Core TeamA Thousand Joys’ work is led by a core team who envisions, designs and guides the work. By joining together and leveraging our expertise in mental health, educational practices and wellness we are able to craft programs and tools grounded in both research and practice from these complementary fields.
Liza Auciello, Psy.D, Chief Executive OfficerLiza is a licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training in psychological testing, early identification and intervention, behavioral disorders, and trauma. During her ten-year tenure at Children’s Institute, Inc., Liza worked as a staff psychologist conducting psychological assessments with children. She also served as director of the Child and Family Assessment Center and as vice president of Mental Health Programs. In the latter role, she was responsible for program effectiveness, staff performance and wellness. In September 2006, Liza began her role as founding executive director of A Thousand Joys. Liza ensures ATJ’s effectiveness by providing strategic, operational and inspirational leadership that is consistent with the mission and values of the organization. Liza has participated in complementary healing, meditation and yoga for nearly 25 years. She is committed to developing wellness models for staff in the mental health field and treatment models that incorporate complementary/alternative healing for clients. She hold a doctoral degree in health psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles.
Victoria Alvarado, M.A., Director of School-Based ServicesVictoria joined A Thousand Joys in May 2009 as a project manager and facilitator, delivering services at a number of ATJ’s community organization clients before shifting her focus to school-based work in 2012. She now spearheads all of ATJ’s school-based activities, which includes curriculum development for students, parents and educators, Transform student program service delivery, coordination and oversight, program expansion and building community partnerships. She is a 200 hour certified yoga teacher, Reiki practitioner and has a regular meditation practice. As someone who has integrated self-care and wellness into her personal life, Victoria also sees the value of bringing those practices into the workplace. By taking care of ourselves, we can best serve others. Victoria holds a bachelors in archaeology from Boston University and a masters degree in archaeology from Columbia University.
Hillary Johnson, Ed.D, Senior Strategic Advisor/Lead ConsultantHillary provides strategic guidance to A Thousand Joys and utilizes her extensive educational experience to strengthen our work in schools. She has been a committed educator for over 25 years, teaching students from kindergarten to doctoral candidates. Throughout her career she has created and advocated for powerful learning environments for learners of all ages, in academic, professional and community-based settings. Hillary served as the founding Chief Academic Officer of Citizens of the World Charter Schools, a national network of intentionally diverse schools, providing the academic vision and direction needed to take the network from inception to the verge of eight schools in three states. Over her career, Hillary has spent more than 15 years as an independent consultant helping organizations, schools, and teachers improve their performance. Her experience includes engagements with district schools and central offices, charter schools, educational resource centers, and she is able to bring all of those perspectives to her work. Though her work has taken many forms, she remains a teacher at heart and working alongside teachers and instructional leaders as they strive to improve their practice has been among her most satisfying work. She is the lead author of The Aspen Institute’s publication This Time, With Feeling: Integrating Social and Emotional Development and College- and Career-Readiness Standards. Hillary graduated with distinction from the University of California at Berkeley and earned her doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Hala Khouri, M.A., SEP, E-RYT 500, Senior Clinical Advisor/Lead ConsultantHala, a long-time consultant to A Thousand Joys, is a co-creator of Off the Mat, Into the World, a non-profit organization dedicated to utilizing the tools of yoga and somatic practices within a justice framework to inspire people to be conscious leaders of change. She has taught yoga and the movement arts for over 20 years in a myriad of locations from traditional studios to schools, juvenile detention centers, and mental health hospitals. She is also trained in Somatic Experiencing, a technique which focuses on trauma’s impact on the body-mind and ways to resolve it. Hala provides trainings on the effects of trauma, vicarious trauma and offers tools to create a culture of wellness and to manage stress. She earned a bachelors in psychology with a minor in Religion from Columbia University and has a masters degree in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, and is currently a doctoral candidate in community psychology, liberation studies and ecopsychology.
Consulting TeamTo be the strongest partner to the organizations and schools we work with, A Thousand Joys has cultivated a team of consultants, some of whom have worked with us for over 10 years. Our group of consultants is comprised of licensed social workers and clinicians, executive coaches, and educators as well as yoga and mindfulness teachers. Because of their other work in academic, clinical, corporate and community-based settings, they are actively engaged in doing the work and bring practical knowledge and “know how” to their consulting practices. We aim to select a consultant or a team that best matches your organization’s needs.
Karen Eastman, Ph.D.Karen is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience in meditation, spirituality and mind-body interventions, and she is an assistant clinical professor in the UCLA Department of Psychology. She served as the assistant director of the UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion, where she led the Training and Education Core and developed, implemented and evaluated programs for parents and adolescents that focused on communication and adolescent health issues. Since then, Karen has worked with several child-related organizations, leading training seminars on communication skills and providing training materials on child development issues. Karen has taught courses at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, UC Irvine and UCLA. She received her doctorate from UCLA, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA’s Semel Neuropsychiatric Institute, and conducted mind-body research in the UCLA Department of Pediatrics. She maintains a private practice in Los Angeles.
Kim Fuller, LMFTKim considers herself a catalyst for change and is a certified life and business coach, psychotherapist, radio show host and author. Kim worked in nonprofit mental health agencies in Los Angeles County as a therapist for severely emotionally disturbed children aged two to 21 years. She is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an evidenced-based practice that has proved effective in addressing post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, externalizing behaviors, sexualized behaviors, feelings of shame, and mistrust. Her professional experience also includes training and skill-building in mediation, communication and relationship-building. In addition to her work with A Thousand Joys, Kim provides coaching to both organizations and individuals. Her executive leadership and management training work improves management and leadership performance, improves information flow and productivity, reduces workload for managers, and increases customer satisfaction through experiential learning techniques. Kim also coaches her clients on how to live a fuller life and uses her compassion and targeted life coaching techniques to increase awareness and choice, to clarify vision, to create action plans and remove barriers to empowerment.
Kyra Haglund, LCSW, SEP, E-RYT Kyra is a licensed clinical social worker, Somatic Experiencing practitioner, yoga teacher and activist based in Los Angeles. She completed her graduate studies in social work from the University of Southern California focusing on mental health, military social work, family systems, and public policy. She is also certified in Somatic Experiencing, a mind-body modality that works directly with the nervous system to relieve and resolve symptoms of trauma. She takes an integrative approach to her work, blending traditional psychotherapy, holistic arts, and somatic tools to support greater self-regulation and well-being.
Susan Hess, MSW, LCSW-ILSusan is a clinical assistant professor at USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. She is an advocate, consultant and relational organizer in the areas of trauma-informed approaches and the intersections of intimate partner violence. She is the co-founder of Trauma Informed LA whose mission is to foster resilient communities that promote healing and well-being through collaboration, education, and community engagement. In recognition of her dedication, Susan was presented with the distinguished Dr. Marjorie Braude Award by the City of Los Angeles Domestic Violence City Task Force in October, 2013 for innovative collaboration in serving victims of domestic violence. Since 2016, she has worked with A Thousand Joys and facilitates trainings on trauma and trauma-informed care for educators as well as staff at community agencies.
Rachel Loeb, E-RYT
Marie Elena Rigo, M.A.Marie Elena is a consultant, facilitator and coach with more than 15 years of experience in teaching, marketing and communications. Marie Elena is president of MER Life Design, a full-service firm that offers personal/professional coaching, residential and commercial Feng Shui/interior design, and customized workshops and seminars to help organizations motivate, inspire and promote positive change. Marie Elena has worked for Fortune 500 companies such as MasterCard, IBM and Deloitte, and she served as vice president of marketing and communications for Gilda’s Club Worldwide, a nonprofit cancer support community. Her business acumen, along with her graduate training in psychology, equips her with a unique ability to impart tangible skills for personal and professional growth, development and success. In addition to her work with A Thousand Joys, Marie Elena teaches classes and workshops for the Learning Annex and major corporations such as Amtrak and the Disney Store. She holds a masters in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica and a bachelors in classics from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.
Lily Ross, LCSWLily Ross has been working as a teacher, coach and clinical social worker with children and families for the last 16 years, beginning in New York City and now in Los Angeles. She has worked with children of all ages and takes an interdisciplinary, trauma-informed approach to her practice. Lily’s goal is to help people discover strength in relationships and truly find joy in their connections. She is passionate about helping their development of self-purpose, stressing the importance of authenticity and always manages to weave humor into the trainings, consultations and groups she runs. Lily is on the adjunct faculty at the USC School of Social Work where she teaches individual, family and group practice as well as child development. As a clinical supervisor, consultant and program coordinator she has worked with agencies that focus on children and families as well as schools and summer camps.
Judith Sekler, B.A.Judith works with A Thousand Joys’ school-based Transform program, a trauma-informed curriculum that uses yoga, mindfulness and social emotional strategies to help students manage stress, practice self-regulation and cultivate positive habits and behaviors. With over twenty-five years of teaching experience, including seventeen years as a faculty member at Marlborough School, Judith helps individuals, organizations and independent schools navigate the 21st century landscape of overwhelm and fingertip technology. Judith’s program, Mindful Movement, integrates yoga, meditation and mindfulness to release tension and cultivate awareness, while principles such as compassion and kindness are explored. School partnerships address secular ethics and social justice, and age appropriate issues such as exclusionary social behaviors and digital citizenship. Judith has studied meditation and mindfulness at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC). She also has training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Relief (MBSR). Judith holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication/Media Studies.
Ashley Shubert, E-RYT 500Ashley is a licensed yoga therapist from Loyola Marymount University. She has an extensive background in advanced communication studies, Timeline Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, life-coaching, breathwork, and meditation. She maintains a private practice that spans teaching mindfulness in schools, meditation in corporate work environments, and group classes with asana-based yoga techniques. She has been working with A Thousand Joys as a program facilitator since 2017.
Lynda A. Yniguez, M.A., LMFTLynda has a Masters in Science in Counseling and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist registered with the Behavioral Board of Science in California. Lynda worked at a nonprofit agency in Southern California for 11 years where she held roles such as individual psychotherapist, Wraparound Supervisor and director of their Wraparound program (Wraparound is a child–focused, family-centered, strengths-based, needs-driven planning process for at risk youth involved with DCFS or Probation in LA County). Lynda is trained and certified in several evidence-based practices including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and certification in Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). She also completed the Infant-Parent Mental Health Post-Graduate program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Currently Lynda has a successful private practice where she provides psychotherapy services to children, youth, adults, couples and families in Santa Clarita where she works hard to tailor all treatment to meet each individual’s, couple’s or family’s needs. Lynda has worked with A Thousand Joys since 2016 providing trauma-informed trainings to parents and staff at community organizations, in addition to facilitating ATJ’s Transform program with students.
We are continually building our consultant team to strengthen our capacity and to meet our clients’ needs. Please reach out if you or someone you know could make a great contribution to our work!