Deborah Santana is an author, philanthropist, advocate for peace and social justice, and mother of three extremely loved children. Her first memoir, Space Between The Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart, was published in March 2005. Ms. Santana founded Do A Little, her non-profit foundation, in 2008 to support women and girls in the areas of health, education and happiness. She believes that OTW is an inspirational program for youth to create positive goals through service and experiencing other communities and cultures.
Don Carney, Marin Superior Court Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commissioner, has worked in the fields of Social Justice and Juvenile Justice for over forty years. He operated group homes and educational services for adjudicated youth and was the founding Director of the Social Justice Center of Marin. Don produced and directed the highly acclaimed “No More Scapegoats," human rights exhibit providing diversity trainings to over ten thousand Bay Area youth. The exhibit contrasted the dangers of stereotyping and exclusion with the wisdom and power of inclusion. Don led the Marin County Race and Class Education Equity Initiative and he is currently the Director of YMCA Restorative Youth Services. He has been at the forefront of mitigating the “school to prison pipeline” by deploying restorative practices that keep kids in school and out of the juvenile justice system since 2004 when he founded the Youth Court.
Angela Arenas, MFT (#38718), is a licensed mental health professional serving youth in the Marin County Probation Department. She has dedicated the past sixteen and a half years to families in Marin by providing therapeutic support, advocacy, and education. In 2011, Angela founded "Girls Stepping Up for Change," a community program focused on providing young women with the opportunity to be healthier, do volunteer work, and have access to cultural events. In its 5th year, the program will continue to focus on empowering women to believe in themselves and enjoy giving back to others. Angela's work with OTW began in 2012 when she was approached by Jeannine Curley with the idea to develop the program. As an OTW leader, she has traveled to Nepal and across the United States and experienced firsthand the positive impact the program has had on its participants, alumni, and trip leaders.
OTW ADVISORY COUNCIL
Raul Aguilar, Police Sergeant with the San Rafael Police Department, began serving the people of San Rafael in 1999. Volunteering with “Opening the World” combines two of his most passionate interests; helping young people overcome challenges and experiential travel. Raul came to the United States as a teenager and only spoke Spanish. He has experienced first-hand the difficulties that immigrants face in a new country and believes that education, diligence, and supportive adults can propel young people to fulfill their dreams. Raul credits travel, whether to a nearby town or across continents, to help young people develop critical thinking and compassion for others. As a father, Raul took every possible chance to expose his son to travel, in California, but also to Mexico, Asia, and Europe. Raul holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.
Jose Varela, Marin County Public Defender, is a magna cum laude graduate of Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga. He received his J.D. from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Boalt, Mr. Varela was awarded the Sowell Fellowship in Labor Law and was the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the La Raza Law Journal. Mr. Varela served as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles and San Diego Counties before joining the Marin County Public Defender's Office in March of 2001. As a trial attorney, Mr. Varela has tried cases ranging from misdemeanors to death penalty cases. He is a current member of the California Public Defender Association's Board of Directors and is a frequent speaker at CPDA training seminars. Mr. Varela is active on many Marin County steering committees, including Adult Drug Court, Proposition 36 and the County's Strategic Plan Implementation Group.
Photo credit: James Cacciatore
Michael Daly, Chief of the Marin County Probation Department, has been a resident of Marin since he was 7 years old and currently lives in San Rafael with his wife, Peggie. It has always been an interest of Michael's to help others. Volunteering to support OTW--a pathway for young people who have had to overcome personal issues or have had trouble reaching their potential due to lack of support--and people from different parts of the world, has been a very rewarding and eye-opening experience for Michael. He has seen, firsthand, how participants flourish and fully transition into society after completing an OTW adventure. He says, he is "happy to see that others who have gone through our program have actively recruited others and remain an important part of our message."