Compassion Ambassador


A Compassion Ambassador serves a district, a neighborhood, a school or an organization or group. They help build bridges of understanding, inspire collective action for the greater good and advocates for equity in all environments. An ambassador can serve their own community or serve a different part of the capital region. They work with community leaders, elected officials, residents and other stakeholders to help weave a new social fabric.


The Ambassadors who work with Sacramento’s eight districts bring years of experience, wisdom and expertise. They work with the Council members and the district neighborhoods to raise the awareness of successful and help support struggling projects. They look for new ways to strengthen communication and collaboration between the council office and the district neighborhoods. Each Ambassador builds a district team with residents who love their community and want to share their voice, time and talent.


Compassion Ambassadors are local volunteers trained in this specific role. The ideal candidate should have a social mission heart and determination to help people align and move forward around common goals for social good. Tracks: For Your School — Youth and Adult programs
For Your Organization — Adult
For Your Neighborhood — Youth and Adult
For Your District — Adult and Youth Apprenticeship


If you are interested in being a Compassion Ambassador, please send us a message from our Contact Us page. We will connect with you to begin the conversation.

Meet Sacramento’s District Compassion Ambassadors


District #1

Joan Marie is an artist and owner of Compassion Central - an educational sanctuary for peace in Carmichael. This venue’s mission is to host and promote educational and cultural events and trainings including the Red Tent, that serve everyone in our community, especially veterans, women and girls.

Joan is co-founder of Compassionate Capital Region and has presented at the Parliament of the World Religions on our compassionate cities model. She is a Leadership Council Member of the Compassionate Arts Council and Co-Director for Compassionate Women & Girls. She is a Conscious Touch Educator and VP of Healing Hands Healing Hearts and Founder of The Alfred J Goularte Veterans Care program. As well, Joan is Director of A Therapeutic Alternative’s Compassion Program and holds a certification in Indigenous Cultural Awareness.

Sonny Walebowa

District #2

Sonny was born in Botswana, then moved to the United States in 1997 on a scholarship. Sonny holds a BFA in Film and Television Production and a Masters in Human Services specializing in Executive Leadership. As a theater group facilitator, he engaged incarcerated creators and volunteers in a national award-winning 12 week art-therapy program.

Recently, he developed a program for Sacramento Urban League called “UBUNTU.” Sonny is President of Vangoland Enterprises, a media company which focuses on storytelling and Botswana Tourism. In addition to writing fiction and screenplays for young readers, Sonny has written a biography on Nelson Mandela. He also speaks regularly at conferences on Storytelling and Technology.

Tynya Beverly

District #3

Tynya recently retired from being EDD’s Chief Learning Officer of 14 years with a total of 27 years with the State of California and specializes in Organizational Development. She is an executive coach and trainer in the areas of change and performance management conflict resolution & Mediation, Training for Trainers, Diversity, Facilitation and leadership training.

She is a community leader and spiritual practitioner in both community well-being and youth development and is currently Community Chaplain with the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Sacramento.

Pauline Haynes

District #4

Pauline is an Emotional Emancipation and Cultural Awareness Facilitator currently volunteering with Safe Black Space. She is a transformational life coach, community organizer and former radio show host discussing taboo topics for the purpose of understanding.

Among her many certifications she completed training through A Community for Peace, a trauma-informed social justice crisis center for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She has also volunteered for the Sacramento AIDS Foundation Hand-to-Hand program and for My Sister’s House. She is a former board member of Uptown Arts, as well as a past curator and promotor for visual and performing art shows with Phantom Gallery.

Melinda Penny-Washington

District #5

Melinda is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) working to improve understanding of health and wellness in her community. With a certificate in Transformational Leadership, Melinda helps others cultivate an understanding of indigenous wisdom and how cultural practices can positively impact health and wellbeing.

She is a facilitator, counselor and connector. Melinda works with Wellspace Health’s Women’s Health Clinics as a Gestational Diabetes Health Educator and CPSP Dietitian, with the Sacramento County Office of Education’s Preschool Shine Program as a Health Coach, and with New Dawn Recovery Center as a Health and Wellness Educator. She lives with her husband and children in Oak Park.

Melissa Hensel

District #6

Melissa has 15 years of clinical experience working with children, adolescents and adults in family service agencies, schools, health clinics and psychiatric departments. She values the importance of starting where her client is and respecting their personal values and beliefs, providing a safe non-judgmental environment vital to establishing open communication and clarity.

In partnership with Chill Sacramento, Melissa is leading the development and implementation of a school-based mindfulness program as a foundation for enhancing mental focus, self-awareness and emotional resilience.

Deatrice Lockhart

District #7

Deatrice is a business owner, community leader and volunteer. Through her marketing firm, she serves socially responsible private companies, non-profits and community groups. In addition to running her own business,

Deatrice serves as a Creative Coordinator for E2 Church in Elk Grove where she leads a bible study group for young adults. She sits on a committee for Dress for Success, helping women make the most of their second chance. She has served on the NAWBO Board of Directors, help bring NAWBO SB 826 to the floor (women on corporate boards), and was nominated by NAWBO in 2018 for the Achievement Against All Odds award. Deatrice has also lobbied with Assembly Members to bring awareness toward the small business sector.

Russell Johnigan

District #8

Russell is a trained facilitator with UCDavis’ Racial Healing Circles through its Health Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. He is a Union Representative and Contract Negotiator with Service Employees International Union (SEIU), working with California State Department leaders, State Legislators and oversight agencies. He’s held positions with the federal government including the Transportation Security Administration within the Department of Homeland Security.

Russell regularly attends Sacramento City Council meetings and has volunteered with the Arizona Veterans Stand Down Alliance while obtaining his law degree.

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