Board of Directors
Born outside of Boston, Susan spent her formative years in Asia with occasional forays into places of extreme suffering like The Walled City of Hong Kong and the streets of Bombay. These experiences made deep impressions on her Enneagram Type 1, ideological heart. By the time she entered Occidental College to study sociology, Susan’s resolve to somehow make a contribution to the world was embedded in who she was becoming. This determination percolated while she raised three boys and began to study the Enneagram, a process that took her deeply into herself and a life changing trauma suffered in her own childhood when her mother took her own life.
In 2009, Susan emerged hopeful and certified, full of ideals, and with just enough self-belief to accept the challenging invitation to teach the Enneagram to 100 inmates in a little prison outside of Houston, Texas. This decision changed the trajectory of her personal and professional life, forever. With a burgeoning career that moved her from HR to teaching this fascinating system to “any and every one brave enough to admit to having a personality,” Susan delights in the unknown yet vast unfolding of the Enneagram Prison Project. A project with a mission that is now growing her, and the lives of anyone it seems to touch.
In July 2015, Rick left his corporate career behind him to become the Executive Director of EPP; a leap of faith that reflects his profound belief in this project’s vision. A Stanford grad and former Vice President of Information Services and Human Resources, Rick ran his own successful database consulting firm for 15 years where he taught himself everything from business acumen to technical expertise and virtually everything in between.
Rick, who has been known for years as “Fun Daddy” to all the children in his life is the “Steady Seven” partner to EPP Founder, Susan Olesek. He makes miracles happen with his off-the-charts innovation and ingenuity, and can find just about anything on the Internet – usually for free. Rick began cultivating the sober sides of Type 7 when he spent time volunteering with Mother Theresa in India right out of college while working with the dying. In Helen Palmer’s own words, our E.D. is “A peach in God’s orchard,” with which most anyone would heartily concur.
With his newfound involvement in EPP, Eric’s goal is to leverage his decades of experience in growing enterprises to support the ability of the project to touch as many lives as possible. Eric is a native Californian who splits his time between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. As a Social Type 5, Eric has long had a strong affinity for models as an essential tool to understand just about everything he observes. In fact, the core of his professional career over the past 20+ years has centered around leading financial planning teams and creating financial models for high-tech businesses.
Eric was responsible for programming the US economy model for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. It’s not surprising that he found himself immediately attracted to the Enneagram as a powerful human personality model. Over the years, Eric attended workshops that applied this profound tool to parenting and couples study. He has been eagerly serving on Type 5 panels whenever invited to. When he heard about the work being done by EPP, the potential seemed obvious. But the true power and possibilities of EPP revealed themselves when he attended his first EPP class session “on the inside.” From that time, onward, there were no doubts that, “…this is exceptional and uniquely impactful work for everyone involved with the project.” says Eric.
Half British and half Swiss, Tara moved from her hometown of London to Northern California in 2009. She was introduced to the Enneagram shortly thereafter through Young President’s Organization (YPO). “My monthly forum meeting was made so much more powerful when Susan Olesek became the group’s facilitator,” says Tara. Learning the Enneagram in much more depth through Susan’s wisdom, provided Tara with meaningful insight into both her own patterns as a social Seven and those of the people she loved most, her family, who quickly embraced the Enneagram also.
With the realization of how the Enneagram had changed her life and her relationships, Tara was interested in going deeper in her understanding. She began the Enneagram Association in the Narrative Tradition (EANT) training program in 2016 along with three soon-to-be EPP Ambassadors which only strengthened her commitment to learn this system more deeply. At the same time Tara was invited to witness the incredible work the Enneagram Prison Project has been doing and has been shadowing classes in Santa Clara county jail and San Quentin ever since. Her passion to help others with the Enneagram has taken on a huge meaning in her life, along with a desire to be an advocate for criminal justice reform, now that she has gained perspective from the inside. Tara says, “I am honored to be part of EPP’s board and am moved every day by the transformation and growth in self-awareness I see with their work with the incarcerated.”
“The river of life flows from the inside out” is the truth by which Alex lives his life and is the truth by which he encourages others to live as well. Alex has an uncanny knack for knowing what needs to be said or heard, as well as how to say it so that it resonates with and impacts the hearer’s spirit in a way that is profound and life-changing. Being a recipient of the Bibleway Christian Center’s Legacy Award is an example of just that, making lives better through love and acceptance.
Alex’s story is one that consisted of significant pain, loss, and dysfunction, which led him to make choices that were neither healthy for him nor those around him. These destructive choices resulted in Alex spending a total of 26 years in and out of the California correctional system. In 2014 while serving his last term, he was introduced to the Enneagram, which as he says, “introduced Alex to Alex.”
Today, Alex is a father, grandfather, an ordained minister, certified drug and alcohol counselor, court liaison, mental health specialist, and program manager at Destiny Reentry center in San Jose, California. He serves as both an EPP Ambassador and Board member, is pursuing certification to become an Enneagram teacher, and speaks on behalf of EPP with a passion for helping people overcome many of the same challenges in life that he has endured. Alex is an advocate for the homeless and those that are living on the margins of society. He is also actively engaged in raising awareness and speaking out against the unjust and inhumane response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in prisons and jails across the nation. Alex has committed himself and his voice to be a bridge to foster understanding, support learning and transformation, and move individual and collective hearts toward the creation of a socially just and equitable world.
Lance and his wife Diane have a son who spent ten years in prison from the age of 17 until he was 27. This couple gained firsthand experience about the toll prisons and incarceration can take on a human being, but also on the lives of those with a loved one who is behind bars. Lance saw EPP Founder Susan Olesek speak about EPP for the first time at the International Enneagram Association (IEA) Conference in Long Beach in 2012. Sitting in the front row, he was immediately struck by the beauty and importance of EPP’s mission. Usually publicly stoic, Lance sat and cried throughout the presentation.
Educated at Kenyon College, Miami University (BS Finance), and Harvard University (MBA), Lance is at once a businessman and an entrepreneur, who spent the major portion of his working career acquiring, growing and selling a company providing sanitation services to the food processing industry across the United States. He has also been involved in a significant number of startups and small business acquisitions. He remains an investor in, board member of, and/or advisor to a number of these companies. A life-long advocate of education, Lance is also currently on the board of five education-oriented organizations, including Miami University’s highly rated Entrepreneurship Program.
An Enneagram Type 3, Lance first encountered the Enneagram when he brought it into his company in 2009. He immediately embraced “the work” in his personal life as well, becoming a Certified Enneagram Teacher/Trainer in the Narrative Tradition through the Conscious Living Center. The sale of his business in 2013 coincided with Susan and Rick’s vision to grow EPP into a worldwide organization. After a conversation at the IEA conference in Denver that year, Lance and Diane provided the first significant external financial support for EPP and they have been loyal champions of EPP’s mission ever since.
Meet the Team
Shawna Elizabeth Brechbill is a Social Media Consultant who volunteers with EPP to use social networking as a medium for sharing our powerful work with a growing global audience. Shawna believes that even small moments of compassion create a ripple effect, and works to share content that inspires others to open their hearts to those who might otherwise be forgotten. As a Type 8, Shawna uses her expansive energy to do good wherever possible, including as a Licensed Paramedic teaching EMT students for the US Coast Guard. When not teaching, posting, liking, and sharing, Shawna can be found wandering the beaches of Marin with her two dogs, Rudy and Tater Tot.
Susanne Gawreluk is EPP’s Chapter Liaison, Minnesota’s Chapter Lead, EPP Faculty, a certified guide, and personal wellness practitioner who has been teaching the Enneagram to women at Shakopee prison since 2015. Integrating the head, heart and body connection for personal resiliency is her passion. As a compassionate Type 4, Susanne has woven creativity and humor into the dark places of life as a 15-year hospice volunteer. After completing her MA in human development and resiliency at St. Mary’s University she concluded an Enneagram teacher certification in the Narrative Tradition from Palmer and Daniels in 2014. Susanne loves to connect people to the wisdom and insight of the Enneagram and has been the outreach chair of the Minnesota Chapter of the International Enneagram Association since 2015. Susanne chills out exploring the healing arts, creating mosaics, and doing interior design projects – much to her beloved husband Mike’s dismay. Camping and catching up with their two adult children is always a delight.
Robin Grant is a Graphic Designer, volunteer guide, creative, illustrator, and multimedia artist who uses his gifts as a Type 4 to inspire learning. Robin works with EPP to design, illustrate, and brand educational materials, including training guides, print collateral, video content, social media assets, presentation materials, and more. He knows how important it is to communicate EPP’s vision with clarity and excellence for both creative engagement and learning impact. Robin believes his design work serves to visually translate the compassion that our community has for ourselves, and the people with whom we work (and we agree!). He has a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia studies and a Master of Arts in Education from the University of New Brunswick. He is a certified Enneagram teacher, and certified EPP Guide. In his spare time, you’ll find Robin using his illustration talents to create fantasy avatars that represent Enneagram archetypes. He is passionate about using education, entertainment, and technology to engage youth in the inward journey of self-discovery and self-awareness.
Halida Hatic is a Community Weaver and practical visionary who loves connecting people to the vision and mission of EPP. Halida enjoys building relationships and inspiring connection and community through shared values. As a Type 8, she uses her abundant energy to support EPP’s community expansion through fundraising, strategic partnerships and special events. Halida has a Bachelor of Arts in International and Development Economics from the University of New Hampshire and a Master of Arts in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband, two kids, and sweet pup, where you’ll find them enjoying the outdoors and plotting endless adventures.
Laura Hooper is a Program Manager and certified guide who works tirelessly to support the people and projects that keep EPP moving, including our ambassadors, guides, staff, coaches, and volunteers. As a Type 7, Laura feels at home working on a variety of projects at any given moment, which she does with enthusiasm and ease. After spending fourteen years with the federal government, Laura fell in love with EPP’s mission and everybody involved. She knew immediately that she had to be part of it! Her favorite thing about EPP is helping others fall in love with themselves, while she continues that journey for herself. Laura has a Master of Science degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from Colorado State University. She is also a Certified Integral Coach through New Ventures West. If she’s not at work, you’ll find her hiking, biking, or hanging out at the beach with her awesome husband.
Sue Lambert is an EPP Faculty member, Guide, and Ambassador. She is also a Life Coach, certified ACE (adverse childhood experiences) trainer, and IEA (International Enneagram Association) Accredited Professional. In addition, Sue is a lead guide for EPP’s Guide-in-Training program, mentoring EPP Apprenticing Guides both in-custody and through EPP’s virtual public offerings. As a Type 1 on the Enneagram, Sue is passionate and driven to support others as they navigate their own personal growth and development, post-incarceration. She finds joy and fulfillment in nurturing others to reach their highest potential. Sue lives with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids and is “Nanny Granny” to them all. She feels a strong connection to her essential self when she is outside and enjoying nature, or riding horses, where she knows in her heart that everything is “perfect” the way it is. Sue learned about the Enneagram and EPP behind bars, and serves as an exemplar for the work, inspiring people all over the world to find inner freedom. Sue’s story includes what she describes as a dark time in her life, where she was also able to find light, and one of those light beams was the union she found with EPP, an alliance Sue says has changed her life.
Jodi Norton is a Project Coordinator whose compassionate presence and eye for detail serve to bring leaders, guides, ambassadors and the public together with EPP’s students on the inside. As a Type 9, Jodi enjoys using her organizational and analytical gifts to skillfully build relationships and to serve as the connection point between EPP and the logistical teams within the prison systems. With more than 15 years of operations and project management experience in the clothing industry, Jodi has also worked with small to mid-tier companies to implement new software systems and web shops, focusing on overall project management, client relations, training, technical documentation and process improvement. Jodi has a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Western Washington University. A native of Seattle, Jodi and her partner, Dan, moved to San Francisco from Bend, Oregon, in 2018 to reconnect with their city roots. When she’s not keeping things organized for EPP, you’ll find Jodi hiking, biking, and playing in the mountains.
Community Advisory Board
A champion of EPP since our inception, Marion is an EPP Advisory Board Member and a fearless pioneer of the integration of Somatic Awareness Practices with the Enneagram who has contributed greatly to the Enneagram field. She currently serves as a Core Faculty member of the nonprofit The Narrative Enneagram (TNE). Concurrently, Marion has been practicing physical therapy for 37 years and is the owner of a well-established physical therapy practice and movement studio. She has extensive training in bodywork including CranioSacral Therapy, Somato-Emotional Release, and Trauma resolution and is in deep service to the transformative work of human beings.
Russ Hudson is one of the principal scholars and innovative thinkers in the Enneagram system’s development worldwide.
Says, Russ, “In our earliest days of teaching the Enneagram, Don Riso and I became aware of something that we had not anticipated: that the work we were doing was reaching prison populations and having a positive effect. We received letters from incarcerated people sharing their realizations with us, and we were always deeply moved by these testimonies. We felt renewed in our conviction that with the right information and the right holding environment, that people with very difficult histories could turn their lives around. We felt that a concerted effort from individuals in the Enneagram community could perhaps make a big difference in the lives of the incarcerated, but we were not the ones to start such a major initiative…”
Russ is executive director of Enneagram Personality Types, Inc. and co-founder and president of The Enneagram Institute, a training and certifying school dedicated to the work of human liberation and transformation through the teachings of the Enneagram. He has been teaching its Enneagram Professional Training Programs since 1991 and is a founding director and former vice-president of the International Enneagram Association (IEA). He is also co-author of The Wisdom Of The Enneagram, Personality Types (Revised Edition), Understanding the Enneagram (Revised Edition), Discovering Your Personality Type (Revised Edition), and The Power Of The Enneagram (audio tape). He also assisted Author Don Riso to write Enneagram Transformations. Russ holds a degree in East Asian Studies from Columbia University in New York.
Says Russ, “For those of you already involved, thank you! And for those of you thinking about it, I am sure there is a place for you in the greater work of transformation that the Enneagram is part of, and to which those of us in EPP are dedicated.”
Renee Lopez is an activist, leading member of his church, and EPP Ambassador who found personal freedom while incarcerated. He is a loving son, committed partner, and compassionate champion for those who are struggling to survive beneath generations of pain and trauma. After 26 years of being stuck in addiction, including 18 years in and out of jail and prison, Renee re-connected with his true nature, and began his journey of healing and transformation. He is pursuing Enneagram teacher and EPP Guide Training certifications so that he can support and guide others on their journey. Renee speaks on behalf of EPP as an Ambassador, where he inspires and leads others to love and appreciate the beauty and complexity of what’s right about them. He is an avid cyclist and runner who lives in San Jose, California.
Countless EPP students have sighed their relief and elation when introduced to Gabor Maté’s compassionate explanation of addiction: “It’s a problem, but not the problem, addiction is a person’s attempt to solve a problem that started in childhood. The real questions is not why the addiction, but rather, Why they pain?”
A renowned speaker and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté is highly sought after for his expertise on addiction, stress, early childhood attachment and developmental trauma. Following decades in family practice and palliative care, for 14 years, Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside—notorious as perhaps North America’s most concentrated area of drug use– with patients suffering from hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site.
Based on this experience and on his extensive knowledge of the scientific literature, Gabor developed the groundbreaking view of addiction not as a behavior choice or inherited brain disease, but as a complex psychological and physiological response to childhood trauma and emotional loss. This perspective is outlined in his award-winning bestseller, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction; His other books, published in 20 languages, include When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection; Scattered : How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It and Hold on to Your Kids, Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers co-authored with Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. Dr. Maté is the co-founder of Compassion For Addiction, a new nonprofit that focuses on a trauma-informed understanding of addiction and paradigm-shifting approaches in recovery.
Robyn is an active partner at F7 Ventures, a new angel fund of seven Facebook alumnae women, investing primarily in female-founded companies. Robyn is absolutely passionate about the power of technology to improve people’s lives. Previously, Robyn held leadership positions at Facebook in its early days, Google, Summit Public Schools, and the NYC Mayor’s Economic Development Corporation. She also was the founding COO of Summit Public Schools, worked for the Golden State Warriors (when they weren’t as good as they are now!), and was a lecturer in the Computer Science Department at Stanford for CS154 for five years. She has a degree in computer science and math from Harvard, and her MBA from Stanford. She’s married with three children and lives in Palo Alto.
Shalini Verma is a high energy leader at Google… bringing the latest artificial intelligence/machine learning products to life through a global deployment team. Named to Crain Magazine’s Tech 50 Top Technology Talent, her passion is to inspire leaders to transform themselves and the world whether in non-profit or for profit organizations. From the proven to the provocative, she has spent many years discovering and developing tools through cross pollination, collaboration and experimentation. These tools help remove physical and mental pain, foster creativity and innovation, develop decision making and leadership skills and bring peace of mind.
In her spare time, Shalini designs and develops programs for parents & children with anxiety, exploring the intersection of technology and mindfulness, utilizing machine learning, virtual reality and bio/neurofeedback. She has a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and a Masters in Business from Harvard, but she is most humbled and awe-inspired by the continuous education she receives from her two boys and her journey within.
“The Enneagram has had a profound effect on my life by incisively getting to the why behind my thoughts, feelings and behaviors. I have realized that a lot of what triggered me was a projection of my own fears and insecurities, and the same applied to others. This has only fostered empathy. I went to San Quentin prison for an event with EPP and was moved by the experience. I was surprised by how much I found in common with those of the same personality as me, how only circumstance separated our paths, and how this reflection allowed me to deepen my self-awareness. I was inspired, wanting to get more involved as well as share the experience with others. EPP offers a unique opportunity to positively change ourselves, our workplaces and our communities through mindfulness, compassion and social justice.”
– Shalini Verma
NEELAM WADHWANI was raised in a small town in Western India, Neelam spent her formative years studying in a convent, where the nuns emphasized that learning happens in the mind and the soul. Her family spent summers with a close family friend, a warden of one of the two jails in India. Here, at a very young age, she saw suffering and sorrow and noticed the absence of rehabilitation and redemption.
As a student of philosophy and influenced by two great teachers, Neelam recognized that the relationship of a student and a teacher is interchangeable, teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. She carries this sentiment everywhere and looks for opportunities to learn from all who she encounters.
At the age of 23, Neelam immigrated to the US where she found a job with county corrections. With degrees in Philosophy and Psychology as well as being an educator, Neelam soon realized, what had started as a career had now become a journey. In corrections, she found a world of human beings who were often forgotten and ignored by society. In corrections, she also found some of the kindest and most caring individuals who selflessly supported the forgotten and provided services day in and day out.
As the Inmate Rehabilitation Program Manager, Neelam emphasized not only educating the incarcerated through innovative, cutting edge programs but also understood the importance of effecting long term change by instituting systems for successful reentry and rehabilitation. She worked relentlessly towards engaging the community and understanding the court system to maximize the benefits for the inmates. Her vision was to improve the lives of the incarcerated by influencing the law enforcement staff, to embody the true spirit of corrections and embrace rehabilitation as an important and valuable part of corrections.
After 28 years of service, Neelam recently retired from corrections but continues her quest to improve justice system policies. An Enneagram Type Nine, EPP welcomes this gentle human who is at once a pillar of strength and a gentle, peaceful force.
Jennifer Weber is the Founder of Cornerstone Consulting in Seattle WA, where she specializes in working with innovative non-profit leaders to create fundraising strategy and inspire transformational philanthropy. Working in fundraising for 20 years, Jennifer believes philanthropy is rooted in values and can be a powerful catalyst for social change.
Jennifer was introduced to the Enneagram 10 years ago by Susan Olesek and has been a champion for EPP’s work from the beginning. Jennifer has gone inside San Quentin prison and Redwood City Jail to participate in the EPP program, engaging in deep conversation with the men and woman on the inside and building bridges of understanding, healing and compassion. “My ongoing connection with the men and women in the EPP program is one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. The mutual sharing and open-heartedness is breath taking. I see more honesty, courage, and transformation from the EPP students and ambassadors, than from most people on the outside.”
As a Type One, Jennifer envisions a world where everyone has a path to healing and wholeness and can realize their highest self. She sees the EPP as a powerful tool for all of us, but especially for those in prison who have endured unimaginable pain. “When people are released from prison with insight, awareness, hope for the future, and the tools to thrive on the outside, everyone benefits. Their children, family, friends, co-workers, employers and neighbors. As a society, we are better off because these courageous people have done their deep inner work and can now bring their gifts fully into the community. “
Jennifer is passionate about EPP’s commitment to affect change on two fronts: in the lives of people who are incarcerated and also within the prison system itself. “As a non-profit fundraiser, I have seen first hand how financial resources can be unleashed to fuel lasting and positive social change. The diverse community of people who stand with EPP and advance this work are helping to solve one of the most important and complex societal issues of our time. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this.”
Jill Woodman is an avid proponent of the human potential and a compassionate lover of children. Jill graduated from UC San Diego with a major in human development and a heart to guide kids to reach for their highest possibilities. Knowing that a more consciously connected world requires us to be emotionally engaged with every “little person,” Jill’s college days were informed by the disparity she experienced between nannying for her professors and volunteering in homeless shelters for children. Jill witnessed kids whose parents were working the streets just to survive, unwittingly leaving their children feeling disconnected from their caretakers and from themselves, and practically on a direct path to prison. Seeing first hand how shattered beginnings severely affect children really impacted Jill and in 2015 she and her husband, Nick became philanthropic partners to Safe and Sound (Formerly San Francisco Abuse Center). Jill is continually compelled to “wholing” our world, by addressing the complex and overwhelming issues that affect children, like child abuse and human trafficking, head on.
After being introduced to the Enneagram at a class for couples led by Susan Olesek, Jill resonated with Enneagram Type Nine and connected the dots inside of herself in a way that left her intrigued and excited. Over time, Jill says, “Knowing my Enneagram Type took away judgment and blame. It made me a kinder person and changed the dynamic between me and my partner.” EPP invited Jill to come to jail where she witnessing a class of men “doing the work,” leaving her completely inspired. Jill says:
“Every single one of those men was in a place where they weren’t supported when they were small. They didn’t have the means in their childhood to guide them to make the right decisions. And yet, the men I witnessed in the EPP class were so willing to explore their emotional sides and learn new things about themselves. I went in there and I saw how I was able to have really intimate, thoughtful conversations with each of the men. There was so much hope because when they were learning about themselves I could tell that they liked themselves better – just like I did when I learned the Enneagram. That feeling of HOPE was infectious. I knew during that visit to jail that those men would be in a never-ending cycle, but that EPP was doing something profound to support them in breaking it.
The real and tangible way in which the Enneagram is taught inside this project – taking complex psychological concepts out of the theoretical and into the practical – is what makes me so want to be a part. Not only do I feel like EPP helps transform the student’s sense of self, I feel it changes the culture within the prison. This project offers a lifeline to people who can finally see that they do have a path and that they can continue walking it on the outside. Actually, when they get out, the graduates of EPP have a whole community of people looking to them as to how to make the same hard changes they were able to do inside of themselves and against all odds.” – Jill Woodman
Today, Jill lives in Woodside, California with her husband Nick, who is the Founder of GoPro, and together they are devoted to raising their three young children.
From the get-go, “Dr. D.” was a champion of EPP and an avid spokesperson for our mission. A clinical professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Medical School, Dr. Daniels was a leading developer of the Enneagram system of nine personality styles. In private practice for over 40 years, he taught the Enneagram system at Stanford, in the community, and internationally for 22 years and co-authored the bestseller, The Essential Enneagram.
In 1988, together with Helen Palmer (author, professor), Dr. Daniels co-founded Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition (ESNT) and The Enneagram Professional Training Program (EPTP). Dr. Daniels was one of the co-founders of the International Enneagram Association (IEA) and instrumental in organizing the first International Enneagram Conference at Stanford Univesity in 1994.
In May of 2017, Dr. Daniels passed away, but left a legacy of love, hope, and compassionate understanding of what it means to be human. We were honored to learn from and grow alongside this special soul.
With deep appreciation for former EPP Board Member, Suzanne Dion who created this film in honor of Dr. Daniels.