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 Programs

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 docto ral 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.

River Gowan Stone - Director of Finance

River grew up on an apple farm in rural California and moved to Oakland for college in 1996. He first discovered the Pacific Center in the late 90s, as a queer / intersex / genderqueer youth and is elated to serve the LGBTQ+ community in his role as Bookkeeper/HR Assistant. River brings eight years of experience in accounting, finance, and human resources to this work, plus a passion for economic justice, community health, and holistic mental/somatic wellness. River has a BA in French and Francophone Studies -- his culminating thesis was an application of queer theory to 18th century French fiction -- and an MFA in English and Creative Writing, both from Mills College. He is studying sex and relationship coaching at Somatica Institute. He is also a librarian, a poet, an improviser, a mystic, a dancer, and the parent of a vibrant, sweet, and outgoing toddler who is the absolute light of his life.

eddie gesso - Operations Manager

eddie has lived in Oakland long enough to call it home and loves living here.  He joined the staff of Pacific Center in 2008 after completing his BFA at California College of the Arts.  eddie’s community service includes volunteerism for the Lambert House and the Seattle LGBT Community Center in Seattle, WA and the Queer Cultural Center, National Queer Arts Festival, and Fresh Meat in the Gallery here in the bay area.  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.  He identifies as a unicorn.

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. 

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 - Community Programs 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.  

Stephanie Bain, Associate MFT - Intake Coordinator

In addition to her role as Intake Coordinator, Stephanie has served as a clinician at Pacific Center since 2019. With a non-profit background, Stephanie came to the field of mental health seeking a better way to serve her LGBTQ+ community. A true Sagittarius, Stephanie’s bow and arrow are always aimed as truth, justice, and freedom and those principles guide her life and inform her work seeking liberation and joy for all marginalized peoples. An East Bay native, Stephanie lives in Oakland and works alongside her trusty feline assistants, Zsa Zsa and Eva.

Vanessa Serratos - Volunteer Program Coordinator

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.

Interim Youth Program Coordinator

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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.

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.

Anthony J. Perry, Ph.D. (he/him/él)

Anthony currently serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a History teacher at the Lab School of Washington, a small independent school in DC for students with learning differences.  Before Lab, he spent three years living and working in the Bay Area, where in addition to teaching Spanish-language and literature courses, he served as the inaugural coordinator for THRIVE, a program that supports students and families who have been historically underrepresented in independent schools.  Anthony is a first-generation graduate of the College of William & Mary (B.A., History and Hispanic Studies) and Georgetown University (M.S., Ph.D., Spanish Literature & Cultural Studies).  In his free time, you can find him and his husband working to dismantle, in the words of bell hooks, “the imperialist, white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy,” and/or video chatting with their new niblings, Dallas and Gia, and godson, James. 

Harini Venkatesan

Harini Venkatesan has been an aspiring superhero her entire life because she strives to make the world a better place through action and intention. To that end, she has been fighting for families in child welfare/juvenile dependency cases since 2015 in both Utah and California, helping families reunite and break any existing cycle of dysfunction caused by poverty, racism, and other socio-economic reasons. She has seen the massive impact that access to mental health resources has in alleviating these issues. When she has downtime, she enjoys reading, learning music, cuddling one of her four cats/dogs, practicing yoga, cooking, and spending time outdoors with her family.

Sergio Ruiz Tello

Sergio is a Program Manager at Medallia, where he builds experience management solutions that empower clients to interpret linguistic data. Raised in Mexico City, Sergio has lived in the Bay Area since 2010. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, he is a dedicated community builder who strives to create inclusive and transparent environments. Passionate about visual storytelling, Sergio can often be found watching movies or reading about them, as well as documenting life’s adventures through photography.

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.