The Foundation for Self Leadership, in partnership with IFS Institute, is very pleased to introduce to the community the 2022-2023 Cohort of IFS Leadership Fellows.
About the Selection Process. The application and nomination process began in October 2021, coinciding with the online IFS Conference. Eighty applications were received, exceeding all expectations. There was among applicants an impressive diversity of backgrounds, styles, perspectives, and lived experiences on many levels (racial, ethnic, gender, sexual and gender identity, professional training and roles, age, upbringing).
Applicants presented moving stories of communities in struggle and shared inspiring visions of how to meet community needs, along with thoughtful processes for facilitating collective healing within these communities.
The selection process was a very difficult one (challenging in the sense that most candidates were deemed highly qualified to participate in the Program; yet, not all could be selected as funding was limited). After long deliberations, 24 applicants were selected to be candidates, representing a two-year cohort for 2022-2023. All applicants will be invited to participate in a community of practice around collective healing that will be hosted by the Foundation.
Launching the Program. The 2022-23 Leadership Fellows program has been made possible by members of the IFS community who responded to a call for support. Their generous donations are now underwriting stipends and other essential funding. To sustain the program, the Leadership Fellows fund needs to be developed through continued outright and recurring gifts from those who understand the importance of this work.
Introducing the Fellows. Please meet the inaugural cohort of Fellows, in their own voices, taken from their video statements in which they address a series of questions about themselves, their communities, and how they would benefit from IFS training and a comprehensive leadership-development experience.
The Fellows’ work and interests energize our hope in the promise of social change and collective healing that could be facilitated through IFS—in good alignment with the Foundation’s interest in societal wellbeing.
The following videos and bios introduce the Fellows six at a time over four Fridays in March, in no particular order. For questions or comments about this Program, please contact Outreach@FoundationIFS.org.
ANNECY BAEZ, LCSW-R, PhD (she/her)
Annecy Baez is an educator, psychotherapist, and Professor at Touro College Graduate School of Social Work where she teaches clinical social work practice with individuals, couples and families and arts intervention in social work practice. Annecy has provided therapeutic services to children, adolescents, and their families in a variety of clinical settings.
She is also an expressive arts educator, SoulCollage® Facilitator and mindfulness meditation teacher, integrating expressive arts, particularly therapeutic writing, dreamwork, bibliotherapy/poetry therapy, collage, and visual journaling in her therapeutic work. A collage artist, poet and writer, author of My Daughter’s Eyes and Other Stories, she is the winner of the Marmol prize for first Latina fiction (2007).
Annecy draws from new developing theories in attachment, emotion, neuroscience, and body-based experiential therapies as well as mindfulness-based approaches. As a psychotherapist, her work is grounded in trauma-informed, healing-oriented, body-centered, and anti-oppressive practices
For Annecy, collective healing is a process where people are supported and empowered to strengthen their capacities and resilience and that of their families and community to promote collective recovery
RICARDO CABRERA (he/him)
Born and raised in Mexico until the age of 19, Ricardo has resided near the ocean in Southern California for the past 33 years. He is the father of two daughters who are a main inspiration for his healing evolution. From a family that faced much adversity, including poverty, trauma and addiction, Ricardo has been himself on a journey of recovery for over 25 years. One of his greatest desires is to create change regarding treatment modalities for people challenged with addiction; bringing in more compassion and gentleness as well as reducing shame often connected to traditional forms of treatment.
When he is not doing something related to his greatest passion, IFS, Ricardo can be found dancing tango, singing karaoke, doing boxing workouts, or learning to surf the local waves.
Ricardo truly believes that “collective healing can really happen every time we remember that we are comprised of all our parts and know we are more than all these parts. It’s realizing that, when each of us heals, others heal with us as well.”
TY CUTNER (he/him)
Ty is Founder and Image Coach at Well Dressed Academy. He helps men develop a sharp image to help boost their confidence, empowering them to accelerate their success. He also works with young men from elementary school to college developing their confidence through his workshops and video courses.
Ty guides men in their effort to move on from betrayal relationship situations, divorces, separations or infidelities. Working as a coach for Genuine Attraction and the Move On After Betrayal program, he has helped over 1,000 men in the last year alone. His own transformation happened several years ago when he felt stuck in life, working a dead-end job, underachieving, and in a relationship that ended in betrayal. He took an honest look in the mirror and realized he needed to take control of his life. He started by taking control of his image, inside and out, and success followed.
In Ty’s viewpoint, “collective healing means improved relationships, loving families, purpose driven lives and a common understanding root in compassion for one another.”
GLORIA DICKERSON, MBA, CPA (she/her)
Gloria is the CEO and founder of We2gether Creating Change, a social change, community-based organization headquartered in the Mississippi Delta in Drew, Mississippi. She retired from her work as a financial management professional and a program director in philanthropy in 2009 and returned to her hometown with a mission to be a change agent to transform low-income, socially disadvantaged communities from perceived places of poverty, low skills, and despair to communities of prosperity, abundant skills, and hope.
Her vision is that all residents in her community will have access to affordable housing; healthy food; health care and prevention; recreation; work and learning opportunities that will enable them to lift themselves up, build skills, and become mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually well. She is a certified mindfulness instructor and a certified Primordial Sound Meditation™ instructor.
Gloria believes that “collective healing is a must if the community is to come together and believe that the vision described above is possible and work together to create that vision.”
MONA ELLEITHEE, MA Ed., NBCT (she/her)
Born to Egyptian, Muslim immigrants, Mona’s passion for K-12 equity work stems from her own experiences as a marginalized student, healing-centered teacher, and Self-led peer coach. She taught high school students English Language Arts in AZ, IL, and SC for sixteen years before serving as a behavioral interventionist, or classroom management coach and social-emotional skills builder, for a year and a half. In the Title I schools where she served, she became curious about lower performance data, higher discipline referrals, and lower graduation rates for students of color and the higher attrition rates of the faculty members at their schools.
Mona knows that a factor impacting why so many teachers leave the profession is because they're overwhelmed by the foundational literacy skills required to grow their students’ skillsets, and worse, they often feel blamed for their students’ performance and challenging behaviors. It is the longing in her students’ eyes for a rigorous academic experience that drives her to help teachers protect their professional passion and grow their own tool kits so they can implement equitable practices with confidence.
As the Founder and School Equity Strategist of Renewed Harmony, Mona envisions an educational system where every student and staff member belongs and grows within safe schools led by authentic leaders who utilize research-based practices to reach desired outcomes together.
Mona currently serves as a statewide educational consultant for the South Carolina Department of Education and a supervisor of pre-service secondary English Language Arts interns for the University of South Carolina. She has also served on the U.S. Department of Education’s Task Force to Advance Cultural and Global Competencies.
Mona sees collective healing as prerequisite for increasing student and teacher success: “As we unpack the invisible barriers that unconsciously impact student performance, we embark on a journey toward dismantling the discord within ourselves and between each other to accelerate achievement for all.”
Rev. TOMEKA C. JACOBS, PhD (she/her/hers)
I call the displaced lands of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Shawnee, and Osage people (Kentucky) my home. I have been shaped by the acknowledgement of the connective tissue of ancestral and ancient wisdom, knowledge, and intuition that draw is closer to the cosmic realm of creations and mystery through what I coined, ecocosmology. I believe this connection to land and sky is integral in our healing journeys. It is through such connection we find that we are elemental, that are parts are longing for the connection of belonging through physics and mysticism.
As an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, I have had the privilege of working in Level 1 Trauma Centers as a Complex Care and Psychiatric Chaplain; Pastor; and leader in Higher Education. With years of experience in healing and therapeutic modalities, I am drawn to spaces of deep connection, pain, and transformative possibilities. I believe in the cocreative power of beauty, awe, and curiosity that draws us into connections of engaged compassion, commitment, and communion with all creatures, and the earth.
I have lived many lives in conjunction with my current embodiment. I am informed by science, as a chemist and my love for physics; neuroscience and its creative possibility in transforming our reactivities through mindfulness, contemplative, and spiritual practices; theology as spirituality is my expertise and ethos, my ethic; and I am deeply informed by artistry and story.
I founded a group for queer Black woman-identified bodies to engage in the IFS process while attending to the culturally competent parts of unlearning, relearning, and (re)membering, as I believe in the process of IFS to speak to our multiple identities.
I believe that our collective healing hinges on our understanding of belonging, willingness to “do the work,” and rests in the creative possibilities of both/and with queer, decolonial, nonbinary approaches to wholeness and transformation.
AMAN BASDEO FITZGERALD (they/he)
Aman is a writer, youth worker, and advocate working and living in Oakland, California (chochenyo/huichin land). With lineage from multiple continents, and as a queer and transgender person, Aman works through the liminal space as a permanent guest with many homelands within the context of multiple continental and corporeal diasporas outside of a dominant narrative.
Whether it be working with the youth he serves or creating with his artist community, his work is as much about origins as it is about departures. Through story, he retires the current ways that home, the body, and heart are used as political battlegrounds within historical and contemporary architecture of colonial mythology—and makes space for stories, which are generous with truth, to become living commitments to belonging.
For Aman, today, “collective healing is acknowledging and being responsible to the connection between the Self and parts contained in each of us and every being on earth.”
KATHRYN HALL, LCSW (she/her)
Kat is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychotherapist who works with organizations, individuals and families. As a program director at a nonprofit, she blends her understanding of program development, clinical insight, and commitment to mindfulness and wellness to support her colleagues and the greater Harlem Community. As a therapist and community advocate, Kat has a passion for creating opportunities to discuss wellness and preventive approaches to mental health through a culturally and gender expansive lens. She empowers community members to self-define what it means to be well and how they want to get there.
According to Kat, “community healing means co-creating spaces of bravery and vulnerability to enable participants to do the deep work of reflection and processing safely.”
TRUVETTE HOLLINQUEST, MA, APCC (she/her)
Truvette works as an associate clinical counselor for both Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health’s Urgent Care Wellness Center and Edges Counseling Center and Training Institute. Her vast lived experiences allow her to be a compassionate, understanding voice for the underserved and underrepresented. Her ability to engage in conversations and action around healing with both marginalized populations and professionals allows her to be a champion for the people. She has demonstrated this ability in her work with formerly incarcerated women of color, individuals and families affected by domestic violence, homeless populations, and individuals struggling with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
Because she has also been a part of all these populations, Truvette understands that “collective healing means healing from the inside in order to find the inner strength and power to address cultural, political, and social wrongdoing in an effective and meaningful way that promotes lasting change.”
traci ishigo, ASW, MSW (they/she)
traci is a queer, nonbinary, Japanese American Buddhist, community organizer, therapist, and trauma-informed yoga and meditation teacher. They are based in the unceded lands of the Fernandeño-Tataviam peoples, also known as the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA. They are a co-founding co-director of Vigilant Love, where they steward and lead the organization’s solidarity-based, healing justice programs, and support VL’s campaigns against Islamophobic government programs and the War on Terror. traci brings ten years of grassroots organizing experience and their clinical experience as a social worker to movement spaces. In their private practice, they provide individuals and couples psychotherapy, as well as politicized, healing-centered consulting.
For traci, “collective healing includes both personal and systemic transformation that supports and liberates all beings to live with sovereignty, dignity, health, creativity, compassion, and a sense of being in right relationship with ourselves, our ancestors, all sentient beings, and the land.”
DOMINIQUE LAMB, MA (she/her)
Dominique is the Founder and Executive Director of We Teach Love, a not-for-profit organization on a mission to eliminate interpersonal abuse by teaching people how to have healthy relationships. She is the author of What Happens in this House, an autobiographical book about her past plagued with domestic violence and abuse and how she grew to learn about and experience her first healthy relationship. Her story has also been featured in the Washington Post.
A serial entrepreneur, Dominique is also the owner and principal broker of the Haven Firm,
a full-service real estate brokerage, as well as Founder of Kola Trust, Inc., an intentionally accessible real estate investment corporation. Dominique serves on the Board of Black Therapists Rock, an association dedicated to creating equity in the mental health field for BIPOC professionals.
In Dominique’s view, “collective healing means gaining the courage to examine ourselves in truth and vulnerability and the support and space within the community to see and realize ourselves as more than we ever thought possible.”
MARCIA LEFTWICH, MA (she/her)
Marcia has a passion for empowering others to fight to see their light in darkness. She is a mouthpiece for promoting wellness and destigmatizing mental health in minority and underserved communities. As a motivational speaker and author, she empowers others to find victory in their circumstances. Marcia is a domestic abuse advocate as well as a tutor and mentor to students experiencing homelessness.
Her life experiences led her to become a pastoral counselor; as such, she uses her story to empower others to not just survive but thrive. She passionately teaches yoga, meditation, and self-care to inspire people to find a pathway to heal and reduce stress. Her two pillars in her life are her sons Myles and Adin.
Marcia believes that “collective healing is a gathering of like-minded change agents collaborating to become the epicenter of healing within their communities to cause a ripple effect that heals within and beyond.“
GABRIELLA LOCKE, PhD, LPC (she/her)
Gabriella is a Licensed Professional Counselor, who is also certified as a Rehabilitation Counselor, an Adolescent Trauma Professional, and a Digital Health & Wellness Professional. She is engaged as Assistant Professor in a graduate counseling program and a part-time clinician serving individuals up to age 25 with concerns including trauma, substance use disorders, and process addictions.
The non-pathologizing model of IFS resonates with her value that individuals are inherently good; yet, they may have experienced “events” that get in the way of their goodness. She believes the model to be effective in working with individuals from certain backgrounds who shy away from counseling due to the stigma attached. Her goal is to launch a nonprofit to provide pro-bono counseling services and other resources to various marginalized communities who lack access to care.
According to Gabriella, “collective healing means ensuring we holistically address the needs of groups of people who have experienced situations that have had persistent, detrimental effects on their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health in a way that helps facilitate individual and societal transformation.”
MEGAN MANCINI (she/her)
As a current Clinical Mental Health graduate student at Portland State University, Megan is entering the counseling field with a commitment to social justice and a dedication to supporting the mental health of marginalized communities. Her experience as a Korean-American trans-racial adoptee has influenced her desire to support people who have experienced complex and developmental trauma, systemic racial oppression, and folks in addiction recovery. In her work as a yoga teacher, she spent 10 years developing skills to support people’s experiences of being in their bodies with a deep devotion to the practice of self-awareness through mindfulness and meditation. In her clinical work with clients and as a BIPOC youth group facilitator in inner-city public schools, she invites the therapeutic process with a tender heart and loving kindness—joy is the most powerful tool for liberation.
For Megan, “collective healing is the freedom to embrace the wholeness of who we really are, to rest deeply in that belonging.”
ANA MORANTE, LMFT, CFLE (she/her/ella)
Ana is a bilingual, bicultural Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Family Life Educator. Since 1993, she has worked in numerous mental health and community organization settings. For the past 20 years, Ms. Morante has been a Family Wellness Partner and Trainer and has trained numerous instructors in this program throughout the United States and the world. Alongside her global instructor training, she has had a private practice since 1995. Through this practice, she became very aware of the long-term impact of childhood trauma in a person’s life. With a strong belief that a person’s healing journey should be multi-dimensional, she continues practicing psychotherapy as well as psychoeducation. Given her passion for “Intentional Motherhood,” she founded “Resilient Families Gilroy” in 2017, which is a mindfulness-based, trauma-informed, community led program geared to facilitate intergenerational healing in low-income communities.
For Ana, “collective healing means to learn to accept and embrace the messiness of life and finding strength and comfort in our connection with our Higher Self and with each other.”
MARILYN ODOM, MS, MTS (she/her)
Marilyn is an ordained minister, accounting and business management professional, spiritual counselor, and teacher. She has indulged her love for global travel and is an avid student of history—world religions, African American, Greco-Roman, and Egyptian—who loves to visit sacred spiritual temples and basilicas to feel the essence of peace and love.
With the belief that healing starts from within, she ministers to young people by listening with care, offering gentle guidance and positive support. She is committed to partnering with women to help enrich their lives with practices that build greater self-esteem and self-compassion, as well as extend unconditional love and support toward others. Spiritual formation classes at the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, CA, deepened her interest in integrating Womanist Theology and Internal Family Systems as a holistic model of healing for African American women in small group settings.
In Marilyn’s view, “collective healing is like a concentric circle where the inner circles of self-love, self-awareness, and self-acceptance expand to outer expressions of unconditional love for others and awareness of our oneness.”
LATASHA PENNANT, MEd (she/her)
A licensed counselor in Maryland, Latasha specializes in the healing of complex trauma, anxiety, and depression. She completed advanced trainings as a trauma specialist in community mental health and private practice settings. With a passion for serving youth in care, Latasha focuses her advocacy on dismantling oppressive practices and systems that exacerbate challenges faced by children in foster care. Her role as a therapist, coupled with her real-life experience as foster parent, has cultivated a deep understanding of systemic factors influencing social institutions.
Latasha retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2015 after 20 years of honorable service. While serving, she acquired extensive experience in organizational leadership, contingency planning, and logistics management.
She firmly believes that the human experience is a shared experience, all of us being responsible for creating a world that affirms everyone’s humanity. Lilla Watson’s quote eloquently captures Latasha’s understanding of collective healing, “if you have come here to help me you are wasting your time; but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
ZEENAT POTIA, MA (she/her)
Zeenat Potia teaches meditation in Buddhist and secular spaces. She has over 15 years of training, with extensive silent retreat experience in the early Buddhist tradition and advanced trauma-sensitive mindfulness. A South Asian immigrant and mother, Zeenat combines 20 years in strategic communications in higher education, non-profit, and publishing in India and the United States into her offerings.
Her current work integrates mindfulness, 12-step recovery, and Internal Family Systems as a way to heal intergenerational trauma and break down structures of internal and external oppression. She is committed to sharing mindfulness with underserved and underrepresented populations. Zeenat has taught at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center since 2014, as well as teaching meditation in organizations and universities throughout the Boston area. Learn more at: www.zeenatpotia.com
Zeenat believes that “collective healing is the willingness to align with truth in the here and now and to respond to pain with wisdom and compassion, nothing and nobody left out.”
JASPER ALEX SMITH (they/them)
Jasper is an educator, artist, organizer, and peer-based mental health counselor whose praxis (theory + action) lives at the intersections of kinship ecologies and reimagining collective and mutual care networks within and beyond 2SLGBTQIIA+ communities. Their work intends to disrupt pathologizing and inaccessible care models and instead invite new ways of relating and of supporting ourselves, one another, and the land.
In this spirit of collective healing, they believe that “building better and more nuanced relationships of understanding, accountability, and repair within ourselves, our bodies, and our connections to human and the more-than-human world are the key towards a brighter, thriving future for all.”
OMARI SOULFINGER, MSW—aka McCleary (he/they)
Omari is an artist and facilitator from Brooklyn, New York, dedicated to creative advocacy and healing. Since 2008, Omari has worked for under-served communities in various capacities, and currently serves as the Director of Advocacy with Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. Additionally, he holds spaces for Brooklyn Movement Center, Ramapo for Children, Mankind Project, and All Kings. Adjacent to his social change work, Omari performs physical and storytelling comedy.
For Omari, “collective healing means transcendence of binaries such as good/bad, me/you, and us/them.”
ELISE TRUJILLO, MSW, LCSW (they/them/elle)
Elise identifies as a queer millennial non-binary Chicano. They find their strength by grounding themselves in chosen family, connecting to water, deep conversations with friends, and supporting community activism around racism, the anti-carceral state, and reproductive justice.
Elise is a survivor; they developed their connection to community healing through receiving fierce mentorship from those who had come before them. As a clinical social worker, they center lessons learned from early experiences as a client and peer sexual assault advocate to approach therapeutic work collaboratively. These shared lived experiences inform their practices of liberation which aim to support folks who are oppressed, undervalued, and excluded. They strive to assist clients in exploring how they choose to survive and thrive, among the burdens of racism, white supremacy, transphobia, heteronormativity, ableism, and capitalist class structures. They use anti-oppressive approaches that center choice, community and collective care, and connection as they work to offer compassionate and direct reflection and feedback.
Elise experiences “collective healing as a communal spaciousness for wounds, growth, and loving-kindness.”
LEA WOLF (she/her)
Lea is an Ojibwe woman from the Bad River tribal community on the Southern shores of Lake Superior. Her spirit name is Zhaawinoodinookwe, and she is eagle clan. She is a mother, a doula, a small business owner, and a soon-to-be MSW student. After many years of supporting hundreds of families during birth, she is shifting her path to work in tribal communities supporting folks as they do their healing.
Lea found IFS in her own healing journey and her system fell into it with great relief. Turning cultural teachings of respect and community care inward has been powerful—and such a delight too. She loves being home on the “big lake,” laughing with friends, dancing to the oldies in the kitchen with her kiddos, quilting, and a newfound love for nurturing houseplants after many years of a black thumb.
For Lea, “collective healing is about connection: finding our way back to ourselves, to one another, to the land, and to all of the beings and spirits with which we share this world.”
RICHARD WILLIAMS (he/him)
Richard Williams is an Applied Compassion and Mindfulness coach, psychoeducator, and author. As a Schaumburg Fellow and incoming doctoral student at the University at Buffalo, he will continue to engage in research related to education and compassion, psychology, Buddhism, mindfulness, altruism, and meditation. He has authored and edited several publications on identity and emotions in education. For over 12 years, Richard has worked in special education teaching, district administration, and higher education. He now provides wide ranging educational and healing services to individuals, organizations, and communities. In order to achieve collective healing, Richard relies on Ubuntu as a foundation and practices trust, both individually and collaboratively.
Rev. AIZAIAH G. YONG, PhD (he/him)
Aizaiah is an ordained Pentecostal Christian minister who has served in higher education leadership for over a decade devoting his energy to healing and advocacy work that centers QTBIPOC communities. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care at the Pacific School of Religion, where he is thrilled to co-create community that is spiritually rooted and socially engaged. He enjoys facilitating spiritual retreats and is a sought-out scholar-activist on issues at the intersection of spirituality and multi/racial experience(s).
Shaped by an interracial and immigrant family, he is committed to scholarship that brings clarity and compassion to the center of social change efforts. Aizaiah’s research interests include practical theology, interreligious studies, critical mixed-race studies, spirituality and spiritual care, as well as contemplative leadership.
Aizaiah believes that “our collective healing is inter-in-dependent and is received when we relate to ourselves, one another, and the world with authenticity, curiosity, and perseverance.
This Program was made possible through funding from the community, the Foundation and IFS Institute.
To contribute further, support this effort, and help sustain it, please go to www.FoundationIFS.org/support.