Meet the Staff

Meet the Board

Executive Director

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Taunya Black, M.A. - Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

For Taunya, mental health is a social justice, equity and inclusion issue. She has a breadth of organizational experience, having worked as a strategic management consultant, Program Director for various educational non-profits, and the Co-Executive Director of Horizons at Brooklyn Friends School for several years. Additionally, Taunya brings over 15 years experience in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion landscape, conceptualizing, facilitating and operationalizing initiatives for educational institutions, for-profit companies, and non-profit organizations. She has developed content and curriculum, and acted as a think partner for various presentations, keynote speeches, graduate level courses and workshops. Taunya co-founded The Mosaic Collaborative, LLC., a company devoted to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work. 

 

Taunya hails from Brooklyn, NY. She holds BA degrees in Urban Studies, Dance and Creative Writing, and an MA degree in Counseling Psychology. She has served on the board of Acta Non Verba, a non-profit dedicated to urban farming and food justice. When she is not working, Taunya can usually be found hanging out with her wife, and acting as her 13 year old daughter’s personal chauffeur and activities coordinator.

Dr. Erin Harrell, PsyD - Director of Clinical Services

Erin Harrell, PsyD  is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice in the East Bay, who received her Doctorate in Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. As the Clinical Training and Services Coordinator at the Pacific Center in Berkeley, she manages the clinical training program, providing clinical supervision for masters and doctoral level students, as well as managing a team of over 15 supervisors. Dr. Harrell has extensive experience as a training administrator and supervisor, having been a staff supervisor at the Psychological Services Center in Oakland for several years, as well as having served as the Clinical Program Training Director at the Rainbow Community Center in Concord. She has a practice in Oakland where she primarily works with adults and couples, specializing in offering psychotherapy services for LGBTQ+ identified individuals. Dr. Harrell’s passion for clinical work and supervision is informed by relational, attachment, and object relations frameworks.  Dr. Harrell also has a background in critical gender studies. On her free time, she enjoys the great outdoors and having adventures in new places.  

Anne Mitchell, LCSW - Director of Community Programs

Anne was born and raised in Berkeley, starting her relationship with Pacific Center in the late 70’s when she dropped into the “Under 21 Lesbian Rap Group.” Over the years, she earned a BA in English at Smith College and an MSW from University of Kansas and worked with a wide range of populations. She felt like an undercover operative during a long stint working in rural community mental health centers while living on a Kansas cattle ranch. Anne is proud of being featured in the University of Kansas book, No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas, by C.J. Janovy. She landed back in Berkeley in 2012 and has been at Pacific Center in various capacities since, appreciating the daily opportunity to help create and support safe spaces for our community members. Outside of work, she is all about good food, and time outside with her sweetheart, family, friends and dogs.

eddie gesso - Operations Manager

eddie has lived in Oakland since 2003 and joined the staff of Pacific Center in 2008 after completing his BFA at California College of the Arts. eddie’s community involvement includes volunteerism for Lambert House, the Seattle LGBT Community Center, the Queer Cultural Center, National Queer Arts Festival, and Fresh Meat in the Gallery. When not at work eddie enjoys listening to music and painting, making his own creations in the kitchen, hanging out with his kitty cat, endless hours of video games, and seeing bands live.

DeAngela Cooks - HIV Program Clinician Manager

DeAngela is a passionate public speaker of 20+ years, professional master of ceremonies and an acclaimed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion workshop facilitator. Hailing from Southern California, she embraces her intersectional identities.  As a Black, queer, woman, who is a parent, and has been a minister and stand-up comic, she brings a wealth of experiences to her work; infusing education with elocution, wit and a splash of sarcasm. After knocking out her Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Religion, she decided to graduate with her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. I guess it's safe to say she’s a sap.  When not at work, you can find her devising a scheme to become unidentifiable by her student loan providers. 

Executive Director

Jay Louie, MA - Quality Assurance Coordinator

Jay Louie is a transgender, transnational, and multilingual therapist who grew up in Hong Kong, Canada, US, and Mexico. They specialize in supporting LGBTQ+ immigrants of color with complex trauma through a social justice lens. They are trained in art therapy, sex therapy, and psychedelic integration therapy, and teach workshops on intersectionality through the use of expressive arts. As QA Coordinator, Jay oversees clinical documentation and processes. Past roles include first coach at Ginger.io (US), and lead designer at MANA! (HK) and Clean Air Network (HK). Qualifications include: MA Holistic Counseling Psychology (JFK), BA Psychology (The University of Hong Kong), and BFA Communication Design (Parsons). An adventurer, Jay travels, dances in the desert, nurtures plants, and creates safer rock climbing spaces with Queer Crush. 

Vanessa Aczon - Older Adults Program Coordinator

Born and raised in the lovely and ever-changing Bay Area, Vanessa has worked in various settings, from hospitality, direct patient care, and trauma advocacy. Her path had led her to earning a BS in Health Sciences, minor in Biology, and a Master of Public Health.  After her graduate program, she searched for an organization that combined her interests in population health, mental health, and the LGBTQ+ community.  Luckily for her, she joined the Pacific Center in August 2019, where she happily works with amazing colleagues that share a similar vision in inclusivity, diversity, and equity.  Outside of work, Vanessa loves to dabble in drawing, dancing, and spending time with her loved ones, and best canine buddy.  

Danny Schnittman, MA - Intake Coordinator

Danny Schnittman has been a part of the Pacific Center community since 2014, when he was looking to more actively engage in spaces that prioritize mental health care for LGBTQ+ individuals. He began volunteering at the front desk and has been a clinician, primarily working with trans and non-binary individuals, since September 2017. Danny is thrilled to continue expanding his role at Pacific Center as Intake Coordinator as well as providing case consultation, resources, and education on transgender care. Danny works alongside his precious doggo, Harold, who loves pets and will always find the sunniest, softest, and most comfortable places to lay. Danny is passionate about accessible and affordable mental health care for marginalized individuals and is proud to work within his community. When not at Pacific Center, Danny finds himself immersed in internet and meme culture; frequenting campy, queer performances, especially of the drag variety; and enjoying time with his chosen family.

Interim Youth Program Coordinator

Jared is Bay Area transplant and has lived in Oakland since 2011. He came to Oakland to serve as an Americorps with Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley. He then spent several years working with at risk youth in West Oakland. He has a passion for working with youth and is glad he can now be serving the thriving LGBTQ community of the Bay.   

Katie Tims - Clinical Administrative Assistant

Katie is a Berkeley native who connected with Pacific Center for her Women & Gender Studies’ internship senior year of college and has stayed on since. From the SFSU Queer Alliance secretary to the Queer Yo Mind! conference committee, she fortunately landed work with the LGBTQ+ community in a place that feels like home. She has worn many hats, having been involved in volunteer management, outreach, Peer Groups, Covered California education and Clinic Administration in her time here. She has a passion for cats, the spiritual and occult, open-world RPG video games, J-Pop and K-Pop.

Vanessa Serratos - Volunteer Program Assistant

On a search for volunteer opportunities, Vanessa came across Pacific Center and started off as a volunteer as of October 2018. As months went on she observed the position as the front desk volunteer every 4th Friday of the month and enjoyed it! When the opportunity to become the program assistant opened up- Vanessa was offered and accepted the position almost immediately. Vanessa has enjoyed serving as a proud LGBTQ+ ally and will always continue to do so. Vanessa is currently attending CSU East Bay to obtain her BA degree in Psychology in hopes of making her way up to become a MFT or LCSW. On Vanessa’s free time she enjoys attending concerts, watching anime, and most of all making memories with family and friends.

Meet The Board

Jess Forster - President

Jess is currently the Head of People at a mission-driven startup focused on technology for philanthropy. She is an empathetic leader who loves a high-growth, fast-paced & equitable environment where she can help employees thrive. She came to the Pacific Center by way of the Grief Group which became an incredibly important part of her healing journey. In her free time, you’ll find her in a book or on a run with her wife and pup. 

John Dio - Vice President

John is currently the Technical Recruiter/People Operations for Wonderschool, an early childhood education-technology startup in San Francisco. His experience centers around scaling early-stage startups, process building, and advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. He was born in the Philippines, raised in Los Angeles, and earned his B.A. from UC Berkeley. Outside work and the Pacific Center, he enjoys traveling, foodie-excursions, songwriting, and has about three EPs written/recorded.

Uma Moldenhawer - Treasurer

Uma currently serves as VP, Enterprise Risk Management at Charles Schwab. Prior to that, she held positions in Internal Audit, Regulatory Compliance and Marketing functions within the financial services industry for over 20 years – working in both permanent positions and consulting roles at various institutions including MUFG, Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley, Bank of the West, Wells Fargo, First Republic Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Protiviti and FICO. She was born and raised in India and moved to the US to earn a Master of Business Administration degree at Virginia Tech. She currently lives in Berkeley with her husband.

Chris Wyman - Secretary

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Chris is a Senior Operations Manager at UberEats. He is also the Global Strategy & Planning lead for Pride at Uber (Uber's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group), where works to build an equitable and inclusive work environment for 25,000+ employees globally. In his free time, Chris can be found experimenting in the kitchen or playing with dogs. 

Bensen Hayden

Bensen is Vice President and 30-year employee of CH2M, a Fortune 500 global engineering company that provides consulting, design and construction services for corporations and federal, state and local governments. Bensen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Geotechnical Engineering from Purdue University. Bensen brings an analytical mind and business acumen to the Pacific Center Board of Directors as well as a sincere passion for the advancement of the LGBTQ community.

Gabrielle Hooks

Raised in the Bay Area on Ohlone land, Gabrielle (she/her) is an LGBTQ events, community and entrepreneurship organizer in Oakland. She’s spent the last ten years developing marketing strategies for top bay area companies and smaller LGBTQ-owned businesses. Her experiences in corporate America as a queer black woman provide her with a social justice-centered lens through which to view wellness, and fuels her desire to support the mental health of the Bay Area’s LGBTQ community. She was first introduced to the Pacific Center via the Queer Femmes Support Group in 2017. Gabrielle is the founder of Queer in Oakland, an organization that connects the East Bay’s queer community through social and cultural events. Her love for performing live karaoke is unmatched.

 

Pacific Center for Human Growth

Founded in 1973, Pacific Center for Human Growth is the oldest LGBTQIA+ center in the Bay Area, the third oldest in the nation, and operates the only sliding scale mental health clinic for LGBTQ/IA+ and QTBIPOC people and their families in Alameda County.