About FREE TO BE
Free to Be is a non-profit organization that provides character-based, youth development education for preteens and teens, taught by young adult staff, middle school and high school aged Peer Educators. Our age -and culturally- appropriate programs focus on providing young people with the information and skills necessary to make healthy life choices that will support their future aspirations. Through our educational components, young people realize that there are benefits to avoiding high-risk behaviors and there exists a community to support their decision.
In 1992, our program was originally founded to equip teens with life skills to delay sex until marriage and form healthy relationships. Since those early years, Free to Be has reached more than 90,000 young people. We have since developed and expanded our educational materials and leadership program to address additional social-emotional issues facing preteens and teens today.
Jenean Thom joined Free to Be as Executive Director in April 2017. Jenean has worked with teens for more than 20 years as a high school and junior high vocal music teacher, youth leader, and mentor. Seeing the potential in youth is something that Jenean feels deeply about. She brings a passion for healthy choices and positive self-image for the teens of Sonoma County. Jenean is an energetic, detailed, and enthusiastic leader and is eager to add that to the Free to Be team. She brings with her, experience in program management, teaching, graphic design, communications, and volunteer coordination.
Jenean has been a resident of Santa Rosa since 2007 and in her spare time you can find her on the sports fields cheering on her two sons, riding bikes as a family, and spending time with her husband, Jason.
Caleb Young is the Program Manager for Free to Be. He directs the Free to Be curricula including My Life, Teen Panel Presentation and Junior Life Choices. In addition, he leads the charge on the Peer Educator Leadership Program including recruitment, selection, and training of all curriculum educators. Caleb came to Free to Be having over 10 years of experience in multimillion-dollar restaurants with seven of those being management, training, and development. He has been working with teens since he was a teen, and absolutely loves it. He recently married the love of his life and wants nothing more than to be a good husband and someday, a good father. He also loves fitness, superheroes, and dad-jokes making him as hip as they come.
Malia Saechao is a Santa Rosa resident that joined the team in February of 2021 as the Program Assistant. Malia has a background of working with the youth and is majoring in Psychology to specialize in working in Mental Health Services for at-risk youth. She has a strong passion for inspiring and empowering children to reach their full potential and to bring more positive influence in our society. Malia is compassionate, insightful, and has a heart that is dedicated to being a servant leader. In her free time, you can find her either hiking, practicing yoga, reading a new book, or cuddling with her puppy.
School Counselor at RVUSD
President and CEO of Summit State Bank
Founder of Free to Be
Wealth Manager at JDH Wealth Management
Former Peer Educator, Accounts Payable Oliver’s Markets