Carmen was born and raised in Elk River, Minnesota. She studied Theology and Pastoral Ministry at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN. In 1983 she spent 6 months as a Lay Volunteer in Maracay, Venezuela with the Franciscan Sisters and when she returned to the US, she joined the Franciscan Community of Little Falls on April Fool’s Day, 1984. Carmen worked as a Pastoral Associate in a predominantly Hispanic parish in Chicago, spent seven years ministering in Managua Nicaragua where she worked with women and youth. There is still a strong relationship between Los Bufones Fieles de Nicaragua and the Faithful Fools of San Francisco.
In 1998 she co-founded Faithful Fools Street Ministry with Kay Jorgensen in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, where she currently lives and works. Carmen's presence in the Tenderloin is the natural culmination of years engaged at street level, listening, learning, and walking with her neighbors.
Carmen Barsody and Mercedes Gonzales, una bufona fieles de Nicaragua
Linda Chrisman experiences being between the rock and the hard place . . . literally as rests in the red rock canyons of Utah
Trauma Resilience Consultant
Certified - Somatic Experiencing
Linda came to the Faithful Fools in 2008 as a volunteer providing Somatic Experiencing (SE) trauma resolution sessions. Now, as part of the staff, she has expanded her participation to include advocacy, accompaniment, and education concerning trauma resolution, harm reduction and body-based approaches for resiliency. Prior to becoming a Fool, Linda maintained a private practice in wholistic bodywork and was a writer and educator in the field of Somatics. She holds degrees in Psychology and Philosophy and Religion.
Many years ago, Linda’s mentor told her: “If you are going to work with big trauma you have to have big fun!” Linda took that advice to heart and now periodically takes off for distant countries or wedges herself between boulders in the red rock canyons of Utah. Big Fun!
Dean, Institute of Street Level Learning
Sam’s life at the Fools began in 2011 with a short stint to do a little volunteer work creating an archive of oral histories to document the first 10+ years of the Fools. Half way through that project, Sam asked Carmen, “Hey, do you think I’d be of any use to the Fools full-time?” Carmen responded with a turkey sandwich and a big “Yes.” That short stint volunteering became a deep commitment to the Fools and the Tenderloin. Since those early days of volunteering, Sam’s energy has become focused on advocacy and eduction. After 25 years in higher education, it was a natural step for Sam to anchor the Fools educational programs and that became a natural path to community organizing and advocacy. For Sam, it is a joy to feel useful, be it maintaining the website, creating a few graphics for Fools Fables, or working with neighbors to address critical policy concerns.
Sam Dennison helping out on the roof of the Fools Court
Leah L. Laxamana
Steward of Community Resources
Leah is a community advocate driven by her commitment to make a positive difference at every opportunity. She is a 20-year San Francisco resident and her journey to Faithful Fools started with a street retreat in 2016, followed by joining the board membership, and then joining staff in 2020 to help foster connections and the spirit of abundance. Leah’s Peace Corps service in Honduras opened her eyes to the power of an engaged community and is honored to deepen her ties to the Tenderloin neighborhood. Her experience working in the business, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors and various community service highlighted the value of honoring and celebrating the common humanity between people of all backgrounds. Leah holds degrees in Public Administration and Social Sciences and is an ongoing student of the classroom of life.
Leah Laxamana and her good friend Berkeley