Founder & CEO
Sonya has been a domestic violence activist since she was 16 years old. Before founding FreeFrom, she launched the Family Violence Appellate Project (www.fvaplaw.org) while earning her law degree at UC Berkeley. Based in Oakland, California, FVAP is the first and only organization in California to provide pro bono appellate legal services to survivors of domestic violence and has fundamentally transformed the legal landscape in California in just 5 years. For her work with in the field, Sonya was listed in Forbes' 30 Under 30 Class of 2017 For Law and Policy, and won the Impact & Audience Awards at SVP LA's Fastpitch 2018 event.
director of partnerships and education
As a Los Angeles native, daughter of immigrants, and survivor herself, Tannia has dedicated her studies and career to serving marginalized communities. Tannia received her Masters in Social Entrepreneurship from Pepperdine University in 2016. Her capstone work at Pepperdine focused on providing small business counseling to LA food businesses threatened by gentrification. Before joining FreeFrom, Tannia was Community Outreach Specialist at Girl Scouts of Greater LA, where she helped lead new community initiatives focused on reaching and serving girls in South and East Los Angeles. She joined FreeFrom in 2017 to serve as the Entrepreneurship Program Manager.
director of financial capacity building programs, vp of finance
Merlin received her MBA from Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, where she focused on finance, marketing and organizational behavior. Before earning her MBA, Merlin spent 5 years at Alameda Family Services, specifically for the Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) federal preschool program, serving mostly low-income immigrant families. She eventually became Business Analyst where she was responsible for the management of a $3M federal grant. Upon identifying a need for financial literacy among clients, she initiated workshops to provide the community with a way toward financial stability.
VICE PRESIDENT, INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT
Heather has worked for the past 23 years in the field of domestic and sexual violence intervention and prevention. Before joining FreeFrom in 2018, she served as Vice President of Development at the Joyful Heart Foundation, a national organization focused on ending sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, where she oversaw national fundraising strategies, institutional giving and management of regional major donor committees in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Her past leadership positions include: Director of Development for Peace Over Violence, LA’s first rape crisis and domestic violence support center; Executive Director of South Valley Sanctuary, the second largest domestic violence shelter in Utah; and Statewide Coordinator of Domestic Violence Programming for 46 municipalities with the Mexican government's national social services institution in Guanajuato, Mexico. Heather holds a Master’s degree in Women's Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She believes in the healing power of roller derby and is a proud skater with the Los Angeles Derby Dolls.