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Founded in 2003 by Lesia S. Cartelli

Angel Faces was created to transform the lives of adolescent girls with severe, permanent scars and disfigurements from burn injuries and traumatic events.


The intensive residential retreat was founded by Lesia S. Cartelli, who endured a severe burn injuring and subsequent scarring in a natural gas explosion as a child in 1969. As an adult she recognized the psychosocial needs of adolescent girls with disfigurement as they navigate the challenges of adolescence, rejection and ultimately acceptance.  Lesia has also personally experienced the challenges of maturing as an adolescent and professionally witnessed, as an adult, the struggle girls (and now young women) have with social interactions, making friends and simply "fitting in" that plague adolescent girls who live with disfigurement. 

In Cartelli's experience, (as the founder of a burn camp she developed in San Diego), she became aware of the need and inspiration for something more than a burn camp. 

Angel Faces was launched.  

The retreat began in 2003 as a three day/two-night retreat in Julian, California. The site was affected by wildfires of 2003; forcing a new retreat location at the base of the San Joaquin Mountains, Corona, CA. In 2011, Angel Faces launched its first Level II program for young women ages 19 - 29.  Currently Level II retreats focus on mentorship, leadership, goal setting and resilience. 

In 2013, Angel Faces was invited to the east coast of America, landing in a sacred location of Wolfeboro, NH, where they partner with Prep school, Brewster Academy, while daily programs are held on private lakeside grounds. 


Over the past sixteen years, this small but mighty nonprofit has reached hundreds and thus thousands of trauma patients through the ripple effect. Angel Faces has received many prestigious awards for this innovative and educational program including our research.

The idea for Angel Faces evolved as a result of Lesia's severe burn injury when she was 9 years old

Lesia understood first hand the challenges of making friends and building self-esteem as a young girl with facial disfigurement

Angel Faces Healing Retreats have helped hundreds of adolescent girls and young women develop the skills to thrive in their communities and feel confident inside and out.


Lesia S. Cartelli, 

Speaker | Author | Founder & CEO

Visit Lesia's website


Nine-year-old Lesia S. Cartelli lived through the total demolition of her grandparent's home that resulted in burns covering 50 percent of her body and face.


Heart of Fire is an intimate story of pain love and healing, that offers valuable lessons on turning tragedy into triumph.

"This is a story you will still be thinking about tomorrow"

– Barbara Walters,

ABC News 20/20

Click here to purchase a copy of Lesia's book, Heart of Fire, or get the Audiobook version here.

Listen to Lesia's latest podcast interview here.

Support Our

Next Retreat

Angel Faces makes a huge impact in the lives of the girls and young women we serve. We are always looking for volunteers and organizations to partner with. Through your support, we can continue to transform the lives of girls and young women who hurt inside and out, and show them how tragedy can wake us to life’s richness.

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