Board of Trustees

Since its founding in 2006, A Thousand Joys has been guided, supported and championed by a committed board.
Raúl Alvarado (Co-Founder & Chair, 2006-present)After 33 years of leadership service at Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, Raúl chose to dedicate his time and resources to helping people empower themselves and grow through the use of complementary and alternative healing methods. He has a longstanding history of commitment and a passion for supporting children and education. For over 20 years, he served on the board of Children’s Institute, Inc., an organization that assists at-risk children and families in Los Angeles. He was the chairman of the board from 1998-1999 and 2002-2010. Raúl has also served on the board of the Fulfillment Fund, a college-access organization that offers mentoring and counseling to disadvantaged students. Raúl grew up in Panama, came to the U.S. to go to college, and has lived and worked around the world. He holds a bachelors in chemical and petroleum refining engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and a master of business administration from Purdue University.
Gerdi Alvarado (Co-Founder, 2006-present)A former nurse and current Reiki master teacher, Gerdi deeply understands the unique value of complementary medicine and alternative healing. In addition to Reiki, she also advocates acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, and proper nutrition and exercise to optimize and integrate one’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. Gerdi was born in Austria and immigrated to the United States as a young child. Having lived overseas, both as a child and later as an adult, she acutely recognizes the important of culturally sensitive support. Gerdi speaks German, Spanish and English, and she is a dedicated yoga practitioner, an avid journaler and an enthusiastic writer of fiction. She also advocates writing, chanting and drumming as healing tools. She is the proud mother of three successful adult children whom she raised with her husband, Raúl, with integrity, compassion and unconditional love.
Samaan Bakar (2009-2015, 2018-present)Born and raised in Syria, Samaan Bakar immigrated to the U.S. in 1970. In 1982, Samaan joined the management team of Western Data Systems, a startup software company in Los Angeles. During his tenure with the company, he was instrumental in driving its growth to become one of the leading aerospace and defense materials requirements planning (MRP) software companies at the time. Samaan later joined Accenture, where he worked on building a new mid-market business for the aerospace and defense practice. In 1997, he co-founded BBSC, an enterprise software sales and consulting company. The following year, he sold BBSC and founded a new startup, Ten Dots, a business intelligence and competitive analysis company based on the internet subscription model. Samaan has served on a number of nonprofit boards serving at-risk children and families in Southern California. He enjoys studying the culture and history of other countries and their impact on how we live today. He travels throughout the world with his family, encouraging them to embrace diversity and experience other cultures.
Derek Powell (2014-present)Derek is currently a Director at Altman Solon, the world’s largest strategy consulting firm focused exclusively on the Technology, Media, Telecom sectors. He is focused on helping media clients develop strategic cost programs and integrate new and emerging technologies to evolve and manage their business operations across the digital landscape. Prior, Derek was a Senior Manager/Associate Partner at Deloitte’s Telco, Media & Entertainment practice with Deloitte Service, LP, specializing in designing and developing new operating models, implementing and sustaining operational excellence, and enabling strategic planning and development functions. While at Sony, Derek was an SVP for Sony’s DADC New Media Solutions leading strategic planning and development. He also served as Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Digital Media Marketing, at Warner Bros. Derek is an alumnus of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in astronautical engineering with military distinction from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Andrea Cockrum (2010-2019, Emerita)Andrea has recently retired from long-time service to A Thousand Joys. We continue to benefit from her generous spirit and thoughtful wisdom. During her career with United Airlines in Chicago, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, and later in positions at UCLA and The Fulfillment Fund, she has created a life filled with both a passion for the arts as well as for disabled and underserved children in our education system in the Greater Los Angeles area. Under her leadership as the Founding CEO of the Fulfillment Fund, the organization received the “Spirit of Mentoring” Award from the California Mentor Initiative as the best community-based mentoring program in the state of California. The organization was also recognized as one of 177 “Promising Practices,” according to the President’s Initiative on Race. Andrea was recognized in 1999 by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a Dodger Hometown Hero, and a year later, she received a Woman Achievement Award presented by the Century City Chamber of Commerce. She received special recognition by The League of Women Voters in 2001. And along with Frank Gehry, she was named a “Treasure of Los Angeles” by Central City Association of Los Angeles. In 2007, the National College Access Network presented her with a Board Leadership Award of Excellence.
Liza Auciello, Psy.D, Founding Chief Executive Officer, 2006-2019, EmeritaLiza 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.