Our Team


Jesse Gould - Founder

Founded Heroic Hearts Project after attending an Ayahuasca retreat in Iquitos, Peru on February 2017. During the week long retreat he instantly saw the healing potential of the drink and knew that it could be a powerful tool in healing the mental struggles of his fellow veterans.  Jesse was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico and grew up in New Smyrna Beach, FL.  In 2009 he graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Economics.  After working in investment banking for a short time he enlisted in the Army and became an Airborne Ranger for four years and three combat deployments. Most recently, he worked in finance in Tampa, FL  After struggling with severe anxiety for many years, he finally decided to go to an ayahuasca retreat which has had a profoundly positive effect on his anxiety and daily life.

'I know what it is like to be at the mercy of uncontrollable elements in your own head.  I also know the extreme relief of finally having these elements under control.  Ayahuasca provided this. We have the ability to help thousands who are suffering but we let politics and ignorance get in the way.  This is unacceptable.

I started this foundation because the therapy works,  I will risk what I have to ensure my fellow veterans get the treatment they deserve and a new chance at life.'  

I hope you join us in this fight

Yuriy Blokhin - Director of partnerships

Since his very first ayahuasca ceremony 6 years ago, Yuriy knew that this potent medicine has to be studied and responsibly shared with the world to address the current global mental health epidemic. 

Over the following years, Yuriy combined academic studies of psychology with professional work on helping launch a nationwide mental health safety net. The result of that work is a technology solution for proactive detection, risk triage, and real-time assistance for teens going through a mental health crisis on social media. 

Yuriy currently splits his time between running a business development consulting practice for tech firms and working with Jesse on the Heroic Hearts Project.


Krista Lajara - Marketing/Communications Director

Having a personal connection to the military and it’s veterans through her husbands years of service, Krista understands the very real need for expanding treatment options for those veterans suffering from PTSD. 

She brings her years of experience in Marketing and Communications from managing start-up companies and photographers in the fashion industry from New York City. Krista is thrilled to be partnering with the Heroic Hearts Project working to spread the word on the exciting new scientific developments of using Ayahuasca as a successful therapeutic treatment in the fight against PTSD.


Jared Rinehart - Integration Coaching

After attending his first Ayahuasca retreat in in 2016, Jared knew his mission was to help others through the plant medicine process.

Jared has worked as an ayahuasca facilitator in Peru and has a wealth of experience not only with working with plant medicines but helping people integrate their experiences as well. He is a certified Transformational Recovery and Integration Coach through Being True To You, as well as a former Infantry Marine. With his experience in these fields, he works one on one with veterans to help them reach their personal goals for healing and success in their everyday life. He has made it his mission to help others cross this bridge and, with gratitude, see their full potential through it all.

‘Ayahuasca has given me all the tools I will ever need, to get through any process I may be experiencing.  With these tools and integration, I am living in the best version of myself. I want nothing more than to share and help others see and experience this for themselves.‘

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Kate Pate, PhD - Director of Research

Kate is a neurophysiologist, lover of mountain sports, entrepreneur, and yogi. Her research career began over 13 years ago, borne out of a fascination with the brain, but specifically the brain-body-breath connection. In addition to the neural control of breathing, Kate has conducted research in the fields of neurotrauma, arthritis, cancer and radiation biology, human performance, mental health, and military (combat trauma) medicine. Work aside, Kate comes from a military family and has always been passionate about finding ways to help military service members and veterans. This passion, coupled with her interest in plant-based medicines and her journey to find ways to heal from her own traumas, led her to cross paths with Jesse and Heroic Hearts Project. She immediately knew she wanted to be involved in the organization and help further the mission in any way she could. Kate joined HHP as the Director of Research in early 2019 and has been working closely with the team to secure research funding and design rigorous scientific studies focused on investigating the ways in which Ayahuasca can benefit veterans suffering from PTSD.


Jariko Denman - Director of Military Relations

Jariko was born in Washington DC and as a military brat grew up all over the world. In 1997, at 17 years old he enlisted in the US Army. Jariko went on to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment for 15 and a half years during which time he deployed to combat 15 times in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002-2012 as a Weapons Squad Leader, Rifle Platoon Sergeant, and Ranger Company First Sergeant amounting to 54 months of total combat experience as part of a Joint Special Operations Task Force. Jariko Retired from active duty in 2017 after four years as the Senior Military Science Instructor at St. John's University in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles. Since Retiring he has entered the film industry as a Military Tech Advisor and producer. Since Leaving the Ranger Regiment he sought every form of traditional and holistic treatment for the symptoms of TBI and PTSD. After years of underwhelming results and continuing struggles Jariko found progress and new hope in plant medicine treatment and seeks every opportunity to continue his wellness intentions as well as aiding fellow veterans in exploring their own paths to a better future.


With a Special Thanks!