Vicki Abadesco | Founder & Director of Infinite Possibilities
A little bit about Vicki
As the Co-founder of Soul Shoppe, vicki! brings 30 years of experience as an educator teaching life skills and conflict resolution tools to young people and adults. vicki! is known for creating fun and safe environments where everyone is free to be. She is a fellow for the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT, author of “Free to Be,” “Leadership: Truth or Dare” and “Mentor Magic” activity cards, and co-author of “Cool Tools for Schools” an interactive curricula guide for teachers.
Joseph Savage | Founder & Chief Executive Storyteller
A little bit about Joseph
The co-founder of Soul Shoppe where he has created and presented award-winning curricula for hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and parents. As a presenter, Joseph is known for his mastery facilitating safe and fun learning environments where students gain self-esteem, accelerate their learning processes, and where a culture of empathy becomes the norm. He co-authored “Cool Tools For Schools,” an interactive character education curriculum for teachers, and is currently writing and illustrating a series of children’s books on building character.
Prior to founding Soul Shoppe, Joseph was an elementary school teacher in San Francisco where he perceived the need to teach elementary school students empathy and peace-making skills. Joseph has received numerous accolades including awards from the ACLU, the San Francisco Board of supervisors, and the City of Dublin for his innovative work. In addition to his educational experience he has written, performed, and directed acclaimed theater productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
If you really knew Joseph you would know…
What Joseph likes about himself is…
Melanie Hopson | Organizational Pillar
A little bit about Melanie
She has enjoyed a variety of positions in nonprofit organizations, ecumenical settings, school districts, and city government. As a consultant to United Way of the Bay Area she is the project manager for a collective impact initiative that aims to cut poverty in half in the Bay Area by 2020. For 5 years she worked with San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth, and their Families supporting city-wide child care, afterschool programming networks, family support programs, and professional development that trained youth workers in how to develop summer programs that would help prevent summer learning loss for students.
Melanie collaborated with the Children’s Aid Society to plan and deliver the first west coast conference of resources for the Community School movement. She has created and hosted many conferences, convenings, and resource fairs that put learning resources directly into the hands of parents and youth workers so they will benefit students.
Shawna Jones | Ambassador of Love a.k.a. Amazing Office Manager
A little bit about Shawna
Shawna Jones has been serving our school communities as our amazing Office Manager for the last three years. She comes to us with a great deal of experience in operations/business management, accounting, marketing, and various other administrative roles. Her commitment to cultivating connection, peace, and assisting in the positive transformations of our schools is never-ending.
Her eagerness to take on the ever-changing tasks & challenges that come her way is just one of the many positive contributions she brings to our organization. Shawna excels most in roles that encourage creative input, open communication, heart, and a passion for change…thus making Soul Shoppe the perfect organization for her to dedicate her passion & love for the work that we do in the world.
If you really knew Daniel you would know…
What Daniel likes about himself is…
Daniel Bruno | Director of School Care
A little bit about Daniel
He was enjoying a successful sales career in 1999 when the tragedy in Columbine, CO happened. As the horrific event unfolded, news of the bullying that had taken place there started a national dialogue. It was then that Daniel had an epiphany. “All the feelings that I had repressed around my own experiences of being bullied in school came back to me and I realized for the first time in years how much bullying had affected me. It was right then that I knew something had to be done and I felt I had no choice but to get involved,” recalls Daniel.
Daniel immediately left his sales job and started working with elementary school students through an after school program called, Piedmont Performing Arts School. Drawing from his experiences as a young actor, Daniel taught performance skills and directed children’s plays. “Working with PPAS affirmed I was on the right track. I was able to help young people express their feelings in a positive way and the part-time work allowed me time to take classes on child psychology,” says Daniel. Two years later, Daniel met Joseph and Vicki, the founders of Soul Shoppe, through a mutual friend.
In 2004, Daniel joined Soul Shoppe as a program facilitator. Since then, he has shared his experiences as a survivor of bullying with well over 100,000 young people. Daniel says, “What gets me out of bed each and every day is the vision we share at Soul Shoppe of a bully-free world where everyone feels free to simply be themselves.” Daniel lives in Portland, OR with his wife, son and their dog, Ziggy Stardust.
Amy MacClain | Chief Synthesizer & Rockstar of Special Projects
A little bit about Amy
Amy is the Director of Special Projects for Soul Shoppe, and a licensed facilitator who has presented to over 100,000 students, teachers and parents. Amy has a BA in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and has done extensive post-graduate training in Re-Evaluation Counseling, Developmental Neuro-Science, Somatic Experiencing, Meditation and Social Justice. She has worked with and supported global organizations like The Pachamama Alliance and Music In Schools Today, consulting on projects and curriculum development.
Amy was also trained by Hand in Hand Parenting to teach Parenting By Connection, and co-founded a child care co-operative based on conscious intentional parenting, providing a supportive environment for parents to explore how they were parented in an effort to create the most nurturing and educational space for the entire community. She is also a singer/songwriter with over 20 years performing experience and multiple songwriting awards including West Coast Songwriters Best Lyric of the Year. She has performed on stage with Joan Baez, Arrested Development and many other talented musicians, and released several acclaimed original albums.
If you really knew Amy you would know…
What Amy likes about himself is…
Rhyan Ramirez | Big-hearted Facilitator
A little bit about Rhyan
Rhyan has over 15 years of experience doing volunteer work with teens in his community in many capacities from peer leader, young adult leader to youth minister. He is also a youth motivational speaker helping teens understand the value of having healthy relationships in their lives. Based on Rhyan’s personal life experiences, his mission is to help kids with their relationships with their friends, their parents and relatives and with themselves. Rhyan takes a different approach and looks inward to see how the kids are doing inside, helping them understand their behavior, which is what really attracted him to the Soul Shoppe program.
Rhyan also comes with 10 years of experience as a Psychiatric Technician in the Mental Health field. Rhyan really enjoys traveling with his wife, spending time with his family and friends, taking his boxer puppy Roxie to the park, doing Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting.
Jared Maloney | Big-hearted Facilitator
A little bit about Jared
He is dedicated to building positive healthy communities and increasing emotional awareness. Jared’s road to Soul Shoppe has been long, starting in London where he lived for twelve years and gained a Masters in Psychology, to his current pursuit of an MFT license attending John F. Kennedy University.
Jared’s experience working with children started with his first job, he was a child minder/babysitter during group meetings for battered women’s organizations. He later worked as a youth leader in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in Texas and in Jonesboro Arkansas. In the United Kingdom he toured with a company that brought educational theatre productions to schools. Jared is excited to be a member of Soul Shoppe, assisting in the positive transformation of our schools.
Lakenda Wallace | Administrative & Marketing Assistant
A little bit about Lakenda
Lakenda Wallace is a marketing professional with years of experience with graphic arts and copywriting. Her business approach was balanced with more than 15 years experience as a Reiki Master Teacher and Meditation Coach. She also co-wrote an online stress management program and facilitated live stress management trainings for businesses and government agencies. Soul Shoppe is the coming together of two worlds — healing and marketing. “My skills are aligned and purposed to support my beliefs and what feels like an urgent need to create more empathy and compassion in a world that glorifies the opposite.”
Mark Zoidis | Chief Financial Officer
A little bit about Mark
Mark Zoidis has spent over 20 years working in financial services in many capacities including private equity, institutional bond sales, product development, most of the time as an advisor and broker in the area of “Socially Responsible Investing.” He was a financial advisor for Progressive Asset Management for over a decade where he co-founded the managed money division which accounted for the majority of the firm’s assets.
Since leaving Progressive, Mr. Zoidis has managed an independent advisory business and worked with private equity and strategic planning with socially progressive and ecologically oriented companies. Mark has a B.A. in Economics from Haverford College and has studied at the Wharton School and Harvard University.
Randy Fortes | Big-Hearted Facilitator
A little bit about Randy
Becoming a child care provider right after high school, Randy has been on a conquest for further growing development in youth ever since. After graduating, his path led him back to an elementary school in his hometown of Livermore, CA where he rediscovered the spirit of adolescence. Becoming “Mr. Randy” sometimes meant being the only male role on staff for the students. All the while, Randy stayed true to his roots and continues to writing poems, singing, rapping, and break-dancing.
In 2006 Randy finds a new home in a non-profit organization called Challenge Day, where for the past 8 years, he has been traveling the nation co-leading a life changing experiential workshop in high schools all over the nation and beyond, empowering students to take a stand and use their voice in a positive way. Here Randy found a place where love always prevails. Now speaking to students by the thousands, he has developed his own style of facilitation utilizing poetry, singing, conversational brainstorming, activities rooted in compassion, and now counseling. Having so much experience with children at all levels has helped him to be with every part of himself, which he then applies to all others.
Annie Anton | Big-hearted Facilitator
A little bit about Annie
If Annie had to stand for one thing in this life, it would be working towards creating a vulnerable and loving world – a world where each human being feels celebrated for his or her imperfections and safe to simply be his or her own authentic expression. Annie is called to empower people, young and old, to feel the depths of their humanity and hearts. Having had painful experiences being bullied in her youth, Annie is thrilled that she is engaging in the work that is changing the culture in schools – work that she would have so greatly benefited from having in her own schools growing up. Annie graduated from Stanford in 2014 with a degree in Psychology, and also works as a Life Coach for teen girls.
Kelly Rafferty | Big-Hearted Facilitator
A little bit about Kelly
Kelly is a facilitator and educator with over 10 years of experience helping artists, activists, and students become the most dynamic and brave versions of themselves through training in creative collaboration and critical thinking. Kelly has taught courses in social justice and the performing arts at University of California – Berkeley, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Education Unlimited, and Arizona State University, where she was Assistant Professor of Performance Studies. She has also designed and facilitated workshops on a range of topics including devised performance, physical comedy, gender and sexual identity, bioethics and reproductive rights, domestic violence, and body image for universities and nonprofit organizations across the country. She’s thrilled that Soul Shoppe now allows her to share her passion for creativity, collaboration, and social justice with elementary and middle schools. When she’s not in the classroom, Kelly writes, directs, and performs award-winning theater and trains in powerlifting and strongwoman. She has a Ph.D. from the University of California – Berkeley and a B.A. from Tulane University.
AshEL Eldridge | Big-hearted Facilitator
A little bit about AshEL
AshEL Eldridge, a.k.a. Seasunz, is a front man emcee, vocalist, producer, and the founder of Earth Amplified; a roots, rap and reggae band that is also a spiritual activist movement. He also performs with the afro-galactic, hip-hop world fusion band Dogon Lights, as well as Bassnectar. AshEL was the Northern California Education and Leadership Manager with the Alliance for Climate Education and is a Green for All Fellow. He is a co-founder of United Roots – Oakland’s Green Youth Arts & Media Center, and the founder of SOS Juice. S.O.S (System out of our System) Juice is a monthly food justice, health equity, and spiritual liberation event series & solar-powered, revenue-generating nonprofit that delivers organic juice, smoothies, tonics, and elixirs. Currently, he is the co-director of Urban Farmacy, a food and business organization that prepares youth to be future farmers, change agents, and social entrepreneurs.
Dara Ackerman | Big-Hearted Facilitator
A little bit about Dara
Dara Ackerman is a singer-songwriter, bandleader, and creative arts educator with a background in music, dance and children’s theater. She loves to collaborate with others and has combined creativity with organizing for youth, environmental protection, animal rights and social justice. Dara is co-founder of The Earthville Network, a nonprofit based in Northern India, where she spent eight years working with Tibetan refugees and international volunteers on projects for cross-cultural friendship, education, and peace. She is thrilled to have the chance to bring peace onto the playground, into the classroom, and into the lives of students and their families with Soul Shoppe, her dream come true. Come say hi at daraackerman.com!
Pablo Guillen | Big-hearted Facilitator
A little bit about Pablo
Pablo Guillen earned a B.A in Business Economics from UC Irvine in 2010, and has been searching for his heart’s work since then. In the process, he’s traveled the United States in an RV for a documentary series, managed a Chinese herbal medicine company, and worked in special education in SFUSD and JUSD of Daly City. It is in the classroom that he discovered a deep love of educating, mentoring, and supporting youth. His passion and driving motivation for Soul Shoppe is to gift children with that which he did not have; the tools to safely resolve conflicts, manage difficult emotions/ stresses at home and school, and the freedom to be oneself, his scariest and most desired dream of all. He is humbled daily at the opportunity to help children make friends, feel empowered, heal, grow, and develop, all while having a ball doing it!