MEET OUR BOARD MEMBERS
For over 20 years, Selisse has been a pioneer in workplace equality, strategic planning, and non-profit management. Founder of Out & Equal, Selisse built the global LGBTQIA+ workplace equality movement by creating a network of multinational companies and governments to work towards LGBTQIA+ education, empowerment, and visibility. Recipient of numerous national and international awards and board member to both Safe Place International and ORAM, Selisse Berry brings a wealth of experience, guidance, and global vision to the Safe Place International Team.
Barbara J. French
Owen is one of the co-founders of Safe Place International and he served as one of its first Director of Operations. After working at the shelters of Safe Place in Turkey and Greece, he returned to the United States to pursue a Masters Degree. Owen currently works as a Grants Management Specialist at the U.S. Department of State, while also serving as the Board Secretary at Safe Place International.
Barbara is a communications professional, whose career spanned journalism, public relations and public affairs. Over the last 15 years, Barbara's work has focused on issues management and crisis communication on a range of subjects at the local, state and federal levels, including: access to health care, health care funding and biomedical research, as well as data privacy, real estate development and labor relations. She retired from University of California San Francisco (UCSF) in June 2019 as Vice Chancellor of University Relations and Strategic Communications. She stayed on with UCSF for another year after retirement and co-led a team charged with launching a plan to leverage the university’s business operations – human resources, procurement and community investment – to enhance wealth building in local, under-served communities as a means to target economic and racial disparities. This work was a highlight of her career. Before joining UCSF, Barbara ran a San Francisco-based communications consulting firm, Reputation LLC, twice recognized by San Francisco Business Times as one of the region’s fastest-growing small companies. In the first half of her career, she was a newspaper editor and reporter, covering politics and business. Barbara is a Bay Area native and lives with her wife. She also has two children.
Alex is a Senior Manager at Hilton Global Headquarters, where he supports hotel owner relations and strategy. In his previous role at Hilton, he helped launch the company’s first-ever foundation to strengthen Hilton’s positive impact in local communities and to ensure that it protects the planet for the future generation of travelers. Alex also serves as the Leader of Hilton Headquarters’ Pride Employee Resource Group, responsible for organizing global diversity programming events for employees to advance LGBTQ+ inclusivity across the company and in society. Alex is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where he finished his four years as a Schreyer Honors Scholar and as vice president of the undergraduate student body. In the past, ge volunteered with the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Organization and served as the Director of Program, leading the planning and execution of its multi-day seminar.
Yvonne St. John-Dutra
Working with teens and adults in schools and communities since 1980, Yvonne has been instrumental in designing and implementing over 20 different nationally recognized prevention, intervention and leadership programs for teenagers and adults. Yvonne’s earliest experiences varied from classroom presentations, school assemblies, to TV programing on eating disorders, gender stereotypes, and all forms of social oppression. She later focused her attention on working with at-risk youth; creating addiction and recovery programs; emotional intelligence workshops; peacebuilding; and couples, parenting, and family workshops.
Rich Dutra-St. John
A former high school teacher and championship wrestling coach, Rich has worked with teens and families since 1978. As a licensed family therapist and drug intervention specialist, Rich was recruited to open and direct two unique adolescent treatment facilities in California, where he served as founding clinical director and program designer. As a man committed to social justice and equality, Rich has facilitated several men’s groups over the years and was honored as one of the Men of Merit by STAND! For Families Free of Violence and Contra Costa’s Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence Initiative.
Solomon (Alpha) Ahumuza
Solomon (Alpha) Ahumuza is a refugee resettled in the US, as well as a co-founder, and former director at the Community Support Initiative for Refugees (COSIR). Alpha has previously worked as an Outreach Worker under the Safe-Space program with Church World Service in Nairobi, Kenya, where he attained vast knowledge and experience in development for charity and creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ refugees. As a board member of Safe Place International, his greatest motivation and passion is to give LGBTQIA+ refugees around the world the choices and resources to meet their goals in a global environment that has wide socio-economic, systemic divisions for this greatly marginalized community.
An entrepreneur, writer, passionate activist, personal growth, and spiritual leader who is deeply committed to social change. Justin had a successful career in Real Estate that was always punctuated by Social Action and the support of underrepresented communities. He has spent the last 2 decades leading workshops and intensives with thought leaders like Debbie Ford and Alanis Morrisette. He also worked in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Mexico on LGBTQ+ transformational work focused on combating oppression and advocating for inclusion for over 3 years. The founding of Safe Place represented the coming together of his experience as a philanthropist, human potential leader, and passionate defender and supporter of marginalized communities.
Jennifer is a director who specializes in new play development. She has directed the world premieres of The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter, Bed by Sheila Callaghan and Better by Jessica Goldberg. She has worked across the country at theaters such as The Geffen Playhouse, The Echo Theater, IAMA Theatre Company, Cal Arts, UCLA, Center Theatre Group, South Coast Repertory, The Old Globe, The McCarter Theater and Barrington Stage Company. She was given the honor of being a member of the new class of The Kilroys, and is passionate about using her voice and her work to change the paradigm and achieve gender parity in theatre. Jennifer is also a philanthropist and cares deeply about human rights issues. She currently serves on the board of Safe Place International and her family foundation.
Michael was inspired to join the SPI board after learning about our innovative programming and incredible work. As a passionate, impactful executive and human rights advocate, with more than 20+ years of professional leadership experience in the international field, Michael will use his expertise and strategic leadership to improve the lives of our LGBTQ+ community members.
Marnie Webb has been working for social change for more than 30 years. From work with students at the southern most University of California campus to support NGOs world wide, Marnie is interested in the ways we can use technology to support change. She's passionate about protecting the rights of humans to live the lives they want to live, safely, freely, with love and in a spirit of abundance. Before being on the board of Safe Place International, Marnie admired the team and work. Building safety, support, and relationships for refugees.