About Us

Our Mission

Healing Dialogue and Action brings together people wounded by violence and broken criminal justice systems. We share our stories and listen deeply with open hearts. We respond with compassion and accompany each other in healing the harm caused by violent crime. We work together to change the criminal justice system so it is one that respects and offers an opportunity for transformation for victims, offenders, and families. We are creating a world free from violence.

Our Vision

Healing Dialogue and Action envisions a world free from violence.

Our Principles

  • We recognize the pain and suffering of victims, and honor the fact that they had no say in their victimization.
  • We believe each victim and victim family member is entitled to control his or her own process of healing.
  • We recognize that many offenders have suffered trauma and violence.
  • We believe that healing and strength can come through listening to each other’s experiences, responding with respect and compassion, and being open to crossing false divides.
  • We believe real change in criminal justice systems will come through the leadership of those whose lives have been affected by violence and criminal justice systems.
  • We seek to create systems that provide healing to victims, accountability for offenders, and justice for both.
  • We seek to create systems that offer offenders meaningful opportunities for healing, growth, and to repair the harm caused by violence.
  • We seek to create systems that address the causes of violence in our communities.

Our Staff

Javier Stauring

Javier Stauring

Executive Director

Javier is a founding member of Healing Dialogue and Action who has spent his entire career accompanying young people in the juvenile justice system, survivors of crime, and families of both. Prior to joining HDA, Javier served as the Co-Director of the Office of Restorative Justice of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 1992-2015, where he oversaw the largest Catholic detention ministry program in the nation, as well as the ORJ victim’s ministry. He is committed to the radical transformation of the juvenile and criminal justice systems. He believes in the principles of restorative justice which call for reconciliation and healing of victims, offenders and communities. Javier has received international recognition for his life’s work, including being commended in Sweden by the World’s Children’s Prize for his advocacy work with incarcerated youth and victims of crime. He is also the first United States citizen to receive the international award from Human Right Watch.
Cheryl Bonacci

Cheryl Bonacci

Deputy Director

Cheryl is a compassionate professional with eighteen years of experience supporting
marginalized populations along with the systems and communities evolving to change
the narrative on how we see and treat them. Serving as a Catholic Chaplain for the Los
Angeles Archdiocese Office of Restorative Justice for sixteen years, she developed a
deep compassion for our most marginalized children navigating the juvenile and adult
criminal justice systems. As a founding executive at The Anti-Recidivism Coalition
(ARC) Cheryl collaborated to developed the unique approach to reentry services that
sets ARC apart in building the foundation of the Member Services, Housing,
Programming and Communications and Community Relations departments. Cheryl has
the distinctive ability to engage in action driven dialogues across government and
community forums, changing the narrative on how we see and support our reentry
population while working to remove barriers to employment, education and housing. Her strong alliance with adult and juvenile corrections and judicial representatives, Los
Angeles County Supervisors, and a wide range of community and faith-based
organizations is a testament to her ability to understand the issues from all angles and
work cohesively toward solutions. Her position as Director of Programs with Healing
Dialogue and Action is an opportunity to continue the collaborations and impactful
programming development that have helped position Cheryl as a respected leader in
the field of transformative justice reform.
Frances McGinley

Frances McGinley

Operations Manager

Frances graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017 with a degree in Social Welfare. At Berkeley, she advocated for survivors of sexual and domestic violence and co-founded the Coalition Against Intimate Partner Violence. While working with victims of crime, Frances saw a need for dialogue with those who had caused harm in order to end cycles of violence. This is what initially sparked her interest in restorative justice. After graduation, Frances began a fellowship with The Work First Foundation where she conducted research on employment after incarceration and served as an employment specialist in the San Francisco Probation Offices. Frances joined the HDA team in January 2019.

Juana Bonilla

Juana Bonilla

Program Coordinator

Juana Bonilla Lost her daughter and granddaughter in a tragedy in 2010. The empathy she felt for the family of the person who was responsible lead her to support groups, where she shared her experience with families who lost love ones to violence as well as families who lost loved ones to incarceration as juveniles. She believes that a dialogue is the central path towards healing. Her primary desire is to accompany families who suffer very painful experiences with a heart filled with empathy in hopes they find healing. She lives with her husband and her greatest strength are her four children.
Jason Clark

Jason Clark

Program Coordinator

Having grown up in the Foster Care system and spending time in juvenile facilities Jason’s fight with addiction spiraled out of control and eventually led to the death of another person. At the age of 20 Jason was sentenced to life in prison. After assaulting another inmate Jason was sent to solitary confinement for a year and a half. It was during this time of isolation that Jason began a transformative journey that he is still on to this day. In 2016 after more than 23 years in prison Jason was found suitable for parole. Before joining HDA, Jason worked as a case manager at the Homeless Outreach Program, traveled to Sacramento for the day of empathy, and sat down with the daughter of his victim and had a Victim Offender Dialogue. Jason now goes back inside the prisons and works with the men he was once incarcerated with along with survivors from the community in an effort to change the way we approach criminal justice, through healing.

Christian Branscombe

Christian Branscombe

Program Coordinator

Christian Branscombe, at the age of 19 was sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). During his incarceration he participated in a Buddhist Sangha for several years, got involved with Arts In Corrections (AIC) programs that donated to Toys for Tots & Battered Women’s Shelters, studied relentlessly for personal development, was a founding member of Healing Through Art (HTA) where participants provided their own art materials, taught others participants, and donated their works of art to a wide range of charities. After being introduced to Healing Dialogue and Action (HDA) he was deeply moved after having contact with a courageous survivor of violent crime that connected him to his emotions with her kindness and merciful concerns. From this uncommon experience he knew he could do something to give the survivors of his crime something they could use to find their own healing, and developed a group based on direct amends. As a result of this journey he was given the opportunity to extend an amends to the survivor of his crime in a face to face conversation that led to a healing connection between them that has transformed great negativity into a positive ripple in this otherwise tragic situation. In a tremendous act of mercy his LWOP sentence was commuted and the survivor of his crime advocated for his release. They now work together encouraging others to find wholeness.

Itzel Citlali Bonilla

Itzel Citlali Bonilla

Program Coordinator

Itzel Citlali Bonilla joins the HDA team having been a survivor since she was 12 years old when she lost her oldest sister and niece in 2010. After deciding to forgive, she received backlash and judgement from many directions. Her personal experience and journey of healing led her on a path to go into law and work with restorative justice, having earned her Associate Degree in Communications at East Los Angeles College.  After going to a handful of support groups she realized there isn’t enough support focused on youth which inspired her desire to create a safe space where fellow young survivors can identify with one another. Itzel, alongside her sister, started a postcast A Journey of Healing to help others on their own healing journey. 

Our Board

Caitlin Ahearn

Caitlin Ahearn

Cait Ahearn has over 10 years of experience working in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in development, communications, and operations roles. Most recently, she served as the Development Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), a nonprofit organization providing reentry services and support to formerly incarcerated individuals and advocating for fairer criminal justice policies throughout California.
Before joining ARC, Cait worked as an Assistant on the Satellite Office Team at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), a nonprofit organization that provides research and counsel on charitable giving, develops philanthropic programs and offers program, administrative and management services for individual donors, foundations and charitable trusts. Cait supported RPA’s Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco offices,providing research, writing and design for client proposals and deliverables, as well as grants management and special project support for RPA’s Los Angeles clients. A native of the east coast, Cait previously worked at the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in New York City.
Cait graduated from Fordham University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy.
Heidi Rummel

Heidi Rummel

Heidi Rummel is a Clinical Professor of Law at the USC Gould School of Law where she co-directs the Post-Conviction Justice Project. Under her supervision, second and third-year law students represent California life-term inmates, primarily women and youth offenders. The Project has won the release of nearly 150 clients through the parole process and on habeas corpus.

Prof. Rummel has worked to pass a lengthy list of recent legislative reforms in California, including creating a process for juveniles sentenced to life without parole to petition for a re-sentencing hearing or parole consideration (SB 9 and SB 394); creating the Youth Offender Parole Hearing process (SB 260, SB 261 and AB 1308); revising the fitness criteria for juveniles to be transferred to adult court (SB 382); requiring attorney consultations for juveniles prior to waiving their Miranda rights (SB 395); reforming the felony murder rule (SB 1437); and precluding the transfer of 14/15 year old to adult court (SB 1391).

Bikila Ochoa

Bikila Ochoa

Bikila Ochoa grew up in The Bronx in New York City.  He holds a Ph.D in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University.  With the support of fellowships from Harvard University, the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Bikila’s research focused on the re-entry processes of formerly incarcerated juveniles housed in half-way houses in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.  He also served as a research associate at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.

After completing his graduate studies, Bikila enrolled in and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  While in law school, Bikila served as a senior editor of the Journal of Law and Social Change, and interned at the ACLU of Southern California, a public interest law firm, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.  After law school, Bikila was a fellow at a labor-side law firm where he specialized in issues of workplace racial discrimination and sexual harassment and prior to joining ARC he was a researcher at two organizations.

Elizabeth Calvin

Elizabeth Calvin

Elizabeth Calvin is an attorney with experience in juvenile justice, foster care, and education rights. At Human Rights Watch she focuses on the rights of children in California, with a specific emphasis on children and youth in foster care and the criminal justice systems. Her work includes research and writing on human
rights violations against children, policy and legal advocacy, and building partnerships with community groups. In 2012, her leadership of a coalition-based effort resulted in the reform of California’s use of life without parole sentences for youth. She also works closely with youth, faith groups, family members of youth sentenced to life in prison, crime victims, incarcerated individuals, advocates, and activists for youth
rights.
Katie-Jay Scott

Katie-Jay Scott

Katie-Jay brings organizational development and executive coaching experience to Healing Dialogue and Action. She graduated from Portland State University with a B.A. in Sociology and a focus on Community Development. She also holds a certificate in Executive Management from the Center for Nonprofit Management. Through her position as founding Board of Peers member of the Education Network for Global
and Grassroots Exchange (ENGAGE), Scott brings extensive leadership, community organizing, and development experience to any organization she works with. As Chief Operating Officer, she leads strategic planning and all of iACT’s development initiatives, manages policy partnerships and national campaigns; coordinates volunteer team members and interns, oversees the Carl Wilkens Fellowship program, handles
community partnerships including sponsorships, development opportunities, and program collaboration.
Todd Rubenstein

Todd Rubenstein

Todd Rubenstein started his legal career in 1992 as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles County, where he worked in the juvenile court and ultimately ran the Hate Crimes Unit in the final year of his tenure. For the past 20 years, Mr. Rubenstein has been a partner at the entertainment law firm of Morris Yorn Levine Barnes Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner and Gellman, where he represents A-level actors, writers, directors and artists, primarily in film and television.  Mr. Rubenstein is a founding board member of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and chairs the board of InsideOUT Writers, an organization offering 45 weekly creative writing classes to incarcerated minors throughout the county of Los Angeles and in California state prisons.  Mr.
Rubenstein has other entrepreneurial interests, mentors formerly incarcerated individuals who are starting businesses and is active in hiring and finding employment for those impacted by the system.