ci­pli­nar­ian), and now Youth Leadership Director.

CJ is a Performance Poet, Community Organizer and Arts Educator from Chapel Hill, NC. Growing up singing in a Southern Pentecostal Church taught him early on that his voice was a pow­er­ful way of con­nect­ing with oth­ers. He also learned that when fueled by the igno­rance of sep­a­ra­tion, the voice could be a tool for spread­ing prej­u­dice and hate.

It wasn’t until high school that his abil­ity to tell his own story through poetry changed his life. His English teacher at the time rec­og­nized his writ­ing abil­ity, and he was cho­sen to be on the first youth slam poetry team in the state. This team went on to com­pete at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, where he real­ized his voice was one of many young voices dis­sat­is­fied with the world they had inher­ited. That real­iza­tion would lead him to co-found a non-profit called the Sacrificial Poets, which works to cre­ate safe spaces for youth to empower them­selves through the spo­ken and writ­ten word. While watch­ing the work of Sacrificial Poets blos­som, his friend and co-founder, Ira Yarmolenko, was trag­i­cally mur­dered by strangers. Filled with anger and sad­ness, CJ felt sure that if they had known her story, this act of vio­lence could have been pre­vented.

This hor­rific event solid­i­fied his com­mit­ment to telling his own nar­ra­tive. He went on to share his expe­ri­ence of grow­ing up black and male in a pre­dom­i­nantly white town by cre­at­ing works of the­ater, teach­ing writ­ing in edu­ca­tional spaces, and per­form­ing var­i­ous works of art. CJ co-directed, pro­duced, and starred in a his­tor­i­cal reen­act­ment of the 1947 Freedom Rides, per­formed at many national and local music fes­ti­vals, includ­ing Gnarnia, Shakori Hills and Bonnaroo, and acted in a pro­duc­tion of Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments. His career as an edu­ca­tor has allowed him to work with young peo­ple await­ing trial at the Durham Youth Home, older inmates whose voices have been silenced within the Orange County Correctional Facility, and high school and college-aged men push­ing to rede­fine mas­culin­ity in their schools and com­mu­ni­ties. Additionally, he has col­lab­o­rated with orga­ni­za­tions such as Transplanting Traditions, Benevolence Farm, and Growing Change on the inter­sec­tion of sto­ry­telling and food jus­tice.

In his new role as Youth Leadership Director, CJ is mak­ing a long-awaited move to the West Coast and hopes to be a bridge for youth to see that peace is pos­si­ble in a world that is often moti­vated by fear-driven stereo­types. He is com­mit­ted to being a cre­ative cat­a­lyst for a dynamic group of Youth Leaders who will nur­ture the next gen­er­a­tion of Mosaic peace-makers.

Program Associate:emily's bio pic

Emily Abad

As the Program Associate, Emily’s pri­mary goals are to sus­tain the impact of the Mosaic expe­ri­ence by bring­ing a piece of Mosaic magic to all of our part­ner schools and by keep­ing Mosaic’s Outdoor School alumni excited about being Mosaic Peace Ambassadors in their com­mu­ni­ties.

She works with teach­ers to infuse Mosaic lessons and tools into the class­room and cre­ate a Mosaic school

envi­ron­ment – a school that reflects the vision, belief, and mis­sion of The Mosaic Project.

Emily has been involved in sev­eral non-profit orga­ni­za­tions through­out Southern California includ­ing AIDS Project Los Angeles and work­ing as a Frontline Activist and Campaign Captain for Greenpeace Los Angeles. In 2009 she moved to the Bay to fin­ish her culi­nary degree and pur­sue her career in mind­ful and sus­tain­able cui­sine. Emily sub­se­quently began work as a Garde Manger in sev­eral restau­rants, where she expe­ri­enced a lot of objec­ti­fi­ca­tion, misog­yny and sex­ism. This treat­ment was not for­eign to her as she had expe­ri­enced sim­i­lar harass­ment grow­ing up as a young femme in the San Fernando Valley, how­ever, her expe­ri­ence work­ing in restau­rants crys­tal­lized her desire to work for a world where peo­ple of all gen­ders, body types and eth­nic back­grounds real­ize their voice and tal­ents and where no one is made to feel less human than any­one else. When she found the The Mosaic Project she knew she had found the vehi­cle for this pas­sion, which has become her life’s work.

Emily’s respon­si­bil­i­ties at Mosaic include cur­ricu­lum devel­op­ment and facil­i­ta­tion for the Outdoor School, In-School Project, and Mosaic Consulting Project. She often says she’s asso­ci­ated with all the pro­grams – that’s why she’s the Program Associate! Emily also offers lead­er­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties and com­mu­nity involve­ment for our Outdoor School alumni as the facil­i­ta­tor of the Children’s Board of Directors. She is so glad to have found a career doing what she loves with the peo­ple she loves.

Business Manager:Brian Lowe - Business Manager

Brian Lowe

Brian pro­vides the strate­gic vision for the Mosaic Consulting Project and man­ages the day to day oper­a­tions. Brian brings with him a com­bi­na­tion of con­sult­ing, cor­po­rate finance, and non­profit expe­ri­ence. The high­light of his non­profit career thus far has been facil­i­tat­ing The Mosaic Project’s diver­sity cur­ricu­lum at the Outdoor School. Brian has worked with sev­eral other non­prof­its as well, includ­ing the Golden Gate Opera, where he man­aged stu­dent out­reach,

and the Silicon Valley Triathlon Club where he devel­oped pro­grams and coached the ath­letes.

Prior to that, Brian was a cor­po­rate finance man­ager at Hewlett-Packard and Sitesmith Inc., per­form­ing var­i­ous finan­cial plan­ning and analy­sis func­tions. He was also a man­age­ment con­sul­tant for Price Waterhouse work­ing in the South and Mid-Atlantic domes­tic US regions.

Brian received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Duke University and an MBA from the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University.

Part-Time Staff

Bookkeeper:Barbara Lubinski - Bookkeeper

Barbara Lubinski

Barbara Lubinski, Mosaic’s book­keeper, brings the exper­tise of nearly 35 years of non-profit finan­cial  man­age­ment to the orga­ni­za­tion.  Her work includes the NEST and SHARE foun­da­tions, Earth Trade, the Asian Law Caucus, Survivors International, Purple Moon Dance Project, Hand to Hand, and Yerba Buena Garden Festivals.  She is also Treasurer of the Board of AfroSolo Theater Company.   An English major and writer, she began her book­keep­ing edu­ca­tion as coor­di­na­tor of a rad­i­cal book­shop in Washington, DC in the early 70’s where the accoun­tant made every­one learn the basics of keep­ing finan­cial records with the admo­ni­tion that, “If you want to make a rev­o­lu­tion, you have to learn how to count the money.”  Barbara learned to count the money and count it well, but it is her activism that most clearly defines her life.

Barbara grew up in a poor white work­ing class fam­ily in Roanoke, the largest town in Appalachian Virginia.  Her Dad worked for the rail­road and was a union man with a healthy mis­trust of bosses.   His pas­sion was paint­ing, sculpt­ing and car­toon­ing.  Her Mom played and com­posed music, taught piano to neigh­bor­hood kids, and gave any­one in need a help­ing hand, or a sand­wich to carry with them.  Family life was immersed in music, art, books and good con­ver­sa­tion with a deep appre­ci­a­tion for new ideas and change. Her par­ents armed Barbara and her brother with a strong sense of fair­ness, a good work­ing class sen­si­bil­ity and a pow­er­ful ide­al­ism about mak­ing the world a bet­ter place. Those val­ues fueled the fire of Barbara’s life-long activism.

Her activism began in 1968 with Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign, the com­mit­ment inten­si­fy­ing after his assas­si­na­tion.  It con­tin­ued with anti-war and women’s move­ment orga­niz­ing and sup­port of Black Power and the American Indian move­ments.  Barbara helped coor­di­nate the first International Women’s Day cel­e­bra­tion in Washington, DC, its first International Women’s film fes­ti­val, and DC’s first coop rad­i­cal com­mu­nity.  She was also part of a com­mu­nity group that “occu­pied” Georgetown University’s radio sta­tion for sev­eral years, broad­cast­ing pro­gres­sive news, cur­rent events, music and poetry.

Since those early days of rad­i­cal­iza­tion, much of the focus of Barbara’s polit­i­cal work has been in radio, pro­duc­ing and broad­cast­ing the sounds, voices, poetry and music of people’s move­ments to inform and inspire social change.  She worked for 5 years at KPOO Community radio, as co-news direc­tor and pro­ducer of “Common Woman”, 19 years at KPFA co-producing “Freedom is a Constant Struggle,”  and is a co-founder and pro­ducer at “Freedom Archives” which works to pre­serve and pass on the his­tory of peo­ples’ move­ments, locally, nation­ally and inter­na­tion­ally.   Other polit­i­cal influ­ences have been sol­i­dar­ity work in sup­port of the strug­gles of El Salvador and Zimbabwe, orga­niz­ing work in sup­port of pris­on­ers and polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, women’s lib­er­a­tion and artic­u­lat­ing her own under­stand­ings through spo­ken word and poetry.

Barbara has lived a life filled with chil­dren, includ­ing 4 stepchil­dren she raised and many more she has men­tored and plays with reg­u­larly. She works out at the Berkeley Y and says her pri­mary rela­tion­ship is The Mosaic Project.  Her favorite quote is from Cornel West, “Justice is the pub­lic face of love.”

Development Assistant:Richelle's Bio pic

Richelle Gernan

Richelle began her involve­ment with the Mosaic Project as a Youth Leader in 2010. Since then she has played many roles within the orga­ni­za­tion, includ­ing Intern, Administrative Assistant, First Youth Board President and Outdoor School Facilitator. She also ini­ti­ated and co-created the year-round cur­ricu­lum for the Youth Leadership Project. She’s excited to now be part of the Development team.

Mosaic inspired her to join other social jus­tice orga­ni­za­tions in col­lege such as All Power to The People Archive Project, a group that works to pre­serve the sto­ries of our elders who fought for Ethnic Studies in the San Francisco State Strikes in the 70’s. She also joined and helped to cre­ate Eyes on Arizona (EOA) where she orga­nized col­lege stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers and served with them in the Sonora Desert pro­vid­ing human­i­tar­ian aid to those who were cross­ing the Mexican-American bor­der. EOA estab­lished con­nec­tions with com­mu­nity orga­niz­ers in Tucson to build sol­i­dar­ity between the Bay Area and Arizona. Richelle has also worked with ele­men­tary school stu­dents in the Bay Area teach­ing Filipina/o American History, Culture, Issues, Experiences, Art, and Language with two dynamic orga­ni­za­tions: Pin@y Educational Partnership and Sama Sama Summer Camp Cooperative.

Richelle grad­u­ated from San Francisco State University with a self-designed major she titled Pinayist Self-Expression through Art, which bridges art and activism, focus­ing on cre­ative expres­sion as a heal­ing tool to re-imagine the self in the con­text of his­tor­i­cal oppres­sion. As an immi­grant and artist, artis­tic ped­a­gogy pro­vides her voice and empow­er­ment to self-determine her iden­tity. She is deeply pas­sion­ate in cre­at­ing a just, sus­tain­able world through crit­i­cal think­ing and expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion.

As the Development Assistant, Richelle han­dles dona­tions, grants and com­mu­nity rela­tions to sup­port the growth and sus­tain­abil­ity of The Mosaic Project.

Events Specialist:Seneca Miller

Seneca Beth Miller

After over a decade of search­ing for strate­gies and skills to truly trans­form the root causes of injus­tice and sys­tems of insti­tu­tion­al­ized oppres­sion in the world, Seneca is immensely grate­ful to have found The Mosaic Project.  Here, she val­ues the way our focus on empa­thy and inter­con­nec­tion pre­vents us from get­ting stuck in the guilt, blame, and defen­sive­ness that so often impede true trans­for­ma­tion.

Seneca’s expe­ri­ence grow­ing up sur­rounded by intense seg­re­ga­tion and inequal­ity in Arizona, as well as a piv­otal expe­ri­ence as a camper and then coun­selor at the anti-bias camp, Anytown, led her to study Sociology at Arizona State University. After grad­u­at­ing, she worked for St. Joseph the Worker fundrais­ing and facil­i­tat­ing “Job and Life Skills” work­shops in the Maricopa County Jail.  The count­less sto­ries of the dehu­man­iz­ing effects of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem moti­vated Seneca  to leave Arizona to explore peace and con­flict stud­ies.  She attended a peace del­e­ga­tion to the Middle East, vis­ited com­mu­ni­ties doing inter­na­tional non­vi­o­lent accom­pa­ni­ment work in Colombia, trained in Permaculture Design, and par­tic­i­pated in grass­roots activism includ­ing sup­port work with indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties in the Southwest. Saddened and frus­trated by the inter­nal con­flict she wit­nessed within many orga­ni­za­tions and move­ments, she landed in California and hap­pened upon The Mosaic Project in 2010.

After work­ing as a Facilitator and later the Logistics Coordinator at Mosaic’s Outdoor School, Seneca gained an inti­mate per­spec­tive of the orga­ni­za­tion and strong deter­mi­na­tion to bring in the resources Mosaic needs to accom­plish its long-term goals. She is hon­ored and excited to take on this chal­lenge as the Events Specialist. Seneca is con­fi­dent that soon every per­son in the Bay Area will know about The Mosaic Project.  She dreams of the day when we have our own Outdoor School site and are so sus­tain­able that she can spend more time grow­ing and cook­ing food for our staff and stu­dents.

Resident Rock Star:Brett Dennen - Resident Rock Star

Brett Dennen

Brett Dennen is a singer/songwriter, cre­ator of The Mosaic Project’s musi­cal cur­ricu­lum, our Resident Rock Star, and our orig­i­nal “Chill Out Dude” (pos­i­tive dis­ci­pli­nar­ian).

He grew up in Oakdale, Califonia where he was home-schooled until the age of twelve. He grad­u­ated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. Community Studies and Social Change. He became involved in The Mosaic Project while still in col­lege, worked at our orig­i­nal pilot ses­sions in 2001, and has been with us ever since.

Brett has been instru­men­tal in cre­at­ing our pro­grams. Up until his music career took off in 2006, Brett worked at every one of our out­door school ses­sions. He now joins us when­ever he is able and serves on our Board of Directors. He has released sev­eral CDs (in addi­tion to the Mosaic CD, which we are proud to say was the very first CD he recorded) and spends most of his time tour­ing these days. Check out www.brettdennen.net, or his Facebook, for his sched­ule and a lot more infor­ma­tion.