CERI’s Operational Team
Founder and Executive Director
Mona Afary founded CERI in 2005 in direct response to the urgent need for community mental health services for Cambodian survivors of war and genocide. Dr. Afary holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Wright Institute, in Berkeley. She has been working as a licensed therapist since 1987. She specializes in trauma work with diverse refugee and immigrant population and their families. Mona immigrated to the United States from Iran in 1975.
Kate Wadsworth, LCSW , is a licensed clinical social worker, with over 20 years experience working with children, families and adults through the child welfare, juvenile justice and educational systems. The last 7 years she has focused on working with genocide survivors through a trauma informed lense. Other work experience includes individual and family therapy with children and families, supervision of MSW, MFTi interns and trainees and management of community based programs . All of her experience is working with adults, children and families exposed to violence and poverty, provided through a strength-based, needs driven, trauma informed, culturally relevant health and recovery model.
Sandra Pech is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide. She is one of the co-founders of CERI. Sandra serves our Cambodian clients as CERI’s Executive Assistant and Chief interpreter. Sandra came to the United States as a teen refugee, after living in refugee camps in Thailand for three years.
Youth Program Outreach Worker
Saravuth Pech is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide. Saravuth has serves our Cambodian clients as CERI’s Case management and interpreter. Saravuth came to the United States as a teen refugee, after living in refugee camps in Thailand for three years. He is inspired by helping others. He is married to a Cambodian woman and has four children and three grandchildren that he adores.
Youth Services Program Assistant
Thavery Hov, born to a family of Cambodian refugees was initially a client and in 2008 hired as staff for CERI'S youth program. She is a mentor for CERI's youth and aspires to be a teacher or probation officer serving her community.
Elijah Chhum (he,they) identifies as a queer cisgender male, second generation Khmer American and child of genocide survivors. Born and raised in rural Minnesota, Elijah navigated through a poverty stricken and violent neighborhood within an oppressive culture: Heteronormative, Caucasian and Christian. Elijah strives to provide direct service to the community with an approach that is strength-based, client-centered, and trauma-informed, and through a lens of racial and queer justice. Elijah carries five years of talent management, four years of film production, and three years of youth development. During free time, Elijah loves to meditate, camp, and dance. You can find Elijah organizing Oakland’s Cambodian New Year at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park and singing a cappella with the East Bay Harmony Chorus.
Outreach worker and Interpreter
Sophal Yin was born and raised in Cambodia. She came to the US in December 1981 as a refugee immigrant. Sophal is a survivor of the Khmer rough genocide that took place in Cambodia from 1975-1979. Currently She work at CERI as an Outreach worker serving the Cambodian population throughout Alameda County.
Early Childhood/TAY Outreach Worker
Rhummanee Hang is a performance artist and educator who was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Since the age of 13, she has honed her dance, theater, and spoken word skills as part of performance and dance companies in both Oakland and Sacramento. Rhummanee earned a Bachelors in Sociology at UC Davis and a Masters in International & Multicultural Education at the University of San Francisco. In addition to working at CERI with the young children and transitional aged young women, Rhummanee is an event planner, social media consultant, and most importantly, Mommy to the amazing baby, Noreak.
Jaq Nguyen Victor is honored to be a queer, non-binary trans, Vietnamese drama therapist at CERI, where they coordinate counseling for LGBTQ+ Southeast Asian population. Jaq is also the director of Dig & Demand—a healing justice program for qtpoc (queer trans people of color)—that aims to radicalize mental health services through political literacy, embodied playfulness, and earth-based rituals. Their work includes community education and performance. Jaq received a 2017 Soma Award from Buddhist Peace Fellowship for "Outstanding Activism Inspired by Spiritual Wisdom" and a 2015 Excellence in Theatre nomination from San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle for "Best Featured Actress." They hold a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies and a B.A. in Philosophy from University of Colorado Boulder.
Program Director, Wellness in Action
Patricia Rojas-Zambrano, M.A., LMFT is the Wellness in Action Program Director. Patricia has over 20 years of experience in the community mental health and adult education field, starting in her native Colombia where she lived and work until she immigrated to the United States to pursue graduate studies. In addition to working with CERI, Patricia works with Diversity Health Training Institute as Program Director, as adjunct faculty in the Integral Studies and Expressive Arts Therapy programs at the California Institute of Integral Studies and has a small private practice where she specializes in working with survivors of trauma. In addition to this work, Patricia is an artist and works daily in her kitchen studio.
Program Designer & Evaluator, Wellness in Action
Laura Coelho, MPH, CPC is the Wellness in Action Program Designer & Evaluator. Laura is experienced in designing and implementing programs and evaluations focused on community mental health and wellness with local grassroots and community-based organizations that work with and for immigrant and refugee communities in the Bay Area. In addition to CERI, Laura has also worked with Diversity in Health Training Institute, Korean Community Center of the East Bay, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum, and GABRIELA-Oakland. Laura received her Master of Public Health in 2015 from UC Berkeley, where she studied health and social behavior, and became a Certified Professional Coach through Leadership That Works in 2017. Prior to attending UC Berkeley, Laura completed a fellowship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she worked on planning and evaluation at Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Laura is a Bay Area native, a mixed Filipina-Indian daughter to immigrants, and an aspiring storyteller.
Leva Zand has made an over 10-year career and educational commitment to refugees, human rights, and social justice activism and advocacy. She has a BA in Sociology from California State University, Sacramento and a Master’s degree in Feminist and Religious Studies at UC Santa Barbara focusing on religion, media and sexuality. She started her nonprofit career in 2005 in Sacramento by leading a program to serve refugees from South East Asia. Later she managed a team of reporters for The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), directed a publication for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), lead a gender awareness program for the Eurasia Foundation and before starting ARTogether, she directed an online school for the Nonviolence Initiative for Democracy (NID). She also used to write and produce “Narratives of Women,” a radio podcast. She is currently volunteer for Oakland International High School and also serves as a board member for Young Women Social Entrepreneur of San Francisco.