About Us

Open Hearts Open Minds’ mission is to nurture inner transformation through dialogue, silence, education and the arts, in order to promote peace, love and understanding.

Our Board

Johnny Stallings, Executive Director, has been an actor, director, teacher and writer for the past 45 years. His solo performances include Shakespeare’s "King Lear" and "Hamlet." Johnny has been working in prisons since 2005, and founded Open Hearts Open Minds in 2007.

Carla Grant, President, hails from Texas and studied theater there, first in church, then in college. Since moving to Portland, she's studied and traveled with Scott Kelman, co-produced ScratchPDX, collaborated in Liminal's resurgence, and even danced in the Opera. She and her husband, Don Kern, direct Theatre at Coffee Creek.

Claire Stock has a background in communications where she has worked in internet marketing and video production. Her passion is to find the intersection between the creative arts and social justice.

Katie Radditz, Secretary, is former owner of Looking Glass Bookstore, served on the Board of the Friends of the Multnomah County Library, the advisory board for Oregon Institute for Literary Arts and the Board of World Steward. She teaches Creative Writing at PNCA and has been Director of Adult Programs at the First Unitarian Church in Portland.

Patrick Walsh is a theater director who believes in the power of language, art, and community to change lives. He has a degree in Fine Arts Communication and Theater from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and has been working in theater since 2007. Patrick was Co-Producing Artistic Directors of Post 5 Theatre.

In addition to facilitating Group Dialogue discussions at Two Rivers Correctional Institution, Dick Willis is a long term care ombudsman for the state of Oregon and delilvers Meals on Wheels daily.  He's currently working with his grandkids and great grandkids on computer applications development.

Advisory Board

Curt L. Tofteland is the founder of the internationally renowned Shakespeare Behind Bars (SBB) program. Founded in 1995, SBB facilitates 10 programs for juvenile and adult offenders behind bars and juvenile offenders beyond bars in Kentucky and Michigan.

Zeina Daccache is a drama therapist and award winning filmmaker from Beirut, Lebanon. Her films, including "Twelve Angry Lebanese" and "Scheherazade's Diary" track her work as drama therapist and director of theatrical performances in both men and women's prisons in Beirut.

Ashley Lucas, Associate Professor of Theater & Drama and Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. PCAP fosters the creation of original work in the arts in Michigan’s adult and juvenile correctional facilities, urban high schools, and communities across the state.

Bushra Azzouz was lead faculty member of Portland's NW Film Center and director of the award-winning documentary AND WOMAN WOVE IT IN A BASKET and more recently, WOMEN OF CYPRUS. She holds a BA from Reed College and an MA from San Francisco State.


Bushra Azzouz co-facilitates our Dialogue Group at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. She is making a film called A Midsummer Night's Dream in Prison about our 2010 production of Shakespeare's play at Two Rivers.

Will Hornyak brings his talents as a gifted storyteller to OHOM's prison programs. An advocate for storytelling as a change agent, Will uses his stories to inspire discussion among the adults and children in Oregon's prisons, jails and detention centers. He has taught storytelling workshops at both Coffee Creek and Columbia River.

Deborah Buchanan co-facilitates our Dialogue Group at Two Rivers Correctional Institution and our Arts in Prison program at Columbia River Correctional Institution.

Patrick Seraya co-facilitates our Music Program at Columbia River Correctional Institution.  Born in Congo, Patrick began his musical journey at the age of seven, learning from many great guitar players in the Kinshasa area.  He has lived and traveled throughout African before finally setling in the United States. 

Nancy Scharbach co-facilitates the Dialogue Group at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. Nancy is a long-time supporter of OHOM and has shared her amazing artistic skills for  costume, props and stage design. Additionally, she has become an experienced ear for our participants.

Don Kern is co-director of Theatre @ Coffee Creek.  He's been involved in many local theater productions, working on tech, performing, producing, writing, directing.  He's also a long time community activist, volunteering on environmental issues, gay rights, workers' rights, economic justice.  Prison theater is the perfect blend of those two passions. 

Jude Russell co-facilitates our Dialogue Group at Two Rivers Correctional Institution.

Mark Mojdehi works on the music program at Columbia River Correctional Institution.

Kristen Sagan co-facilitates our Dialogue Group at Two Rivers Correctional Institution.

Bill Faricy co-facilitates our Dialogue Group at Two Rivers Correctional Institution.

Claire Stock is a longtime volunteer with Open Hearts Open Minds.

Our Story

In the Spring of 2005, Executive Director Johnny Stallings gave two performances of his solo version of Shakespeare’s King Lear at Two Rivers Correctional Institution, a state prison near Umatilla, Oregon. After each performance, he talked with the prison inmates in the audience. In the Fall of 2005, he gave two performances of Silence, and in the Spring of 2006, he gave two performances of Hamlet. The discussions after the shows were so extraordinary, that Johnny proposed to the prison administration that he facilitate weekly dialogues with the inmates.

With financial support from Jerry Smith and the Jerry and Donna Smith Family Foundation, in July of 2006, Johnny began regularly facilitating weekly dialogues among Two Rivers prison inmates. The theme of the dialogues is: “The Stories We Tell Ourselves: How Our Thinking Shapes Our Lives.” During these dialogues, prisoners discuss how to live a meaningful life while in prison, how to change one’s destructive patterns of life and thought in order to find happiness, and how to make a positive contribution to society.

Mr. Stallings formalized this work by founding Open Hearts Open Minds. Open Hearts Open Minds had its first board meeting on July 26, 2007, at which bylaws were adopted and officers elected. On December 26, 2007, the IRS granted Open Hearts Open Minds 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt status as a public charitable organization.

Members of Johnny’s dialogue group asked if they could put on a play. On March 12, 2008, they began rehearsals for a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. They gave four performances for their fellow inmates and two performances for the general public, which included members of their families, in late September and early October of 2008. This was the first time that inmates in an Oregon prison performed a play by William Shakespeare.

Since then, an annual play has become a tradition at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. Members of the dialogue group have performed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2010), and Twelfth Night (2011). In 2012 they performed their first non-Shakespearean play: Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose.

Open Hearts Open Minds provides a program under-which individuals can become certified Oregon Department of Corrections Volunteers. Our goal is to support and encourage many more people to share their knowledge and talents with prison inmates.

Our present focus is on our weekly meaning-of-life dialogues, planning on an annual theatrical performance by prison inmates and on raising money for our documentary feature film A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Prison by Bushra Azzouz.

We also plan to create more events and programs to bring about positive change in the lives of people who aren’t in prison.