The STAR Project
Successful Transition and Re-Entry
Successful Transition and Re-Entry
Become a Mentor

Staff Members


Becky Turner - Executive Director

Becky was confirmed as Executive Director in December of 2015. A graduate of Walla Walla Community College and Washington State University, Becky is a K-8 certified public school teacher. Her experiences as a teacher give her a unique perspective in dealing with disadvantaged populations, including people experiencing homelessness and families in crisis. An eclectic personality born and bred in the Walla Walla valley, Becky enjoys crocheting with her grandmother, weekly Sunday dinners with her extended family, playing the piano, organic gardening, and writing mystery dinner theater scripts.

Andy Owens - Executive Assistant

Andy joined the STAR Project in January 2016 as Executive Assistant. He has a strong background in technology and office management. Andy is responsible for many day-to-day "behind the scenes" management of the STAR office, including: website management, database management, and supervision of volunteers and interns. When he's not working, Andy is an avid gamer - making him a proven team player.

Robert Leigh, CPA, MBA, MOS - Accountant

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Kathy Farrell Guizar - Transition Specialist

Kathy is working with inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary on pre-release planning and paperwork. This includes all of the work that leads up to being able to sign-up for school, seek financial aid, and receive other community services for people releasing all around the state.

“After relocating to attend Whitman College from Metro Detroit I made a conscious choice to call Walla Walla home. This decision has served me and my family well. I am excited about my new role with the STAR Project because I can personally enjoy the small town lifestyle while realizing a  statewide impact at the Penitentiary.”

Jackie Scholl - Case Manager

Jackie has a strong background in education and peer to peer substance use disorder support. Jackie has experience working for Walla Walla Public Schools, Trilogy Recovery Community, and for-profit business. She joined the STAR team in September 2016 as Case Manager. In her spare time, Jackie enjoys reading and spending time with her grandchildren.

Housing Coordinator - Christen Betts

Christen Betts joined the STAR team as Housing Coordinator in April 2017. A former nurse, Christen is a family-oriented person with a strong background in recovery. Christen has significant experience with managing housing, and was involved with, and an advocate for, Oxford International. When she's not working, Christen loves spending time with her dog Dixie.

Lenel Parish - Employment Specialist

Lenel is the Employment Specialist at The STAR Project and the on-the-job training coordinator at Blue Mountain Action Council. Her job—and her goalis to match job seekers with Walla Walla employers. In this role, she can help with resumes, interview techniques and job leads. Lenel can be found at BMAC on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and at The STAR Project on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A Washington State University alum, Lenel is a native of the Walla Walla Valley whose previous employers include the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and Whitman College. 


Board Members

Notice: We are actively recruiting new board members in 2017, please e-mail for more information.

Mike Howell - Board President

A founding member in 2004, Mike served STAR as Board  Treasurer and Bookkeeper until 2009 at which time he gave up the bookkeeper position. He stayed on as Treasurer until October, 2010 and rejoined the Board in March of 2014, again as Treasurer. He now serves as Board President. Mike has been a Member Mentor during his entire STAR service.

Jim Barrow - Vice President

Present Mayor pro tem, and Council Member City of Walla Walla since 2006; Retired USAF Attorney (Judge Advocate);  Fmr. Chief Attorney Disciplinary Counsel for LA Supreme Court ;  Chair, Blue Mtn Action Counsel; Board Member of STAR since 2016 and Vice Pres, 2017 - current.  Municipal Judge for Cities of Athena, Adams and Weston OR since 2012.

Keith Farrington - Treasurer

Keith Farrington joined the STAR Board of Directors in 2016. Keith is a professor of Sociology at Whitman College, and specializes in sociology of the family, criminology, the sociology of prisons and punishment, social psychology, the sociology of popular music, and social research methods. An aficionado of virtually all kinds of modern music, Keith plays electric bass in the local music group Early Morning Traffic. Keith’s wife is the Associate Dean of Campus Life and the Director of Residence Life and Housing at Whitman College. His older daughter graduated from the Stanford University Law School and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His younger daughter is the founder and President of Forgotten Dogs Rescue in western Washington. Keith is an avid New England sports fan.

Annie Capestany - Secretary

Annie is probably best known in Walla Walla for her 15-plus years organizing the Diversity Day Multicultural Arts Festival and her 10 years of writing a cooking column for the UB. In addition to STAR, she is currently part of Community Pride Walla Walla, a local coalition focused on LGBTQI issues, and the Walla Walla Immigrants Rights Coalition. Also, she tutors math at Green Park Elementary and is a wife and mom. She strongly believes that people should be able to leave prison and rebuild their lives, NOT face lifelong discrimination, distrust and poverty. She hopes to help shift the focus of our criminal justice system away from “criminal” and back to “justice.”

Toni Alvarado-Jackson

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Marc Goff

Marc has been in the Walla Walla Valley for almost 20 years, and is currently attending the Walla Walla Community College’s new Human and Social Services A.A degree. He hopes to transfer to Walla Walla University to pursue a bachelor's degree in sociology. His passions are his wife, daughter, cooking, bicycles and building people up. He has been sober for a little over 3 years.  

Rich Jacks

Rich grew up in Eastern Washington and received both his Bachelors and Masters at Eastern Washington University. After six years in a variety of roles at Olympic College in Bremerton he went on to get his PhD in Counseling Psychology from Stanford University in 1972. He stayed at Stanford as Training Director of the Counseling Center and an instructor in the Counseling Psychology program; he also married his wife, Riett, while at Stanford. In 1979 Rich, Riett and the first of their three children moved to Walla Walla; the family has since grown to three children, all married with one new grandchild. In June of 2012 after 33 years Rich retired from Whitman as Associate Dean for Health and Wellness and Associate Professor of Psychology. He continues to do psychological evaluations at the Washington State Penitentiary where he has had a contract with the department of corrections since 1989. In his free time Rich loves to ski and sail.

David Lengenfelder

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Scott Odem

Scott was born and raised in Walla Walla and his career interest, has always been geared towards helping people and maintaining public safety. Scott spent three years in the U.S. Army with the 82nd Airborne Division as a (paratrooper) Military Policeman. Upon his discharge, Scott joined the Walla Walla Police Department working as a patrol officer and later retired as a police detective. Scott has an Associate and Bachelor Degree with disciplines in Criminal Justice and Leadership. Scott started a second career at the Washington State Penitentiary working as a Classification Counselor where this position enables him to work with Inmates as they prepare for their release from prison. The STAR Project is a positive extension of their release and assists them in various ways as they transition back into our communities. Scott says he is looking forward to be part of this program.

Susan Palmer

Susan has been teaching sociology for over 30 years, the last 16 years at Walla Walla Community College. Although her area of emphasis is largely social inequalities (for example, class, race, and gender), she also teaches criminology and has a long-time interest in social justice issues related to mass incarceration, disenfranchisement of felons (in voting rights), and the lasting social stigma imposed on incarcerated individuals. She has taught several courses in the A.A. program offered by WWCC inside Washington State Penitentiary, some of the most gratifying teaching experiences in her career. In her capacity as an educator, she has mentored numerous formerly incarcerated individuals in pursuit of education as one mechanism for improving their circumstances. She joined the Board of The Star Project because she wholeheartedly supports its mission, programs, and services. 

Michelle Southern

Michelle has lived in Walla Walla since 1988.  A pharmacist by trade, she worked for 18 years at the Washington State Penitentiary.  She holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy from WSU, a Master of Science Toxicology from UW, and a Pharmacy Doctor degree from University of Colorado.  She spent 6 years on the Board of Directors for YWCA, working extensively on their yearly fundraising auction.  She has served on the Board for STAR since November 2014.  Michelle is also active in the Little Theatre of Walla Walla, assisting as usher, props mistress, backstage hand, set decorator, and occasional actress.  She attends Pioneer United Methodist church and sings in their choir.  She has 3 grown children and 1 grandchild.

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