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Our HistoryCERI is a grassroots, non-profit organization founded in 2005 by a small group of bilingual/bicultural mental health professionals. It is dedicated to providing culturally competent mental health and other social services to refugee and immigrant families with multiple layers of complex needs, exposure to violence and trauma both in their current environment and in their native countries, and weakening intergenerational relationships.
The agency’s focus is on refugees and immigrants from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia and Iran. Presently the majority of our 200 clients are Cambodian refugees living in Oakland, California.
Board of Directors
Myrna Holden, Chair, holds a Ph.D. in Social/Clinical Psychology from The Wright Institute, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from California State University San Francisco, and a B.A. in English from the University of California Santa Barbara. Dr. Holden specializes in clinical and research training in mental health and was the Director of Student Mental Health Services at City College of San Francisco until her retirement. From 1984-1997, she had her own private clinical practice in San Francisco and Berkeley. She has provided extensive training and consultation to various mental health clinics such as Kaiser Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic, Mt. Zion Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic at San Francisco, and University of California Berkeley Counseling Center, and has been a presenter at the California State Psychological Association Conference in San Diego, American Psychological Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois, and Michigan State University Conference on Women, Flint, Michigan.
Pantea Javidan, Chair, is a sociologist and legal theorist based in London and San Francisco. She began working with CERI in 2007 as a legal aid lawyer in Oakland assisting CalWorks (welfare) recipients with disabilities transition to SSI and MediCal benefits. A significant number of her clients were Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide, and a pattern of discrimination toward their cases emerged from the Social Security Administration and Office of the Inspector General. Cambodian applicants were routinely tested for malingering with no culturally competent examination in place, denied benefits and investigated through Cooperative Disability Investigations in ways that frightened them due to past traumatic experiences with authority figures. CERI was the only clinic providing culturally competent services and support suitable for her clients. Pantea was moved by this work as well as past work with child victims of commercial-sexual exploitation to pursue a PhD in Sociology at the London School of Economics to critically examine legal responses to child sex trafficking. She has taught criminology at University of East London School of Law and London School of Economics has published two law review articles regarding her research topic and has a forthcoming publication regarding the Voting Rights Act.
Fariba Khosravani, Treasurer, has been supporting a number of organizations serving underprivileged communities through her anonymous and generous donations, in the past two decades. Her participation at our board has been inspired by her commitment to keeping ROYA’s spirit alive at CERI.
Nazila Tobaei, Treasurer,an immigrant from Iran, came to the U.S. to continue her education after she was expelled from university by the Islamic Republic Regime’s authorities. Losing three of her closest family members to the atrocities of this regime, she has a deep yearning to help trauma survivors.
Taghi Amjadi, Ph.D., Member is an immigrant from Iran. His commitment to freedom and justice. has fueled his passion in his work as a therapist with the survivors of torture and trauma Taghi works students of various cultures and ethnicities at S.F. State Counseling Center.
Sokchea Heng is inspired by helping others. He has worked as a program officer at “Working Group for Weapon Deduction”, a non profit agency in Cambodia, for four years. He has a BA degree in Management Information System and currently works as a Computer Technician at Dynamic Network Factory. Sokchea immigrated to the U.S. in 2008. He is married to a Cambodian woman and has a son he adores.
Dawn Hawk handles philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF)grant making, conducting site visits, outreach and evaluations of nonprofit organizations. She is responsible for PVF’s trademark Immediate Response Resource Grants Programs. Dawn’s expertise is in program design and administration. She received a Master of Arts in Film Production from San Francisco State University and has a diverse background in small business management, teaching and film production. Dawn’s wide-ranging volunteer efforts in the community include working as an adult literacy tutor; serving on the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council to address the challenges of neighborhood crime and violence; and serving as a board member for a local Friends group to revitalize an Oakland park and expand after school opportunities for youth.
James Gracer M.D., Member, is an internist as well as a psychiatrist with 22 years of experience and is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Gracer has been wholeheartedly donating pro-bono psychiatric evaluation and medication management to more than 200 Cambodian refugees since October 2001. These services has brought much needed healing to the difficult lives of these refugees. Dr. Gracer has been providing the same free of charge services to the Afghan, Bosnian, Middle Eastern, Laotian and Vietnamese clients at CERI.
Kamran Afary, Member, received his PH.D in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. He has extensive experience working with and developing community arts organizations. Dr. Afary teaches Communication Studies at Cal State University in Los Angeles and was a programmer at KPFK radio in Los Angeles from 1980 to 1998. He wrote his dissertation on grassroots organizations in Los Angeles during the 1990s. Afary has worked extensively with Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants.
Maria Lilia Remigio , is an immigrant from Mexico, presently, working as a Registered Nurse in a Medical Surgical Orthopedic / Pediatric Unit at a Kaiser Hospital in Southern California. In April, 2013 she visited CERI for the first time and was touched by the love, care, kindness, and the positive energy there. Since then she has become an active fundraiser for CERI and a passionate supporter of CERI's youth program. Her goal is to find a way for CERI to become financially sustainable.
Dokhey Rohani , an immigrant from Iran, has been living in the U.S. for almost four decades. She cares for a husband, a teenaged daughter, a college aged son, a rabbit, 3 cockatiels, two fish and 220 pots of plants, while nurturing her friendships with men and women of various ethnicities. Dokey has always been there for those who need support in standing on their own feet. She has volunteered at: Able People Foundation, Dehkhoda Farsi School, Master Zoulfounon’s concert and events, Glider School, Kahrizak foundation, Meehan Ensemble, Mehr Foundation, Mom Against Poverty and Neeki Foundation Dokey is aware of CERI's impact on the lives of traumatized refugees and immigrants, and finds it a privilege to be on its board as she works in partnership with “same-minded angels of LOVE.”
Katherine Winogura, Member, is currently the Volunteer Coordinator with Jewish Family and Children's Services of the East Bay. She has followed and supported CERI's work for many years. Working in the social service realm for refugees and immigrants for decades, Katherine has a passion for serving refugees and their families. She finds it an honor to work closely with the newest Americans who form the newest layers of soil on which we live. Katherine is most inspired by the way that CERI has created a true mental health community agency -- which empowers and invites its clients to make it their own. Katherine has a deep love for Southeast Asia and has traveled there many times over the last 25 years. Katherine is determined to bring her skills at community organizing and motivating support through volunteers and donors to CERI.
Mona Afary, CERI Founder and Director
Sandra Pech, Director Assistant/ Chief Interpreter
Kate Wadsworth, Clinical Supervisor
Jen Jastrab, Mental Health Educator/Mentor
Thavery Hov, Youth Services Program Assistant
Hsiu-Ling (Ava) Cheng , Fundraiser
Vivian Nguyen, Psychology Student
Collaborating AgenciesTo better serve our clients, CERI is committed to building collaborations with other agencies.
Our services have brought remarkable healing and empowerment to our clients.
We need your help to maintain our adult and youth services. more info
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