Lesia Cartelli endured a serious burn injury over 50% of her face and body from a natural gas explosion at her grandparents’ at the age of nine. The home was completely destroyed yet her spirit survived. Not wasting her pain, Lesia is the founder and director of Angel Faces®, the first and only national nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide healing retreats and ongoing support designed to inspire adolescent girls with severe facial disfigurements to achieve their optimum potential and develop meaningful relationships for themselves, their families and their communities.
Cartelli has written a book about her life experiences, called Heart of Fire: An intimate journey of pain, love and healing.
Angel Faces® was featured on the Dr. Phil Show (December 2006) where Lesia was awarded the Heart of a Woman Award. In addition to the Heart of a Women Award, Lesia has received numerous other awards for this innovative unique program.
Cartelli began her career in 1991, as Director of Support with the Burn Institute where she launched and directed the first camp for burn-injured children in southern California. Cartelli moved onto become the Community Relations Representative with University of California San Diego, Regional Burn Center and then was named Executive Director of the Orange County Burn Association. During this 17 year span she developed and directed after-care programs for burn-injured children and adults who have endured serious burn injuries. Cartelli founded the first national retreat for adults who suffered from severe burn injuries.
Cartelli was on the founding task force implementing Critical Incident Stress Management for the San Diego Fire and Rescue Department, serving the Urban Search and Rescue, TF -8. Cartelli became Family Support Coordinator for the Critical Incident Stress Management Task Force after the 911 attacks.
Cartelli also spent two years as a volunteer for the Trauma Intervention Program in North San Diego County.
Cartelli has been featured on ABC NEWS 20/20, Readers Digest and several national women’s magazines. She has received numerous awards for the Angel Faces® program including the 10 News Leadership Award in San Diego January, 2008. Cartelli is a dynamic motivational speaker who lives her life with passion and purpose.
In 1994 twenty-five years after the explosion, Cartelli did an extraordinary act. She recognized that she could not help children and adolescent girls face their fears in life when she still had a fear of fire. Suited in full firefighting gear, Cartelli went into a “control burn” where wooden pallets were placed in a basement of a training tower, set on fire and burned throughout the tower. This exercise is designed to teach firefighters about fire behavior. Cartelli entered the building four times until the deep fear was released from her heart.
Two years after facing her fear and entering the fire, she married the Fire Captain from the San Diego Fire Department, Bruce Cartelli who escorted her into the burning structure.
Cartelli lives in Southern California with her husband, Bruce, a retired Battalion Fire Chief with the San Diego Fire Rescue Department and their standard poodle, Bentley. Cartelli spends her leisure time riding her Harley Davidson, traveling, snow playing, flying out of a helicopter on a cable, growing Angel Faces®, laughing, living strong and honoring each day as a gift…and working on her next book. Learn more at her personal website.
She can be reached at email@example.com.