Our Team

Casey_v5_250x325Casey Gwinn, Esq.
President

Casey Gwinn is the President and Co-Founder of Alliance for HOPE International and the Founder of Camp HOPE America and is also the visionary behind the Family Justice Center movement, first proposing the concept of the Family Justice Center model in 1989. In 2002, he founded the first Camp HOPE America in San Diego and it is now moving across the country. Casey is a national expert on domestic violence, including prosecution, strangulation, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), and best practices. Prior to this position, Casey was the elected San Diego City Attorney.


Gael_v4Gael Strack, Esq.
Chief Executive Officer

Gael Strack is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of the Alliance. Gael is a national expert on domestic violence and strangulation. Prior to this position, Gael was the founding director of the San Diego Family Justice Center, former prosecutor with the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, defense attorney and deputy county counsel.


John Hamilton
National Director of Camp HOPE America

John Hamilton is the Director of Camp HOPE America. He collaborates with the Camp HOPE America team, human services organizations, and camps or conference centers to bring a hope-filled experience to children around the country. John works with experts in several industries, learning from their perspectives, and working to bridge the gap between the camp industry and social work field to incorporate trauma-informed care in the camp setting. John holds a master’s degree from Western Seminary, where he focused on leadership and social justice. He specializes in forging unlikely partnerships, developing unified teams, and moving people from theory into practice.


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Yesenia Aceves
Director of the Pathways to HOPE Project

Yesenia Aceves is the Director of the Pathways to HOPE Project and is responsible for the development and coordination of this program, which works with Camp HOPE America youth, guardians, and volunteer mentors.  The evidence-based Pathways program aspires to raise hope scores for trauma-exposed youth while exploring STEAM career paths.  She is also a professional artist infusing creativity into all aspects of the Alliance including art projects, branding, and graphics.


Chan M. Hellman, PhD

Professor – Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work
Adjunct Professor: Dept. of Health Promotion Science – College of Public Health
Director – The Hope Research Center

Chan M. Hellman is a professor of social work at the University of Oklahoma and Director of The Hope Research Center. He has written more than 150 scientific publications and has presented at numerous national and international conferences worldwide. Chan has also presented his work on hope with TEDx in the Fall of 2020. Chan’s research is focused on hope as a psychological strength helping children and adults overcome trauma and adversity.  This research informed the development of the “Hope Centered and Trauma Informed” training program. Chan is the co-author of the award-winning book “Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life” with his co-author Casey Gwinn, published by Morgan James.


Chelsea Armstrong
Program Manager 

Chelsea Armstrong is the Program Manager for Camp HOPE America. With Camp HOPE America, Chelsea provides logistical support to help Alliance partners implement Camp HOPE America across the nation. Chelsea worked directly with survivors as an AmeriCorps member with the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault by facilitating empowerment classes to women in the Wyoming Women’s Prison. A native of Denver, Chelsea is an avid camper and is a graduate of the University of Wyoming where she majored in Criminal Justice.


Alexa Peterson
Marketing and Communications Coordinator 

Alexa Peterson is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Camp HOPE America. After graduating from Arizona Christian University she spent a month in Uganda working with children who are orphaned and in need, as well as painting a large mural in a new preschool. She has experience working with nonprofits, homeless outreach programs, and children with disabilities. Alexa is passionate about assisting others on their path of growth and is thrilled to be a part of this team where children are offered hope and healing.


Alek Gastelum
Intern

Alek Gastelum is an Intern for the Alliance and provides administrative and programmatic support to Camp HOPE America and the Pathways to HOPE Project. Alek attended Camp HOPE America as a camper from 2014 to 2016 and has served as a Camp HOPE America Counselor since 2017. This experience makes him a key component on the Pathways to HOPE Project team as he assists with project planning and events.