DEBRA HOPKINS, FOUNDER
Debra is the Founder & President of the 501(c)3 Breaking The Chains Foundation (BTCF), a National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Network Co-Vice Chair, as well as an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Health Coach and Behavior Change Specialist.
After receiving a full-ride college dance scholarship to Oakland University in Michigan and there after a successful dance career, Debra became a leading health and fitness expert with clients such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL), Sony, Warner Brothers and other Time Warner Entities as well as personal trainer to Hollywood elite. Debra has taught nationally in various prominent fitness facilities, including the Health & Fitness Director for RCCL. As an ACE Faculty member, she designed & taught her workshops/seminars to other fitness professionals. Inspired by dance and it’s healing elements, Debra founded BTCF whose work is committed to providing unique innovative programming with purpose, passion and personal story using all forms of art to unmask the stigma around eating disorders, body-image relationships and related internal struggles by empowering over all mental health and wellness as well as strengthen the links of prevention and recovery.
Recently, under the leadership of Hopkins, BTCF was the first ever eating disorder platform to present at the 4th annual 2019 World Wide Women Girl’s Festival at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California whereas in addition to sharing a wide range of their programming, she also provided her expertise on the Arts & Entertainment Career Mentoring Panel. As a guest speaker, she has presented at Warner Brothers Studios, Sony, Rancho La Puerta, among many many others. In addition, she shared her personal story building hope, healing, and engagement around eating disorders at the 2018 Los Angeles Iaedp (international Association of Eating Disorders Professionals) Gala.
Debra is also an award-winning /writer/director/actress, with such projects as Chained and Bound, Call Box, Finding Alice, & Passing Darkness. She is a co-creator of the 4-part Sci-Fi Supernatural Saga book series, Afterlife from Zimbell House Publishing with the first book release in February 2020.
From personal experience, Debra believes eating disorder recovery is possible and achievable aiding in a journey that feels alive, heart-felt and creative! She continues to work with her board and others in changing the stigma attached to eating disorders and mental health by changing the conversation so that recovery and self-discovery are always in sight, heart, & mind!
Debra is married over 20 years with two sons.
FB: Debra Hopkins (Spagnoli)
Linkedin: Debra Hopkins
RAJA B. MARHABA
Raja B. Marhaba is the Founder and President of The Jonathan Foundation for Learning Disabilities, Inc. The motivation for establishing it was driven by her personal struggles with having two children with disabilities and multiple battles she endured to obtain appropriate special education and related services frm their school district over a period of eight years.
Since its inception in 2001, The Jonathan Foundation has provided families of children and adolescents with various types of disabilities with information, resources, referrals, and direct advocacy services by Raja in both special education and regional center matters. Moreover, Raja has developed a strong relationship with the non-profit, Children of the Night. Driven by her personal experience and the outcomes of some of the cases in which she had been involved, Raja decided to launch the “Assessment Scholarship Program” in 2014 to lessen the financial burden families are faced with when obtaining private evaluations.
In addition to her involvement in The Jonathan Foundation, Raja is not only a licensed realtor, but also the co-owner of Martec Construction, Inc., which she runs with her Partner, Omar. She and Omar have operated Martec Construction for over twenty years. Due to her work in the company, Martec Construction has been recognized as a woman-owned business since 2003.
Raja’s educational background includes possessing an Associate of Applied Science degree from Borough of Manhattan Community College in Business Administration. She also holds a certification in Paralegal Studies with a Concentration in Litigation and Corporations from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also successfully completed the Management Development for Entrepreneurs (MDE) Program. Raja was selected and successfully completed the first cohort of the federally-funded Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT) Program in 2006. After her completion of the SEAT Program, she was selected to be a member of the Education Panel & Committee for the Juvenile Division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Raja continues to hold active memberships and certifications with the National Association of Women Business Owners, National Women’s Business Enterprise and Women-Owned Small Businesses. Additionally, she has earned several awards as a result of her more than twenty years of success with Martec Construction and, later, The Jonathan Foundation, including being one of several women recognized with the Enterprising Women of the Year Award in February 2016, and is also one of nine extraordinary women whom have been award the 2019 L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Award..
Raja has two children Omar Jr. and Jonathan
A native of Seattle, Alex is a Professional Choreographer, Director, Master Teacher and Performer.
She has choreographed for clients & companies such as Nike, Nike NFL, Audi, Genentech,
Thunderhead.com, Tarbell Realtors, and The Young Americans; She has also contributed
choreography to Knott’s Berry Farm (figure skating shows), the opening production for America’s Got
Talent (NBC) and Alex was a Jazz coach to Karina Smirnoff & Apollo Ohno on Dancing With The
Stars (ABC). Her performance credits include: Wipeout (ABC), Nike, Toyota, Tarbell Realty, Cabi
Clothing, Genentech, Thunderhead.com, and as a company member of Interweave Dance Theatre,
Doug Caldwell & Friends and The Young Americans. Teaching classes to hundreds of students at one
time is one of her favorite ways to share, connect, educate & motivate young people from all over the
world and she has been doing just this since 1999 as a faculty member to multiple international dance
conventions including Dance Makers Inc, Velocity Dance Convention, Bella Moxi Dance Convention
Dance Excellence and Young Americans International Outreach Tours. She has joined the faculties of
the esteemed Joffrey Ballet School & The Institute of Musical Theatre in NYC for summer intensives.
Alex is also the co-founder of The Feedback Experience, a dance workshop taught to 100% live
music, where in all kinds of performance and non-performance artists are welcome to join and make
their art during the live music jam/dance class. She has also taught & choreographed in the collegiate
setting at AMDA Los Angeles, Cornish College of the Arts, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine University
& The Young Americans College of the Arts.
As the Founder/Director of Escape Artists, a theatrical contemporary dance company, Alex premiered
Anonymous which marked their first immersive and full-length theatrical production. Since, her piece
“7 Chairs” has been workshopped & performed numerous times around Southern California, including
performances for, and produced by Breaking The Chains Foundation.
Projects which bring attention, awareness & conversation to societal issues hold an important piece in
Alex’s mission as an artist. This is why Alex feels incredibly honored to have a seat on the Board of
Breaking The Chains Foundation. Alex battled all forms of the Eating Disorder illness for 20 years
before committing to a life of recovery, which she continues practicing everyday.
BOARD CLINICAL DIRECTORS
DANIELLE KELMAR, LCSW
Danielle Kelmar, LCSW, joined Breaking the Chains Foundation in 2014 and currently has a private practice in Menlo Park, CA treating teens and young adults who are struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety and depression. She works with an individual client as well as their families using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and applies mindfulness tools and techniques. She is also trained and fully integrates into her practice T.E.A.M. Therapy from Stanford University’s Feeling Good Institute, led by world-renowned therapist David Burns, MD. Danielle works closely with Stanford University as one of their main referred to therapists for treating their student population. In Addition, she works at SafeSpace in Menlo Park, CA as their Clinical Youth Mental Health Specialist: www.safespace.org. Where she facilities workshops for young adults and parents tackling a wide range of mental health issues.
After beginning her career as a clinician at St. Helena Hospital’s Inpatient Eating Disorder unit, Danielle moved to California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where in addition to her clinical duties she provided in-house training to residents and medical staff on how to identify eating disorders, and was a guest lecturer to the medical team. Danielle then went on to work for Stanford University.
Danielle believes a full recovery from an eating disorder is possible, as she is living proof. She had an eating disorder in her teenage years and now lives a life without the destructive spinning loop ruling her daily life. One of Danielle’s personal and professional intentions is to help individuals and families feel empowered instead of isolated around this disease and find tools to recover. What she loves most about Breaking The Chains Foundation are the creative platforms, “Art of campaigns” and what this incredible team of people she works with are doing. We are helping steer that process of decreasing shame, isolation and fear and drive the conversation into a helpful and open dynamic that is called Change! She feels that BTCF will navigate hope and guide individuals towards discovering recovery. www.daniellekelmar.com
Danielle Is a member of: National Association of Social Workers, Academy of Eating Disorders, NEDA: National Eating Disorders Association and International Eating Disorders Professionals. NIMH: National Institute of Mental Health and NAMI: National Alliance of Mental.
DR. GIA MARSON
Dr. Gia Marson is a psychologist, clinician, author and lecturer in private practice in Santa Monica, CA. She is the psychologist consultant for UCLA’s Medical Outpatient Feeding and Eating Disorders Program & was the Founder/Director of the UCLA CAPS Eating Disorder Program and a psychologist-member of the UCLA Athletic Care Committee. She has been a clinical supervisor for psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows, a clinician at The Renfrew Center & at The Monte Nido Treatment Center. Dr. Marson is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders, the Los Angeles Psychological Association and an advocate for Health at Every Size. She is co-creator of www.PsychologistSecrets.com, a hub for bringing the science of psychology into the light.
Dr. Marson has been a featured, expert contributor for NBC, for Maria Menounos’ book The Everygirl’s Guide to Life and was the host and co-writer of the University of California’s PSA on Eating Disorders. She lectures and writes about body image and eating disorders. Dr. Marson is an expert contributor to www.recoverywarriors.com.
She recognizes that as the seeds of recovery take hold — from inspirations of the mind, body, spirit, relationships, sports, music, dance and art — a fully connected and awakened self-emerges. Dr. Marson knows full recovery is possible because she has witnessed it throughout her career. She is thrilled to be a Board Member for the Breaking The Chains Foundation whose “Art of” campaign is devoted to changing the conversation about eating disorders, reducing stigma and encouraging self-love and self-respect.
DR. KELLI RUGLESS, PsyD
Dr. Rugless is a licensed clinical psychological who knows that every woman has the potential and power to be a positive force of change in her personal life, workplace, and community. Helping women achieve this potential and power is Dr. Rugless’ passion.
By building a safe space for vulnerability, openness, and healing, Dr. Rugless empowers her clients to cultivate compassion for themselves and others while overcoming life’s challenges. Dr. Rugless’ clients appreciate her sharp memory for detail, boundless hope, and warm and respectful nature. Naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and an engaged listener, Dr. Rugless is committed to understanding her clients’ goals and providing pathways for growth.
As an experienced health psychologist, Dr. Rugless strives to increase her clients’ awareness of the mind’s power over the body and the body’s unique ability to calibrate itself to the mind’s needs – also known as the mind-body connection. Dr. Rugless specializes in depression, anxiety, adjustment issues, the treatment of eating disorders (ARFID, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, and Binge-Eating Disorder), and negative body image. She also helps women of color navigate the unique challenges that accompany being an ethnic minority in the United States. Dr. Rugless is fluent in conversational Spanish and enjoys providing bilingual services as well.
Dr. Rugless uses several therapeutic modalities to help her clients reach their goals. They include Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). As the former primary therapist in the outpatient clinic for feeding and eating disorder at UCLA, and its founding psychologist, Dr. Rugless is well-versed in using CBT-e, a specific form of CBT for the treatment of eating disorders, and Family-Based Therapy (FBT), a specific treatment geared towards adolescents and young adults with a strong network of support.
Diploma de Espanol como Lengua Extranjera
B.S. in Biopsychology, University of California, Santa Barbara
M.A. in Clinical Psychology, Loma Linda University
Psy.D. in Health Psychology, Loma Linda University
CELEBRITY BOARD MEMBERS
JILLIAN ROSE REED
Jillian is most recognized and beloved as Tamara in MTV’s “Awkward” and Simone on “Weeds.” She has appeared on several TV shows such as “Jessie,” “Hung”, “Lucifer”, “The Middle,” and much more. She was recently brought on to host “Present Tense with Jillian Rose Reed”, a web series by Maker Studios and Morgan Spurlock’s company, Warrior Poets. Every episode dives in head first to a different social issued facing Millennials. Presently, Jillian can be heard as the voice of Naomi on Disney’s animated TV series, Elena of Avalor.
Reed is also a full-time young actors coach and lifestyle blogger. Her ongoing support of Breaking The Chains Foundation as a Board Member and Celebrity Spokesperson includes featured pieces in several media outlets, events, and programs. She has participated in interviews and promos speaking out on behalf of Breaking the Chains, including Megan McCain’s “Take Part Live,” MTV ACT, Bello magazine, Glitter magazine, IAMM magazine, Pop Sugar, Whosay, and Huffington Post to name a few. Most recently, Reed was a contestant on the Buzzfeed Game Show, “Outside Your Bubble” playing on the behalf of BTCF.
In April, 2016 Jillian represented Breaking the Chains Foundation at the 20th Anniversary Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards. Jillian’s personal approach, talent, charisma and giving heart have been at the forefront of Breaking the Chains, encouraging and urging others to change the face of eating disorders by changing the conversation. Now, with an online reach of almost 1 million, an active blog, and an Instagram she uses to promote self-love, Jillian has learned how to take all the negative that comes with social media, and turn it into a positive! Jillian created a 45-minute Interactive Seminar, “How To Love Yourselfie”, which will talk to young people about self-love, body confidence, shaking off internet trolls, and how to live your best life both on and off the internet!
On television, Emmy Award winning actress, Carolyn Hennesy has dazzled as the deliciously vicious “Penelope Ellis” on ABC’s critically acclaimed series REVENGE. She also joined the cast for the fifth season of the sleek vampires-meet-world saga, TRUE BLOOD, and fast became a fan favorite as Rosalyn, the ageless vamp with a Texas twang. Prior to REVNEGE and TRUE BLOOD, Hennesy was best known for her memorable work as “Barb” on ABC’s COUGAR TOWN and for her Emmy nominated work as “Diane Miller” on ABC’s GENERAL HOSPITAL. She has also guest starred on a longest of prime-time favorites including, CHAMPIONS, NCIS, THE COOL KIDS, THE MINDY PROJECT, and LIZA ON DEMAND.
Kids across America know her as the hilariously haughty Mrs. Chesterfield on Disney Channel’s JESSIE. On the big screen, Hennesy’s credits include CLICK, LEGALLY BLONDE 2, and TERMINATOR 3. She stars in the recently released horror film, ST. AGATHA and soon-to-be released comedy SWING OF THINGS. Most recently, she’s starred in BTS online series BUSINESS DOING PLEASURE, TWO SENTENCE HORROR STORIES for Time/Warner’s new streaming channel and on THE BAY for Amazon Prime in the role of Karen Blackwell, for which she received her Emmy and a 2016 Indie Series Award.
Hennesy received her training at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Her razor-sharp comedic timing was hones as a member of The Groundling’s Sunday Company in in ACME Theatre’s main company. Hennesy has appeared in over a hundred stage productions worldwide, most recently and to great acclaim as “Maria Callas” in Terrence McNally’s MASTER CLASS at the Garry Marshall Theatre for which she received the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for “Best Actress in A Play” for the entirety of Los Angeles, 2017-18. Among other accolades, the LA Drama Critics Circle has distinguished her with a Natalie Schafer Award and the LA Stage Alliance honored her with her first Ovation for THE FAN MAROO.
For the past two years, Hennesy has hosted the red-carpet reception for the Daytime Emmy Awards for NATAS, FB, and nearly all social media platforms. Hennesy’s creative endeavors also include a successful career as a writer; she created the wildly popular “Pandora” (Bloomsbury USA) children’s book series and penned the New York Times Bestseller – “The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli” (Hyperion). When not on set, Hennesy is privileged to lend her time to a number of causes but she focuses on veteran affairs and particularly animal rescue, preservation, conservation and advocacy with her online podcast, “Animal Magnetism” on www.ubnradio.com. On January 2nd 2017, Hennesy crossed something off of her relatively short bucket list” she rode float (Lucy Pet Foundation) in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Now she simply has to go into space (difficult) and fly over Disneyland as Tinkerbell to set off the fireworks (impossible). She lives in her native Los Angeles with four dogs and one cat, rescues all, and in what spare time is left, she flies trapeze. Seriously.
Nikki has worked in film and television for over 30 years starting as a Mouseketeer on “The New Mickey Mouse Club” to more recently the critically acclaimed, People Choice Award Winning comedy “Awkward.” Over the years, she has racked up a long list of TV credits such as MAD MEN, GREY’S ANATOMY, THE RINGER, SIRENS, NCIS, CRIMINAL MINDS, MAJOR CRIMES and much more. Nikki is a regular on the Hallmark network leading some of their highest rated movies of all time (A DREAM OF CHRISTMAS and SAFE AT HOME). As well as guest co-hosting their popular daytime talk show HOME AND FAMILY. In the world of film, she has starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS, Matthew Modine in THE TRIAL, Ray Liotta in THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS, and in Frederic Berthe’s comedy HOLLYWOO. Nikki also spent years of her life on the stage as a recording artist for record companies RCA and BMG.
Krista Stryker is is an NSCA-CPT and a leading expert on high intensity interval training (HIIT) and bodyweight fitness.
Krista is the author of the new book, The 12-Minute Athlete: Get Fitter, Faster, and Stronger Using HIIT and Your Own Bodyweight from Tiller Press/Simon & Schuster. She is the founder of 12 Minute Athlete and the 12 Minute Athlete app as well as a writer, TV guest/host, and motivational speaker.
From trying her first push up in college, to teaching herself to do pull ups and handstands, Krista is living proof of her philosophy that everybody is an athlete. She is passionate about the power of exercise and movement to help build confidence, perseverance, mental and physical strength, as well as inner joy.
Krista has been featured in The New York Post, The Washington Post, SHAPE Magazine, Train Magazine, Muscle & Fitness HERS, and on ESPN and Mindbodygreen, among many others. She can be found online at 12minuteathlete.com and @12minuteathlete.
Official 12MA app
Tammy Baghdassarian is the Executive Director and co-founder of Keystone Treatment in Los Angeles. Keystone specializes in treating eating disorders, disordered eating, and mental health utilizing an intuitive eating philosophy and evidence based approaches including dialectical behavioral therapy. Keystone is recognized for being a highly individualized program that can work with clients to stop the cycle of going in and out of treatment.
Prior to opening Keystone Treatment, Tammy had worked in the eating disorder and mental health field for the last 12 years. She was Operations Director and Special Projects Coordinator at The Bella Vita, developing and licensing residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs as well as coordinating website design, content management, and events. After leaving the Bella Vita in 2013, she went on to consult at multiple programs in the area working on program development and licensing. It was during that time she realized that if there was going to be change brought to the eating disorder field, she was going to have to start a program herself.
While developing Keystone’s program, she worked at Clearview Treatment where she developed their managed care program. Tammy trained clinicians and staff on working with insurance companies, utilization review, and developed protocols for ensuring clients were at the lowest level of care possible. Additionally, she led the charge for getting Joint Commission accreditation prior to leaving and beginning Keystone Treatment.
In addition to working in the mental health field, Tammy has worked in production management for the last 15 years as a stage manager, production manager, lighting designer, and producer. She has enjoyed tenure working with executive producers Wallace Demarria, Malika Blessing, Tammi Mac, and more. She is passionate about working in the theater realm bringing poignant stories to life for an audience.
Ellen Spencer is a well known artist and longtime environmental activist. Her work reflects her passion in the celebration of life and its connection to our
environment. Ellen is originally from the Boston area, but has been residing in the San Francisco bay area for the past fifteen years. She excited to announce she is back in New England! She currently has her studios in Oakland, California and now also in Boston, MA. Ellen has been professionally painting for many years and is also an author and published poet. She has spent years successfully exhibiting and selling her works throughout the United States and has received numerous awards.
Her work has been hailed as, “exuberant and exciting” by New York’s Art Speak magazine. She is currently represented by The Artists Alley Gallery in San Francisco, ARTworks Gallery in San Francisco, Agora Gallery in New York, 57th Street Gallery in Oakland, A-Forest Gallery, New York, Marziart Gallery, Germany and Monkitree Gallery in Gardiner, Maine.
“As an artist and an activist, my work represents the strength and unity inherent in the human spirit. My paintings celebrate what is possible when people come together as one.”
“Each painting has a feeling of its own and is done in different mediums. The colors are vivid and rich reflecting the myriad of emotions that I bring to my work. The textured pieces use a multitude of dried herbs, and many other natural objects. I encourage you to bring your own experiences to the viewing of my artwork and freely interpret the imagery according to your own imagination.”
A longtime environmental activist and artist, Ellen Spencer creates paintings that explore the themes of the environment, body and spirit. In her innovative, richly textured works, Spencer uses a combination of traditional paints and unorthodox media such as dried herbs and other natural objects. Abstract and sophisticated, these works invoke a primitive strength and sense of universal unity: through a spectrum of natural colors and textures inspired by earth and atmosphere. Spencer’s art seeks to uncover the beauty inherent in the organic world. At once ebullient and elegant, Ellen’s paintings describe the timeless, innate link between people (women) and the environment. Spencer has participated in numerous solo and group shows throughout the United States and has won many awards for her art. Originally from the Boston area, she now lives and works in both Oakland, California and New England!