Fresh Start Ventures purpose is to empower others to create
a new start after incarceration.

 

ABOUT US

Fresh Start focuses on enabling individuals to create a successful life emotionally, spiritually, socially, physically, and financially. Each year we provide hope, training, and support to previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community and their families. Men and women are welcomed into our ecumenical organization that believes in the power of love to change lives. We offer a program that helps individuals by developing and setting goals in the five areas mentioned above. In addition, Fresh Start assists with housing, home ownership, education, employment, and entrepreneurial incubation. 


WHY DO WE NEED FRESH START?

In addition to converting individuals from being a financial drain on taxpayers, to being taxpayers themselves, many of the men and women incarcerated are parents. These are Mothers and Fathers of children who have the ability to make changes that will affect future generations. When the cycles of generational drug abuse, poverty, and criminal behavior are stopped, men and women will have the resources, education, and energy to nurture growth and success for their own children. We believe that by investing in this population and directing our time and resources to uplifting, educating, and embracing; we will reduce the recidivism rates and change lives and families for good.

Recidivism among offenders is extremely high: Currently nearly 70% of offenders in the State of Utah return to incarceration after their release.

“The math on these sorts of initiatives is simple,” says Adam Gelb, a public-safety specialist at the Pew Center on the States: A day in prison costs $79 on average; a day on probation costs $3.42. “States can substantially beef up supervision in the community and do it at a fraction of the cost of a prison cell,” he says. (Wall Street Journal March 20, 2010).

 


Board of Directors

 
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David Donaldson

Executive Director and Founder

 

While volunteering in the Utah County Jail as LDS clergy, Dave was inspired to find a solution for those who were leaving the jail system with no resources or support on the outside. He often drives around with sleeping bags in his truck to give to those who are without shelter. Dave's mission is to help those who are broken find hope. Dave's says that everything he has experienced in life has led him to this purpose. His background is in real estate development and construction. He sat on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity where he led many fundraisers and wrote their original mortgage documents. He is an accomplished teacher and public speaker. His resume includes over three decades as an entrepreneur, Seminary and Institute teacher in the LDS Church Education System, Contractor and Realtor, and a Qualified Intermediary.

 

 

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Linda Donaldson

Director of Women’s and Children’s Outreach and Co-Founder

 

Linda has a passion for helping women and children. Her goal is to see that women can strengthen themselves so that their future and their children’s future is one filled with hope. She herself was at one time a single mom and knows the struggles of addiction. She is currently a mentor to several women and works with the women at the Utah County Jail and Timpanogas Facility in Draper. She has a degree in Child Development as well as Environmental Health and Safety. She has worked 11 years as the DOT Compliance Administrator for Savage Services. She has a background in teaching elementary school. She is also a business owner. Linda has four children.

 

 

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Joseph Spencer                       

Vice President

Beginning in 1985, Joe Spencer served in the US Air Force stationed in Las Vegas, Nevada.  After separating from the Air Force, Joe graduated with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science in 1991. Joe developed software for WordPerfect, and served in technical leadership roles at Ameritech, Netopia and ActiveCare. Joe turned his full attention to buying, renovating and selling residential rentals Utah in the late 1990s.  As his rental portfolio grew, Joe transitioned into development of residential subdivisions and self storage.  Currently, he continues to develop real estate projects in Utah and Wasatch counties.  Joe is the founder of Utah P3, a company that facilitates partnerships between developers, municipalities and funding sources.  This funding supports municipal projects such as drinking water, wastewater and transportation through special assessment bonds and capital leases.

Joe has served in several organizations. He serves as a founding board member of John Hancock Charter School beginning in 2000 with responsibilities for facilities and real estate matters.  Joe was instrumental in the purchase of the land and buildings that John Hancock Charter School uses to teach k-9 students. Joe serves as Chairman of the Hideout Local District #1, a local district in Wasatch County dedicated to building wastewater, drinking water and transportation projects that support residential and commercial development in Hideout, Utah. Joe also was a founding member of the Pleasant Grove Business Alliance, an organization to promote business interests in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Additionally, he serves as a volunteer with his church to help those needing career upgrades and training across multiple congregations.

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Lee Johnson Ph.D.

Board Member

 

Lee is a professor at Bringham Young University and a Therapist. His research focus is on examining the relationship between physical exercise, and improved sleep, and reduced stress on marital and family outcomes; emotional regulation process in clinical couples and families; and the therapy alliance. Lee is a father and husband. Lee works with helping students become therapist. Lee also works with research and clients on the effects of trauma and healing.

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Ryan Berg

REAL Transition Advisor

 

Ryan Berg serves as the REAL Transition advisor for Fresh Start Ventures. After experiencing incarceration first hand he became involved in becoming part of the solution to the issues that incarcerated individuals face, both during and after incarceration. He is passionate about developing change in himself and others. Ever seeking adventure, Ryan seeks to spend as much time as possible outside with his children and family. His ideal life could be summed up in the words of John Muir - “The mountains are calling and I must go”

Susan B. Larsen

Board Member

 

A 30-year banking professional and graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington in 2005.  Susan has been a producer and manager in both local and regional retail and commercial banking. Susan has served on numerous advisory boards and committees for non-profits in Utah, including: Seekhaven Family Crisis Center in Moab Utah, that provides emergency services, legal counseling, personal & family counseling, housing and support services to victims of domestic violence in the Grand and San Juan Counties. People Helping People in Salt Lake & Provo Utah, whose mission is dedicated to reducing the number of children living in poverty by teaching low-income women, primarily single mothers, how to earn an adequate income through stable employment that pays a living wage Utah Valley University Department of Community & Continuing Education in Orem Utah, to reach out to the community to assist in additional learning and certification courses to expand knowledge and employment opportunities. 

Project Read in Provo Utah, seeks to prevent and alleviate adult illiteracy in Utah County by providing resources and one-on-one tutoring to help individuals improve their literacy skills. Utah Bankers Association in Salt Lake City UT is the professional and trade association for Utah’s commercial banks, savings banks, and industrial loan corporations.  It serves and advocates the interests of its members.  Each year members serve on UBA boards, committees, and take part in combating fiscal illiteracy by education Utah’s consumers. 

Chelsea Hicken

Chelsea Hicken

Event Manager

 

Chelsea is a Utah native who grew up loving nature and conservation. She traveled extensively throughout the U.S. honing her skills in organization and management while working in the most beautiful places including Zion, Grand Canyon, Tetons, and the Outer Banks. When the tiny house movement started to gain recognition, Chelsea recognized a solution to a long standing problem we have in the United States, affordable housing. Plus, it offered the added benefit of ways to conserve materials, space, resources, and to live a life of minimal things and maximum satisfaction. She continues her education goals at SUU in Cedar City by majoring in Construction Management. Long term she'd like to see tiny home villages across the country, and especially in Utah, where thriftiness and conservation walk hand in hand. You may catch her in the wilds of Utah hiking up Santaquin canyon, Canyonlands, or her much beloved, Zion. If you do, be sure to stop and say, "hi!".