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.
Dee Aker, Ph.D., is a psychological anthropologist who worked in conflict mediation, higher education and journalism/media. Her posts have included: Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego, where she founded the Women PeaceMakers Program; Director of United States International University – Africa; and Producer and Host of “Women” on KUSI television.
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.
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.
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. She also currently serves on the University of the Pacific’s School of International Studies, San Diego State University’s School of Social Work, Lutheran Office of Public Policy, and Mapi Foundation Barbara Chester Awards’ Advisory Board. 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.
Brittney Willis joined Survivors of Torture, International as Medical Case Manager in August 2017. Brittney received her BA in International Security and Conflict Resolution from San Diego State University where she also completed two study abroad opportunities in Costa Rica. She continued on to earn a Master’s degree in Human Services with a specialization in Not-for-Profit Management from University of the Rockies. Brittney has most recently worked as a refugee resettlement case manager with a local resettlement agency and as a medical case manager with a managed healthcare plan.
Katrina has served as SURVIVORS Community Relations Manager since July 2018. 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.
Kim has served as the Data and Evaluation Associate at SURVIVORS since February 2019. Most recently, Kim worked as a Research Associate at the Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego; however, she has held a variety of positions from educator to systems engineer. Her diverse experience evolved over 30 years during multiple moves across the US and abroad throughout her husband’s military career. Due to her multiple moves with two children and her experience as an educator, she developed a keen interest in researching the resilience of highly mobile children from all backgrounds and learning best practices for supporting student transition across multiple moves. Her previous work experience includes, research (quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods), budget and data analysis, program evaluation, survey design, business management, curriculum development, teaching, facilitating, and mentoring. Kim earned her a PhD in Leadership Studies with a specialization in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Management from the University of San Diego, a MAED in Education with a specialization in curriculum development from the University of Phoenix, and a BS in Economics with a concentration in Developing Nations from California State University, San Luis Obispo.
Nivedita joined the SURVIVORS team in December 2018 and has been a part of the communications field for over ten years. She was a journalist with the Press Trust of India before she received a graduate fellowship to join the doctoral program of the Pennsylvania State University. While in graduate school, Nivedita explored the topic of media platforms and minority communities. She also worked as a graduate teaching assistant and enjoyed working with undergraduate students. Since earning her doctoral degree, Nivedita has worked in both non-profit as well as the public service sectors. She previously served SURVIVORS as a Board of Directors’ Fund Development Committee Member and is excited to be a part of the SURVIVORS’ team again.
Rachel Mahoney feels privileged to serve as SURVIVORS’ Senior Mental Health Clinician. Before her current role, Rachel served as SURVIVORS’ Clinical Case Manager starting in 2017, and as Mental Health Contractor with the Refugee School Impact Grant (RSIG) program in 2016. Rachel first connected with SURVIVORS in 2015 as a Clinical Intern during her graduate studies. Before coming to SURVIVORS, Rachel provided family support and behavior therapy for children with developmental delays, completed a clinical counseling internship with Jewish Family Service of San Diego, and served in various roles in the global public health field in San Diego and Los Angeles. Rachel received her Master of Social Work from San Diego State University in 2017, where she tailored her degree to focus on refugee/newcomer mental health, trauma treatment, immigration policy, gender equity, and human rights promotion. She earned her BA in Anthropology and Middle Eastern and North African studies from UCLA, and has been fortunate to live, study, and travel all over the world. She is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Federation of Social Workers, the National Association of Social Workers, the United Nations Association of San Diego, and the San Diego Rapid Response Network – a community based 24-hour hotline that supports families affected by immigration raids and detentions.
Tara Osier joined SURVIVORS at the end of March 2018. She has 25 years of accounting experience in the federal government, non-profit and private sector environments. Her nonprofit experience includes eight years as a Controller at Regional Task Force on the Homeless in San Diego and as an Accounting Manager at La Clinica Tepeyac in Denver, CO. Her diverse professional experience includes budgeting, accounting, financial reporting, audit preparation, payroll processing, contracts / grants management, purchasing, human resources, and information technology. Tara received a BS degree at the University of Maryland University College with a concentration in Accounting.
Meet Our Interns
Angela has served as an intern at SURVIVORS since August 2018. She is currently earning her MSW at San Diego State University. Angela originally began her career as a Research Psychologist after earning her Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from Southern Illinois University in 2005. Her prior work includes mixed-methods research, program evaluation, performance measurement, survey development, focus groups, and data analysis in both the public and nonprofit sectors. Through her qualitative research with marginalized groups, she was inspired to earn her MSW to develop clinical skills and further her background in social justice issues. She enjoyed her first-year MSW internship working with older adults in San Diego County living with severe mental illness. She also had the opportunity to participate in a summer internship in Thailand through her MSW program, where she gained experience at a residential center for elders. Angela is looking forward to all she will learn and the people she will meet during her internship here at SURVIVORS.
Karen first joined SURVIVORS in August of 2018 as a Masters of Social Work Administration intern. She received a Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies from San Diego State University in May of 2017. She is a Mexican immigrant and first-generation college graduate. Her background allows for her to feel deeply connected to the experiences shared by clients and their families. She has experience in community organizing and activism as well as prior experience working in a community development agency. Her life experience, education, training, and work give her a deep understanding of the complexities involved when empowering communities.
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.