About the team
We are passionately committed to improving the experience of dying — and living — while incarcerated.
“Humane’s model of training incarcerated people as compassionate end-of-life caregivers for their peers is transformational – not only for the one receiving the care, but also for the incarcerated people who learn to provide this care, many of whom, for the first time in their wounded lives, are able to practice compassion, empathy and grace.”
Read Lisa’s bio >>
Lisa Deal, RN, MPH, ScD
As a community health nurse caring for AIDS patients in Boston during the late 1980s, Lisa discovered her passion for being with the dying. Following that profound experience, Lisa’s life took her down a variety of paths as a clinician, research associate, policy analyst/editor, and grants officer. She earned master’s degrees in public health and nursing from the University of Washington and a doctorate in public health from Harvard University. She spent several years working on child and family policy issues with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Silicon Valley before stepping away to raise her three children and engage in community volunteer work. After the tragic deaths of her younger brother, her dear friend and pastor, and her father — all within a three-year span — Lisa felt called to return to caring for the dying.
In 2010, Lisa joined Mission Hospice & Home Care as a hospice and palliative care nurse, and worked in clinical and leadership roles for the next nine years, directing the Palliative Care Program and the Community Outreach Program, and serving as Chief Clinical Officer and finally Chief Executive Officer until 2019. It was during this time that Lisa became involved with Humane Prison Hospice Project. Under her leadership, Mission Hospice became the clinical sponsor for Humane’s work to train the Brothers’ Keepers prisoners at San Quentin State Prison to be compassionate end-of-life caregivers. Visiting with the men at San Quentin was another life-changing experience for Lisa, and today she feels honored to be able to combine her passions for working with the dying and serving those behind bars through the Humane Prison Hospice Project. In her role as executive director, Lisa focuses on strategic planning, fundraising, program development and administration, and supporting the incredible Humane team as they seek to ensure that those dying in prison receive compassionate end-of-life care.
In addition to her work with Humane, Lisa serves on the Board of Directors for GAIA Global Health and Peninsula Volunteers, Inc., and she is a lay chaplain for the Santa Clara County jails. In her personal life, Lisa treasures time with her husband and three adult children and long walks on the beach.
“I’m deeply moved when the men who have completed our Compassionate End-of-Life Care training express what it has meant to them. Recently, one man shared how the training helped him access his own sense of compassion and humanity — things that he didn’t understand at the time he committed his crime.”
Program Director, Palliative Care Initiative
Read Susan’s bio >>
Program Director, Palliative Care Initiative
Susan’s work in end-of-life care happened by accident during the AIDS epidemic when dozens of her friends became ill and many died. The support she found in the Center for Attitudinal Healing, a group of Buddhist monks and nuns, and Stephen and Ondrea Levine’s work on death and dying allowed her to enter into these deaths with compassion and less fear. After spending 10 years caring for friends and family who were dying, Susan became a hospice volunteer coordinator. She spent 25 years, first at Sutter Care at Home and then at Mission Hospice & Home Care, training more than 600 people in San Mateo County, California, to provide bedside hospice care to thousands of people.
At Mission Hospice & Home Care, she founded, grew, and managed the Community Education Program. The work that resonated with her most deeply during her tenure there was the partnership with Humane Prison Hospice Project’s pilot program to train 16 prisoners in Compassionate End-of-Life Care at San Quentin. A second cohort completed training just one week prior to California’s shutdown due to COVID-19.
For Susan, working with incarcerated people and training them in compassionate end-of-life care and grief companionship is the realization of a dream she has had for almost 20 years. She is grateful to support Humane Prison Hospice Project, and looks forward to the day when all those dying in prison will receive great palliative and hospice care with volunteer support from their compassionately trained incarcerated peers.
“To be able to die with dignity and care is a human right. To offer these things without condition or judgment — to meet people where they are, to see a person as a whole being — is the most human thing we can do. There is no option but to find every way possible to ensure equitable access to the privileged idea of a ‘good death.'”
Outreach & Events Manager
Read Laura’s bio >>
Outreach & Events Manager
Following the deaths of both of her parents, Laura Musselman felt compelled to begin work in end-of-life care and left her career in higher education as a college philosophy instructor. Upon her departure from academia, she trained with the International End-of-Life Doula Association (INELDA) as an end-of-life doula and became a hospice volunteer for Hinds Hospice in Fresno, California, in 2018. At Hinds, she took on roles as a patient care volunteer, a home hospice volunteer, and a vigil volunteer; soon, she began training other volunteers to sit vigil for patients, which led to working with the Comfort Care volunteers at the Central California Women’s Facility located in Chowchilla, California.
As a former teacher of ethics, and as a human being, Laura believes deeply in the accessibility of compassionate end-of-life care, and that the right to die with dignity is an essential human right. As such, she is proud and grateful to serve the Humane Prison Hospice Project in this role.
“When speaking on end-of-life care, no one should be excluded. Dying with dignity is an essential component of our humanity, and needs to be extended even into the shadows of our society where far too often there are those who will die alone.”
Co-Founder / Advisor / Advocate
Read Marvin’s bio >>
Co-Founder / Advisor / Advocate
Marvin is Humane Prison Hospice Project’s spokesperson, advisor, and general hero advocate. Marvin’s biography is an extraordinary one. Through the combined efforts of USC’s Post Conviction Justice Project and The Golden Gate University Innocence Project, he was released from prison February 17, 2016, after serving 41 years on a wrongful conviction suffered in 1975.
In 2008, Marvin was injured and sent to a state prison hospital, California Medical Facility, for treatment. While there, he witnessed its full-service prison hospice program — the only one in the state — shepherd no fewer than 10 of his dying brothers, and he became a fervent supporter.
Marvin created a plethora of advocacy and reform programs while incarcerated. Learn more of his story in the KQED documentary, The Trials of Marvin Mutch.
“I wanted to use one man’s personal journey through hospice as an example of how such a no-to-low-cost program could be used throughout our correctional system, and not only provide dignity to a dying person but also foster rehabilitation and compassion among the prisoners themselves.”
Documentarian / Spokesperson
Read Edgar’s bio >>
Documentarian / Spokesperson
As a documentary filmmaker, Edgar has a notable record of successful production in very stressful prison environments. His Academy Award-nominated (2014) documentary, Prison Terminal, has screened in more than 60 prisons and at more than 80 colleges, universities, and community centers. Edgar takes great satisfaction in his ability to tackle large-scale problems within the American criminal justice system and present them on a very personal level so that the destructive impact of a dysfunctional correctional system can be made more palpable to the viewer. He took on the mission to document one of the few positive programs behind bars that exists today in the hope that other facilities will emulate Iowa State Penitentiary’s prisoner-run hospice program and instill much-needed dignity to dying in prison for all concerned.
Co-Founder / Advisor / Death Row Advocate
Sandra co-founded Humane Prison Hospice Project in 2016, however her work in support of the organization’s mission dates back to 2007. At that time, Sandra was working in the office of criminal defense attorney Michael Satris and asked him: “How are they dying in San Quentin?” His response was: “Badly.”
Sandra is an actor, writer, and advocate. She has decades of passion for prison reform, stemming from a role in the play, Getting Out, which required a great depth of research into prisons. Over the years, she taught in Riker’s Island Prison, worked as an employment specialist for newly released incarcerated people in Manhattan, attended support groups for those formerly incarcerated, sat in on parole hearings, and visited Sing Sing to observe classrooms there.
While Sandra worked with older newly released prisoners, they told her time and again, “I’ll never go back. If I go back, I’ll die in prison. I don’t want to die in prison. I don’t want to die in prison.” Sandra heard the tones of absolute fear and dread in their voices, and they instilled in her an urgency to make sure there is end-of-life care — with prisoners trained in giving the volunteer care — in every prison.
Sandra is co-chair of the San Francisco End-of-Life Network and has trained and worked as a hospice volunteer with added training in pediatric hospice and vigil. She volunteered inside San Quentin, assisting with the initial Brothers Keepers’ end-of-life training sessions. Currently, her focus is advocating for end-of-life care and training on Death Row in San Quentin.
Sage is currently an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, majoring in Community Studies, and an intern with Humane Prison Hospice Project. She became interested in working with the dying at age 18, when she traveled to Kolkata, India, to volunteer at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying. This experience, along with supporting her grandfather through hospice, shaped Sage’s belief in the importance of dying well — and the desire to help this happen. The opportunity to work with Humane aligns with Sage’s interests in becoming a social worker, a prison reform advocate, being with those at the end of life, and engaging in important social change work.
Our advisory board
Ladybird Morgan, RN, MSW, BCST practitioner
Co-Founder / Advisor
Ladybird, one of the co-founders of The Humane Prison Hospice Project, formerly served as the initial Executive Director while being responsible for program development and primary facilitation and supervision of the Brothers’ Keepers Peer Support Crisis Counseling and Compassionate End-of Life-Program.
In addition to her more than 20 years working in hospice and palliative medicine, she has a wealth of experience dealing with trauma, mental health, and the painful repercussions of sexual violence. Ladybird has guided medical practitioners, families, private caregivers, and directors of programs and institutions around the world on how to be present to experiences that may be hard to hear or bear witness to. She has worked with Doctors Without Borders and The Zen Hospice Project.
Ladybird is currently a private palliative care consultant with Mettle Health where she co-facilitates discussions about the practical, emotional, spiritual, and existential elements of chronic and terminal illness. She offers similar support as a staff member at Commonweal’s Cancer Care Help Program. Ladybird’s other primary interest is in supporting the work of psychedelics as tools for healing. She is a co-investigator/study therapist with a University of Washington study of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy and a Learning Facilitator for Synthesis Retreat Psychedelic Practitioner Training.
BJ Miller, MD
BJ is a hospice and palliative care physician at UCSF. He is also an educator there, and advocates for moving healthcare toward a more human approach. BJ’s 2015 TED Talk, What Really Matters at the End of Life, has been viewed more than 9 million times. Oprah Winfrey interviewed him in 2017 for her Super Soul Sunday program. The New York Times profiled BJ in a Sunday Magazine feature, “One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die.” BJ’s first book, co-authored with Shoshana Berger, A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, was released in July 2019 (abgtte.com).
BJ has met with the Brothers Keepers’ graduates at San Quentin Prison to teach during their “Compassionate Care at End-of-Life” training.
Eldra Jackson III
After living most of his life devoid of emotions and coming face-to-face with the reality of dying behind bars, Eldra came to a point of self-inquiry, seeking answers as to how his life had spiraled into a mass of destruction set upon self and others. Finally, the space was made to save his life. Today, Eldra is co-executive director of Inside Circle, a nonprofit organization that empowers system-impacted people to lead change from within by providing opportunities for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people to heal and serve both themselves and others. Inside Circle works to reduce recidivism and all forms of violence — physical, emotional, and psychological — in our prisons and communities.
As a facilitator, leadership coach, and speaker, Eldra works to bring his spiritual medicine into the world while simultaneously guiding others to identify wounds and tap into their own internal salve. In his work as a facilitator, Eldra actively surrenders to what he calls spirit. This surrender supports an empathetic listening and clarity that engenders trust and depth in participants and enables him to dive directly to the heart of the matter. Eldra served 24 years of a life sentence; he spent the last eight sitting with Inside Circle at New Folsom Prison. Today, he is dedicated to giving incarcerated people and the public what he received.
Ken is the founder and current president of the EKR Foundation, a photographer by trade, and the son of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Ken was the principal care provider for his mother in the last nine years of her life until her passing in 2004.His responsibilities in the EKR foundation include handling more than 80 publishers of Dr. Kübler-Ross’s work in 43 languages, public relations, copyright and trademark issues; developing international Kübler-Ross chapters; developing strategic partnerships; and preserving her archives. While growing up, he traveled with her extensively while on her numerous foreign trips, witnessing her lectures and workshops. Ken has lectured on his mother’s legacy for hospices and various conferences in South America, Asia, and Europe. Ken is currently a consultant on several film projects related to her work, including a major motion picture, a television series, and various foreign and domestic documentaries.
Ken is proud to serve on the board of directors for Open to Hope as well as on the advisory board of the Humane Prison Hospice Project. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a passionate advocate for dignity at death for prisoners. Among her efforts for humane end-of-life care in prisons, she was instrumental in the creation of the still-vital prison hospice unit at California Medical Facility. Her spirit continues to infuse such efforts with the boundless inspiration she has given to generations to create care for all of us as we die, wherever we are.
Nate Hinerman, PhD, LMFT
Nate is an associate professor of psychology and former dean of undergraduate studies at Golden Gate University, San Francisco. He is also on the faculty at the University of San Francisco, where he teaches in the nursing school and the religious studies department. His research intermingles philosophical and psychological approaches to topics such as human suffering, dying, and loss.
Some of Nate’s books include: On Suffering: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue on Narrative and the Meaning of Suffering; New Perspectives on the End of Life: Essays on Care and the Intimacy of Dying, The Presence of the Dead in Our Lives; New Perspectives on the Relationship between Pain, Suffering, and Metaphor; Blunt Traumas: Negotiating Suffering and Death; and Care, Loss, and the End of Life.
The international conference on hospice and palliative care that Nate organizes, the largest of its kind, is in its 18th year. He serves as chair of the San Francisco End of Life Network, a community-based support and education group for hospice and palliative care professionals and patients, now in its 21st year.
Nate has been a trainer for the Brothers’ Keepers Program at San Quentin. He is also a psychotherapist, helping clients transition amidst loss.
Katherine Pettus, Ph.D.
Katherine is the advocacy officer for human rights and palliative care at the International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care (IAHPC). She holds a PhD in political theory from Columbia University and a master’s degree in health policy and law from the University of California, San Diego. Her PhD dissertation appeared as a book, Felony Disenfranchisement in America, now in its second edition with SUNY Press. Katherine is Human’s international contact.
Ira Byock, MD
Ira Byock, MD, is a leading medical authority and public advocate for improving care through the end of life. Ira is an active emeritus professor of medicine and community & family medicine at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine. He is founder and chief medical officer of the Institute for Human Caring, a component of Providence Healthcare System. The Institute drives transformation in clinical systems and culture to make caring for whole persons the new normal. Its change strategies produce measurable and scalable improvements in health care quality and efficiency.
Ira has been involved in hospice and palliative care since 1978. His research has contributed to conceptual frameworks for the lived experience of illness; measures for subjective quality of life during illness; and counseling methods for life completion. He is a past president of the Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
From 1996 to 2006, Ira directed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care national grant project, which developed prototypes for concurrent palliative care within mainstream health care. From 2003 to mid-2013, he led the palliative care program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Dartmouth Health System based in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Ira has authored numerous articles in academic journals. His first book, Dying Well, has become a standard in the field of hospice and palliative care. The Four Things That Matter Most is widely used as a counseling tool within palliative care as well as pastoral care. The Best Care Possible presents the potential for health care transformation. Ira lectures nationally and internationally.
Ira became interested in supporting incarcerated people who are ill and facing the end of life even before studying medicine. As a draft dodger, he couldn’t escape the feeling that “if not for the grace of God” (and white, middle-class privilege) that could be me. As an early meditator, he subscribed to the monthly prison hospice newsletter that Fleet Maul and Ram Dass published. He learned that for people destined to die in prison, freedom is possible within, and that this work goes to the heart of what it means to be human.
Diane has more than twenty years of business development, fundraising, and marketing experience on behalf of mission-driven organizations. Diane’s work with Humane is a natural progression of her commitment to transform our approach to end-of-life care for all.
She has worked with Zen Hospice Project for more than a decade, providing leadership in strategic planning, program development, and fundraising. At Presidio Graduate School, Diane played a major role in the development of the largest and fastest growing graduate school dedicated to sustainable management. She has worked in social sectors from affordable housing to international development on both coasts and in communities located in Africa and Asia, including the Institute at the Golden Gate, BRIDGE Housing Corporation, World Learning, and the Global Security Institute. She holds a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University and studied architecture at the Boston Architectural Center.
Venerable Professor Geshe Phelgye
Venerable Phelgye, a former member of Tibetan Parliament in Exile and founder of Universal Compassion Foundation and Buddhist Studies and Meditation Center in Spokane, is the Global Scholar and mentor at Eastern Washington University.
In 2006, while on his U.S. teaching tour — well before Ladybird Morgan met Marvin Mutch — Venerable Phelgye visited San Quentin, shared a healing meditation with prisoners, and went on a tour led by Marvin. Marvin requested that he make a personal visit to a prisoner who wanted to die instead of going to death row; He did, and the prisoner passed away peacefully within the next 24 hours. As fate would have it, more than a decade later, Marvin shared photos from this visit and Ladybird recognized Professor Phelgye as the very same cherished teacher leading a Buddhist Sangha supported by her family in Spokane.
Michael Satris, March 25, 1950–July 29, 2020
Mike’s sudden death on July 29, 2020, sent a ripple of deep sorrow throughout the prison, legal, and private communities who knew him. It was in The Law Offices of Michael Satris where the first seed of the Humane Prison Hospice Project was planted. For decades, he ran his private law firm emphasizing post-conviction remedies, prison law, and capital litigation. In 1976, Mike co-founded the highly regarded and still operating Prison Law Office — a nonprofit corporation providing legal services to the prisoners at San Quentin. He was the director there until 1984.
We thank you, Mike, for your support, guidance, and life’s work. Your dauntless spirit will continue to elevate our mission.
“Before my cellmate of five years passed, he begged me to take care of him. So I did. I fed him. I cleaned him up. When he had to go to the hospital, he fought them. He wanted to come back. Him dying made me want to change. He was my friend. The person who took care of him, that was a good part of me.”
– Lenny, a Brothers Keeper, trained in end of life care by Humane Prison Hospice Project team