The SURVIVORS Story
Survivors of Torture, International is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for survivors of politically motivated torture and their families who live in San Diego County.
Since 1997, SURVIVORS has helped survivors to recover from their traumas through a holistic program including mental health, psychiatry, social services, and medical case management.
SURVIVORS empowers torture survivors to reclaim the strength and vitality that were stolen from them by brutal dictators and governments. The specialized care SURVIVORS provides these vulnerable individuals helps them to become self-sufficient and healthy members of their families and of our community.
We’re proud to be an accredited member of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. We’re also proud to be members of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs and the California Consortium of Torture Treatment Centers.
Meet Our Board of Directors
Jean Greaves, Ph.D., is CEO and co-founder of TalentSmart, Inc. and co-author of several books and assessments on emotional intelligence. Previously, she was the Director of Workforce Planning for Sharp HealthCare and Consultant with Workforce Development Solutions. She joined the board in 2017 and currently serves as board chairperson.
H.H. the Dalai Lama
Survivors of Torture, International has at its core the goal and ideal to relieve human suffering. Their reason for being is to help their clients to overcome the physical and mental pain that has been inflicted on them, to help them heal, grow, and thrive. There can never be a reason or excuse for humans to subject their fellow beings to the abuse of torture. It is our privilege as caring individuals to help to relieve that anguish. I am proud to offer my time and talents to an organization that has the cessation of suffering as its core value.
Carl H. Josephson, S.E. is a Principal Structural Engineer and the Managing Partner of the firm of Josephson-Werdowatz & Associates, Inc., Consulting Structural Engineers. Mr. Josephson is a licensed engineer in 20 states and consults throughout the country. He has served on a number of non-profit boards and is pleased to be able to offer his unique perspective to SURVIVORS.
In 2017, I was elated to hear that the SURVIVORS’ Finance Committee needed an additional member. Philanthropic work and community involvement have always been highly prioritized by my family, whose extended members include World War II victims. It was this connection that drew me to this organization and its honorable efforts assisting those who escaped torture in their homeland.
SURVIVORS’ participants and I are connected by our pasts, yet we work together with a focus on the future. I consider myself truly blessed to work with such an incredible organization and team, and I am thankful to use my experience in finance and accounting to help those in need.
Mr. Tarmo is a Certified Public Accountant with 20 years of experience. He earned his B.A. in Social Sciences from the University of California, Irvine and a Master’s in Accountancy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Loren started his career in public accounting and is proud to have been able to steer his career into the health services arena. He currently serves as CFO for PatientSafe Solutions in San Diego, CA. Loren began serving Survivors of Torture, International in early 2017 as a member of the finance committee and joined the board in 2018. He continues to serve as Chair of the Finance Committee and CFO of the organization.
Ms. Lopez is the executive director and founder of the Southern California Immigration Project, which is dedicated to providing pro bono and low bono legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations. The organization also educates the public about Female Genital Mutilation, a global health issue that can have devastating physical, psychological and social consequences for women and girls. In the past, she has acted as the Pro Bono Director and Asylum Director of Casa Cornelia Law Center. She earned her B.A. from the University of Southern California, her J.D. from the Western School of Law, and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1989. Elizabeth received the KPBS Community Hero Award in 2017 and the Peacemaker Award from the National Conflict Resolution Center in 2018.
Working with an orphanage in post-genocide Rwanda allowed for continued glimpses into the lives of those in need of community, seeking survival and safety. Field research allowed for me to interview business women in Rwanda, where I listened to stories about the spirit of motivation and how pain brings reconciliation and the power to forgive.
Studying poverty and hunger in Nicaragua led me to the meeting of co-traveler Bill Radatz, who shared the mission of SURVIVORS with me in 2001. I served on the board from 2001-2003 and returned in 2017. Being a part of the SURVIVORS team allows for me to continue to learn and hear stories from those who persevere beyond unimaginable circumstances to join and lead in this San Diego community, a community of which I am proud to be a part.
Paula Herring, EdD is Faculty Chair and Professor at DeVry University, where she has taught and led faculty and students for 18 years. Her professional background is in education and international business and she also serves on the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) board. She earned her doctorate from Fielding Graduate University in Leadership and Social Justice and was awarded a dissertation research grant from the Women’s Network of Gender Empowerment (WNGE). The Institute for Social Innovation Scholarship awarded her a Dissertation Topic and Research Award for her research about Rwandan women. Additional research, publications, and speaking engagements include the topics of inclusivity, entrepreneurship, human rights, and emerging economies.
For 15 years through June of 2015, it was my privilege to serve as the Director of Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego. During this time, I interacted regularly with the staff of Survivors of Torture, International, co-founded and led by Kathi Anderson. Survivors of Torture, International was our preferred provider of mental health services for our resettlement clients – refugees, asylees and victims of trafficking, who exhibited symptoms of being torture survivors. Kathi and her staff could not have been more professional or effective with our clients and case managers. We regularly turned to SURVIVORS for training and counsel on how to perform appropriate trauma-informed services.
Michael McKay is currently a lecturer at the Rady School of Management, UCSD, and teaches classes on personal ethics at work and managing diverse teams. He obtained a Doctorate of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from The Catholic University of America and is committed professionally to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. He joined SURVIVORS’ board in 2016 and serves as the Governance Committee chair.
Having worked as a pro bono immigration attorney representing survivors of torture, I understand the invaluable nature of the services that Survivors of Torture, International provides to survivors of torture in our community. It offers forensic medical and psychological evaluations that noncitizens can use as evidence in their immigration cases to secure lawful status in the United States. However, lawful status is just the beginning in a long journey of healing. Where I practiced outside of San Diego, I saw a gap in services—noncitizens received litigation support but not long-term counseling to help them rebuild their lives after torture. Survivors of Torture, International fills this gap in San Diego by providing much-needed longer-term therapy to help noncitizens and their families continue their journeys of healing. Such therapy can be the key to ensuring that survivors of torture and their families thrive after gaining immigration status. I feel honored to be a part of Survivors of Torture, International and the community of healing it has been forging in San Diego.
Pooja Dadhania is an Assistant Professor of Law at California Western School of Law where she teaches courses in asylum and refugee law and civil procedure. Prior to this position, she was a supervising attorney and teaching fellow at Georgetown University Law Center where she supervised students representing survivors of persecution and torture in immigration court. She previously was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles where she represented survivors of gender-based violence in immigration and family law matters. She has also served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Pooja received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, LL.M. with distinction from Georgetown University Law Center, and B.A. with high distinction from the University of Virginia. She is admitted to practice law in the state of California.
It was through SURVIVORS that I first learned about the disturbing prevalence of state-sponsored torture around the world and the trauma experienced by many refugees and asylum seekers living in our region. At the same time, I was inspired to hear so many stories of resilience and healing among survivors once they were able to access appropriate care in a safe environment.
As the lead program officer on several foundation grants made to SURVIVORS over the years, I was consistently impressed with the hard work, professionalism, and effectiveness of SURVIVORS staff and their network of clinicians and volunteers. As a board member now, it’s an honor to continue supporting the organization’s important work in helping survivors rebuild their lives so torture is in their past and not something they re-live every day.
Mr. Hall is the founder of Principia Planning & Consulting, which offers strategic planning and program support to the philanthropic sector. Prior to that, he served in key leadership roles at the California Endowment, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Mr. Hall received a B.A. degree from New College of Florida and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the board of SURVIVORS in 2020 and chairs the Strategic Planning Committee.
Ms. de la Garza is an Education Specialist with San Diego Unified School District and adjunct faculty with National University. She began her career teaching adolescents in a psychiatric hospital in New York. After moving to San Diego, Bridget held various teaching positions including coaching beginning teachers and supporting educational programs for foster, homeless, and refugee students. She earned her B.S. from Syracuse University and M.A. from San Diego State University. Bridget is a former officer of the San Diego Refugee Forum.
Our Board Emeritus Society
Meet Our Staff Members
Kathi 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 included 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.
Kathi is the elected North American representative and Executive Committee member of the Denmark-based International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims; co-founder and Executive Committee member of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs; and the Vice Chair of the State Advisory Council to the Refugee Programs Bureau. As a volunteer, she currently serves on the advisory boards of University of the Pacific’s School of International Studies, San Diego State University’s School of Social Work, Lutheran Office of Public Policy, and the Barbara Chester Award Committee of the Hopi Foundation. Previously, she served on the national board of directors for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service as well as Amnesty International USA.
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 hospitals, and outpatient programs. She also has over 8 years experience overseas working as academic staff at a medical school teaching psychology to medical students and nursing students. In addition, she obtained her certification in Psycho-Social Rehabilitation (PSR) in 2002 and holds a certificate in LGBTQ and geriatric mental health. She has completed TF-CB (Trauma focus cognitive behavioral therapy) training, a conjoint child and parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events. 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.
Katrina has served as SURVIVORS’ Operations Manager since October 2020. She previously served as SURVIVORS’ Community Relations Manager from July 2018-September 2020. She first connected with SURVIVORS in July 2017 when she served as a Graduate Fellow for the Board of Directors. She received her Master’s in Social Work at San Diego State University specializing in Administration and Community Development. Prior to joining the SURVIVORS team Katrina has worked in public mental health, policy development, curriculum design, sexual assault advocacy, nonprofit communications and management in both Northern and Southern California. Katrina earned a BA in Psychology and a BA in Women’s & Gender Studies at Sonoma State University where she also spent a year studying and living abroad in Florence, Italy. Her diverse educational and professional experience has continued to increase her passion and devotion to human services.
Clint has worked in government and public affairs positions in San Diego for more than 20 years. As the government affairs manager for Survivors of Torture, International, he will help develop and maintain relationships with local, state and federal government officials, NGOs, international organizations, other trauma service providers and community partners. Clint has supported survivors of severe trauma for more than a decade, and has also supported refugee health services and paramedics in Tijuana, Mexico. He also has consistently served on the board of directors of a number of local non-profits and community organizations for more than 24 years. Clint has a B.A in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
Heather has served as SURVIVORS Finance Manager since November 2019. She received her Master’s in Nonprofit Management through Regis University in Denver and a certificate in Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting. Prior to joining SURVIVORS, she worked in Corporate finance and as the Deputy Director for a nonprofit working with military veterans. She currently serves on the board for a nonprofit in San Diego encouraging the use of fitness in individuals working through a wide spectrum of challenges and trauma. After almost two years in the corporate world, she missed feeling like she was making a difference and started looking for a nonprofit who aligned with her personal values.
Elena joined Survivors as its Data and Evaluation Associate in August 2019. In May of that year she completed a PhD in Leadership Studies with a specialization in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego. She is a Certified Nonprofit Professional with over 20 years of experience in nonprofit work, and expertise in database management; social science research methods; policy analysis; grant-writing; and grant making; and is a member of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and the International Studies Association (ISA). Elena previously worked for a series of international development nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), advocating for more just and sustainable development policies. This career took her to countries across Latin America and Southern Africa. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a B.A. in Development Studies from UC Berkeley. She has taught in study abroad programs in Mexico, and in Central America in the aftermath of the wars of the 1980s. Through those experiences she gained a first-hand appreciation for the valor and dignity with which people make their way through almost insurmountable circumstances, and is deeply moved to find that again at SURVIVORS.
Winona Garcia is honored to serve individuals and families of SURVIVORS since June 2019. Though her parents were born and raised in the U.S., Winona grew up in the Philippines after her family moved there in 1997. This move sparked her interest in the lives of immigrants. This interest has always guided her path. In 2015, she earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies from Pepperdine University. Before joining SURVIVORS, Winona graduated from San Diego State University in May 2019 with a Master’s degree in Social Work. While in graduate school, she developed her knowledge of case management and social services at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, where she worked with patients from diverse language and ethnic backgrounds. Winona has also provided therapy to adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses at a short-term residential treatment center.
Karen Hodson has served as the office manager for Survivors of Torture, International since October 2020. Karen received her Associates Degree in Business from Mesa Community College and her Bachelors of Science in Business from Western Governors University. Karen was previously the office manager for a medical supply company and a military health insurance office. While working with the military there was a specialization in remote service members, their families, and wounded warriors. Karen is active in her faith community, volunteer work and community service.
From Violeta: Our clients are an example of courage and determination and I am honored they allow me to support them by connecting them with resources. I feel fortunate to know I am part of a community of healing for Survivors of Torture.
Violeta Flores has served as the Clinical Case Manager for SURVIVORS since January 2021. She received her BA in Psychology and a minor in Child Development from San Diego State University. Before joining SURVIVORS, Violeta began her case management experience with at-risk youth and later as a residential counselor in a domestic violence shelter. Her interest in the lives of migrant families then lead to serving over a decade of field experience in case management for immigrant unaccompanied children.
Jack provides school and community based mental health services through SURVIVORS of Torture, International to children and families in the Cajon Valley Unified School District. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with an MA in Counseling Psychology, and a second MA in Sociology. Jack has over a decade of experience in the field of community mental health, starting in 2007 with homeless and youth leadership programs in rural Northern California. Prior to arriving in San Diego and beginning with SURVIVORS, Jack worked as a psychotherapist in community based clinics throughout the San Francisco Bay Area located inside public housing facilities, domestic violence shelters, LGBTQ+ centers and public schools, and maintained a small private practice. Jack was a 2016 recipient of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Award for dedication and commitment to increasing accessibility of culturally responsive mental health services to underserved and marginalized communities. He has completed coursework at the S.F. Bay Area Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis, and is a member of the Foundation for California Psychoanalysis and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Meet Our Interns
After volunteering with various NGO’s abroad, Martina knew she had found a passion for international communities and a vocation to advocate for human and social justice. Now, she is entering her final year of the MSW program at San Diego State University with a concentration in Administration and Community Development. Martina is actively involved with the Network for Social Work Management (NSWM), is the Secretary for the SDSU Social Action Committee, and acts as a Student Mentor for her social work peers. Currently, she serves as a Board Fellow for the United Women of East Africa Support Team and is a grateful student intern with the SURVIVORS of Torture International family.
Heather is joining the SURVIVORS team as a MSW intern for the 2020 – 2021 academic school year. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Social Work degree specializing in Direct Practice from San Diego State University. She also earned a BA in Social Work from San Diego State University in May 2020. As an undergraduate she had the unique opportunity of interning at the Juvenile Probation Department where she was able to work with justice involved youth that suffered from substance misuse. It was there that she was also able to gain valuable experience working with an interdisciplinary team and to develop knowledge of case management. Heather has worked for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations that specialize in providing services to adults and children with autism, physical impairments and other developmental impairments.
Survivors of Torture, International is an Equal Opportunity Employer
SURVIVORS prohibits discrimination against employees, applicants for employment, individuals providing services in the workplace pursuant to a contract, unpaid interns or volunteers based on any legally-recognized basis, including, but not limited to, their actual or perceived race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status (including registered domestic partnership status), sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, lactation and related medical conditions), gender (including gender identity and expression), age (40 or over), sexual orientation, Civil Air Patrol status, military and veteran status, immigration status or any other consideration protected by federal, state or local law.