Sallie Fraenkel, President
Sallie Fraenkel is the Founder and President of Mind Body Spirit Network, a company that provides that crafts travel experiences with a focus on well-being of the individual and wellness of the planet, combining activities such as hiking, yoga, spa treatments, indigenous healing ceremonies,Read morecooking, and art along with volunteering in local communities we visit. In addition, MBSN hosts events with a focus on well-being, spa, food, beauty and travel that incorporate speakers, panels and general networking. Fraenkel also offers marketing and business development consulting services to clients involved in wellness and travel-related industries. Fraenkel is the former CMO & COO of SpaFinder Wellness and EVP of the Global Spa and Wellness Summit. Fraenkel has 30+ years of experience as a marketer and business development executive in the spa/ wellness and entertainment industries. During her ten-year tenure at SpaFinder, she oversaw the significant expansion of the company including the award winning website, Spafinder.com, Luxury SpaFinder Magazine, the gift card division as well as all marketing and technology activities for the company. She was the creator of successful events such as Aspen Spa Days and The Spa Experience Aspen and Grand Central and she ran the Global Spa and Wellness Summit in New Delhi, India. She was responsible for all aspects of business development, marketing, communications and operations for the Global Spa and Wellness Summit, an international organization that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively impact and shape the future of the wellness industry. Sallie has spoken at conferences around the world, appeared on TV, radio and contributed to many trade and consumer publications including the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Travel Weekly and Huffington Post.
Prior to SpaFinder, Fraenkel served in seven different roles at Showtime Networks, Inc. over a twenty-year period. She co-founded Showtime Entertainment where she was responsible for global distribution and marketing of original films and series produced for the network. Her position covered theatrical, video, DVD, syndication, cable and network sales of these original series and films. One of the things Fraenkel is most proud of is the work-life balance she created while at Showtime, becoming one of the first, if not the first “permanent part-time employees” of the company. And this was before cell phones and email existed!
Fraenkel is the mother of two daughters, Emily, a fine artist, and Melanie, a social justice attorney. She is married to Michael for over 33 years and resides in Westchester County. Sallie is a graduate of Penn State University and in 2004 was accorded a Distinguished Alumni Award. She serves on the boards of MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) and Gift of Hope an organization which provides psycho-social support for mothers and children with HIV/Aids in South Africa.
Michael Huggins, Treasurer
Michael Huggins RYT, CFT, MBA serves as Treasurer of Liberation Prison Yoga and serves on the Board. He travels from Pennsylvania to teach men or male youth at Rikers Island when needed. Mike is the founder and Executive Director of Transformation Yoga Project, a non-profitRead moreorganization teaching yoga and mindfulness as a tool for personal change in the lives of people within drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, the criminal justice system, community transitional centers and VA hospitals. He is specially trained in applying yoga practices for addiction recovery and trauma related issues. Mike is a registered yoga instructor (200 RYT) who has been practicing yoga since 2002. He teaches a variety of asana styles including power Vinyasa, stationary, stretch yoga, chair yoga, family yoga, yoga for the back, meditation and many others. He is also a certified fitness trainer. He left a successful career in the corporate world to focus on a variety of community based outreach programs and to further develop his yoga practice. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, Mike has dedicated his time and passion towards demystifying yoga by breaking down the powerful and positive aspects of the practice in a direct straight forward manner which these at-risk populations can relate to. He has extensively studied yoga and meditation with several highly respected teachers at Kripalu, Omega and other respected organizations. Mike has been on the board of several non-profits in the greater Philadelphia area. He has a Bachelor’s of Science from Villanova University and a Masters of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Cate Brainard, Secretary
Cate Brainard serves as Secretary of the Board. She teaches yoga classes at FCI Danbury and Bedford Hills for Liberation Prison Yoga. She has been practicing yoga on and off for many years, but her practice has intensified in the past two years as she began to fully appreciate the physical and emotionalRead morebenefits of an ongoing yoga practice. She earned her 200 hour yoga teacher certification in 2014 with the primary intention of teaching Yoga in the prison system. Knowing first-hand the healing power of yoga, Cate practices every week with a group of students and teachers at Newtown High School where she has been a special education teacher for 12 years. A strong proponent of equal access to healthy living, Cate’s goal is to bring yoga to those who may not otherwise have access to yoga whether it is due to circumstance or their own self-limiting attitudes.
Oneika Mays, Vice President
Oneika Mays serves as the Vice President of the board. She also serves as Training Director. Oneika teaches three yoga empowerment programs for Liberation Prison Yoga at Rikers Island, one for sentenced women and another for detainees, and one to girls 18-21 years old. At Rikers Island, AsRead more
training director for Liberation Prison Yoga, Oneika supervises and trains volunteer teachers at Rikers Island. She is a certified RYT and is also certfied to teach Therapeutic Yoga. Oneika also has a blog. After a career in retail leadership and training she decided to combine her passion for teaching, writing and wellness. Oneika believes that learning how to properly breathe is the key to a satisfying life. Her classes are structured to connect people with their body and breath. She is passionate about yoga as a way of life and not just something that is done on a mat. “Over 10 years ago I fell in love with yoga, but like with a lot of things at the time I couldn’t commit. It seemed that my life was getting in the way of my yoga. Over a year ago I in the midst of a lot of chaos and change I returned to my mat. Now with my life back in balance it seems that my life is yoga and yoga is my life. I’ve been lucky and blessed enough to combine all of my passions into a career. Happier and healthier than I’ve ever been I have yoga to thank. With so many Black women’s health in crisis I’ve become committed to talking about living a life that is fulfilling and fit. It’s my mission to help Black women change their lives through and with yoga.”
Kimberleigh Weiss-Lewit, MA, RYT, is Liberation PY’s Director of Women’s Services, serves on the Board and teaches the prenatal yoga class for Liberation Prison Yoga at Rikers Island. She is a registered Yoga Teacher and Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor, and has been a yoga teacher for theRead morepast 8 years after receiving her 200 hr Yoga Alliance Registration from Lotus Gardens in Connecticut. She later went on to gain her prenatal certification with New York-based Yoga Haven with additional prenatal training with MA Yoga in New York City. Kimberleigh is currently teaching at Devotion Yoga Hoboken, NJ and training for her 500-hr level registration with Laughing Lotus Yoga Studio in NYC. She holds a BA in theater from Connecticut College and an MA in Drama Therapy from New York University. Kimberleigh began prison-based work through the Creative Arts non-profit Rehabilitation through the Arts. This took her to Beacon Correctional, Fishkill Correctional and finally Bedford Hills Correctional. While working with the women at Bedford Hills, Kim connected with inmates practicing yoga and around the same time was introduced to Anneke Lucas. Kim went on to teach General Population yoga at Bedford Hills with a hope and dream of bringing Prenatal Yoga to incarcerated mothers. Kim is honored to teach Prenatal Yoga at Rikers Island and is in awe of the amazing work of Liberation Prison Yoga to initiate and sustain programs. In addition to teaching yoga, she serves mothers as a volunteer La Leche League leader and leads meetings with LLL of Jersey City/Hoboken.
Anneke Lucas, Executive Director
Anneke Lucas, Executive Director E-RYT 500, founded Liberation Prison Yoga in 2014. As executive director of the organization, Anneke creates and funds programs, and oversees all volunteer activities. Anneke trains new volunteer instructors in workshops and on site. She alsoRead moreteaches regularly at several of the eight facilities where LPY has weekly programs. She conducts trainings and workshops for yoga instructors, mental health professionals and NYC DOC and DOP employees, to bring yoga and mindfulness into work with traumatized populations. Anneke is regularly invited to speak at conferences and universities about the subject of trauma, incarceration, and sex-trafficking. In 2013, Anneke started two groups at the Woman’s Jail at Rikers Island for survivors of sex-trafficking. Anneke herself experienced and witnessed some of the worst atrocities known to humankind – before she reached the age of 12. Her background, the obstacles she overcame, and the insights she received into the nature of the human psyche on her journey to health are an inspiration to students inside and outside of prisons, and audiences around the world. The continued healing she receives from her work reminds her that human connection is the agent for change, in teacher and student, provider and client. In 2008, Anneke created a 500 Hour Yoga Alliance RYT program for a New York City based yoga studio. From 2011 to 2014 Anneke was director of Prison Yoga Project New York. She graduated from the Screenwrting program at AFI in 1993, published a novel in her home country, Belgium, and wrote many articles about yoga and trauma. She has been working on a book about her childhood, previewed in an article about her work in the prisons.
Laura Toyofuku-Aki is a highly inspiring and dynamic leader who exudes dedication and integrity. Her professionalism, ability to be strategic on multiple levels and intrinsic drive for excellence generates sincere respect and admiration from both her peers and direct reports.Read moreLaura joins the Board of Liberation Prison Yoga with a passion for her community and human rights. She has a background in sales, retail management, and development for non-profits. She sits on the Board of International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD).
Laura received her RYT200 certification from Laughing Lotus New York in 2015. She is a current yoga teaching in NYC. Laura is a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelors in International Relations.
Yael Stone is an actor in the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black,” in which she plays an incarcerated woman (Lorna Morello). Yael is also a certified yoga instructor. The physical practice has always been very meaningful to her and sharing has become a profoundly positive part of of her life.Read moreYael’s passion for social justice, women’s rights, and yoga are combined in her service to the Liberation Prison Yoga board.
J. Brown (E-RYT 500) is a yoga teacher, writer, podcaster, and founder of Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, New York. He is known for his efforts to change the dialogue of yoga in the west and his pragmatic approach to teaching personal, breath-centered therapeutic yoga adapted to individualRead more
needs. His writing has been featured in Yoga Therapy Today, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, and across the yoga blogosphere. J’s writing, podcast, video, and international events are featured at jbrownyoga.com.