Assistant Chief Paul L. Acosta
Chief Acosta began his law enforcement career in 1991 in North Carolina and joined the Miami Beach Police Department in 1995. He has served in a variety of capacities and positions of rank including: Major of the Criminal Investigations Division, Patrol Captain, Executive Officer of the North Beach area, Commander of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), liaison to the Office of Emergency Management, special events, support services, and patrol operations. Acosta has also served as a trainer for a number of disciplines within the department. His most recent assignment was as the Patrol Major in charge of the Operations Division of the MBPD.
Chief Acosta has received numerous honors and awards during his career including the Miami Beach Police Department's Life Saving Award and Exceptional Service Award. He is a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps and was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Chief Acosta graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy 278th Session and served as the graduation spokesperson. He has also completed the Leadership in Police Organizations Course, the Senior Management Institute for Police program at Boston University and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Management from Union Institute and University.
FBI Los Angeles Supervisory Special Agent, Violent Crimes Unit
George Boykins is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Southern California due to his parents’ military service. George earned a Bachelor’s degree in Family, Child, & Consumer Sciences, with a concentration in Education from Florida State University. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida. George has had a lifelong calling to public service. He worked as a counselor at a group home with a juvenile probation program, served as a middle school educator, child abuse investigator, police officer, undercover drug detective, SWAT, crisis intervention, field training officer, and bike officer.
George has been with FBI Los Angeles since 2009 and currently serves as the Supervisory Special Agent overseeing Violent Crime Investigations in Los Angeles and Orange County. George is also an Adjunct Professor with Santa Ana College teaching Organized Crime since 2018.
Founder and CEO, MPN
Successful Brim is the founder and CEO of the Minority Psychology Network (MPN), she started in 2019 with the goal of reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in minority communities through culturally aligned education and outreach. Today, she is leading the members of MPN as they build a nationwide network of minority mental health professionals and advocates, helping to expand access to high-quality behavioral health care and bringing new opportunities to youth who are interested in the field of psychology. A native of Dallas, Texas, Successful earned a Bachelor’s degree from Howard University and earned her Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. Currently, she resides in Los Angeles, where she is pursuing a doctorate in clinical forensic psychology.
Sonya Carey was a former foster youth who moved several times in a four-year period before being adopted by one of her foster families. At the age of twenty-seven, she went back to college to pursue a degree in Baking and Pastry (A.S) and Hospitality Food and Beverage Management (B.S.). She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism at the University of Southern California. Most recently, she worked as a Food Service Manager, overseeing several food service locations. She has more than fifteen years of experience in the food service industry.
San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center: Bullying & School Violence Advocacy Program
Sarah Cruz has been working with children and families in the Mental Health field for the past 10 years as a Mental Health Counselor. Sarah currently works with the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center in the Bullying and School Violence Advocacy Program, where she continues to work as a is a Mental Health Counselor. Within her role she is an Educator, Advocate and Presenter of all things pertaining to Bullying. Sarah enjoys educating the community about the impact of bullying and how we can help one another to rise up against bullying.
P.C.I.T.I Leadership Team
Nikko is a dedicated member of the P.C.I.T.I Leadership and Instructional Team. He has spent the past few years of his life assisting in restoring besieged communities locally and regionally. Currently, he manages the Pico Guidance Center in Mid-City Los Angeles and provides services ranging from youth development, intervention/prevention sessions, mentoring, community feed-the-needs, and a host of others. His mission truly defines the work of providing hope, restoring communities and curbing violence through proactive solutions and self-determination as it relates to the field of Community Violence Intercession.
Tristin Engels, Psy.D.
Dr. Tristin Engels is the maternal granddaughter of Louis R. Vitullo, the man who co-invented the rape kit. Growing up just outside of Chicago, she spent every Sunday, holidays, and school vacations with her grandfather at his home in Cary, Illinois. Dr. Engels was inspired by her grandfather’s life and accomplishments. In 2009, she moved to California to attend graduate school. In 2013, she completed her degree and became a forensic psychologist. She has worked with juveniles and adults within the criminal justice system, both incarcerated and on parole or probation. She now treats offenders with significantly long, violent, and sexually deviant histories with the hopes of addressing maladaptive behavioral patterns, identifying undiagnosed mental illnesses, and ultimately reducing their risk of reoffending.
San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center: Bullying & School Violence Advocacy Program
Karyna has been an active advocate for at-risk youth and families for over 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services and is trained in Bullying and School Violence Advocacy. Karyna is certified in domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. As a mental health counselor II for the Bullying and School Violence Advocacy Program through the San Fernando Community Mental Health Center, Inc., she supports victims and families seeking healthy and supportive solutions to their needs. Ms. Gonzalez’s professional experiences regularly garner both local and international speaking opportunities to share her overall leadership philosophies and team-building strategies. Ms. Gonzalez strongly promotes the idea that the development of healthy families leads to healthy communities. In furtherance of this goal, Ms. Gonzalez educates and mentors community leaders to cultivate programs that promote the well-being of all individuals within their communities.
A & E
Danielle holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Carleton College and was a Producing Fellow at the American Film Institute. She also holds two leadership certificates from the Los Angeles African American Women Public Policy Institute and the Annenberg Alchemy leadership development program. She began her career in Production Finance at Showtime Networks where she spent 10 years in Programming Finance as an analyst and manager. Prior to Showtime, She spent 5 years as a Production Accountant, and Controller working with various third party production service entities.
Danielle is the current Vice President of the National Association of Multi-ethnicity in Communications. Her current role is to create educational programs and networking opportunities for its members. From 2018-2020, Danielle served as board treasurer for NAMIC managing sponsorship and partnerships to build Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives to educate, advocate, and empower professionals of the cable television industry. Her leadership role also extends to serving as a board advisor to Diamond In the Raw, a nonprofit organization that empowers at-risk girls to transform their lives through S.T.E.A.M education. As a current Finance Executive, Danielle oversees budgeting and reporting of media assets for A+E Networks. As Director, Danielle directs and models processes and procedures for reporting, and estimating to communicate financial costs, and trends.
McCall Hall, hailing from Seattle, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington and a Master’s of Business degree from the University of Southern California. She prides herself on staying ahead of the curve in the trends of sports, business, and pop culture. Her passion for sports business and media made her an asset to the Seattle Supersonics, the Seattle Storm, and the Los Angeles Sparks, as well as ABC, NBC, The Metropolitan Opera, NBA Entertainment, and the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. She currently serves as the Director of Community Outreach for the University of Southern California Athletic Department. During her tenure of service for USC, Hall manages a multi-million dollar endowment for community relations. Her leadership builds strong partnerships and programs amplified by the service of over 600 student-athletes to serve the Los Angeles community. Over the course of her career, Hall has come to the conclusion that athletes should use their platforms to benefit less fortunate communities, and she has developed a variety of programs to help them do exactly that.
FBI Los Angeles Community Outreach Specialist
Martice is a native of Louisiana and attended LSU where she completed a dual major, earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts in History. Martice went on to attend Louisiana Tech University earning a Master of Arts in History. Prior to the FBI, Martice worked as a high school educator in the DC area where she taught history and public speaking.
Martice has been with the FBI for 5 years and is currently assigned to the FBI Los Angeles Office of Public and Congressional Affairs as a Community Outreach Specialist, serving as the primary liaison for African American, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ communities. In her role, she collaborates with faith-based and community organizations to bring awareness to issues impacting their respective communities while connecting communities and organizations to the FBI’s public resources and community engagement programs. Martice also works with a variety of youth engagement non-profit organizations, introducing youths to the FBI and the various career paths available.
Crystal Hernandez, Psy.D., MBA.
Dr. Crystal Hernandez was born and raised in California and has worked within the mental health, social service, and justice field for 2 decades. She is a Native American Latina who was born to a teenage mother and grew up in a rural agricultural community in the Central Valley. Dr. Hernandez has witnessed her father’s continued struggles with addiction and justice involvement, as well as many relatives and close childhood friends. She has dedicated her life to advocacy, inclusion, and service. She is now living on tribal land in Oklahoma and serving as the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital Administrator for the sole forensic hospital in Oklahoma.
Robert Hernandez, MSW, DSW
University of Southern California
Dr. Hernandez has a strong knowledge base in working with vulnerable youth populations and the impact of community trauma on healthy development. He aims to educate and engage in practice-driven research to address critical areas of society that continue to hinder communities from flourishing. His areas of interest include adolescent social issues, adolescent gang intervention, strength-based/resiliency and youth empowerment models of practice. In particular, Hernandez's work examines risk and protective factors within communities that are associated with vulnerable youth populations residing in trauma-exposed communities. He has focused on advancing marginalized populations through a range of practice approaches addressing violence related trauma through violence reduction, prevention and intervention strategies. In 2014, Hernandez was awarded the highly acclaimed Jane Adams Award at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work that goes to the instructor of the year as voted by the students. In 2014, he was recognized and awarded by the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly & Academic Culture Assembly as the most influential Professor of Color. He is constantly being summoned by cities, counties, and states nationwide to assist with their community violence reduction strategies and trainings; most recently Iowa, New Mexico, South Carolina, Sacramento, San Diego, Solano County, Orange County, Riverside, Ontario, and Los Angeles. These efforts have assisted in the development of several publications.
Phenomenal Angels of the Community
Barbara Jett is the Chief Operations Officer for Phenomenal Angels of the Community, an organization that provides youth support, mentoring and training opportunities that provide cultural enrichment, effective communication, civic engagement, educational enhancement, and individual development. Ms. Jett is responsible for the delivery and operations of the organization. Through her love for the community and potential to inspire change, Ms. Jett is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. She is a trained experienced professional Intervention Specialist specializing in community service, crisis intervention, case management and street mediation. She has worked in the non-profit community for many years. Ms. Jett developed a strong sense of devotion for the non-profit sector when she noticed that a change was needed in the community in which she was raised. She has a deep appreciation for people and is diligent in working to improve the quality of life. Ms. Jett is an active member in her community. She is on the leadership team and is an instructor for Professional Community Intervention Training Institute (PCITI). She is a member of the Neighborhood Action Committee and the Westmont/Athens Task Force. Currently, she is a case manager with Soledad Enrichment Action Charter School. Ms. Jett is a graduate of Washington Prep and studied at Los Angeles Southwest College. She is a certified graduate of the Professional Community Intervention Training Institute. Additionally, she has received certificates from the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, City of Los Angeles Fire Department, Maximum Force Enterprises, The Chicago School of Psychology, Yuba College, Leo Chesney Center of Live Oaks and Los Angeles Office of Education.
Black Lives Matter
Mr. Tory Johnson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Indiana Wesleyan University and Ivy Tech Community college majoring in early childhood education. He then moved to Huntington Beach and became a private historian of its culture. This knowledge assisted him in working to reduce racism. In 2020, due to the death of George Floyd, he formed BLM Huntington Beach (BLM-HB). Mr. Johnson has finally reached the point in his life where he feels he is doing his life’s purpose. He is dedicated to growing the BLM-HB chapter and continuing the fight against racism. His dedication and passion for making real change has led him to run for city council in 2022.
Cindy Kao, Psy.D. (she/her)
Cindy Kao is a second-generation, Taiwanese-American as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor/Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She has worked with a wide range of populations including: military families, community mental health, at-risk youth, substance abuse, perpetrators and survivors of domestic violence, and geriatric populations. She has also worked as a professor of Psychology at both the graduate and undergraduate level, currently as a lecturer at California State University of Monterey Bay. In her clinical practice, she has a passion for facilitating her client’s journey though life, and emphasizes the need for authentic connection between client and therapist. As a professor, mentor, and clinician, Dr. Kao is keen to look at a person’s unique lived experience and how it intersects with the systematic nature of culture, systems, and historical factors. She has presented at conferences, conducted professional training events and community workshops, and has been interviewed for radio programs, podcasts, and publications
Eric Kung, Psy.D.
Dr. Kung is a self-employed psychologist who contracts with a variety of public and private entities to provide mental health services and consultations. Dr. Kung has experience in a wide range of fields including crisis/trauma management, corporate consultations, forensic evaluations/consultations, program development/evaluation, medical psychology, research psychology and education.
Dr. Michael Levittan is an accomplished and recognized expert on domestic violence, anger management, child abuse, and PTSD. He is a licensed psychotherapist, director of a state-certified batterers’ treatment program, and serves as an expert witness in court. Dr. Michael teaches seminars at UCLA Extension, National Alliance on Mental Illness, International Conference on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma, Women’s Shelters, U.S. Marines, L.A. Superior Court, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, etc. He has appeared on the Tyra Banks Show, Starting Over, Bad Girls Club, Montel Williams, Hollywood 411, and wrote "The History of Infanticide" – a chapter in Violence in Our Society. He recently completed the soon-to-be-published “Essentials of Anger Management.” Dr. Levittan believes in his work to further the cause of establishing safety in the family and peace in the world. His passion comes across in his presentations.
Kandee Lewis, M.A.
Positive Results Corporation
Kandee Rochelle Lewis, executive director of Positive Results Center (PRC) and founder of Black Women Leaders of Los Angeles, is a certified domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide awareness prevention advocate, addressing trauma from a cultural and age perspective. Through trainings for youth and parents, facilitated events, and the creation of youth-peer advocacy programs, Ms. Lewis provides tools and strategies to form and maintain healthy, productive relationships.
While Ms. Lewis focused PRC's work on Southern California's youth, she also led PRC to create a broader support system across the nation for youth wellness and relationship success. Through partnerships with K-12 schools, colleges, health care, law enforcement, judicial, government, community & faith-based organizations, training them to recognize and deal effectively with trauma BIPOC youth and Ms. Lewis's work is well recognized. The LA County Board of Supervisors named Ms. Lewis Woman of the Year in 2017. Vanguard recognized her as a Most Influential African American in Los Angeles in 2018. In 2019 she received the Champion of Peace & Non-Violence Award, the Trailblazers Award, and Community Plus Award. Other awards include the Johnnie L. Cochran Award for Youth Violence Prevention and 2015 Woman of the Year.
Ms. Lewis has trained with the National Association of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Women of Color Network. She has been a member of the Los Angeles City Council's Domestic Violence Roundtable and Mayor Eric Garcetti's Human Trafficking Portal.
Born and raised in Los Angeles and married for over 38 years, Ms. Lewis and her husband Carl have three adult children and a pit bull/boxer.
Board Member, Minority Psychology Network
Dominique Lloyd has been a board member of MPN since 2020. She is now a committee chair for the Spirituality and Mental Health committee and Committee Outreach committee. Dominique Lloyd earned her bachelors’ degree from Quincy University in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Clinical Forensic Psychology.
As a Los Angeles native, she is motivated by giving back to her community. She hosts toiletry and food drives monthly for the homeless on Skid Row. She aspires to have her own nonprofit that can provide more services to individuals in need.
Retired Los Angeles County Sheriff
Jim recently retired after serving for almost forty years in public safety. In 2014, McDonnell was elected as the 32nd Sheriff of Los Angeles County, the largest sheriff's department in the United States, leading over 18,000 employees and managing an annual budget of over $3.3 billion. McDonnell took over an agency that had been seriously impacted by scandal and in a four-year term was able to restore public trust, institutionalize systems of accountability and work collaboratively and effectively with federal, state and local partners.
Mr. McDonnell served for twenty-nine years with the Los Angeles Police Department, holding every rank up to First Assistant Chief of Police. He worked a wide variety of assignments in his career, including homicide, gangs, organized crime, vice, patrol operations and community policing. McDonnell retired from LAPD in 2010 to become the Chief of the Long Beach Police Department, where he served for five years. He is the first person to serve in senior executive leadership positions in the three largest policing agencies in Los Angeles County.
Mr. McDonnell is a respected voice on local, state, and national criminal justice issues, having served as Vice President of the Major County Sheriffs of America, a member of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and previously as President of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association, President of the California Peace Officers’ Association, a member of the California Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards & Training (POST), and a board member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Peace Officers’ Association of Los Angeles County
McDonnell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He is also a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Executive Institute and has completed executive education programs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. McDonnell formed McDonnell Strategies Group in early 2019 to advise clients across the nation on a diverse range of public safety issues.
Melinda Meshad, LCSW
Melinda Meshad, LCSW, has over twenty years working with individuals and families. She has focused her career serving populations with high rates of trauma. She found her passion in social work while attending Occidental College and volunteering in Los Angeles with asylum-seekers escaping war in Central America. Her experience includes teaching incarcerated youth, ten years in child welfare, and clinical backup for veteran crisis lines. She currently sees clients in private practice while training and consulting in trauma-informed care. Her training, 4 Points Builds a STAR, has been recognized for providing a thorough understanding of the impact of adverse experiences and trauma in order to promote wellbeing through self-care and client engagement based on trauma-informed principles.
Commander Cheryl Moody
Pasadena Police Department
Commander Cheryl Moody was born in Kansas City, MO, but grew up in Long Beach . After high school, Cheryl served for 3 years in the U.S. Air Force as a reservist. Cheryl was a fingerprint classifier at Long Beach Police Department prior to joining the Pasadena Police Department as an officer on August 28, 1992. During her career with Pasadena PD, she has worked several assignments including Patrol, Neighborhood Crime Task Force, Research & Development, Police Activities League, the Special Enforcement Section, (where she was the first female Sergeant to complete SWAT school), Detectives, Employment Services and Internal Affairs and prior to her promotion to Commander, served as the department’s SWAT Commander. Cheryl is one of the founding members of the San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), which started in 2003. Cheryl is a former Region-6 Vice President, which covers six western states, and she was also a member of the NOBLE Executive Board. Cheryl obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Long Beach in Emergency Management, and her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Woodbury University. Cheryl is the proud mother of two adult sons, Derek and Justin.
Deborah Nelson is a retired educator and author who has dedicated her life to her family and to inner-city school communities that she served. Raised as a preacher’s daughter in Iowa, Ms. Nelson received a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University in Sacramento and a Master’s degree from National University. She served as principal at David Lubin Elementary School and Parkway Elementary School, both in Sacramento. During her tenure at Parkway, she was credited with leading the school to achieve a dramatic rise in student achievement points on state testing; Parkway was subsequently recognized as an Honorable Mention School for the 2007-08 Title 1 Academic Achievement Award (AAA) from the State Department of Education.
During Ms. Nelson’s time as a principal, she was awarded the Outstanding Educational Leadership Award by the Sacramento Alliance of Black School Educators in 2003; the Distinguished Educators Award by the Sacramento Observer Media Group in 2004; the Education Advocate Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. in 2006; the Superintendent’s Personal Excellence Award and Contribution to the Development of Aspiring Young Minds in 2007, and the 2008 Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 3 Silver Star Award.
On December 14, 2010, Deborah’s youngest child, Monique Roxanne Nelson, was tragically murdered in Sacramento. In honor of her beloved daughter, Deborah wrote a memoir titled “The Last Portrait: A Psalm for Monique.” It is a riveting account of an extremely inspirational journey of life, love, love lost and a mother’s desperate struggle to fight her way out of the black hole of grief and heartache. You will be fascinated to learn about her unbelievable journey from anger to healing to advocacy. Her greatest achievement, however, has been raising three wonderful and gifted children: Richard, Tamora, and Monique. In addition, she is blessed with five beautiful grandchildren: Jayden, Rayonne, Mateo, Ethan, and Maya Monique. Deborah Nelson currently resides in Toluca Lake.
Raymond Nourmand, Ph.D.
Dr. Raymond Nourmand is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Los Angeles who provides private therapy to patients in California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, and Washington. He maintains a direct, yet sensitive approach, specializing in getting to the root causes of his patients’ problems. His informal, matter-of-fact style, insightful perspectives, and kind demeanor make him a highly sought-after therapist in the treatment of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, relationship problems, parenting issues, and addictions.
Andrew Pari, LCSW
Sexual Assault Awareness
Andrew Pari is a nationally recognized sexual assault trauma recovery expert known for his work in understanding the taboo of sexualized violence. Founder and Director of Sexual Assault Awareness, LLC, he is a psychotherapist with over 25 years’ experience treating survivors, including specialized populations in the sex trade and trafficking victims. His focus on the gaps that others in his field don’t talk about has led to advances in sexual assault treatment earning him a reputation as one who won’t shy away from many of the experiences with which sexual assault survivors struggle. From his work on arousal and orgasm during sexualized violence to his unique understanding of how repetition compulsion moves survivors to re-enact their trauma, he remains focused on his mission to end shame in sexualized abuse and assault.
Andrew believes in and practices from a sex-positive, shame-free, science-based, feminist perspective. In addition to running his own agency, he is on the Board of the Center for Positive Sexuality and serves as the Program Director for their Sex-Positive Professional Certification. He serves on multiple planning committees for national conferences, including the Institute for Violence, Abuse, & Trauma (IVAT), and Embracing Diversity with GLBTQ+ Youth (EDGY). He consults and trains forensics and mental health professionals internationally, is available for expert testimony, and has developed national policy on sex work and the commercialized sex trade. His wide and varied career has gone from working with gangs in South Los Angeles, to creating and leading the crisis response team for L.A. County Department of Mental Health, becoming one of the NASW’s 1,000 Experts on sexual assault, disaster, and trauma, and spearheading the first research on arousal during sexual assault and other “taboo” topics, all while continuing to serve girls and women suffering from abuse and assault.
Andrew has hosted the largest ever public discussions on topics related to sexual abuse and rape and is a moderator for forums on rape and recovery. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences on sexual trauma, including the National Conference on Crimes Against Women (CCAW), and International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD). He was co-creator and host of the Los Angeles radio show, Chasing the Why, where he covered a wide range of social topics from the Japanese tsunami disaster to the international SlutWalk movement.
Andrew does enjoy down-time and practices the important principles of self-care through his singing, acting, and improvisational comedy. He sings a wide variety of Broadway songs...ask him to fire off a round of Hamilton’s “My Shot.” He's trained in comedic improvisation and has performed in and directed comedy troupes all around Los Angeles and in Hawaii. He won a Los Angeles regional theatre award in 2015 for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And, while he enjoys training and speaking on sexualized violence, challenging taboos, and using positive sexuality in recovery, please don't call him "The Rape Guy." Andrew is passionate and dedicated to the mission of addressing and ending sexualized violence.
Put It In Perspective, LLC
Felicia Reed is a certified Life Purpose, Spiritual and Christian Coach, as well as a Holistic Wellness Advocate. Ms. Reed has realized in recent years that she is the product of a destructive toxic family upbringing, which led to adult abuse survivorship. She has survived every form of abuse starting at the age of 5 to age 51. Ms. Reed endured the final episode of abuse by her immediate family at 51, which included cyber misuse, gaslighting, emotional trauma, stalking, and a home invasion as part of a severe multi-layered attack. She now works with groups and individuals to promote positive and constructive life changes and healing modalities hoping to bring about self-awareness, inner peace, accountability and hope. She has a firm belief that the better we feel, the better we can live productive lives. Ms. Reed is a survivor of several life-altering traumatic experiences as a result of abuse and firmly believes that coaching and self-healing techniques saved her life. She understands building the required determination, willpower and desire through challenging times to move forward. She works to provide coaching and healing services to clients virtually and in person. Ms. Reed is also the WBTVN host of her “Females Without Fear Life Mastery” segments where she invites other females to share their stories of overcoming fear. Ms. Reed is a member of cyber consortiums, art leagues and domestic violence entities to bring awareness from a grassroots perspective as a survivor. She is an international speaker, fiber artist, instructor and a quality management professional. Ms. Reed welcomes opportunities to appear as a presenter, panelist, speaker, coach, artist, and moderator.
P.C.I.T.I. Leadership Team
One refined and committed individual in restoring peace to traumatized and violent-prone communities, Tommie has re-dedicated his life to community restoration. He is an abundance of positivity in the lives of youth and young adults he touches. He is not only a member of the phenomenal Instructional and Leadership Team of P.C.I.T.I but he also coaches, speaks, and gives every bit of himself to his community and those in need.
Cris Scaglione, Ph.D.
Cris Scaglione, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist with considerable experience in neuropsychology and rehabilitation, and both physical and psychological trauma. Her teaching and clinical work use a biopsychosocial approach.
Julia Schiffman, M.A.
Julia Schiffman is a Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker, psychotherapist, sex educator, and community activist. Julia earned her bachelor's degree from the University of San Diego in Theology and Religious Studies with an emphasis in Eastern Religion and earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California. She received a dual-track certificate of completion in Sex Therapy & Sexuality Education from the Sexual Health Certificate Program (SHCP) at the University of Michigan.
In San Diego, California, Julia provides therapy services in her private practice where she focuses on trauma-informed and interpersonal issues with individuals, couples, and non-monogamous/polyamorous families. The population she serves are those from gender, sexually, and relationally diverse (GSRD) backgrounds. For more than a decade, she has volunteered for various causes, including the San Diego LGBT Community Center, and is the Outreach Coordinator and Board Member for the Center for Positive Sexuality.
Author, Overcoming Obstacles and Living Your Dreams
Carol Sligh is an author, speaker and philanthropist. She is focused on developing, encouraging and empowering men, women and children to walk in their God-given purpose. Carol believes every person has been placed on the earth for a reason. This reason is the core of who they are and embodies their individuality. She sets the groundwork for people to identify their dreams, then encourages and teaches them to live a life where those passions take precedence. She believes once this has happened, life will be more fulfilling for both them and those around them.
In Carol's newly released book, "Overcoming Obstacles and Living Your Dreams," she reveals proven techniques in overcoming obstacles and facing adversity. She has over two decades of experience in law enforcement and almost a decade in corporate, industrial and government settings. Whether combating everyday crime or providing groups or individuals with guidance on how to navigate through life challenges in personal situations or work environments, Carol has become adept at overcoming obstacles across the full spectrum of challenges in life. Within her chosen profession, Carol herself has experienced and overcome obstacles and helped others confront and overcome their situations. Her experience also includes teaching both youth and adults about purpose, life skills, safety and drug education.
Carol has sat on several planning committees, some of which include: The Los Angeles Marathon and Bicycle Tour, an event that hosts over 30,000 participants; the Olympic Torch Run that ran through Los Angeles en route to Atlanta; and the 1994 Soccer World Cup Planning Committee that was held in Pasadena where she represented local city and government agencies.
Carol believes all of her life experiences have prepared her to nurture others and encourage them to pursue their passions. Her philanthropic activities include globally partnering with other organizations and churches to address the AIDS epidemic, socio-economic development, entrepreneurship, community redevelopment and spiritual growth of individuals. She has spoken to groups in the United Kingdom, South Africa and throughout the United States, where she inspires and motivates others to take action. She conducts workshops, speaks at churches and schools, and provides individual coaching. Carol works with people who want to improve their lives and with organizations that encourage personal achievement and character development. She is a dynamic and powerful speaker that has been described as the “obstetrician to your life purpose...assisting with the delivery of a dream.” She captivates and infuses her audiences with high energy, sincerity, compassion and compelling enthusiasm.
Bikers Against Child Abuse
Sonny is the Los Angeles Chapter President for Bikers Against Child Abuse. B.A.C.A. International, Inc. is organized with a central contact person to receive calls from referring agencies and individuals. A recognized, authorized agency with which the child has had contact determines that the child is still frightened by his or her environment. The agency representative contacts B.A.C.A. or refers the individual to contact B.A.C.A. and the name and address of the child is given to our B.A.C.A./Child Liaison. The liaison verifies that the case has been reported and the authorities have been contacted, and the case is being processed within the system. The liaison contacts the family, and an initial ride is organized to meet the child at their home or in some other location where the child will feel comfortable. The B.A.C.A. chapter rides to meet the child and he/she is given a vest with a B.A.C.A. patch sewn on the back. The child is free to wear the vest or not, and we support their decision. The child is also given bumper stickers and other gifts that are generally donated by the public.
Jim Struve, LCSW
Jim serves as Executive Director of MenHealing/Weekends of Recovery. He has been working with male survivors since 1976. He was a pioneering co-organizer (1988) for one of the first national conferences to focus on non-offending male survivors. He was chair for several subsequent conferences and a founding member of the organization now known as MaleSurvivor. He joined the Facilitator Team for the Weekends of Recovery program in 2002. He was instrumental in launching MenHealing in 2017 and has served as Executive Director since that time. Jim is a nationally recognized workshop presenter. He has numerous professional publications and is a dedicated social justice advocate for issues related to sexual violence, as well as sexual and gender equity. In his free time Jim is a dedicated husband and parent to a wonderful dog, as well as an avid devotee of outdoor adventures including skiing, biking, and mountain treks.
Lorena Vázquez Santiago Psy.D., MRC, CRC, CA-III
Dr. Lorena Vázquez Santiago is a Nuyorican, Latina, Clinical-Forensic Psychologist, and a Rehabilitation Counselor. Alumna from The Chicago Professional School of Psychology, Los Angeles Campus, and the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She is currently working in her private practice Starfish Psychological Services in Puerto Rico. Her clinical background includes community mental health services, in-home therapy, telephone crisis intervention, in-home crisis interventions, psychiatric hospitalization, juvenile offender evaluations, sex offender evaluations, and trauma.
Her research interests are related to crisis, gender issues, human sexuality, trauma, and offender’s rehabilitation. Dr. Vázquez received her Master in Rehabilitation Counseling from University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She is a licensed counselor in Puerto Rico and licensed clinical psychologist. Lorena holds different certifications including: Alternative Dispute Resolutions, Interventionist and Prevention of Domestic Violence, National Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Therapeutic Addictions Counselor. She received her Doctoral Degree in Clinical-Forensic Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, California. She is currently working towards a Certification in Sexual Abuse.
Dr. Vázquez’s employment history includes: Teacher, Assertive Community Treatment Specialist, Clinical Liaison, Crisis Therapist, Counselor and Crisis Specialist, Graduate Program Coordinator, Graduate Program Professor, Clinical Director, Chief Executive Officer, and Clinical Forensic Psychologist. She has a broad array of population experiences including: youth at risk, severely mental ill, juvenile offenders, adult offenders, family preservation, family reunification, sex offenders, and crisis interventions, both in English and Spanish.
Nita Watson, M.A.
The Self-Care Lab Boxing & Fitness Club
Nita L. Watson is a Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern, as well as a Certified Personal Trainer and a U.S.A certified boxing coach. She received her B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University, Inland Empire, before eventually becoming a supervisor of the Therapeutic Behavioral Services department with Ettie Lee Homes, Inc. After her eight-year career as a therapist and supervisor there, Ms. Watson accepted an independent contractual position with Heritage Homes, Inc. while she prepared to open her private practice (Watson Family Counseling Services). In addition to starting her own private practice, she is now working with victims of trauma at the Veterans Affairs office. In January 2017, she opened The Self-Care Lab Boxing & Fitness Club (Pomona), a full-service boxing and fitness club, designed to target poor self-image, anxiety, depression and impulsive behavior. Ms. Watson not only assists individuals with their personal fitness goal, but she also trains professional and amateur boxers as well.
She was inspired to open The Self-Care Lab after her own struggle with anxiety led her to seek a form of self-care. Refusing to give up on herself as well as on her goals and aspirations, Ms. Watson started boxing to try and improve her mental health. She quickly saw the benefits it had with her anxiety and wanted to help others discover the multitude of benefits that exercise has to offer. She purchased the space in November of 2016 but did not open until January of 2017 because she wanted to make sure it was the best it could be. Since opening The Self-Care Lab, Ms. Watson has trained over 500 individuals with mental health issues ranging from Depression and Anxiety, all the way to Schizophrenia. She is a pillar of her community and donates her own time and financial resources to improve the lives of everyone she interacts with. Ms. Watson and her team have hosted multiple workshops in and around the community of Pomona. She has presented at Chaffey College, Just Us 4 Youth, and the Pomona & Palisades School Districts, just to name a few. Her ultimate goal is to shine a spotlight on self-care through her innovative approach of combining fitness and mental health awareness. Her goal of expanding and opening multiple gyms will bring additional community support to families, supporting foster and juvenile delinquent youth.
Executive Director, USC Latino Alumni Association
Mercy Willard joined the Trojan family after spending 16 years in the nonprofit health sector. She has a long and successful history of building relationships and community partnerships, as well as developing programming for underserved populations with an emphasis on the Latino community and those living with a disability.
Most recently, Mercy served as Director of Community Health Strategies for the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). In this role, she developed programs and strategic partnerships with community organizations to promote diabetes prevention and treatment. Prior to that, she served in a similar capacity with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, where she also served as the West Region Liaison on Diversity and Inclusion and assisted with volunteer recruitment and board development.
She earned a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001 and a Master’s in nonprofit management from Regis University in 2005. She is also an alumna of the CORO Health Leadership Fellowship Program. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at the USC Rossier School of Education which she completed in May. Mercy is committed to making a difference in the community and using her experience as a first-generation low-income student to help others.
Jorge Wong, Ph.D.
President and CEO of Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. (RAMS)
Dr. Wong is committed to advocating for and providing community based, culturally-competent, and consumer-guided comprehensive services serving Asian Pacific Islanders, Russian-speaking and culturally diverse communities in San Francisco. Previously Dr. Wong served as the Director of the Specialty Mental Health Division at Asian Health Services (AHS) in Oakland, and the Director of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs at Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) in San Jose for many years. He has also served on the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) Committee for the Advancement of Professional Psychology (CAPP), State Leadership Committee (SLC), and as a board member of the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC). Dr. Wong was the 2016 President of the California Psychological Association, recognized as the 2016 Okura Community Leadership Award by the Asian American Psychological Association, and the 2015 Community Heroes Award: Mover and Shaker, by the Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Board. He received his Doctorate from Palo Alto University (PAU) and completed his Internship at Cermak Health Services of Cook County DOC-Rush Presbyterian-Isaac Ray Center (APA). He teaches in the Diversity and Community Mental Health emphasis of the Ph.D. program, emphasizing leadership and advocacy, policy development and administration, procurement and program management. He has also taught the practicum courses in the Doctorate and Master’s programs at PAU, and in his spare time, he is one of the alumni trustees on the PAU Board of Trustees, consults with the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division, and is involved locally with the Santa Clara County and San Francisco Psychological Associations.
Robert Hernandez has a strong knowledge base in working with vulnerable youth populations and the impact of community trauma on healthy development. He aims to educate and engage in practice-driven research to address critical areas of society that continue to hinder communities from flourishing. His areas of interest include adolescent social issues, adolescent gang intervention, strength-based/resiliency and youth empowerment models of practice. In particular, Hernandez's work examines risk and protective factors within communities that are associated with vulnerable youth populations residing in trauma-exposed communities. He has focused on advancing marginalized populations through a range of practice approaches addressing violence related trauma through violence reduction, prevention and intervention strategies. In 2014, Hernandez was awarded the highly acclaimed Jane Adams Award at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work that goes to the instructor of the year as voted by the students. In 2014, he was recognized and awarded by the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly & Academic Culture Assembly as the most influential Professor of Color. He is constantly being summoned by cities, counties, and states nationwide to assist with their community violence reduction strategies and trainings; most recently Iowa, New Mexico, South Carolina, Sacramento, San Diego, Solano County, Orange County, Riverside, Ontario, and Los Angeles. These efforts have assisted in the development of several publications.
Ms. Acosta was born to parents who migrated from Mexico and was raised in the Northeast Los Angeles area. Dulce began her academic journey within various LAUSD academic institutions, at the age of seventeen she successfully completed high school and received vocational certification in the health field. She entered the competitive workforce at the age of nineteen. Dulce became employed by University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, where she currently administrates online education. Dulce pledged to continue her academic career, and returned ten years later to ELAC and received her Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Certification as a Recovery Specialist in Chemical Dependency. Dulce transferred to Cal State University Los Angeles in the fall of 2009, where she majored and received her B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Diversity and Inequalities in 2011. While attending CSULA, she also served as a peer advisor in the Sociology Department. She was recognized for her contributions to CSULA and her community by her advisor, and was nominated and received a Special Congressional Recognition by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard in March 2011. In addition, she was awarded and recognized in the “Latinas to Watch for 2012” by the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE). She pursued her long life dream of a Masters in Social Work at the University of Southern California, where in May 2014 she completed her studies and was awarded the “The Order of Arête” of USC; she was selected from more than 1,500 graduate students university wide. The award represents the highest honor accorded graduate students upon completion of their academic program. Students are recognized for demonstrating significant depth and scope of responsibility in a campus or community leadership role. Members of the Order of Arête uphold value and meaning over individual achievement. Dulce is committed to strengthening and empowering her community by serving as a mentor and sharing her journey and narrative of resilience and trauma.
Deputy Chief Blake Chow was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Department in 1990 after having served as a San Jose Police Reserve Officer. After graduating from the Los Angeles Police Department academy, he was assigned to Operations as a Police Officer, Sergeant and Lieutenant in Areas such as Pacific, Central, Rampart, Southwest and Southeast Areas.
Chow was promoted to Captain-I in May 2003 and assigned as the Commanding Officer, Central Patrol Division. With this promotion, he became the highest-ranking Chinese-American officer on the LAPD and the first Asian captain assigned to Central Area. In this position, he provided leadership and management to a patrol force of approximately 250 officers.
In May 2005, Chow was promoted to Captain II, Commanding Officer, LAX Field Services Division. In this assignment, he manages the LAPD officers assigned to LAX who address crime and airport safety and transportation issues, including terrorism. In December 2005, Captain Chow was promoted to Captain III, Commanding Officer, RACR Division. The RACR Division is LAPD's first 24/7 fusion/information processing center. RACR operates as a 24/7 emergency operations center where resources, situation status of the city and developing tactical incidents are tracked. Additionally, RACR personnel also provide detective support to Areas and complete analysis on emerging crime patterns 24/7. RACR Division maintains liaison with other local, county, state and federal agencies. In May 2007, he was assigned as the Area Commanding Officer at Hollenbeck Area. In March 2009 he was transferred as the Area Commanding Officer at Central Area. This assignment involved leading approximately 430 employees both sworn and civilian in the Downtown Los Angeles Area. This community includes Staples/LA Live, Financial District, Historic Core, Civic Center, Skid Row, Artist Lofts area, Chinatown, Little Tokyo and the Fashion District.
In December 2009, Chow was promoted to Commander and assigned as the Assistant Commanding Officer, Operations-Central Bureau which has command of Central Area, Rampart Area, Hollenbeck Area, Newton Area and Northeast Area. In October 2010, Commander Chow was transferred as the Assistant Commander Officer Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau. The Bureau is responsible for the Counter Terrorism programs, Major Crimes Division, Emergency Services Division, Bomb Squad, Hazardous Materials, Metropolitan Division (SWAT, K9, Mounted), Air Support Division and Emergency Operations Division. In January 2015, Chow was assigned as the Assistant Commanding Officer, Operations-West Bureau. In this capacity, he has responsibility over Hollywood Area, Pacific Area, West Los Angeles Area, Wilshire Area, Olympic Area and West Traffic Division. The Bureau covers approximately 125 square miles in which approximately 900,000 residents reside.
Chow was raised in San Jose California. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University Fullerton. He is also a graduate of the West Point Leadership Program.