Staff

Maile M. Zambuto, Chief Executive Officer

"I am a part of the Joyful Heart Foundation because shedding light into the darkness that surrounds violence and abuse is the first step toward ending it. I am proud to play a role in Joyful Heart's vision which seeks to ignite and foster open dialogue about how to collaboratively end the cycle of violence and abuse."

Maile M. Zambuto was named Executive Director of the Joyful Heart Foundation in October 2008 and appointed as Chief Executive Officer in 2011. She comes to Joyful Heart from her position as the Chief Development and Marketing Officer of Safe Horizon, the nation's leading victim assistance organization. Maile has been working in the field of victim assistance, raising critical funds and much needed awareness, for over 20 years. 

Her current focus is driving the sustainable growth of Joyful Heart's expanded program portfolio in three areas: Healing & Wellness, Education & Awareness and Policy & Advocacy. Maile also serves on the National Advisory Committee for Los Angeles-based Peace Over Violence and on the Executive Committee of NO MORE. NO MORE is a movement to unite our entire society—advocates, companies, legislators, survivors and the public—around the commitment to end domestic violence and sexual assault. She is a recipient of Women’s e-News’s 21 Leaders for the 21st Century and the Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner’s Child Advocacy Awards. Her personal story as a survivor is detailed in the 2009 anthology Note to Self by Andrea Buchanan available from Simon & Schuster.

Read more about Maile.

Molly Solomon, Chief Financial & Administrative Officer

"I am a part of the Joyful Heart Foundation because we all have a responsibility to build a community that helps survivors to heal. I am excited and proud to play a role in Joyful Heart's vision because I believe so strongly in the holistic approach of all that we do to heal, educate and empower."

Molly Solomon has nearly a decade of experience in non-profit administration and comes to Joyful Heart from Safe Horizon, where she oversaw the finances and operations of the agency's development and marketing initiatives. Prior to her work with Safe Horizon, Molly held various roles in New York's theater industry, lending her administrative talents to the companies of Rent and De La Guarda. Molly holds a BS in Sociology and is a proud resident of Brooklyn.

 

Sarah Haacke Byrd, Managing Director

“The Joyful Heart Foundation is breaking through and changing the way we think about and protect victims of abuse.  We are moving closer to the day when sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse are no more. It is a privilege to be a member of this team and to help lead this transformation.”

Sarah Haacke Byrd was named Managing Director of the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2014.  In her new role, she is supporting the Foundation’s founder, CEO, senior management team and Board of Directors in implementing the organization’s strategic plan—the roadmap for growing and sustaining Joyful Heart’s work into the next decade.  Sarah has been building and guiding non-profit organizations—including board management, executive team support, operations and fundraising—for the past 15 years in Boston, Washington D.C. and New York.

Sarah joins the Foundation after a successful tenure as Director of Operations for the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT). New York-based PSOT has provided comprehensive medical and mental health care, as well as social and legal services, to more than 4,000 survivors and their family members from more than 100 countries. In her role, Sarah drove all of PSOT’s operations, finances, board development, fundraising and strategic planning efforts.

Sarah got her start in human rights working for Facing History and Ourselves, a global education non-profit where she oversaw Choosing to Participate, a multimillion dollar national civic education program, and with the Anti-Defamation League, an international civil rights organization, where she ran the organization’s leadership development programs.

Sarah has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities, and also holds an M.S. in Positive Organizational Development and Change from Case Western Reserve University, Weatherhead School of Management.

 

Sherisa Dahlgren, LMFT, Vice President, Clinical Programs

"I am honored to be part of the Joyful Heart team. The Foundation's focus on wellness of the whole individual—nurturing body, mind and spirit—resonates with my perspective on life and healing. I believe that at our core, each of us has within ourselves the power to heal and thrive fully. Joyful Heart respectfully connects survivors of violence with their own personal core of strength, providing a gentle, safe pathway from darkness to a life filled with abundance."

Sherisa is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California with specific expertise in the application of the arts to language acquisition, education and the healing of trauma. She earned her master's degree in clinical psychology from San Jose State University and began her professional career as a not-for-profit executive with special focus on fundraising, board development and organizational dynamics. For close to a decade, she has integrated the talent of artists, dancers, storytellers and other performers with the California State curriculum to develop programs for language learners that maintained the academic standings they held in their native language while acquiring English as a second language. Her work includes a strong focus on somatic therapies, including yoga, breathing, mindfulness and movement, as well as applying these techniques to strengthen coping skills in young children and adults. 

Kata Issari, Vice President, Hawai‘i Region

"I believe strongly in the power of communities to create lasting change. Like the Joyful Heart Foundation, ending violence against women and girls is my life's work. My particular passion is linking violence against women and girls to an anti-oppression framework that also addresses the importance of maintaining our health and well-being as advocates, organizations and community members. What better place to bring all this together than at the Joyful Heart Foundation? I'm thrilled to be of service to Joyful Heart and my adopted community of Hawai‘i by fulfilling the vision of Joyful Heart and my own vision of a world of peace, justice and balance."

Kata Issari has been working in the field of sexual and domestic violence for 30 years. She is an advocate, educator, fundraiser, therapist and community activist with over 20 years experience as a manager, organizational consultant and anti-oppression trainer. After completing her MSW at the University of Michigan, Kata established the first clinical program and 24-hour rape crisis line, at the U of M campus Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. She has served on the boards of the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Advocates for Abused and Battered Lesbians (now the Northwest Network) and the Women's Funding Alliance in Seattle. Kata has lectured throughout the U.S. on a variety of issues related to sexual and domestic violence.

She is a founding member of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and is currently a consultant/trainer for the Advocacy Learning Center, a project of Praxis International and Manavi. Originally from Iran, Kata immigrated to the U.S. as a child and currently lives in Honolulu, where for over a decade she managed PACT Family Peace Center, a domestic violence program serving survivors, batterers and children exposed to domestic violence. While at Family Peace Center, Kata was instrumental in helping to design and implement Namelehuapono, the only existing culturally-based, domestic violence intervention for Native Hawaiian and Polynesian survivors and offenders. She also led the development of the Keiki Safe Project, a school-based counseling and community response model for children exposed to domestic violence and collaborated to secure federal funding for PACT Family Peace Center's award as one of ten national sites for the Department of Justice's Safe Start Promising Practices initiative, both research partnerships with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. 

Sarah Tofte, Vice President, Policy & Advocacy

"I am part of the Joyful Heart Foundation because it represents all that I value—our commitment to survivors, our hope for justice and our determination to make the world a safe place for everyone."

Sarah Tofte specializes in governments' responsibilities to address, prevent and protect against gender-based violence. She works closely with elected officials, police, prosecutors, victim advocates and survivors to reform the U.S. criminal justice system so that offenders are held accountable and survivors have greater access to justice. As the Vice President of Policy & Advocacy with the Joyful Heart Foundation, Sarah created and implements the organization's ten-year strategic plan to end the rape kit backlog in the United States, engages with the media and raises funds. Prior to Joyful Heart, Sarah was a Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch, focusing on violence against women and girls. 

 

Monica Martinez, MFTI, Clinical Manager

“I’m excited about being part of Joyful Heart’s mission to heal, educate and empower survivors of trauma. It’s amazing to see the transformation of a survivor, who is able to find hope and feel empowered about their future. It is truly a privilege to be a part of this journey of healing that changes the lives of not only the survivors but also their children, who can grow up in a safer environment instilled with hopes and dreams.”

Monica is a marriage and family therapist who has worked with survivors of domestic violence and their children for nine years. She earned her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles. Monica’s experience in community mental health includes the coordination of a county funded domestic violence program that supported survivors in becoming self-reliant by providing counseling services, independent living skills classes and vocational training. She also has experience working at a domestic violence shelter where she provided individual and group therapy.

 

Morgan Soloski, Marketing & Communications Manager

“I am honored to be part of the Joyful Heart Foundation, and to help turn up the volume on the urgent issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. Joyful Heart’s innovative program model addresses these injustices on the community and policy level, by supporting survivors on their healing journey and by changing the way our society responds to these issues. I am proud to work for an organization that has survivors at its heart and truly lives its values.”

Morgan Soloski is a nonprofit communications professional with a strong background in international development. She previously worked for American Jewish World Service, a leading human rights organization, developing communications and marketing strategies to promote fundraising, advocacy and campaigns, and providing strategic guidance on branding, messaging and audience engagement. Morgan is passionate about social justice and women’s rights. Prior to transitioning into the nonprofit sector, she worked in marketing for publishing and television. Morgan holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and a MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

  

Liz Swavola, Manager of Policy & Advocacy

"I am incredibly honored to be part of the team at the Joyful Heart Foundation. Joyful Heart's innovation inspires me, with its message of hope and healing for survivors and its efforts to spread awareness and begin a national discourse about sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse."

Before joining Joyful Heart, Liz helped to found a non-profit organization focusing on prisoner reintegration. She has also served as a law clerk in the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. During law school, she held internships at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Koob & Magoolaghan and the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. As a member of the Violence Against Women Committee of the Coalition for Women Prisoners, Liz advocates for the reform of criminal justice practices that are harmful to survivors of domestic violence.

 


Rjoya Atu, Administrative & Program Coordinator - Hawai‘i

“The objectives of the Joyful Heart Foundation—and more importantly the spirit of the organization—align perfectly with my own. My previous work with PACT Family Peace Center, was directed at meeting the immediate needs of survivors, batterers and children exposed to domestic violence. I love the fact that the Joyful Heart Foundation works to heal the hearts and spirits of the healers, which is very rewarding to everyone.”

Rjoya Atu joined the Joyful Heart Foundation, after over two decades of a progressive career with PACT Family Peace Center in Honolulu, which gave her invaluable experience addressing the issue of domestic violence. Rjoya comes to Joyful Heart with well-developed administrative skills and extensive experience as a paralegal, including working as a discovery agent for Dallas White and Associates in San Francisco. She earned a certificate from the Honolulu Business College/Cannon’s Business College Paralegal Program. She eventually hopes to acquire a law degree and become a family court judge. Rjoya has many interests that help her to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle, among them her love of music, community service, family and the beautiful waters of Hawai‘i. She’s traveled to many places, but says her heart always brings her back to Hawai‘i.

 

 

Benjamin Clark, Finance & Operations Coordinator

"The Joyful Heart Foundation is truly transformative. The comprehensiveness of its healing programs for survivors ensures that all elements of self are addressed. Moreover, by raising awareness around abuse issues, the Joyful Heart Foundation is helping to create a society that is more knowledgeable about and more accountable to these injustices. The Joyful Heart Foundation helps to improve the lives of countless individuals and I feel privileged to be a part of that."

After graduating from Lawrence University, Ben Clark served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Campamento, Honduras. In that role, he conducted topographic studies and designed potable water systems in rural communities and also managed the implementation of a latrine construction project in a nearby community. After returning from the Peace Corps, Ben completed an MPA program at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he majored in Public and Non-Profit Management and Policy. He is also a current board member for Kids for Tomorrow, which funds educational programs in Kenya, Cambodia and New York City.

 

 

Lendon Ebbels, Communications Coordinator

"I am a part of the Joyful Heart Foundation because I believe in the end—the end of shame, stigma and isolation; the end of violence and abuse altogether. I'm grateful to be working towards this day and I'm constantly inspired by all the members of our community who turn towards these issues with such passion, creativity, positivity and determination."

Lendon Ebbels joined the Joyful Heart Foundation as a graduate of McGill University, where she obtained her BA degree in Sociology. There, she volunteered extensively with its student-run sexual assault center,  providing support and information to survivors and their allies over the phone and through walk-in services. She also promoted an awareness of issues and myths surrounding sexual assault in the community as a workshop facilitator, media watch coordinator and external coordinator for the organization. Lendon has also held two internships with Human Rights Watch, where she lent her support to efforts to end the rape kit backlog and other domestic advocacy goals.

Originally from Canada, Lendon is proud to have called New Jersey home for most of her life (occasionally garnering a few chuckles for saying things like "toque" and "serviette"). She resides in New York, where she enjoys spending time with good friends, disappearing on long bike rides and learning about the endlessly fascinating NYC subway system.

 

Allison Keeler, Healing & Wellness and LA Operations Coordinator

"I am very proud to have joined the Joyful Heart team. Fostering an open dialogue about violence, abuse and the impact of trauma honors the experiences of victims and empowers a community of survivors. The Joyful Heart Foundation offers services that respect the individuality of survivors while promoting community among them. I am honored to be part of such a proactive and self-aware foundation, one that models growth for survivors with its continuing efforts to match its activities and ideas with the needs of those it serves."

Allison Keeler joins the Joyful Heart Foundation with several years of administrative experience in mental health offices. She is a recent graduate of the University of Oregon, where she earned her M. Ed. in Couples and Family Therapy. During her graduate studies, she provided individual, couple and family counseling at the University’s Center for Family Therapy and volunteered at Oregon Family Support Network, a non-profit organization that offers support to families affected by serious mental illness. While completing her BA in Psychology at Chapman University in Orange, California, she volunteered with Olive Crest Homes & Services for Abused and Neglected Children and served as a research assistant in the Psychology Department. Allison enjoys long distance running, dancing, trivia and traveling. She resides in Los Angeles.

 

Laura Smith, Development Associate

“I feel honored to be part of an organization that challenges conventions of victim blaming and supplants messages of shame with messages of resiliency and hope.”

Prior to joining Joyful Heart, Laura worked in development for the performing arts. She is a certified advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the Emergency Department of New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is also a yoga teacher and is deeply involved with Exhale to Inhale—an organization that seeks to empower survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through free trauma-sensitive yoga classes. Laura graduated magna cum laude from NYU and is currently pursuing an MA in Performance Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

 

  

Karoline Katus, Executive Assistant

"I am proud to be a part of an organization with such inspiring leadership and values. The depth and stretch of our programs, the strategic planning and the infallible courage and persistence of our team motivates us all to excel and always look to the end goal of one day eliminating violence and sexual assault against men, women and children."

Karoline has been involved with public service since her family's Sunday tradition of distributing homemade meals in downtown Los Angeles and her high schools days of organizing fundraisers in Manhattan Beach. Her passion for philanthropy truly took hold while working as a Student Ambassador for the fundraising office at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, where she graduated in 2006. While there, she hosted multiple events for SurfAid International and volunteered her time in New Orleans for the local environmental and community organization Common Ground. After moving to New York in 2007, she began her career as a fundraising project consultant to organizations such as Trust for Public Land, Career Transitions for Dancers and the American Lung Association. She also worked as a grant evaluator, awarding federal funds, for the Non-Profit Economic Development and Commercial Revitalization initiatives for the NYC Department of Small Business Services. Karoline is grateful to work at an organization that has influence across the country and in so many communities, homes, lives and souls. She believes in power of a smile and finds her peace amongst her Brooklyn "family," the Tuesday edition of The New York Times and while cycling.

 

Maria Franco, Administrative Assistant - Los Angeles

“Joyful Heart Foundation reminds me that we can be a part of a loving, violent-free community. Through our work that honors the light and love in every domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse survivor, our efforts to call on individuals to denounce violence in their communities and compassionately respond to survivors. I am proud to contribute to the creation of a more peaceful and just future.”

Maria Franco has been working in the domestic violence services community for over six years. She comes to Joyful Heart from her position as the Residential Department’s Program Manager of a domestic violence shelter. Her work as an advocate and activist includes membership of the Los Angeles Chapter of INCITE!, as well as Los Angeles County’s Domestic Violence Council. Maria is a certified Domestic Violence Advocate in the state of California and holds a B.A. in Urban Studies and Business Administration with an emphasis in Management from Loyola Marymount University. 

 

 

Greg Thornberg, Administrative Assistant - New York

“As a man and proud feminist, I am honored to represent those who demonstrate that domestic violence and sexual assault are not 'women’s issues,' but issues that affect all humankind—worldwide. Joyful Heart has taken magnificent strides within this movement, and it feels so rewarding to be a part of an organization that gives voice to not only survivors, but to anyone who would like to start the conversation.”

Greg comes to Joyful Heart with a background in nonprofit development and operations, and has held previous work and intern positions at Rainforest Alliance and Slow Food USA in New York City. He graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Anthropology, Religious Studies and Creative Writing & Literature. He spent a summer abroad in Lima and Cuzco, Peru studying Spanish while visiting the Incan ruins and Amazon rainforest. 

Greg is also a self-taught musician and actively involved with various local environmental organizations, such as TreeKIT and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, which both work to manage forestry and conserve New York City’s urban ecosystems. He and his two rescue cats, Scully and Tank, are proud residents of Brooklyn. 

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