Elizabeth Cobb, LCSW, Workplace Counselor
Elizabeth received her master’s in Social Work from the University of North Carolina. Before moving to Charlottesville, she worked to help low-income individuals and families experiencing crisis to overcome challenges and realize their strengths. Elizabeth utilizes her training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Art Therapy to empower her clients. She is working in partnership with the Piedmont Virginia Community College’s Workforce Services Initiative to address the barriers faced by job seekers in the Charlottesville community.
Donna Dean, LCSW, Clinical Services Director
Donna received her master’s degree from Smith College School for Social Work. She has experience working with people in their recovery from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma and addiction. She incorporates a variety of theoretical modalities including EMDR, psychodynamic therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Internal Family Systems, all from a strengths-based perspective. Donna has more than 15 years of experience working in the field of social work in a variety of settings including crisis stabilization, intensive community treatment and outpatient therapy. She is also a yoga teacher and incorporates mindfulness based practices into her therapeutic work.
Leigh Freilich, LCSW, Therapist & social support coordinator
Leigh is a queer-identified therapist who brings more than a decade of experience serving low-income people in Charlottesville. A commitment to human rights and social/economic justice anchors her work. Leigh operates from a strengths-based, trauma-informed, intersectional approach. In her clinical work, she incorporates EMDR, Motivational Interviewing, CBT, expressive arts, Internal Family Systems, and Mindfulness practices. Areas of interest include cross-cultural practice, caring for the needs of refugees and immigrants, and providing affirming care to transgender and gender-diverse people. In addition to individual work with clients, she coordinates a community empowerment project known as the Cross-Cultural Healing Partnership and manages the social support program.
Monica A. Garfias, LPC, NCC, Bilingual Therapist
Monica A. Garfias, LPC, NCC received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She went on to acquire her Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from the Arizona School of Professional Psychology/Argosy University, Phoenix. She has worked in the field of mental health since 2005 and has practiced as a therapist since 2010. Her training includes Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). She is passionate about treating women and children who have experienced trauma.
Aislinn Groves, LCSW, Part-Time Mental Health Therapist
Aislinn was born and raised in Charlottesville, and is excited to re-engage with her home community after nearly 13 years away. Aislinn has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wake Forest University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon completion of her Master’s degree, Aislinn worked for six years as a therapist with low-income adolescents, adults and families in Durham, North Carolina. Inspired by her clinical work and various research interests, Aislinn elected to return to school, pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work through Smith College. Aislinn is now in the dissertation phase of this degree. Aislinn has training and experience in several psychotherapeutic approaches, including psychodynamic psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and trauma-informed care. Pulling from each as appropriate, Aislinn strives to understand and support each client in a way that is individualized and strengths-based. She aims to help people of all identities and backgrounds feel welcome in her office. She learns a great deal from each client and encourages open discussion of how intersecting social identities and life experiences impact the therapeutic work together. Aislinn views therapy as a collaborative process, supporting each client in accessing their innate capacities for understanding and growth.
AISHA HAYAT, LPC, CLINICAL COORDINATOR & THERAPIST
Aisha received her master’s degree in Counselor Education from the University of Virginia. Aisha first began her commitment to promoting and empowering women during her internship at the UVA Women’s Center. Since that time, she has been providing counseling and community support to women and their families as they overcome barriers and manage mental illness, trauma, and grief. Aisha approaches counseling from a person-centered, strengths-based framework, and she regularly incorporates elements of family systems and mindfulness into practice.
Elizabeth Irvin, LCSW, Executive Director
Elizabeth began working with women and trauma over 18 years ago at a resource agency for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Since that time, she received her master's in Social Work and Juris Doctor at UNC Chapel Hill. She specializes in trauma, addiction recovery and empowerment for English and Spanish speaking women. She incorporates a variety of theoretical modalities, including EMDR, mindfulness-based practices, family systems and grief work all from a strengths-based perspective.
Zyanya Otal, Client Support Specialist
Zyanya is a recent graduate of James Madison University with a degree in Biology. Her interests include raising awareness of the importance of mental health care as well as the empowerment and advancement of women, particularly women of color. She is a native Spanish speaker and has a variety of experiences working with nonprofit organizations.
Liz Ramirez-Weaver, LCSW, Part-time Bilingual Therapist
Liz Ramirez-Weaver is bilingual in English/Spanish and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She received her master’s degree in Social Work from Syracuse University with a specialization in community organizing, policy, planning and administration. Liz has over a decade of experience in various social work settings as an outpatient mental health therapist, hospital based forensic social work, and early intervention social worker. Prior to working as a part-time therapist, she was the Integrated Care Coordinator for the Charlottesville Free Clinic and The Women's Initiative's Integrated Care Program.
Ingrid Ramos, LPC, BIENESTAR COORDINATOR & TherapisT
Ingrid has a master’s degree in professional counseling from Liberty University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the Universidad Tecnologica de Santiago. Her past work includes experience as Latino Services Program Coordinator at the Charlottesville League of Therapists where she worked with children, individuals and families. She is passionate about her work with Hispanics and women's issues. Ingrid has experience working with issues of depression, anxiety, and trauma. At the Women's Initiative she enjoys individual work with women, couples therapy, and group therapy for Latina women.
HILARY STEINITZ, MSW, Mental Health Therapist
Hilary received her master’s degree in clinical social work from VCU. She has experience helping women heal from challenges such as depression, anxiety, childhood and recent trauma, eating disorders, and relational stress. In her clinical work, she integrates a variety of treatment modalities, including psychodynamic theories, Internal Family Systems, Motivational Interviewing, and EMDR. She also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UVa and believes in the creative process as a tool for healing. Additionally, Hilary has taught yoga since 2000 and her training and experience in mindfulness practices ground her clinical work.
Alyson Stewart, MFT, Sister Circle Mental Health Therapist
Alyson received her master’s degree from Valdosta State University in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her experience includes school counseling, providing intensive in-home services and working in a brief-therapy center conducting individual, couples, group and family therapy. Presenting problems she has worked with include but are not limited to depression, anxiety, chronic pain, marital work, intellectual disabilities, parenting needs and eating disorders. Strengths-based, Narrative, Solution Focused and MRI are models she uses when working with clients. Her hobbies include writing, blogging, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends and watching movies. She believes that an individual can either “forget everything and run, or face everything and rise; the choice is their own” --Zig Zigler. She is passionate about working with women’s understanding of self-worth, cultural identity, identity within interpersonal relationships and motherhood. Alyson describes a client’s process as the overcomer’s journey, where the path on the road to progress can be a bumpy one, but it leads to resiliency, resourcefulness and perseverance.
Shannon Williams, LCSW, Part-Time Therapist at the Shelter for Help in Emergency
Over the past 13 years, Shannon has helped adults and children overcome challenges surrounding mental health and substance use. Since receiving her master's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008, she has worked as a social worker in a variety of roles, primarily within community mental health agencies. Shannon is driven by the belief that healthy changes are not only possible, but should be available to everyone. Her current therapeutic focus is supporting survivors of trauma through Charlottesville's local domestic violence shelter.
Shelly Wood, MSW, Mental Health Therapist
Shelly is a native of Charlottesville. She has a master’s degree in Social Work from VCU and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. Shelly worked for more than eight years for the City of Charlottesville’s Social Services Department and was an intern with The Women’s Initiative while studying in the MSW program. Her passion is empowering women to reach their full potential as well as an overall sense of well-being. She enjoys being out in the community and collaborating with other organizations to provide much needed services.
Kerry Day, Director of Philanthropy
Kerry Day has dedicated her professional career to supporting the vital work of nonprofits. Her extensive experience spans nearly 25 years and includes the full spectrum of responsibility from executive director to passionate volunteer. She brings specialized grant writing and development skills, and has helped organizations large and small, from Charlottesville to Seattle, in pursuit of their mission. Locally, she has supported the efforts of Focused Ultrasound Foundation, UVA Department of Pediatrics, Piedmont CASA, Virginia Quarterly Review, Common Ground Healing Arts, Charlottesville High School Orchestra and more. Perhaps most importantly, she served as The Women’s Initiative’s first Executive Director and is honored to return with an emboldened passion for the cause.
Amanda korman, communications and outreach coordinator
Amanda Korman joined The Women’s Initiative in 2016 after working as a magazine editor and a newspaper reporter. She is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Virginia’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and looks forward to helping to tell the story of the crucial work done at The Women’s Initiative.
AMY LANE, Business and Marketing Manager
As Business Manager, Amy is the key backbone of The Women's Initiative's daily operational activities. She maintains financial, Board and organizational records; oversees the collection and analysis of data for budget, governance and programmatic functions; and manages the agency's technology needs. As Marketing Manager, Amy is responsible for design and production of programming materials, our website, social media and in-house publications. Amy has been part of The Women's Initiative team since 2010.
Sarah Medley, Executive Assistant
Sarah received her PhD in Marine Science from The University of California Santa Barbara in 2011. Employing her research and grant-writing experience, she refocused her career on advancing gender equality and promoting diversity in the sciences at the University of Virginia. Now with The Women's Initiative, Sarah has broadened her aim to empowering all women in our community, supporting the Executive Director with research, analysis, fundraising, board governance, and technology.
Lucie Fielding, Clinical Intern
Lucie Fielding is a trans- and queer-identified intern in counseling, currently studying for her Master's degree in Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute (expected graduation, March 2018). Lucie also holds a PhD in French from Northwestern University (2008). Areas of clinical interest and focus include: identity development; discharging shame; clients concerned about their consensual sexual urges, thoughts, or behaviors; sexual identity; erotic expression; sexual communication; support for alt-sex communities; and gender-affirmative care. Lucie helps her clients by using person-centered, insight-oriented, sex positive frameworks. She regularly incorporates narrative, image, dream work, family systems, and mindfulness practices in her work. Lucie works with individuals and couples to develop empowered visions of sexual and relational health.
Shelly Stern, Clinical Intern
"Shell" has a bachelor's degree in sociology and a background in community organizing. She is in her clinical year of the Masters in Social Work program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Shell has worked extensively with women and families as a mentor, teacher, tutor, camp director and case manager. She is committed to approaching social work through a social justice lens. Most recently Shell spent a year working as an advocate with survivors of sexual assault. She is also a Virginia Supreme Court certified mediator and helps parents find resolution to issues affecting their co-parenting choices. Shell has a keen interest in exploring implicit bias and how it affects services available in our community. Shell co-facilitates The Women's Initiative's new Nature Nurture retreats in partnership with Wildrock to promote healing in the outdoors. She relies heavily on her yoga and meditation practice to sustain her work and nurtures a spirit of creativity, abundance and community wherever she goes.