Core Team

Sarah Shourd

Founder, Lead Organizer and Fundraiser, [Assistant] Director, Actor playing Officer Miller and survivor of solitary confinement

Sarah is an award-winning author, playwright, trauma-informed investigative journalist and a public advocate against the horrors of solitary confinement and mass incarceration. For the last two years, Sarah has been studying transformative justice and anti-racist somatics.
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Robert Connell

Co-Founder, Co-Organizer, Treasurer, Lead Driver, Covid Officer and Sound Person

Rob is a Bay Area and Toronto-based scholar-activist, educator, and organizer working at the intersections of environmental, economic, and racial justice. As an interdisciplinary social scientist trained in anthropological and historical methodologies, as well as sociological theory and African diaspora studies, Rob aims to bring the best practices of academic research into the service of marginalized communities, social movements, and the radical arts.

Arnie Fischman


Arnie Fischman (pronouns any/all) is a formerly incarcerated Bay Area activist, teacher, and storyteller. He is dedicated to ending and healing the harms of confinement for those he left inside, and for everyone everywhere behind walls.

Zeph Fishlyn

Co-organizer, Stage and Road Manager

Zeph Fishlyn (pronouns they/them) is a Canadian-born, SF Bay Area-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural organizer. Zeph’s participatory projects, drawings, objects and interventions cultivate social and ideological mutations in urgent times


Troy Rockett


Troy Rockett (he/they) is an interdisciplinary artist and theatremaker based in Oakland, CA. Troy works across the mediums of poetry, performance and digital media. He has a Master’s in English Literature and Creative Writing, and is a VONA Voices Fellow, an Astraea Lesbian Writer’s Fund recipient, and a 2021 Titan Award winner with Theatre Bay Area.

He is interested in intersectional art and new contemporary works. Troy received training as an arts professional through NYU Tisch School of Art, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP), 3Girls Theatre Company, and The Center for Cultural Power. These cultural spaces and institutions provided extensive training in storytelling, practice, and production, and has helped shape his artistic vision.

Previous acting roles include TV series Dyke Central,  lead roles in plays: WAAFRIKA 123, The Gay Divorce Play, and Displaced, and supporting roles in: Leaving the Blues, and PrEP Play, Or Blue Parachute; as well as a number of appearances in independent short films

Gabriel Montoya


Gabriel Montoya is a Mexican-American actor-director-writer-producer and teaching artist who loves to create work that reflects the important issues of our times. In 2014, Gabriel and his wife’s production company, The Department of Badassery, made theatre history by simultaneously premiering the play, “Don’t Be Evil,” live on stage and in virtual reality. In the Bay Area, Mr. Montoya has appeared in productions by Cutting Ball, Magic Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Brava Theatre, Central Works, The Custom Made Theatre Co., Word for Word, The Pear Theatre, and SF Playhouse. Gabriel makes his home in Los Angeles with his awesome wife and their two loving cats.

Anthony Jefferson


Anthony Michael Jefferson is a private chef in Southern California. He grew up in Hermosa Beach, surfing, diving, and fishing.

John Neblett


John Neblett, San Francisco State University B.A. Theater Arts 2018, began acting in 2006 with Marin Shakespeare as an inmate at San Quentin State Prison California. He remembers his friends inside

Terrance Smith


Terrance Smith had the tremendous privilege of playing Rock Ashburry for the first time during the virtual premier of “The Box” back in the fall of 2020 in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center. He looks forward to bridging the gaps of empathy and understanding as we tour this remarkable work to each of our destinations and hopefully beyond.

Jordan Maria Don


Jordan Maria Don (She/Her) is a California-raised actor, director and collaborator who splits her time between LA, the Bay Area and NYC. She has worked with San Francisco Playhouse, foolsFURY, and many others, and is a familia member with Campo Santo and Latinx Mafia. She is drawn to collaborations grounded in ritual, ceremony and community.

Advisory Board

Walter Long

Co-Founder of Texas After Violence, EIT Donor and Community Partner

Walter C. Long, an attorney practicing appellate law in Austin, Texas, founded the Texas After Violence Project in 2007 hoping it might help foster dialogue between Texans on all sides of the death penalty debate about the human needs revealed in the stories collected by the project, so that Texans might move beyond polarized discussions and seek together a less violent future. With strong interests in human rights and restorative justice, Walter has found that his most rewarding work as an attorney has been past years of litigation on the juvenile death penalty issue and more recent law/psychology public policy advocacy for recognition of the death penalty as a trauma-inducing system and a public health concern. In addition to continuing to conduct litigation, Walter completed a master’s degree in 2014 in counseling psychology. He also has degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in history, literature, and law, and an MA in religion from a Presbyterian seminary. He has published articles on ethics, psychology, religion, literature, refugee policy, and capital punishment.

Jean Casella

Co-Founder Solitary Watch

Jean Casella is co-director of Solitary Watch, a web-based watchdog project that investigates and documents the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. Since its founding in 2009, Solitary Watch has increased public awareness and catalyzed change on a once-invisible domestic human rights issue. Earlier in her career, Casella managed several mission-driven book and magazine publishers. Her writing has appeared in The Nation, Mother Jones, The Guardian, and many other outlets, and she is co-editor of three anthologies, including Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement. For her reporting on prisons, she has received a Soros Justice Media Fellowship and an Alicia Patterson Fellowship. 

Jon Sawyer

Founder, Pulitzer Center

Jon Sawyer is executive director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization that funds independent reporting with the intent of raising the standard of media coverage of global affairs. He has reported from more than 80 countries.

Jon was selected three years in a row for the National Press Club’s award for best foreign reporting. His work has been honored by the Overseas Press Club, the Inter-American Press Association and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

He received a B.A. degree from Yale University, majoring in English literature and history, and has held fellowships at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, the Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Columbia University School of Journalism. He and his wife, Kem Knapp Sawyer, live in Washington, DC.

Nathalie Applewhite

Strategic Director of Development, Pulitzer Center

Nathalie joined the Pulitzer Center in 2006, shortly after its founding, and served as the associate director and then managing director.

Before joining the Center, Nathalie worked nationally and internationally on documentaries, educational, political and commercial productions as a producer, director, and editor. She also worked as a consultant for the Executive Office of the Secretary General at the United Nations, and as a project manager and media specialist for the University of Pennsylvania’s Literacy Research Center.

Nathalie holds a Master’s degree from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University, where she concentrated in International Security Policy with a regional concentration in the Middle East.

Nathalie has run dozens of workshops on multi-media production for journalists, and made presentations at universities, high schools, and conferences on war and representation, the role of media in conflict, global reporting at a crossroads, and the intersection of new and traditional news media.

Jessica Sandoval

National Director, Unlock the Box

Jessica Sandoval, National Director of the Unlock the Box Campaign to End Solitary Confinement, has 25 years experience reforming the youth and adult justice systems. Mrs. Sandoval uses her organizing and advocacy expertise to develop and administer strategies and tools to support state campaigns aligned with the mission of the “stop solitary” movement.

Jane Bloom

Founder/Executive Producer, The Oz Effect

A two-time Emmy award winner, Jane has produced over 200 hours of network and cable television and traveled through six continents and thirty countries in search of incredible stories that have transformative impact.   Jane passionately develops programs the are focused on social justice, trauma recovery, and the neuroarts.

In 2018, shortly after one of the most infamous mass school shootings in history, Jane worked with students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to develop an arts-based recovery program that has been studied by the University of Miami and featured on NPR. Jane’s personal mission is to spread awareness of how evidence-based arts interventions heal and save lives. Her mantra is “involve stakeholders always, early and often!” A fearless storyteller, Jane survived a lion’s bite in Thailand and learned the hard way that what’s more terrifying than a tiger’s roar is the silence that follows.

Jihan McDonald


Jihan McDonald is a facilitator, spiritual director, and writer from the Chochenyo land colonized as Oakland, CA. Their mission is planting seeds of peace through empowering people and organizations to create value-driven cultural solutions rooted in diversity, equity, inclusion and healing.