Our Team

Joelle Kirtley- Co-Founder/Chief Executive Officer/Board Secretary

Joelle’s career has seen her teaching, leading, and developing in various roles and across multiple continents both in academia and in nonprofit. She is determined to use her diverse skills and experiences in program development, data analysis, curriculum development, and teaching, as well as her own love of learning, to build and offer tools and opportunities to Returning Citizens as they transition out of prison and back into the community.

Todd Davis- Chief Technical Officer/Director of Legal Services/Board Treasurer

Todd has been working in the public interest in one form or another since 2007. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a network analyst and team lead for nearly eight years. He then became a lawyer and has worked in criminal defense, dependency, and immigration law. He is dedicated to ensuring positive outcomes for those individuals whose personal histories create barriers to success and is excited to use his technical and legal skills to that end.

Roberto Luca- Program Manager and Citizen Coach

Roberto is a proud Angeleno who grew up in the Pico-Union neighborhood. When he was still a teen, he was caught up in the wave of violence, gangs, and police brutality that plagued LA County for more than a decade. During his 28 years of incarceration, he became skilled at facilitation, leadership, and curriculum development. He also began formal post-secondary education. During his transition, he continued that education and also began to work in helping other Returning Citizens. He has worked in housing, in vocational development, and in educational programs. He brings a vast knowledge of opportunities for Returning Citizens and an indefatigable approach to his work in helping individuals to carry out their unique plans for their lives post-incarceration.

Joel Aguilar- Program Manager and Citizen Coach

At 17, Joel was sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole. While incarcerated, he committed himself to a life of nonviolence and focused on personal growth, taking college classes and leading self-help groups. Legal changes brought about by organizations like Human Rights Watch and the Anti Recidivism Coalition gave Joel a chance for release. Inspired by how the work of activists changed his life forever, he became active in criminal justice reform, working to change laws and bring hope to thousands of people in prison, and even testifying before the legislature. After his release in 2015, Joel completed his B.A. in Liberal Arts and worked in transitional housing. Now, he brings that passion for change and justice to his work at Mass Liberation, using his education and experience to motivate and inspire Returning Citizens.

Brad Nemer- Board Chair

Brad Nemer has led product design and development in global corporations and still-in-the-garage startups. He strives to solve problems from the core rather than simply treat symptoms, and above all believes in individuals’ potential to grow beyond past challenges and thrive.

Daron Kirven- Board Director

Daron has been the Program Director of a constantly growing and expanding reentry organization in North Texas for over 26 years.

Donato Clay- Board Director

Donato is an experienced professional in hospital and healthcare operations with an active interest in strategy and business development. He is also an MBA Candidate at the Yale School of Management, as well as a licensed attorney and Army Reservist Judge Advocate.

John Brown- Board Director

John Brown is a consultant and advocate for community-based, peer-to-peer learning and behavior change.  Bilingual, he spent nearly twenty years in Costa Rica, where he is a licensed psychologist, and where he continues to work with underserved, refugee, and human trafficking survivors.   His work on behalf of re-entry populations has included country-specific HIV service guides for undocumented patients in immigration detention, as a co-founder of the New Mexico Prison Peer Education Program.

Kim Martinez- Board Director

Kim has built a career helping early stage companies evolve and scale-up to more sustainable and stable long term organizations.  She has over 20 years of experience building businesses across several industries such as technology, medical devices and healthcare services.  She currently serves as the COO of Traditions Behavioral Health, a Psychological Corporation, where she is helping the company expand services across the United States.  Kim is a licensed professional engineer in the state of California and holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Our Story

Jay Gutierrez was born into the country’s poorest congressional district, the South Bronx, and moved to Texas when he was fourteen. At nineteen years old, he was sentenced to fifty years in State Prison. Seven years into his sentence, Jay decided to make a change. He used the driven character traits that led him into incarceration to foster something he realized he had lacked, empathy for others. While incarcerated, Jay became a peer mentor and educated himself with every book he could borrow from the small prison library. He worked to understand others in a different way, meeting them where they were. He worked to make himself a better citizen. He made parole at his first opportunity, and decided to continue to make empathy his path. He has been working in various reentry and social services efforts since his own return to society. 

Jay met Joelle working together at an employment preparation service on Skid Row in Los Angeles that served the city’s homeless and reentry populations. Joelle came to social services through a winding and indirect path through academia. Teaching and building life-changing relationships is her internal drive. Every individual has the right to experience compassion and joy, and it is Mass Liberation’s purpose to help others meet these potentials. 

Todd came to the Mass Liberation team to lend his technical and legal expertise. Growing up, Todd watched his father, struggling with mental health issues, interacting with the justice system time and time again. Motivated by these interactions and by others he saw in his rural community, Todd chose to go to law school to become a defense attorney, after serving in the military. He believes in fair and effective representation for every individual and brings that passion to reentry efforts.

Roberto Luca became invested in the development of Mass Liberation early on in 2019 as well. He and Joelle met at a symposium on employment for Returning Citizens, and he began to offer help to the team with his specific expertise in LA County and with CDCR, and his talent for mobilizing and connecting people with a passion to make change in their own lives and in the community. 

Today, Mass Liberation has two houses and a Community Center in South Bay as well as many resources and tools for Returning Citizens, and the team works together to build community and affinity for Returning Citizens and create opportunities to find joy and experience peace.