Jessy Fijak, MSW, Executive Director
Jess has worked directly with newly resettled refugees and immigrants at multiple capacities with three major nonprofit organizations in Chicago beginning in 2010. Her passion for cross-cultural community empowerment grew from her anthropology, sociology, and social work studies, her experience teaching youth in Ghana, Panama, and Thailand, and providing trauma-informed psychotherapy and counseling at a local nonprofit. Many of the evidence based therapies that Jess was using in her social work practice contain aspects of traditional yoga and meditation practices that have existed for thousands of years.
Jess spent time in the local Long Beach, California community obtaining her Master of Social Work and became aware of the lack of support and funding for the services that Wandering Wellness provides. Jess created a therapeutic yoga program during her first year masters internship at a center for adults with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Given the overwhelming amount of positive feedback that she received from the participants, she enlisted the assistant director of Wandering Wellness to carry on the program after her internship was complete. The success of that program, Jess’s own healing journey through art and yoga, her professional experience traveling and working in nonprofits, and desire to increase access to holistic healing modalities inspired her to create Wandering Wellness.
Jane Fijak, Assistant Director
Lauran Bowe Slagle, Art Program Director
Lauran has a Bachelors of Arts in psychology with a minor in art, and has been working in the community education field for the past 6 years. She has worked with youth across the city of Milwaukee as both a teaching artists and as a coach, and has earned certificates in both trauma-informed care and youth mental health first aid. She has volunteered with non-profits in both Ghana and Uganda, teaching art to local youth both times. Lauran believes in the healing power of art, and strives to continue to make it accessible to youth, no matter their circumstances.
Shara Riley, M-HYI, Group Yoga Instructor
Shara has found yoga to be one of the most practical and beneficial to lifestyle changes. In enriching her practice, Shara has a developed a desire to aid others in discovering the benefits of incorporating yoga into their lives. This desire has birthed her company NevaShame, LLC a yoga therapy and coaching service business that strives to eradicate the roots of shame utilizing Yoga and Soul Care. It is Shara’s belief that we are all uniquely crafted to live a life of authenticity and in doing so are in harmony with are personal frequency. Yoga and Soul Care are tools to aid us in finding our frequency and maintaining it.
Bri Ruben, Group Yoga Instructor
Bri has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychological Sciences with a minor in Studio Art from the University of Vermont. She received her 200-hour yoga teaching certification in 2017 and has since taught in Vermont, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and now California.
Originally from Texas and Massachusetts, Bri moved to Long Beach this past July to work as an Innovation Specialist at Long Beach Hillel. Her position is part of a two-year fellowship designed by Hillel International, a non-profit organization that builds Jewish community on college campuses. Two Jewish values that inspire Bri’s life and work are Tikkun Olam and Tikkun Asmit- to repair the world and to repair oneself.