Staff Bios

The staff at Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is not your typical cast of camp counselors. Our team is composed of folks with teaching credentials, Master’s degrees, and expertise in youth development, as well as specialized and creative fields such as arts activism, grassroots outreach, changing laws, fundraising, yoga, anti-racism, animal protection, gay rights, food justice, and more, plus many years of experience both as peaceful activists for various causes and as educators.


Nora Kramer, Executive Director

Nora Kramer has worked as an educator and activist since 2001, teaching high school English, environmental education, at after-school programs, and — of course — working at camps, as well as working on numerous campaigns in many capacities for various social justice issues that she cares about deeply.

Nora’s activism has included grassroots outreach, event planning, developing websites, writing brochures, speaking at conferences, coordinating volunteers, phone banking, and more. Nora successfully coordinated the Bay Area’s signature-gathering efforts for the campaign to pass precedent-setting Proposition 2, an initiative sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States to address inhumane farming practices, and then did it again in Cleveland, coordinating the signature-gathering in northern Ohio for a similar initiative two years later. During the school year, in addition to her work for YEA, Nora is the Youth Outreach Coordinator for Mercy For Animals, which advocates to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote compassionate food choices and policies.

Nora has combined her interest in activism and social change with her passion for working with youth through teaching at after-school programs, running a humane-education organization, mentoring school environmental clubs, working with students to get healthier options in the school lunch program, and teaching 9th and 10th grade English. Nora received her teaching credential from San Francisco State University, and has worked at several camps over the years, as a camp director and senior staff. She has training from the Institute For Humane Education, completed the intensive Basic Camp Director Course through the American Camp Association, and was certified in nonviolent conflict resolution with youth through the Help Increase the Peace program.

Recognizing the passion and power teens have to bring about a more just world, and the opportunity to support them through an intensive and unique summer program, Nora developed the curriculum for YEA and founded the camp in 2009.


Laura Carver, M.Ed, Assistant Director

Laura has been an activist since age 14 and has been an educator for over 15 years. In college, she majored in Environmental Education at Oregon State University while teaching at various youth programs including outdoor school, nature centers, YMCA camps, and the Boys and Girls club.

After college, she pursued her passion for making a difference by working for several nonprofits including the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in Connecticut, a non-profit organization that organizes students around the country on issues of the environment and consumer advocacy, Farm Sanctuary, the premier national organization working on behalf of animals raised for food, and the Tompkins County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the national leader for the no-kill animal shelter movement.

In 2006 she obtained her Masters in Education from Portland State University and a teaching license in middle and high school science and math. Laura was a teacher with Portland Public Schools for four years before joining YEA Camp full time.

As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience and love of working with young people to inspire the next generation to make a difference in the world. Laura is passionate about addressing the climate crisis and is currently serving as the volunteer Regional Coordinator for the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) for the Pacific Northwest, supporting CCL group leaders in OR, WA, ID, MT, AK and HI. She participates in the Salem  CCL chapter. Laura is the Assistant Director for YEA Camp, and is responsible for its year-round operations. She has worked at 10 sessions of YEA Camp and will be at all 2014 sessions. She currently lives in Salem, OR.


Adam Weitzenfeld

pig2Adam is an independent scholar, animal liberation activist, traveler, and vegan donut connoisseur. As an undergraduate student he lead an environmental group on campus, founded an animal rights club, and served as the food committee chair. After graduation, he developed and facilitated the Eco-Literacy Project, a ten-week place-based environmental education program for children in his community. He has worked with several animal protection organizations including Farm Sanctuary as an educational tour guide and at Sanctuary One as an animal caretaker. Before moving to Oregon, he taught environmental philosophy and led a vegetarian group in Texas. Presently, he volunteers for various organizations in Portland and organizes events like World Week for Animals in Laboratories. Adam also maintains a critical animal studies resource list for students and teachers, and writes on the gender, race, class, and colonial politics of food at his blog HEALTH.


Alex Lai

alexlaiAlex is happily back in California after graduating from Carleton College in Northfield, MN with a degree in chemistry, and on her best days is an activist, artist, and scientist all in one. She has been involved with Food Truth and other campus groups, including the campus chapter of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, in promoting awareness of sustainability/labor/cultural issues in food and agriculture and working with the Real Food Challenge to bring more sustainable/local/fair/humane food to campus. She also worked as a Sustainability Assistant on campus to expand composting, remove trays from the cafeteria, and organize campus sustainability-related events. In her spare time, you can find Alex cooking, reading, doing crafts, or running/walking if she is lucky enough to be near a trail. Alex is excited to be inspired by amazing campers and staff this summer before pursuing environmental science in the fall!


Alex Sandoval

Alex (right) as a YEA Camper. She is now a Counselor-in-Training (CIT)

Alex Sandoval is a recent high school graduate who is passionate about health education. She has created a group at her high school that focuses on sexual health and education using arts activism, like theater, comedy, music, and art. She works at a non-profit clinic for teens and is committed to helping people become comfortable in their skin and helping them with their well-being.  She has been vice president of her school’s GSA, and focuses on helping create an equal, supportive society. She has been in a diversity leadership class and is committed to helping others. Her goal with working with YEA camp is to make sure that each and every one of the campers know that they can do anything they set their minds to.


Amber Canavan

amberAmber is an Environmental Studies major at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She has been involved in animal protection and rescue work since high school, and has traveled the country promoting various animal rights and environmental campaigns. Amber is the president of Syracuse Animal Rights Organization, a student-run college club that has been running for almost 10 years. She helped spearhead a youth anti-militarism and counter-recruitment campaign at local high schools. Amber has honed her vegan cooking skills through dozens of vegan bake sales, potlucks and activist gatherings. She lives with her husband and various rescued animals in Upstate NY.



asaAsa Needle

Asa Needle is the Coordinator of Outreach and Education at the Worcester Roots Project, an intersectional non-profit that promotes coop businesses, youth empowerment programs, and environmental justice. Asa has facilitated workshops and trainings around the region with the Toxic Soil Busters, a youth-led program that works with lead soil. He works with numerous community, outreach, and advocacy organizations including the Solidarity and Green Economy Alliance, Co-op Power, and Stone Soup Community Center. He was one of the 2012 winners of the national Brower Youth Awards for Outstanding Youth Leadership.


Brian Grupe

Brian became involved in activism and social justice in 2007 after discovering a Vegan Outreach brochure at Sacramento State, where he was studying music and philosophy.  He went vegetarian immediately and within a few months was a major volunteer in the northern California area for VO scheduling  college, high school and concert leafletings and attending protests for other animal rights related issues.

Brian moved to Boston in 2008 to take the position of New England Outreach Coordinator for vegan Outreach.  In 2009 he returned to California and became the Nor Cal Outreach Coordinator, a position he still holds today.  His work is focused mainly on leafleting and one-on-one discussions with college and high school students at colleges, but he also presents to high school and college classes about factory farming and to local activist groups about the work of Vegan Outreach. As of December 2012 he has visited over 300 high schools and colleges in 14 states and has handed out over 400,000 brochures on factory farming.

Before his work with Vegan Outreach Brian was a music instructor for two summers at Cazadero Performing Arts camp in California.  He also taught private music lessons for a number of years and continues to do photography for high school and middle school music events throughout the nation.


ceceliaCeclia Ochoa

Instead of taking the normal route after high school, Ceclia joined AmeriCorps NCCC in hopes of becoming more hands-on and active within and beyond her community. During her service term she was able to work with various non-profit organizations that made it their mission to provide affordable housing, environmental conservation, veteran assistance, historical preservation, as well as disaster relief. Since moving back to the DC area, she has volunteered with numerous animal welfare organizations in their outreach departments, and also spent a summer interning at Farm Sanctuary’s southern California shelter. She currently works for a small, local company that makes natural, organic, cruelty-free dog treats.


Chaun Lewis

chaunChaun graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Howard University. Instead of taking the traditional route and going straight back to school or looking for a job in her field, she decided to take this year to be fearless and try all the things she’s ever wanted to do. She will be volunteering in the Dominican Republic on a fitness campaign that is geared at youth and adults living with diabetes. While there she will also be running her first 5k and has fallen in love with running in the process. Chaun has always had an unwavering desire to work with youth in a non traditional sense and was drawn to YEA camp because it gives youth the wheel to determine their own destiny by helping them turn thought into action.



clareClare Wildhack-Nolan

Clare Wildhack-Nolan hales from the fair state of Indiana, where she grew up in a family dedicated to social justice, multiculturalism, art, and education. Her grandfather was the state’s lawyer for the NAACP, and her parents ran a small school for the children of farmers, being paid in milk and eggs, when she was little. She has continued  in their footsteps by dedicating the last 18 years to the study and practice of youth empowerment and social justice education. She graduated from Antioch College, in Ohio, and then went on to work in a youth leadership development organization in Chicago, Illinois, as well as alternative and charter schools. She then returned home to Indianapolis, IN to bring her skills to her local community,where she taught High School, Social Studies/ Humanities for the past 7 years. She currently works back in the non-profit world, at the Peace Learning Center, as  a Youth Program Facilitator. In her personal life she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling (16 countries so far), speaking Spanish, riding her bike, and crafting.  She looks forward  to meeting new amazing people of all ages who share her  passion for spreading love and justice in the world, being in nature, and practicing her Ukulele with all of the YEA community!


Domenica Perrone, YEA Camp Intern

domenicaDomenica Perrone is currently entering her last year at Emerson College in Boston. She is majoring in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and minoring in Political Communications with an interest in Hearing and Deafness. She has been a Corps Member for Americorps’s Jumpstart, an organization that promotes early education to preschool children in low-income communities. After finishing 300 hours of service as a team leader and over 600 hours total as a Corps Member, Domenica wishes to learn more about non-profit organizations as a whole. She works for 826 Boston on Mondays and Tuesdays as a program intern where she hopes to learn more about the logistics that help make such organizations possible. She has studied in Holland and traveled through Europe for a semester; in addition she has worked on the Texan-Mexican border in several shelters and halfway houses. Through such experiences, Domenica has found that her passions live in the education and empowerment of American youths, and they are fueled by advocacy and knowledge.

Elizabeth Mier, Camp Nurse

lizLiz recently graduated from a Master of Science in Nursing program at University of San Francisco. She is excited to be the YEA camp nurse this summer. Among the issues that Liz is passionate about are healthcare quality and access, women’s reproductive health, and poverty alleviation. Liz also holds degrees in music from Oberlin College and University of California Santa Cruz and in her spare time works as a freelance harpist around the Bay Area.


Javier Stevens

javierDuring college Javier worked for three years as a resident assistant while pursuing dual degrees in English and Music. After college, he joined the NYC Teaching Fellows and began a career as a high school English/special educator.He completed my Masters of Science in Special Education: Learning Disabilities through the Fellows’ partnership with Hunter College. In addition to his interest in teaching, he is also very passionate about the performing arts. He has worked as a vocalist for a few music groups in and outside of the NYC area, and is in the process of learning how to play his newly purchased acoustic guitar. In the past, he has tried to ameliorate his passion for the arts with social activism through work with non-profit organizations like World Up and Music and the Brain – two companies founded on integrating arts into the classroom at the secondary and primary grade level, respectively.


 Karen Rudy, YEA Volunteer

karenrKaren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema from San Francisco State University and is currently earning her MBA from the University of Southern California. She has four years of professional experience in video production and distribution, and is especially interested in using documentary film as a tool for education and activism. Between 2010 and 2013 she edited two documentaries about growing up LGBT in the 1950s and 1960s, one of which was selected for the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco. Both films have screened in high schools across the country, helping to spark discussions about gender politics, discrimination, and LGBT history. Karen is a former Girl Scout, dance teacher, and camp counselor, and has been a vegetarian for over 14 years. She strongly supports YEA Camp’s animal-friendly food practices and commitment to youth education.


KK picKristin Kennedy

Kristin graduated from University of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL with her Master’s of Science in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. For four years, she worked at UNF’s Department of Health Promotion doing peer education, HIV counseling and testing, and intervention counseling. While pursuing her master’s degree, Kristin completed her internship by providing mental health counseling Duval County Public School students. She also spent time volunteering at the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN) where she developed a passion for working with at-risk youth.

Kristin joined the JASMYN staff as the case manager in 2011 where she currently supports and advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth ages 13-23 in various ways including linkage to HIV care, homelessness, education and job support. Kristin provides support and leadership in other youth development programs and collaborates with other local agencies to ensure that youth have safe places to receive services outside of the JASMYN house. Kristin is very involved in the Jacksonville LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS community and works with local coalitions to address oppression and barriers to equal treatment. She hopes to relocate to the San Francisco Bay Area sometime this year to continue providing support to at-risk youth in new ways.


Leanne Alaman

Leanne Alaman has an extensive background supporting youth to empower themselves and find fun, freedom and passion. She facilitated art classes with homeless youth at Drawbridge Expressive Arts, was head Art Instructor at UC Berkeley’s Explorer Camp, supported the success of the Landmark Forum for Teens and The Landmark Forum for Young people, and most recently worked as a mentor for former foster youth with mental illnesses at the Fred Finch Youth Center. Leanne is starting an MA program at Gaia University in Integrative EcoSocial Design with a focus on Education, specifically inventing a revolutionary new structure/curriculum for American schools that will improve graduation rates and leave youth confident, passionate, and compassionate global citizens.



Marietta Bonmbonaventure (1)aventure

Somewhere at the intersection of art, education, and activism is where Marietta finds her home. As a language arts teacher at Pleasant Hill High School in rural Oregon, she has co-directed the Impact Festival (a conference on generational poverty), advised the GSA, and directed the community service club. Via a twisty-windy path through Peace Corps Cameroon (1995-1997), owning a bookstore (1999-2004), founding and directing the Eugene Poetry Slam (2000-2004), playing roller derby (2007-2012), and being a musician (always), Marietta is dedicated to working with young folks to cultivate empathy and fight for social justice.



Monica Carr

monicaMonica Carr will graduate CUNY Hunter College this fall with a dual major in English and Media Studies, with a concentration in non-fiction writing and journalism. She has participated with various student clubs, organizations and campaigns including the Hunter V-day Team for four consecutive years, including her leadership role as co-director in last year’s production of “The Vagina Monologues,” has served as the secretary of Hunter’s Women’s Rights Coalition for six continuous semesters and volunteers with the International Action Center in phone banking, advertising and organizing the annual May Day protests in NYC for workers’ and immigrant rights. Monica interns with a non-profit called Girls Write Now, which serves to foster relationships between professional women writers and inner-city high school girls. Her passion for youth empowerment stems from her counselor position at Lead for Diversity, a weeklong program for high school students, where she facilitates large and small group workshops addressing issues of bigotry and prejudice. Some of her most recent projects include creating, organizing and facilitating a training course called QRASH (Queers Resisting All Street Harassment), which hoped to equip participants with the tools to combat street harassment of many forms. Monica is currently serving as the tour coordinator to the 10 Billion Lives Tour, a project ran by the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) that raises awareness of the treatment of animals of farms and encourages college students to make more compassionate, vegan choices.


Rachel Frances

Inline image 6Rachel’s singing career began at the age of seven with the New York City Opera Children’s Chorus. For ten years she performed solo and ensemble roles with the company, while also collaborating on CD recordings such as The Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve and Other Stories, and with Paul Simon on his demo, The Capeman. She continued her studies at a performing arts high school and college, and performed for six years with the young artist program, Seagle Music Colony, and toured with their Educational Outreach Program to bring children’s opera to the community.

She began holding private voice lessons as a freshman in college through the Community Music Program,  which later blossomed to include varied elements such as combining music with social services, therapeutic healing for children and teens, the development of personal and emotional growth through music, all of which has culminated in the opening I Can Jam Studios.  In addition to I Can Jam Studios LLC, Rachel currently accepted the postion as Director of Colorado Arts Center Inc, a non profit which houses small businesses and proprietors of every facet of the fine arts, set in the Arts District on Santa Fe.


Shanti Urreta

IMG_20130730_100727_019.jpgAfter 20 years working as an elementary school teacher, Shanti Urreta retired to follow her passion of promoting world peace, animal protection, and the virtues and health benefits of a plant-based diet. A staunch vegan and compassionate activist, she is now using her considerable teaching skills as an author and public speaker. Her book about Societal Karma, Dear World, See What I See is currently in the process of publication.  Shanti also serves as Area Governor for her Toastmaster International District and Children’s Center Director for the North American Vegetarian Society’s annual Vegetarian Summerfest. She currently lives with her husband in Mahopac, New York, where she involves herself in outreach projects: Family Dinner Nights in her elementary school, The World Peace Diet book studies, vegan potlucks, tabling, movie showings and passing out animal rights literature.  She continues to hone her speaking skills for all the beings on the planet.


sierraSierra Hawksley

Sierra Hawksley is preparing for graduate school to become a Naturopathic Doctor, and has also taken classes from The Center for a Liveable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in her passion for holistic medicine and nutrition. She can cook up some mean vegan food and is constantly amazed by the connection of food to so many aspects of our lives. Eating a plant-based diet is FUN! It is bright, colorful, flavorful, varied and absolutely delicious, and she loves to share this with others through online cooking classes with DishUp Today and her part-time catering service.

Ever since discovering the vegan lifestyle in grade school, Sierra has been educating herself and others on the corruption of our current food system and how to overcome it, exposing the cruelties of the animal industry, and fighting strongly for the environment. She grows her own food, actively works in the community with organizations such as Northwest Veg and the Humane Society, and is currently running for CEO of the Humane Party. Sierra has rescued and hand-raised a veal calf and a meat lamb, as well as two slaughterhouse-bound race horses. Sierra’s love of the outdoors has led her to travel around the world; hiking, backpacking, and experiencing the global connection of a compassionate lifestyle.


 Sophia Wang, YEA Camp Intern

sophiaSophia Wang currently studies in Brown University, majoring in International Relations with a regional focus on China. Since attending public high school in Boston, she has been involved with youth and education by being a tutor for underclassmen. She continued this path in college, by becoming a tutor to elementary school students in the John Hope Settlement House in Providence, Rhode Island, mainly assisting students with math and reading homework. She later became a mentor to two students, and spent time weekly with her mentees by helping them academically, as well as playing with them and encourage them to succeed in school. She also took on teaching in her sophomore and junior year, by teaching second and third grade students in Seton Academy in Rhode Island simple Chinese and introducing them to Chinese culture, something that she enjoyed and plan to continue in her senior year. After graduation, she would love to work in the educational or the non-profit field.


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