SURVIVORS' dedicated staff oversees the day-to-day operations of SURVIVORS, coordinates the client services program, and provides training and education throughout the community, as well as trainings and debriefings for all contracted service providers.
The staff members are experienced and committed to the organization's mission, working in close collaboration with each other, as well as with other nonprofit organizations, community groups, funders, and volunteers.
In 1997, Kathi co-founded Survivors of Torture, International. She holds an M.A. in Counseling from San Jose State University and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of the Pacific. Her previous employment includes: Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice, Evaluator at Grossmont Hospital, Adjunct Faculty Member at the College of Idaho's Graduate Program, Director of Elks Hospital's Occupational and Rehabilitation Department and Refugee Resettlement Case Worker for the International Rescue Committee. As a volunteer, she currently serves on the advisory boards of University of the Pacific's School of International Studies and San Diego State University's School of Social Work. Previously, she served on the board of directors for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service as well as Amnesty International USA. She also founded Lutheran Social Services of Idaho.
“After considerable reflection, I approached George Falk and Bill Radatz about the idea of starting Survivors of Torture, International. I knew that such an organization was needed in San Diego because no other agency was deliberately serving torture survivors even though San Diego is home to the busiest border crossing in the world and has a large number of immigrants. I also knew that others had tried to start a similar organization but had been unsuccessful. Fortunately, many others believed in this dream and mentored and partnered with us. The dream became a reality. I began as SURVIVORS’ first board chair and after three years became the first executive director. Every day, I am reminded that it is not only an honor to work with dedicated professionals in this field but it is also rewarding to know we are all making a difference in the lives of our clients and in our greater community.”
Dr. Mahvash Alami joined Survivors of Torture, International in May 2011 to oversee the holistic, strength-based, recovery-oriented service program. She leads all ongoing development, expansion, and enhancement of client service programs and provides agency leadership with other members of SURVIVORS' management team. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from Alliant International University and obtained her license as a psychologist in July 2004. She completed her domestic violence certificate in 2004 and has been providing treatment to survivors of torture for the past 20 years. She has experience working in crisis environments, in-patient psychiatric hospital, and outpatient programs. In addition she obtained her certification in Psycho-Social Rehabilitation (PSR) in 2002. She has private practice experience working with survivors of torture. She is bilingual and speaks Farsi (Persian). She has been a member of the San Diego Psychological Association.
Leilani began at SURVIVORS in March 2011. She brings to SURVIVORS extensive experience in office administration and a passion for helping refugees and asylum seekers in need. She studied Sociology at San Diego State University and continues to be active in volunteering her time towards ending human trafficking. Her volunteer background includes organizations such as the Gabriela Network which supports the abolition of sex trafficking in the Philippines, and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan which helps Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, and equal rights. At SURVIVORS, Leilani maintains the client, contractor, and human resources databases, manages daily office policies and procedures, and ensures that everyone walking into SURVIVORS feels safe and welcome.
Suzanne Bacon joined the SURVIVORS team in August 2010 as the donor giving and communications coordinator. Suzanne was already very familiar with our work as she had been one of our contracted Spanish interpreters. She came to SURVIVORS with additional skills in fundraising having used the Benevon model for several years at a local nonprofit organization. Her other experience includes teaching English as a foreign language in the U.S. and in Mexico. Suzanne received her Bachelor's degree in French Literature at Carleton College and her Master's degree in Educational Technology at San Diego State University.
Josefina (Jossie) began with SURVIVORS in June, 2012. Jossie engages in all health-related services for SURVIVORS’ clients. She recruits and orients health care providers and coordinates the evaluation of clients’ medical status, as well as follows up with preventative services. Jossie completed her Master’s Degree in public health at San Diego State University. She took 2 years of coursework in the Global Health joint doctoral program at SDSU-UCSD, and she participated in a field trip to Jamaica through Infectious Disease Surveillance & Control. She obtained her medical degree and worked for 20 years in Mexico, her country of origin, as a general practitioner before coming to the United States. For the past 8 years she’s been focusing on the improvement of health conditions of minorities living in the U.S.-Mexico border region. She is thrilled to be part of the Survivors of Torture, International team.
Tricia began at SURVIVORS in July 2009. She works with the clinical team to perform, track, and document client services. She also monitors compliance with contracts and ensures highest standards. Prior to joining SURVIVORS, Tricia gained experience training and supervising Native American foster families and children; training, researching and coordinating duties for child welfare programs; managing activities for community service learning programs; and interviewing survivors of human trafficking. She is a co-author of "Globalization and Human Trafficking," an article published in the Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare in June 2007. Tricia holds an M.S.W. with an emphasis on administration from San Diego State University and a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University. She is a board member of Sun and Moon Vision Productions and serves as a mentor for three foster youth in San Diego County.
Alexey was born and raised in Kazakhstan, formerly a Soviet Republic. He received his B.A. from Washington State University in social sciences in 1996. After that he went back to Kazakhstan and worked for five years for the U.S. Agency for International Development as a project manager, managing large and small U.S. government grants and contracts. In 2003, Alexey immigrated to the United States with his wife and daughter and he joined SURVIVORS in September 2003. Alexey is responsible for managing financial aspects of SURVIVORS’ diverse funding portfolio and ensuring financial operations of the organization are efficient and accurate.
Tammy began at SURVIVORS in November 2012. She works with the clinical team to help clients with basic needs, such as access to food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. Tammy received her Master's in Social Work from San Diego State University with a school social work concentration. During her Master's program she also gained international experience in Thailand through an internship with Holt Sahathai Foundation, a foster care and adoption agency based in Bangkok. She also has her B.A. in Criminology, Law, and Society from UC Irvine.
SURVIVORS is fortunate to have the help of graduate-level clinical interns during the school year. They are under the supervision of the clinical team.
Julianne Carroll was born in Ancon City, Panama and moved to the United States when she was 4 years old. She grew up on the central coast of California and moved to San Diego in 2003. She received her B.S. in global business management and has worked in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Jordan, Peru, and the United Kingdom. Julianne returned to the United States in 2009 to pursue her master’s in social work at San Diego State University. She is especially passionate about international social work and helping people from all over the world.
CoreyAnn Friedrich was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. She attended Florida State University, receiving her bachelor's in social work in the spring of 2011. She also minored in both psychology and religious studies. CoreyAnn is currently in her final year of the master’s in social work program at San Diego State University. She is involved in the Mental Health Training Program and has a specific interest in working with those individuals who have survived different forms of violence, concentrating on the effects it may have on their mental health.