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
“I have been in the therapy and healing field for over 20 years. I currently have my own practice in La Mesa, California.In the past, while I was developing multidisciplinary outpatient services, I had the wonderful opportunity of working with Kathi Anderson. When Kathi approached me in November of 2000 to ask if I would help SURVIVORS develop their multidisciplinary medical component, I said yes. I felt strongly that anything Kathi was involved in was of good quality and would challenge me to give back to the community. I became a board member and have learned much through this role. I have seen the healing and compassion of others and the challenges that these strong individuals (survivors) face. If we as individuals respond to their needs they eventually become productive, healthy members of our community.”
Dr. Greaves is the award-winning co-author of the #1 best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book, translated into 25 languages and available across 150 countries. An expert in topics ranging from emotional intelligence, to leadership development, talent acquisition, parenting, and executive coaching, Dr. Greaves’ has been cited in major media, including Newsweek, Harvard Business Review, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Elle, Success Magazine, and Women’s World. Dr. Greaves lectures graduate-level seminars in adult development and strategic staffing before launching TalentSmart and supervised doctoral research studies including a recent study on emotional intelligence and personality as relative predictors of burnout. Her survey and assessment development expertise remains grounded in a philosophy of simple, applied approaches to measurement. Dr. Greaves earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and a B.A. in psychology from Stanford University.
“During the spring of 2001, I was working full time as a CPA, and, along with my husband, was busy raising three children. Kathi Anderson approached me one day at church and asked if I would consider working with SURVIVORS. She explained SURVIVORS’ mission and invited me to become more familiar with the organization. I have a strong financial background and SURVIVORS was in need of someone with my experience. I joined the board shortly after and have been the financial officer since 2002. I have been able to contribute my knowledge to SURVIVORS, and I have learned much about the torture atrocities that occur throughout the world. An unexpected benefit of my service on SURVIVORS’ board is that my children now know that the world is not as rosy as the community in which they have been raised.”
Aker has extensive experience in international higher education — including senior administration, curriculum development and teaching — in Kenya, England and the U.S. In her work with world-renowned psychologist Carl Rogers she joined conflict transformation efforts in Europe and Central America. As a media and print journalist, Aker produced and hosted a television series (consisting of more than 230 programs over six years) interviewing women leaders and survivors of injustice from around the world, had a monthly column, on rights and gender concerns in the Women’s Times, and free-lanced for papers such as the Chicago Tribune. Participation as press and NGO delegate to the Fourth World Conference on Women inspired Aker to promote ten major women’s conferences at the University of San Diego in conjunction with the WPM Program, including a Global Court of Accountability in 2005.
Aker was a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia in the Corps’ early years, which she credits as the impetus to be ever involved in efforts to secure human rights and justice and, especially, encourage and acknowledge the role women have in peacebuilding that is so often ignored or over-looked. She has since worked across the globe to support the inclusion of the voices of women, youth and other marginalized communities, in discussions and decisions related to conflict resolution and sustainable peace — including designing and leading participatory trainings/workshops in communications, negotiations, skills-building and leadership. She believes strongly in participatory methodologies and a “whole community” approach to conflict transformation and strategic peacebuilding.
Aker’s more recent honors include the 2015 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, from the San Diego Chapter of the United Nations Association, and 2014 induction into the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame as a “Trailblazer.” She has received numerous recognitions from the University of San Diego for her service, including the 2015 International Impact Award for expanding global assess for students and a 2017 “Million Dollar Club” award for fundraising for the IPJ. In 2016 Aker was inducted into the United States International University-Africa’s Hall of History for service on the faculty and Vice-Chancellor between 1979 and 1984. She was the first Phillip Brooks House Fellow at Harvard University in 2007 where she was invited to “share (her) distinguished public service career” with students and the university’s Center for Public Interest. Most recently in 2017, Aker received the second Women of the Peace Corps Legacy Award for her 50-year post-volunteer work with women and youth globally.
My professional career path has led me to the field of adult education for over 16 years. I am Faculty Chair and Professor for DeVry University, where I lead faculty, teach international business, marketing, management and leadership on the graduate and undergraduate level. I have led four study abroad trips for DeVry and Keller students to Europe, and advise students in the National Society for Leadership and Success. I have been adjunct faculty for many local universities and in addition to serving on Survivors of Torture board, serve on the TKF (Tariq Khamisa Foundation) board in San Diego, a non-profit providing education for non-violence and reconciliation to sixth graders in the San Diego County. I sit on San Diego’s Chamber of Commerce Education committee and am a member of the Academic of International Business and the African Studies Association.
My doctorate research covered qualitative studies of business women of Kigali, Rwanda, and how they are changing the economic climate in Sub-Sahara Africa. I earned my Doctorate in Education from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, a Master in Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Public Communications. I have spoken at global conferences regarding my research and have 15 years of international business experience.
Our Board Emeritus Society
Meet Our Staff Members
“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.”
Alicia DeLeon-Torres has 21 years of public service specializing in youth and family services including 14 years as the Youth and Elder Adult Services Division Manager for the Union of Pan Asian Communities, where she developed the first culturally specific youth suicide prevention curriculum in the state of California. She is also a certified national trainer in gang prevention and intervention, and substance abuse prevention. As a grants manager, Ms. DeLeon-Torres has raised over $10 million for various programs focused on culturally competent and accessible services. Ms. DeLeon-Torres has served on many boards and committees including the City of San Diego Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention (current), San Diego Police Department’s Chief’s Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Board, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Art Committee, and the California State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes. She also served on the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administrations ad hoc committee for Racial and Ethnic Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Project; this became the basis for the current guidelines for measuring cultural competency. She is a recipient of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism California Endowment National Fellow for Public Health Journalism, California Wellness Foundation Violence Prevention Initiative Fellowship and the Woman of the Year Award from (then) California State Assemblywomen Susan Davis 76th District for her work with youth and families. Ms. DeLeon Torres studied Sociology and English at San Diego State University.