Our Alternatives to Violence Staff
As a previously incarcerated individual and a father of three, he saw the effect that his choices had on his children.
Upon being released in 2008, he found employment as Outreach Coordinator with Collaborative Community Foundation. This position consisted of working with at-risk youth in gangs by providing mentorship, crisis management and helping families navigate the justice system. A year later he became Executive Director
In 2010, he co-founded PALABRA, a non-profit that served at-risk youth in the county of Santa Barbara providing Gang Intervention and Prevention programs. This was the first and only program to bring restorative justice successfully to the mediation process working with the gang population in Santa Barbara County to minimize violence in the community.
Since 2015, he has been involved as a volunteer with Alternatives to Violence Project on teams throughout California, co-founding SBAVP in 2018. He coordinates all levels of AVP workshops. Working with youth graduates and their families to get back on track to a healthy and successful path by providing the tools to navigate our ever-changing communities.
Board of Directors
25 years as a volunteer AVP facilitator in California prisons and with Santa Barbara youth; co-founder of AVP/California, and several organizations, former local bed & breakfast inn co-owner. Mother of two adults, five grandchildren.
Jess Bixler, President/Co-founder
Former teacher, community activist, incredible volunteer, parent, grandparent, AVP Facilitator, mother, wife, community organizer and caretaker of parents
Jenean is a Clinical Psychology student at Antioch University in Santa Barbara in addition to being a certified Life Coach. She is an author, public speaker, and outdoor enthusiast.
Jenean’s work focuses on honoring our relationship with ourselves through practicing self-compassion and non-violent communication. Through this relationship, Jenean believes we can heal inter-generational trauma, cultivate resilience and have a more compassionate, balanced way of life.
Account Director in Advertising (Grey Advertising, and Foote, Cone & Belding) for 10 years, after which, “lucky enough to be a full-time mom and school volunteer for 20 years.” Once an empty-nester, she became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) to a high-school girl for five years and have remained very involved with her over the past 10 years. She and her husband of 35 years raised two daughters, both married now and has one grandson.
Tania is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine where she earned a B.A. in Cognitive Science and Psychology.
She is committed to making the world a more equitable, unified and just place. She has been involved in various organizations such as the 805 UndocuFund, CAUSE and most recently the Fund for Santa Barbara that promote these values.
In her free time she can be found outdoors being grounded in nature, hiking, running, biking or dancing.
Bob Thiel is a retired project manager with the State Coastal Conservancy, where he focused on wetland and stream restoration and adaptation strategies to address climate change. Earlier in his career, he practiced law for 20 years, serving as senior corporate counsel for an airline and several electronics companies. His local volunteer work has included contributing time to a number of social justice and environmental programs in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and serving on the grant making committee of the Fund for Santa Barbara.
Catherine is a passionate educator specializing in ESL. A California native, she lived in Germany for many years where she was an ESL teacher and teacher trainer. Upon returning to CA, she taught at-risk English learners in Salinas and Goleta, and now runs literacy groups for the United Way Santa Barbara. She believes in using students’ strengths to help overcome learning and language-related challenges. She joined the SBAVP board in October 2021 and is looking forward to becoming a workshop facilitator.
Catherine met her German husband in 1981 while camping as a teenager in Big Sur. They have a bilingual, bicultural family and have lived in California, Oregon and southern Germany. She has two grown sons, and enjoys swimming, beach walks and dining at home with friends.
Volunteers trained in facilitating AVP workshops:
Tristan Bejarno, Catherine Cooley, Jonathan Horton, Maria Luna, Megan Martin, Maureen Murdock, Ph.D, Don and Judy Nason, Wendy Rodriguez, Brisa Perez, Stephen Pope, Donnis Galvan, Max Golding, Matt Lowe, Ciara Ramirez, Mary Watkins Ph.D, Erica Sanchez, Diego Valente, Lisette Valente, JP Herrada, Bill Dial, Pat Hardy, Jess Bixler, Holly Anderson, Luis Vargas, Ricardo Ochoa
Pat Hardy, Organizer/Facilitator of the Alternatives to Violence Project, speaks about how the project gives people tools they can use to change themselves and our violent society. Participants of the projects workshops learn new ways to react to potentially violent situations- new ways to respond to conflict and frustration.