Want Breaking The Chains to present for your organization?
Who We Are

Our Agency

We are a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization located in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley. We work with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to Provide Hope, Healing, and Restoration to lives impacted by Human Trafficking.

The BTC campuses are a remarkable example of our community’s dedication to helping juvenile and adult victims exit re-occurring systems of exploitation. BTC operates a beautiful, safe house that provides long term shelter to lives impacted by human trafficking, a trauma treatment center that is equipped with an executive office, reception area, counseling offices, a large classroom/recreation area, childcare center, and a gym; law enforcement focused impact center, ER shelter, mobile command unit, and newly opened rural community offices. Our stellar trauma-informed services and evidence-based curriculums are operated by an army of volunteers and 12 paid staff members. This allows us to offer trauma-informed services regularly to an average of 75 survivors and their family’s every day. It has been amazing to see the vision launched just seven years prior come to life in such a short period. Please know that community support has been and continues to be essential to all that we do, and we believe that together we can break the chains of human trafficking in the lives of these precious survivors forever.

Our Founders
Debra Rush
Debra Rush
Founder / Chief Executive Officer

Debra Rush is the Founder and CEO of Breaking the Chains. Her insight and experience into this daunting industry are the driving force behind Breaking the Chains’ founding. Debra, too, is a survivor of human trafficking. In 1999, she was rescued and taken to a confidential location, which isolated her from the region where she had been held captive. Unfortunately, at that time, no avenues or efforts were in place to expose human trafficking, and there were limited resources available to help her cope with the specific trauma she had endured. In 2008, after years of guilt and shame, she found the courage and strength to begin her healing journey. This spurred her quest to rescue individuals trapped in human trafficking and who may believe there is no way out. Debra, who has a degree in Human Services, works closely with the Fresno Police Department’s Trafficking Task Force. She is an alcohol and drug counselor and a national trauma expert. Debra has gained notoriety as a passionate community leader, a proud alumnus of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Fresno Class XXXIII (33). She humbly holds the 2018 California State Woman of the Year and has just become a published author. Although she has accomplished much since her transformation, Debra’s most cherished achievement is being the proud wife of Mark Rush and the doting mother of seven beautiful children.

Tiffany Apodaca
Tiffany Apodaca
Co–Founder / Chief Operational Officer

Tiffany Apodaca is the Co-Founder and Chief Operational Officer for Breaking the Chains. Tiffany uses her 20 years of management to oversee the business operations at Breaking the Chains. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership, from Grand Canyon University. She sits on a few boards and committees to assist other Non-profits in the Central Valley. She is in the Leadership Fresno Class of 37. Her passion stems from the subjection to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that she experienced as a child – abuse that started at the young age of four and continued into her late teens. Her perseverance to overcome these issues gave her the passion to want to be a leader that leads by example while helping others see their potential. Tiffany is married to Tony Apodaca, they have 6 daughters and lots of grandchildren. She enjoys spending as much time as possible with family by feeding them and creating memories.

Our Team
Jennifer Duarte
Jennifer Duarte
Human Resources

Jennifer is the Human resource and accountant for Breaking the chains. She was born and raised here in the central valley. After High school she went to California State University of Fresno and graduated with a B.S. in Criminology with the option in Law enforcement. While at Fresno state, Jennifer also received a certificate in victim services. Jennifer has volunteered at The Heart of the Horse in Clovis, CA by helping youth with disabilities by riding horses. Her passion in helping our individuals and making a difference has brought her here. During her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

Cynthia Lawrence
Cynthia Lawrence
Case Management Supervisor | ER Services

Cindy is a Native Californian, raised in the mountain area. Cindy studied Technology and Computer Science in a private Southern California school. Cindy and her family moved to Colorado where she began working with the Denver Rescue Mission helping homeless families reach stability.  Cindy later joined the Senior Coalition in Bailey, CO, assisting elderly clients living in the Rocky Mountains, with little or no access to services.

After relocating to Bastrop, TX Cindy worked as an Intake Coordinator with the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry. She also managed several programs to assist the elderly and disabled with food support, activities and social events. Cindy also worked as an Ambassador with the Central Texas United Way, as a representative.

Returning to California ten years ago, Cindy began working with Fresno’s Level 1 Trauma-Center, as an Operations Manager, for their hospitality home. Cindy spent those years assisting out-of-town families with a place to stay; while their critical patients received treatment in the Hospital.

Cindy believes all individuals deserve a decent chance at a productive, independent and happy life! Cindy is passionate and mission driven to assist the under-served and abused. She enjoys spending time on her family farm, gardening, cooking, raising animals and enjoying friends and family.

Tawney Chenot
Tawney Chenot
Juvenile Services Program Manager

Tawney Chenot is the Juvenile Services Program Manager at Breaking the Chains, where she plans, directs, and manages youth services cases that are referred to Breaking the Chains from the Fresno County Department of Social Services. She creates and delivers a positive environment for all around her. She is solution-oriented, empathetic, and is ever so passionate about helping others. For Tawney, it is imperative to spread awareness and education to communities in an effort to help prevent human trafficking. Tawney is a proud alum of California State University, Fresno where she earned her master’s degree in Business Administration in 2022 and received her undergrad degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Law Enforcement in 2018. Tawney grew up on an Indian Reservation here in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada with both her parents and 3 siblings. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, and being surrounded by family and loved ones. Her passion extends beyond helping people but also animals of all sorts!

Sybil Kolbert
Sybil Kolbert
Trauma Programing Facilitator

Sybil Kolbert has been facilitating trauma programming for Breaking the Chains since January 2017. She is passionate about equipping individuals to move beyond their trauma and rebuild in life, faith and community. As someone who is no stranger to the upheaval that comes with crisis, Sybil believes that the opportunity to rebuild always comes on the other side of it. Sybil is a former School Psychologist, licensed coach and curriculum creator. She has had extensive training in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) science awareness and intervention, the Community Resiliency Model (CRM) and trauma-informed care. Sybil is from Clovis, CA, where she shares a home with her husband and three children.

Dominique Brown
Dominique Brown
CSEC Prevention Education Specialist

This is Dominique Brown; Mother and entrepreneur. Born August 28 1985 in raised in Fresno California Dominique has established rooted connections with her community and peers. Her resilient “ keep it real” personality and personal experiences with human trafficking and childhood trauma gives Dominique an opportunity to be relatable and compassionate to the victims and survivors she serves. Dominique uses her lived experience to consult with local anti-human trafficking agencies in the Central Valley, to bring about change and show hope to survivors like her.
“ I want to be the support I didn’t have.” In 2019, Dominique successfully graduated from the non-residential program at Breaking the Chains, and she continues to use her knowledge to empower survivors and raise awareness around her. She counts the most on God and family. Regardless of what life throws her way, as an advocate of faith, Dominique continues to stay strong, persevere, and do what is necessary to counsel and bring about change showing hope to survivors like her. Dominique is supported her by family. She is currently working as a Survivor Prevention Education Specialist at Breaking The Chains and aspiring to start a nonprofit named U Nique Cares that provides hair care services to at risk youth and CSEC victims and adult survivors.

Carol Bertuccelli
Carol Bertuccelli
On Campus Crisis Counselor

Carol is our Crisis Counselor here at Breaking the Chains! She was born in Bakersfield, CA. Carol graduated with a Masters degree from San Francisco State University and later received 6 California educational credentials in Psychology and counseling. After 32 years of being a school counselor for Fresno Unified school district, Carol taught at Fresno State in Counseling and Special Ed. She has been with Breaking the chains for 8 years and loves it here! During her free time, she values her church community at Prodigal church!

Jacky Zavala
Jacky Zavala
Non-Residential Case Manager/Victim Advocate

Jackelyn was born and raised in King City, CA. After graduating high school, she relocated to Fresno pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Fresno State. During her time at the university, Jackelyn participated in several clubs and took advantage of various volunteering opportunities. Most notably being a Peer Mentor for the Fresno Unified Prevention and Intervention Department. For over 3 years Jackelyn was given the opportunity to work closely with at-risk youth and assist in upholding a safe space for those who may need it most. It was during this time that Jackelyn found a passion for working with our at-risk community. Jackelyn also participated in “Trabajadores de la Raza”, a club that encourages student involvement in academics, community, and social work-related  issues. Jackelyn also took leadership roles in the Social Work Student Association club. A club that strives to bring awareness to the various issues in our Central Valley as they relate to social work. Outside of clubs and organizations, Jackelyn was also a clarinet player for the Fresno State Bulldog Marching band. During her free time, Jacky loves to spend time with her cats, family, and friends!

Lori Gonzalez
Lori Gonzalez
Residential Case Manager/Victim Advocate

Lori a resident of the Central Valley has a bachelors in social work and a passion for helping others. As a case manager Lori prioritizes the needs of our residential and emergency shelter clients and works alongside of them to develop and implement critical care services.

Sarai Cardenas-Yanez
Sarai Cardenas-Yanez
BTC's Parlier Campus - Case Manager

Sarai Holland is married and a devoted woman of God. Her responsibilities at the BTC campus extend far beyond case management. She is a trusted victim advocate and is always ready and willing to help co-workers. Sarai has a bachelor of science in criminology with an emphasis in victimology and a certificate in victim services. Working with BTC Clients has been her passion ever since she started here with us. She stated that she values each staff member’s time and support. She also enjoys her job and spending time with her family and friends.

Leanna Healy
Leanna Healy
Juvenile Services Case Manager

Leanna Healy grew up here in Fresno with her parents and younger brother after being adopted. Leanna is filled with compassion and empathy towards those in need. Leanna has a passion for serving others which lead her to graduate with a bachelor’s in social work from Fresno Pacific University in 2020. She completed an internship at City Without Orphans and was able to use her personal experience as an adoptee to provide services to foster youth and adoptive children. She has worked in in-patient mental health, where she found her passion to bring hope and healing to others. In the summer of 2021, Leanna married her husband, Jacob Healy, whom she met while working at Break the Barriers as a swim coach. In her free time Leanna, enjoys swimming, traveling, and spending time with her husband.

Bernadette Aganza
Bernadette Aganza
House Manager Supervisor

How awesome is it to get to do life with our incredible survivors!  Bernadette is attentive, caring, and always willing to be a shoulder to those who need her the most. We love our Mama B!

Nick Schulman
Nick Schulman
Donations Manager - House Manager

Nick was born 3 months premature on January 17, 1980 at 4:08 AM in San Francisco, CA. His major achievements in life include being married to his wife for 12 years and being a Father of two daughters. Nick proudly served 6 years in the Air Force, has completed 5 marathons, and played 1 year of college baseball for Butte College. Nick earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from University of Louisville Online and will graduate with a Masters of Science in Social Work (current GPA is 3.97) from University of Louisville Online in 2023. He is a current member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. The owner of Fleet Feet Fresno, Aaron Samansky, is someone in the community who he greatly admires, as he is a lifelong runner who has turned his passion into a career. He has overcome tremendous tragedy as he lost his daughter when she was 7 years old to a reckless driver. Nick is a humble and courageous team member who adds value to everything we do here at Breaking the Chains.

Alexis Jaime
Alexis Jaime
House Manager
Malissa Schartoff
Malissa Schartoff
CSEC Services Education Specialist - House Manager

Malissa is more than a House Manager, she is a BTC graduate, a mother to two beautiful children, and a grandmother to three. She is excelling as a CSEC prevention education specialist, and works with trauma professionals to conduct client assessments and emergency response care. Her ability to understand right where our clients are at and what they need is priceless.  FROM MALISSA, “BTC has given me so much love and understanding, they have excepted me for my past and still continue to love me when no one else would. BTC has blessed me to be able to help others as they have helped me. My passion is to care for people. I love to see others achieve their highest potential. We together must stand for something so we don’t fall for anything.”  Mathew 16:19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

BTC Board of Directors

Don Eskes - Board President - Fresno Mission
Miiko Anderson - Vice President - Fresno County ADA
Richard Herrinton - Board Treasurer - Fiscal Expert
Sandra Carnahan - Board Secretary - Halcyon Behavioral Health
Paco Balderrama - Fresno City Police Chief
Soyla Griffin - CEO, Valley Health Team
Nick Yovino - Retired City of Fresno Planning and Development Director
Darius Assemi - Granville Homes President

Our Partners