In fall 2002, Beth Waitkus founded the Insight Garden Program (IGP), the only evidence-based rehabilitation program in California designed to transform prisoners through connection to nature. Over the past three years, IGP has grown from a stand-alone program at San Quentin Prison to eight facilities in Northern and Southern California, two Indiana prisons (including a juvenile facility) and a re-entry program in New York City. With this substantial growth, IGP will continue its national expansion with its robust curriculum and become a “re-entry bridge” for people leaving prison and returning to our communities.
Beth has won accolades for her prison work and was featured in the book Eco Amazons: 20 Women who are Transforming the World by Dorka Keehn and she is the recipient of the Hotchkiss School’s 2013 Community Service Award. Beth has also been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.
As part of the MSOD program at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, Beth completed a master’s thesis entitled “The impact of a garden on the physical environment and social climate of a prison yard at San Quentin State Prison.” The thesis process was critical in reframing her thinking about systems change, resulting in drastic reduction in the cycle of incarceration. Beth graduated with a M.S. in Organization Development from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management in 2004.