History

The grace of God led me to create this organization.  It is built on Faith as its foundation. As ex-felons ourselves, we can reach people of our community to help guide them through the process of re-entry.
 

As an ex-convict and gang member it was the creation of Saved by Grace, through my Lord Jesus, that gave me a new life. Therefore, I understand and believe in the need of Faith to be included as part of the foundation for recovering individuals.

I was given the opportunity to go back into the correction facilities that I once walked through and to bring hope to
the lost.

Our reentry process starts from the inside out – both spiritually and physically.  We go into jails and prisons and spend time with inmates to find out their needs and barriers. We build a re-entry plan with them, not for them. We become a part of the support system for inmates and for family members who have also been affected by the incarceration.

Staff

Pastor Ronnie Muniz,
Founder & Executive Director

A recognized leader in faith-based supportive services, Pastor Ronnie Muniz has worked tirelessly to help the homeless, youth and formerly incarcerated people of San Francisco.  For the last fourteen years, while holding down a full-time job to pay the bills, Ronnie volunteered evenings and weekends to help his brothers and sisters in need.

 

As an ex-felon, former gang member and former drug dealer, Ronnie knows what it takes to turn a life around. After his release from prison in 1989, he worked with the Real Alternative Program in San Francisco in gang prevention. Dedicated to helping young people avoid his pitfalls, he became a gang prevention coordinator with the San Francisco Mayors Office Gang Prevention Program. As a gang prevention coordinator and youth advocate with the Bernal Heights Community Center, he facilitated groups on anger management and life skills, and created a men’s group for gang prevention at the Portrero Hill YMCA.

 

Ronnie’s work with juveniles includes his role as a Juvenile Hall Commissioner, where he oversaw operations. He also volunteered for the SF Focus Program providing classes in life skills and anger management. Ronnie offers the services of Saved by Grace in Youth Rallies around the city to support young people and reduce recidivism and facilitates programs in criminal and addictive thinking, anger management, life skills and relapse prevention in Juvenile Hall, and as requested by the courts.

 

Ronnie brought to bear his own experience with incarceration in his re-entry case management work at Walden House, Jelani House and Baker Place. He was a member of the San Francisco Mayors Office Re-entry Council working to develop programs and wrap around services. At the Portrero Hill YMCA, he was a men’s group facilitator and worked as a case manager and job developer for people coming out of jail and prison. He takes referrals for case management from San Francisco Parole, San Francisco Probation, San Francisco Juvenile Hall and San Quentin State Prison. A member of the Mentoring Men’s Movement, Ronnie helps to create healthier and safer communities by providing guidance and support to the incarcerated, previously incarcerated and others who are clearly striving to improve their lives.

 

Ronnie has worked with the homeless of San Francisco at the Hamilton Family Shelter and Homeless Prenatal.  In his support of victims of violence, he was part of the SF Community Response Network Council bringing services and support to the families of victims of violence.  

 

“Throughout my life I have made some good and bad decisions, but through it all I truly believe God had, and still has, His hand on my life.” Pastor Ronnie Muniz

Board of Directors

William Ortiz-Cartagena,
President

Born and raised in San Francisco's Mission District, William Ortiz-Cartagena has over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry, enjoying a successful career with Joie de Vivre hospitality. After leaving Joie de Vivre, William founded several companies and now focuses his efforts on the challenges experienced by underserved communities in San Francisco. William also served as Board President of the Mission Economic Development Agency, is the President of the Board for Mission Adelante, serves on the Board for Bayview S.O.L. and is an appointed official for the City and County of San Francisco as a Commissioner for the San Francisco office of Small Business.

Hazel Valera,
Vice President

Hazel Valera is the Executive Director of Clear Credit Exchange. Ms. Valera helps consumers achieve financial stability by resolving debt issues, cleaning up credit reports, and providing clear insight into the credit industry. In addition, she teaches financial literacy to business owners and consumers, especially under-served communities.

In 2014, Hazel received the Presidents Lifetime Achievement Award from President Obama. This is one of the highest honors awarded in the Points of Light Program, recognizing individuals who have volunteered more than 4,000 hours of documented service in a lifetime.

Iswari Espana,
Treasurer

Iswari Espana was raised in the heart of the Mission District. Iswari Espana is a proud San Francisco State University alumnus. He holds a BA in Political Science and BA in Latino/Latina Studies, with an emphasis on Community Relations, Policy and Law. As a professional, he has over 20 years of experience in management and supervisory roles in non-profit and governmental programs, providing sustainable resources to transitional youth, adults and families. He is a self-starter with a background in community relations, employment, housing and Criminal Justice. He has worked for corporate sales, the State of California, a nonprofit youth advocacy and empowerment center, and the City and County of San Francisco. He has been a notable advocate for youth and adults with physical disabilities involved with the Criminal Justice System. He served as a consultant and youth advocate for therapeutic services for at-risk youth in San Francisco. He has served on the Board of Directors for scholars program, adult re-entry programs, and a task force to implement and distribute stimulus funding from President Obama’s Administration to youth programming in San Francisco..

Jeffery Windham,
Board Member

Jeffery Windham is the Financial Treasurer for the Nehemiah Windham Foundation. Mr. Windham oversees and keeps the organization's finances and financial records, including signing and approving purchases and invoices. He also prepares and delivers a treasurer's report at board meetings and approves the organization's annual tax filing. The Nehemiah Windham Foundation provides housing to the homeless and incarcerated who are in need of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

DeAndre Jurand,
Board Member

DeAndre joined the Board in 2015 and brings expertise in the areas of community based nonprofits, substance abuse counseling for youth and in-custody case management.

 

He started his career at the age of eighteen as an advocate for victims impacted by gun violence in the Visitation Valley area. De Andre was then blessed with an opportunity to work with the incarcerated population focused on 18-30 years olds at San Bruno County jail. He also worked with Five Keys Charter School to develop a program pod focusing on substance abuse, education and life skills that inmates can utilize upon release.

 

Since 2012, DeAndre has been working as a youth substance abuse counselor for 12-20 year old boys to support and mentor them in juvenile hall and many schools through out San Francisco.

 

DeAndre holds an Associates Degree City College in San Francisco. He earned a California Drug and Alcohol Certificate and a Mental Health Certificate from City College in San Francisco. He is enjoys spending time with family, building things, reading, studying, backpacking, marathon running, cycling, adventure travel, writing, painting, cooking, and documentary film.

George Jurand,
Board Member

George brings over thirty years of criminal justice experience to the Board. Currently, he is a Program Coordinator with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department and is responsible for coordinating inmate programs in the county jail, and promoting and maintaining liaisons and networks with community organizations and city departments.

 

George also collaborates with adult probation and the Five Keys Charter School to ensure effective management of the Reentry Pod at the San Francisco County jail. He developed a mentoring program with community and faith-based organizations that provides support for in inmates while they are still in custody. 

 

As CEO of the Mentoring Men’s Movement, George helps to create healthy and safe communities by providing guidance and support to men who have been previously incarcerated and seek to change their lives to become productive members of their communities.

 

George is the Founder and Director of  ”STARTRAC” a certified Batterer’s intervention Program; co-founder of “The Healing Circle for the Soul Support Group” which was designed to support families who have lost members to homicide; and he has collaborated with the “No More Tears” program at San Quentin State prison to develop a curriculum for the criminal justice system and community based programs that practice  Restorative Justice Principles 

A Work Program

© 2020 Saved by Grace Ministries: Faith-based Prisoner Reentry Program in San Francisco Bay Area