Dr. Ani Kalayjian, Founder and President
Dr. Kalayjian, Founder & President of the Association for Trauma Outreach & Prevention, Meaningfulworld, is a graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University with Masters and Doctoral Degrees, and Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from LIU. Currently she is a Graduate Adj. Psychology faculty in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College Mind-Body- Spirit Dept., and in Private Integrative Healing Practice. She has been consulting at UN since 1988 as representative of a variety of organizations, currently representing ATOP Meaningfulworld, and ACRPC. She has been the Vice President of UN NGO DPI Executive Committee, Treasurer of the Human Rights Committee, Corresponding Secretary, & Currently Vice Chair of the Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, Chair of Annual DPI NGO Conf. and organized 4-6 annual conferences at the UN on Prevention of Genocide, Mind-body-eco- spirit health, engendering inner peace and forgiveness, & dignity for all. She is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, Fellow of several Divisions at APA, Chair, Health, Transformation & Spirituality, Working Group of UN CSVGC, President, Armenian American Society for Studies on Stress & Genocide, Chair of APA International Division’s Disaster Mitigation and Violence Prevention Committee, and Women’s Committee. She has received Alumni of the Year Award from TC Columbia University, ANA Human Rights Award, APA Div 52 Mentoring Award, and Humanitarian Award from University of Missouri. She is the author of an internationally acclaimed book on Disaster & Mass Trauma, Chief Editor of an international book on Forgiveness & Reconciliation: Psychological pathways to conflict transformation and peace building (Springer Publishing), Chief Editor of II Volumes on Emotional Healing around the World: Rituals and practices for resilience and meaning-making (Greenwood, ABC-CLIO, 2010), meditation CD on Ancestral Healing and Transforming Generational Trauma, as well as 7 films on Humanitarian Outreach Programs to Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, RD Congo, Sierra Leone, Armenia, and Haiti.
Johnanne Winchester is a former Vice President of International Alliances for the Communications Coordination Committee for the United Nations. In her professional capacity as a media producer and communications consultant, she develops communications applications and technical solutions for International Organizational Development. As a systems architect, she collaborates with professional colleagues and artists, designing model strategies for branding, public relations, education, training, and inter-active mass participation in media based communications platforms in all formats. Her primary Global and Planetary focus is International Alliances of Networks, and co-operative joint venture systems in: Education, Financing and Training for Sustainable Development; Peace and Multi-Cultural Education; and Innovation Management Training. She has worked in the UN Community since 1979, consulting in the founding of the UN ICT (Information Communication Technology) Task Force and other UN Media outreach programs. Since 2003, she has been based part-time in China and the Asia-Pacific region, developing programs with UNDP, UNESCO, various International Chambers of Commerce, and affiliated organizations. Currently serving on the Boards of the Tri-State Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions, and the Lawfare Project, she is also on the Development Committee, and a special adviser to the Executive Director, of the former UN International Year of Planet Earth, now the Earth Science Matters Foundation..
As a program of the Planet Earth Roundtable, she is currently developing a Resilient Communities Program to synthesize the range of issues including Earth Changes, Financial and Economic Systems Transformation, and training programs directed at Mayors and local governing councils and activist/advocates for disaster prediction, remediation and adaptation. Ms. Winchester has been appointed as the Senior Advisor and United Nations Representative to ATOP Meaningfulworld.
Dr. Loren Toussaint is an associate professor in the department of psychology at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He has served as a visiting scientist at Mayo Clinic and is currently associate director of the Sierra Leone Forgiveness Project.
The main objective of Dr. Toussaint’s research is to broadly understand religious and spiritual factors, especially forgiveness, and how they are related to mental and physical health and well-being. He has published a number of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and scientific book chapters, and authored dozens of conference presentations and invited talks in Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Greece, and the United States. Dr. Toussaint has been involved in forgiveness research in Australia, Chile, Germany, India, Korea, Lithuania, Spain, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Switzerland. Dr. Toussaint has worked with colleagues at Mayo Clinic and the University of Michigan Medical Center to understand the role of forgiveness in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, spinal cord injury, and substance use. He continues to seek new avenues in which to better understand and incorporate forgiveness in medicine. Another central piece of his work has been ongoing since 2007 when he began a Peace Through Forgiveness initiative in collaboration with colleagues at Stanford University and the Dele-Peddle International school in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Toussaint directs the Laboratory for the Investigation of Mind, Body, and Spirit at Luther College, and has mentored over 50 students studying in this laboratory. Several of these students have been co-authors on peer-reviewed research papers and presentations. Recently the lab was awarded funding from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest for a project titled, A Collaborative Scholarship Model for Liberal Arts Colleges: Applications for the Psychology of Forgiveness. This work involves the collaboration of laboratories at Luther and Grinnell Colleges to investigate psycho-spiritual approaches to promoting forgiveness.
Dr. Toussaint’s research has been highlighted in a number of print, online, and radio media outlets such as: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Des Moines Register, Greater Good, Miller-McCune, Ladies Home Journal, Scotland on Sunday, Men’s Health, Psychology Today, and the Associated Press.
We welcome Dr. Toussaint to our Advisory Board!
Board of Directors
Founder and Managing Director, http://www.thestrongestoak.org
Calgary, AB, Canada
Stace is a social entrepreneur with a life-long passion for international development, language and culture, and technology. Prior to launching TSO, Stace served as co-founder and Global Director of Fire and Ice – an award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility program of one of the world’s leading educational technology firms, Elluminate Inc. (now Blackboard Inc.). Under Fire and Ice, Stace successfully managed over 30 social development projects in collaborative education, poverty reduction, and climate change, involving over 5000 participants from 25+ countries. He has also pioneered several online training programs targeting nurses and teachers in remote regions, as well as facilitated thousands of dollars in donations of computer technology and internet connectivity to economically-challenged communities in Colombia, Brazil, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, and Kenya. Stace’s projects have been recognized with several awards, including finalist for the Stockholm Challenge Awards in 2008, and 2007 Laureate for the Tech Museum Award (Microsoft Education Category). His Fire and Ice initiative helped Elluminate be named as one of the Top Ten Best Corporations in Global Development by InterAction in 2008. In 2009-10, Stace co-launched a distance training initiative for remote nurses in West Africa, a project in which Stace’s partner, Jules Ouedraogo, was recently awarded the AGFUND International 2010 Prize. Stace has been featured by international media including CNN.com, The Financial Post, Education Week, CBC, CTV and others. He speaks French, as well as some Spanish and Polish, and is learning Kinyarwanda.
Stace received his Canadian Investment Management (CIM) designation in 1998, and a Bachelor of Commerce degree (International Marketing specialization) from the University of Calgary in 1991, where he was named to the Beta Gamma Sigma honor.
Pastor Samuel Muderwa
Advisor, Chair of Democratic Republic of Congo
Biography soon to come!
Officers, Interns, and United Nations Representatives
Lorraine Simmons, BFA, Vice President
Lorraine Simmons is Vice President for Clinical and Educational Programs for ATOP Meaningfulworld. Lorraine became a Meaningfulworld HumanitarianOutreach Ambassador and completed a successful mission to Haiti in June 2015. She received a BFA in Fine Arts and a BS inEducation from the University of Southern Maine in 1982 and is certified in Art therapy. She has worked in the New York City school system as a teacher and a parent coordinator. Lorraine volunteers at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as a licensed Lay Eucharistic Minister, Altar Server, Altar guild and Vestry member, she is also an acting member of the Order of Urban Missioners. She has experience assisting with choreography and organizing the volunteers at the Cathedral for major services. Lorraine has experience with fundraising in both school and in the church. Her latest creation are Meaningfulworld-Heart-Hug-
Upuli Ranaweera, BA, Treasurer
Ms. Ranaweera has completed her studies in Marketing with an MBA in Sri Lanka and professional qualification in UK. She has worked for many top organizations in Sri Lanka. She was actively involved in social service through the Lions Club of Sri Lanka, a prominent social service organization in her country. She volunteered for ATOP during their Post Tsunami Humanitarian Mission for Sri Lanka in 2005. She is the Treasurer for ATOP. Meaningfulworld welcomes Upuli on the Executive Board as the Treasurer
Leslie Popoff, PhD, UN Coordinator
Dr Leslie Popoff began her career as a school psychologist in rural Pennsylvania during the time that the Education for All Children with Disabilities Law was first enacted. She developed a specialization with the visually and hearing impaired, working in the Scranton State School for the Deaf, followed by NYC’s first evaluation unit for the visually and hearing impaired, and then serving for ten years as the psychologist for the Helen Keller National Center. Dr. Popoff worked for 15 years as a Supervisor of Psychologists for the New York City Department of Education. She received her BS in Human Ecology from Cornell University, a Master’s in Educational Psychology from NYU, and a PhD from Fordham University. Trained in divorce mediation and dispute resolution, Dr. Popoff also holds a Postdoctoral Certificate in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy from Adelphi University. She enjoys skiing, biking, playing the banjo, and singing in a community chorus. She maintains a private Practice in Great Neck, NY, and serves as the UN Coordinator for Meaningfulworld. Meaningfulworld welcomes Dr Popoff as the United Nations Coordinator.
Michelle Arbid, While working as a psychologist and social worker in the Lebanese prison system Michelle Arbid became interested in complex conflicts, the role of corruption in conflict, and the psychology of conflict and conflict resolution, leading her to pursue a Master of Science degree from Columbia University in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Her culminating project examined the relationship between involuntary biological processes affecting nonverbal behavior to mediation dynamics. During her time in the program she worked in research on the Sustainable Peace Project at the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity at the Earth Institute of Columbia University. She is a multi-lingual New York state-certified mediator and certified coach who works privately and volunteers at the community level; her research interests include the neuropsychology of conflict, the relationship between post-traumatic stress and conflict dynamics, transitional justice, and the relationship of neuroplasticity to empathy and forgiveness.
Peter Battista, PsyD, ABPP – Research Coordinator
Dr. Battista is an Associate Director of Clinical Training and core faculty at Adler University in Chicago, IL. He earned Master of Arts and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and psychology from Canisius College. He is board certified in clinical psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and has a postdoctoral certificate in psychoanalytic psychotherapy from the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis. His clinical interests include psychodynamic theory and practice, international psychology, trauma, diversity, social justice, and clinical supervision and training. He is a member of American Psychological Association, it’s International Division as well as the Division for Psychoanalysis. His current research involves working with Meaningfulworld to better understand the relationship between forgiveness, meaning-making, and one’s experience of traumatic events. Meaningfulworld welcomes Dr Battista as Research Coordinator.
Irene Tananyan, MS, Outreach Coordinator
Irene Tananyan received Master of Science degree in Mathematics from Moscow Pedagogical University, and a BA in Economics from Queens College. Currently she is completing her fourth and final year at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing with the degree in Brennan Energy-Healing Practitioner. Over the years, she has been a secondary school teacher, an accountant, a personal finance adviser, and a fulltime mom. Irene has now found her passion and is studying in the Meaningfulworld Ambassador for Humanitarian Relief and Peace Building Program, and will be graduating in June 2016. Meaningfulworld welcomes Irene on the Executive Board as the Outreach Coordinator.
Robin is a wellness advocate trained in Ayurveda (the science of life). As a life/health coach, Naam yoga instructor, energy healer, and owner of a small business, Water for Growth Coaching and Consulting, she is passionate about wellness on the mind-body-spirit level. Robin has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw University and an Associates of Applied Sciences in Business Administration from New York University. Her career in healthcare has been in the domain of clinical research in the therapeutic areas of Oncology, Mental Health (CNS), Ophthalmology, and Cardiology. Robin is currently completing a graduate degree from Walden University in clinical mental health counseling to further advance her united vision with ATOP Meaningfulworld. Robin also volunteers as a Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line in New York. Meaningfulworld welcomes Robin as an Assistant Clinical & Educational Coordinator.
Natasha H. Saini, MSW Candidate, Social Media Coordinator
Natasha was born and raised in New York, and is currently a Masters in Social Work graduate student at Adelphi University. She is a graduate of CUNY Queens College with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration on Psychology and English, and a minor in Philosophy. Natasha has volunteered with New York Public Interest Research Group to advocate for the environment and against social justice inequities. She has also been asked to represent the School of Social Work at the Graduate Student Council, co-facilitate and be on the panel for the Voter Empowerment event sponsored by Adelphi Votes, and take part of a mentoring program to model for an undergraduate student. Natasha also interns with Sheltering Arms NY, working with children in a highly traumatized area utilizing TF-CBT, CBITS, Bounce Back, and Motivational Interviewing. She is passionate about integrating trauma and social justice work by researching and providing social justice equity to marginalized groups through transformative justice. Natasha is thrilled to be given the opportunity to join Meaningful World where she can assist in research and grow as a practitioner. Meaningfulworld welcomes Natasha as a Graduate Research Intern.
Daphne St. Valliere-Nozil, BA, Assistant Coordinator, United Nations
Daphne St. Valliere-Nozil is a student at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Work in pursuit of a Masters Degree in Social Work. She has a 9- year career in Child Welfare, employed with New York City Children’s Services, as a Child Protective Specialist. As a 1st generation American, born of Haitian parents, her lifelong goal has always been to assist and support those in need of help. Her career began while pursuing a Bachelor Degree at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she graduated with a degree in Forensic Psychology.
After the earthquake in Haiti and sending barrels of clothing to various churches in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, her international service could not end there. She will join Meaningfulworld 12th Humanitarian Mission to Haiti in June 2017 after graduating as a Meaningfulworld Ambassador. Meaningfulworld welcomes Daphne as our United Nations Intern, Assistant Coordinator.
Racquel Nicholas, BA, Conference Organizer and Research Intern
Racquel Nicholas was born in the beautiful Spice Island of Grenada—a tropical island in the Caribbean. After migrating to the Unites States as an International Student, she pursued and completed a bachelor’s degree in International Business from the City University of New York at Brooklyn College. Racquel was an active part of her Student Government Association while in college, and also worked as a student ambassador for the College. After graduating from Brooklyn College, Racquel explored the field of Real Estate and worked for a very prominent company in the business. In October 2016, after her nephew became a victim of bullying, she uncovered her hidden passion to help others. A degree in nursing is one of the many ways Racquel believes she can accomplish that mission, and becoming an intern for MeaningfulWorld will be instrumental in achieving her goals. Meaningfulworld welcomes Racquel as conference organizer and research Inters.
Huizhuoran Ma, aka Sophia, was born in Hangzhou, China and has made her passion to pursue her college education in New York. She is now a sophomore student at Fordham University. She currently majors in psychology and also interested in social work. In China, Sophia has volunteered in several places, including building library for a primary school in the countryside. She hoped to take her passion to serve and help people in their healing journey, especially those with psychological distress, may that be for natural causes, or human-made ones. Meaningfulworld welcomes Sophia as our Outreach and Research intern.
Jennifer De Mucci, Research Committee, PsyD
Ms. De Mucci holds a Master’s degree in Psychology. Her main areas of interests focus upon: international and cross-cultural psychology and the impact of generational transmission of trauma, particularly on young children. Her current research through Meaningfulworld has focused upon the psychological impact of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols and the benefits of empowerment and forgiveness trainings within the Republic of Armenia. She is working on Research Committee.
Milac Hassan, Digital Media Intern
Milac Hassan was born in Florida and raised in New Jersey. She is of Palestinian decent. Milac is currently a freshman at Montclair State University, striving to achieve her masters is Psychology. She is passionate about helping others and creating a world in which we love each other. She, just like Meaningfulworld, believes that once we help each other, we can both begin to grow. Milac has volunteered for organizations called Walk for Water and Ray of Sunshine, which aid in humanitarian efforts both locally and globally. She also took part in clubs at her school such as the Big Sister program, where she would serve as a helpful friend to the younger classmates. In addition, Milac was part of the Environmental Club, where she would raise money and help clean up the community. She is working on integrating her culture, and her passion, into humanitarian relief work. Milac is passionate to join Meaningfulworld, and to assist in research , as well as assist in the monthly educational and empowerment programs. Meaningfulworld welcomes Milac as Digital Media Intern.
Zuhal was born in Istanbul Turkey and worked in copy-righting at the Music Commentators Professional Association. She moved to the United States with plans to expand her intellectual horizon and benefit from great opportunities here. She is currently studying psychology and business at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. Her goal is to work in diplomacy to improve people’s lives. Zuhal is overjoyed to have joined the Meaningfulworld team. She will be working with the Outreach and Research Committees. Zuhal is proud to work for Meaningfulworld because she admires the multiple humanitarian projects such as the ones in Haiti, Japan and Turkey. Her dream is to transform suffering not only in her country of origin, but also around the world. Zuhal believes that through her work with Meaningfulworld, she can make a substantial difference in people’s lives. Zuhal says, “I know this experience will not only bring meaning to my life, and better prepare me to help others, while also preparing me for the life of service that I dream of.” Meaningfulworld welcomes Zuhal to Outreach Committee and as our Secretary.
Sophia Maguire, MA Candidate, Clinical & Educational Coordinator
Sophia is a clinical psychology masters candidate at Columbia University. A Canadian born and raised in Bermuda, Sophia aims to weave a global perspective into all of her work. In May 2016, she received a BSc degree from the University of Toronto, where she studied psychology, equity studies, and Buddhism. While living in Toronto, Sophia collaborated with York University and Canada’s National Ballet School as a researcher with Dance for Parkinson’s Disease—an innovative program developed by the Mark Morris Dance Group in 2001. She has also engaged in research pertaining to Buddhist violence in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand at the University of Toronto. Sophia is fascinated by the myriad of ways in which systemic oppression impacts our psychological lives, and she is curious about how spirituality and mindfulness can bring peace in spite of turmoil. She is excited and grateful to be apart of the MeaningfulWorld team. MeaningfulWorld welcomes Sophia as the Clinical and Educational Coordinator.
Melissa Bougdanos, BA, United Nations Intern
Melissa Bougdanos is currently an undergraduate senior at State University of New York Binghamton. She is graduating with a bachelor of arts in psychology in May 2016. She was born in the US but has lived abroad in Germany and Finland. She has also recently returned from a study abroad program in Thailand, where she was able to volunteer teaching English to elementary Thai students. During her time in Binghamton, Melissa was a mentor at Johnson City Middle school providing guidance and support to a student with learning disability, and she worked at the Institute for child development providing a warm, nurturing and supportive educational setting to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other related disorders. Melissa is excited to join an inspiring organization such as Meaningfulworld as secretary and UN intern and getting involved with humanitarian outreach programs while designing her graduate program. Meaningfulworld welcomes Melissa as a United Nations Intern.
Olatunde Deborrah Mojirayo, United Nations Intern
Olatunde Deborrah Mojirayo was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and currently resides in Ottawa, Canada. She is an international undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa, Canada majoring in International Development and Globalization. Deborrah aspires to be a tool of change and to help the lives of individuals in distress. She has been a member of the World University Service of Canada in her local university campus. She has helped and formed long lasting relationships with refugee students at her university being an immigrant herself. She worked as a research analyst and was on the board for CanHave children organization to assist children left orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. She has keen interest in environmental sustainability, forced labour, environmental divestment and other human rights based issues. She had the opportunity of volunteering as a hospitality agent during the Annual Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences that was held at her university. Deborrah is passionate to serve humanity at large starting with herself and her local community. She is looking forward for her internship as she finds herself aligned with ATOP Meaningfulworld. Meaningfulworld welcomes Deborrah as a United Nations Intern.
Mariam Ayvazyan, BA, Outreach Comittee
Mariam Ayvazyan is currently a Masters student at New York University studying Mental Health Counseling and Wellness. She is a graduate student of Adelphi University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. In her past, she has worked with children with developmental disabilities and severe Autism. After acquiring a Master’s degree from NYU, Mariam aspires to work with traumatized populations, specifically individuals who have suffered domestic abuse or are victims of sexual harassment. Mariam’s passions are aligned with Meaningfulworld’s mission, and she is looking forward to gain more knowledge about how people cope with their challenges and she will incorporate integrative healing modalities in her future practice as a licensed clinician. Meaningfulworld welcomes Mariam Ayvazyan as a Graduate Intern working on Outreach and Research Committees.
Nicole Moore, MA, Board Member
Ms. Moore is a graduate of Fordham University and currently Assistant to the Director of the Alumni Relations at Fordham University. Nicole has served on two ATOP Humanitarian Missions to Sri Lanka as well as to Pakistan. Nicole serves as an advisor and a Board Member assisting ATOP in matters related to public relations.
Basak Yanar, PhD, Chair of Canada Branch
Ms. Yanar holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management from University of Toronto; specializing in the areas of training and development, and career transitions. Her dissertation study examined the effects of carrier barriers on the professional identity and career related experiences of immigrant professionals in the host country. She has also managed projects that have helped international professionals gain cross-cultural skills, provided unemployed Turkish women with strengths-based employability skills, and trained emerging leaders and young job seekers. Basak is a researcher, sessional lecturer, workshop facilitator, coach and a project consultant. Combining her academic passion with a keen interest in practice, Basak works with individuals, communities, and organizations to facilitate learning and growth. She believes in the power of compassion, mindfulness, and forgiveness as a platform to building trust in communities and cultivating individual and collective wellbeing.
Shayla D. Tumbling, MS, PhD Candidate, Graduate Mentor
Ms. Tumbling holds a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology at Tennessee State University. She has many research interests, including the effects of intergenerational trauma. She plans to integrate her interests in women’s issues and international travel into her life’s work of therapeutic healing and education. Shayla is a member of APA International Division 52. She plans to participate in many upcoming Humanitarian Missions with ATOP Meaningful Word. Shayla is a Graduate Mentor for ATOP of Meaningfulworld. Meaningfulworld welcomes Shayla as a Graduate Mentor.
Karin Polak Soweid, PhD, Graduate Mentor
Ms. Soweid possesses significant global experience, is skilled in analyzing organizational and workforce challenges and proposing effective and appropriate solutions based on reliable data, feedback and research. Based in the Middle East for over six years, Karin’s work has involved extensive travel, programmatic review and project implementation in locations throughout Eastern Africa, the Middle East, the Gulf, Europe and the United States. Over the span of those six years, Karin has worked for two diverse and emerging international organizations where she has led large-scale international human capital projects in over twenty countries throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Karin is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, having earned her Bachelor’s degree in the dual degree major of International Affairs and French. Karin is also a graduate of the University of Denver’s prestigious Josef Korbel School of International Studies graduate school program, having earned her Master’s degree in International Administration. She aims to bring an interdisciplinary approach as an emerging I/O psychologist, bringing a blend of culturally appropriate and contextualized solutions to her future clients.
Ms. Sofletea has graduated with advanced Masters of Arts and Masters of Education in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College – Columbia University. Her volunteer work with immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of torture led her to ATOP/Meaningfulworld. A native of Romania, Georgiana cemented her interest in Trauma Psychology and Global Humanitarian Outreach working with healing ancestral trauma and working with orphans during ATOP’s Mental Health Outreach Program to Romania in October of 2011.
Ms. Sofletea is currently applying for doctoral program in Counseling Psychology with a special focus on trauma and survivors of torture. She is a strong believer in the beauty of human resilience and combining compassion, spirituality and the wellness model of psychology to aid in the healing and well-being of individuals. Aside from her professional pursuits Georgiana enjoys traveling, dancing and literature, especially non-fiction biographies of immigrants.
Ms. Sofletea has graduated and is a Meaningfulworld Ambassador. She is ATOP student Advisor.
Past officers and interns:
Andre’ Der-Artinian is currently attending Archbishop Molloy High School. He is President of the Political Science Club, and contributing member of the Model United Nations Club. He volunteered for his local Council Member Paul Vallone during his successful campaign for office. He attended Harvard University’s Precollege Program. He was nominated by his school to join the National Students Leadership Conference for Law and Politics held at Yale University, he completed it in 2015 successfully. He is passionate to make the world a better place. We welcome Andre to Meaningfulworld as a Webmaster and Fundraising associate.
Jacinta Jackson – International Intern for Meaningfulworld
Jacintha Jackson is an international undergraduate student at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire, studying history and political science (pre-law), with a minor in international relations. Originally from Sierra Leone, Jacintha now resides in the UK. Jacintha intends to specialize in international human rights law, but would like to pursue other areas of law including immigration, estate, and criminal law. Her interest in global issues includes gender equality, terrorism, and sexual violence against girls and women. She is currently a summer UN intern working with ATOP Meaningfulworld, and is doing research on these global matters. In the past, Jacintha has worked with Amnesty International to raise awareness of terrorism and campaign for worldwide peace. She has volunteered with the humanitarian organizations, The Navigators and Girl Guiding, organizing recreational programs for children and youth to build their self-esteem and help them realize their full potential. Jacintha looks forward to continuing her humanitarian work with ATOP/Meaningfulworld when she returns to college in the Fall.
Fadia AbuHaltam, MBA, MS, Graduate Intern
Fadia AbuHaltam has a MS degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and MBA degree in International Business, from New York Institute of Technology. Currently she is a graduate student at Walden University. She has spent the last three years in Jordan, working with diverse adult populations. Utilizing Brief-Psychodynamic therapy and CBT, she helped empower clients with trauma, OCD, depression, anxiety and many other emotional issues. Currently, she lives in New York, and is supporting clients and their families coping with social, emotional, and environmental challenges. Fadia utilizes behavior modification techniques, conducts psychosocial assessments, provides clinical assessments, diagnostics, and treatment services under supervision.
Fadia participated in a research study (2013-2015) in Jordan that aimed for creating a continuum model of psycho-pathology that would complement the categorical nature of DSM-V. The research study explored Narcissism with its relation to Bipolar and ADHD, and validating a scale that places Narcissism in a continuum, which could assist with testing and assessment tools.
Fadia has worked with the United Nations University in Jordan, and has also participated in a variety of workshops and conferences related to Conflict Resolution, Peace Building and Reconciliation in the Middle East region. Meaningfulworld welcomes Fadia as a Graduate Intern.
Caroline Pinsky is a Senior student at Seton Hall University. She is a double major of International Relations and Modern Languages. The two main critical languages that she currently studies are Russian and Chinese. Caroline began studying Chinese upon entrance to high school and received a scholarship to study abroad in Beijing, China in 2010. Going into her last year of Undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University Caroline is excited to narrow down her area of interest and start applying to graduate studies programs in the Diplomacy/International Relations area. As an intern with Meaningfulworld Caroline is working on Fundraising and Research.
Katrina Selverian is a Masters student at University of Pennsylvania studying Social Work. She is a graduate of Fordham University with a BA in Communications and Media Studies and a concentration in Film. She has held various positions in the communication and production fields, including work for ESPN in New York City and for Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Katrina has volunteered in the mental health services field as well, and is currently placed at an internship in Philadelphia working with health services and drug addiction. She plans to continue her education, focusing on intergenerational trauma as it relates to the Ottoman Turkish Genocide of Armenians. Meaningfulworld welcomes Katrina as an intern in Research and Public Relations.
Nicole Choi is currently working on Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Development and Health & Wellness from State University of New York Binghamton. She is an international student from South Korea and is planning to finish her degree in May 2016. She has interned at two top South Korean Children’s hospitals, Adolescent Literacy and Learning and Children’s World, to improve motor and speech skills for children with learning disabilities. She was also a mentor at Johnson City Middle School, helping students to cope with their personal issues. Along with her interest to become an occupational therapist, she is passionate about Humanitarian Outreach projects for global mental health. She has been an active participant in global movement for health by volunteering for medical mission trips to Libya, India and Vietnam with Korea University Hospital and Sarang Community Institution. She is grateful for the internship opportunity and is looking forward to working as a secretary at Meaningful World.
Lyla Parvez received her Masters in clinical psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has extensive experience in research, in the following areas, but not limited to, developmental, cognitive and experimental psychology. She has served as a researcher at various universities such as her home university of Columbia University as well as Harvard and the University of Oxford. She has certification in Autism Spectrum Disorders and has worked previously with personality and behavioral disturbances. Presently, she is the assistant clinical coordinator for Meaningfulworld and is working on emotion recognition/empathy testing in Rwanda at the Mailman School of Public Health.
Natalia Irvine, obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from West Virginia University in May 2014, currently enrolled to begin classes for Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology degree beginning in August 2016. Currently work at the Hospital for Special Surgery on the Upper East Side. I’m a member of the outreach committee at ATOP! Meaningfulworld welcomes Natalia on the Outreach Committee.
Mr. Shigemoto received his BA in Social Work in 2007 from Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan, and MA in clinical psychology from Penn State Harrisburg. After working as an outpatient therapist at a private counseling center in Pennslyvania, he is studying counseling psychology in a doctoral program at Texas Tech University. His research interest includes resiliency after disaster/trauma, posttraumatic growth, and a process of personal growth. He was an intern of APA at the UN, and he has received a certificate in Post Disaster Humanitarian Outreach from ATOP. In 2013, with Dr. Senel Poyrazli at Penn State Harrisburg, he published a paper entitled, “Factors related to posttraumatic growth in U.S. and Japanese college students.”
Brianda Quinones was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and is currently living in Astoria,Queens. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado with a BS in Political Science. She has worked simultaneously at the Colorado Organization for Victim’s Assistance and the Denver City Attorney’s Office.She worked as a victims advocate, specifically, as a domestic violence advocate. She helped counsel victims and helped the city attorney’s come up with plausible plea bargains. This past year, Brianda worked at the state capitol in Colorado as a constituent services advocate for Governor Hickenlooper. She describes the moment she helped a young women find an organization who would help her pay for her grandmother’s chemotherapy sessions as her most memorable experience as a constituent advocate. Social Media is Brianda’s focus as an intern with
Jennifer Doran, Publications Coordinator
Ms. Doran is finishing up her M.A. degree in clinical psychology at The New School for Social Research in New York City. She works for the federally-funded BI-SLR HEARTS Program at Beth Israel Medical Center, and holds an internship position as the Publication Coordinator for the Association of Trauma Outreach and Prevention. She is an inaugural Member of the Science Committee of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students, and the Co-Chair of APA’s Division 52 Student Committee. She conducts research on the impact of trauma in international populations affected by disaster, traumatic stress in children and adolescents, negotiating the therapeutic alliance, psychometrics, and student excellence and development. Finally, she is in her second term as Co-Editor for the New School Psychology Bulletin, a peer-reviewed graduate student journal designed to serve as a training model for participating students.
Rachel Townzen is pursuing a Master of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania with a certificate in Global Human Rights. She is actively involved in multiple human rights focused student organizations, participates in the Greater Philadelphia United Nations Association, is a digital advocate for the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, and volunteers as a copy writer and social media contributor for TEDx Yerevan. In addition to her role as a research and global humanitarian awareness intern with ATOP/ Meaningfulworld, Rachel has a field placement at an immigration legal service agency as an asylum case manager. In the past, she has worked with humanitarian immigrants in Denver, Colorado, and served as a cultural mentor for a newly arrived refugee family. She has also interned in the UK and The Republic of Armenia and worked extensively with children with special needs. Rachel grew up outside Boston, MA, and graduated summa cum laude from Boston College in 2014 with a major in applied psychology & human development and minor in sociology. After graduation, Rachel plans to continue working with refugees and pursue a career in an international humanitarian NGO. Meaningfulworld welcomes Rachel Townzen as Research and Global Humanitarian Awareness Intern.
Gabriela is currently a Doctoral student at the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). She received MA in International Law and LLM Human Rights from the University of Louvain in Belgium. Her studies have been on International Humanitarian Law, International Environment Law and International Human Rights Law focusing on the rights of children recruited as soldiers, and the human right to water and sanitation. She is also interested in other areas such as sociology and philosophy, as well as the arts, both fine and performing arts, and its impact on humanity. That is why she sees herself not only working with the judicial system as a way of evaluating guilt and responsibilities for damage and harm, but also with arts, sports and other activities as instruments for preventing new conflicts. Gabriela is passionate about the philosophy of Meaningfulworld, more specifically about nurturing a generation of conscientious individuals motivated by love, peace, justice, human rights, and meaning, and looks forward to continue her research to co-create a peaceful world. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Gabriela as a United Nations Representative.
Isreal Adeyanju, BS, United Nation Nations Intern
Born in Jamaica and of Nigerian descent, Isreal Adeyanju knows full well the importance of being an active global citizen. Isreal is a graduate from the City College of New York with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Economics with a focus on Public Policy. Isreal’s passions are routed in social justice and youth empowerment as he has been a part of numerous outreach programs and humanitarian trips. Isreal is also an avid socialpreneur as a founding member of Enza Academy- a startup missioned to bridge the gap between the African diaspora and the tech and entrepreneurship world- and currently working on an African based fashion line among other ventures. Isreal is excited to share his passions with the Meaningfulworld team and brings his talents to the United Nations as an intern representative for Meaningfulworld. Isreal represents Meaningfulworld at the UN committees on Child’s Rights, Family, Migration and the Status of Women (CSW). He also facilitates communication between the UN missions to Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, DR Congo, and Nigeria.
Diana Perez, Past Board of Directors
Diana Perez, “Jolliologist” and Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, has worked in Corporate America for 28 years as a trainer, team builder, facilitator and motivational speaker. Diana is a graduate of Centenary College, majoring in Business Management, and obtained her Laughter Leader Certification through the American School of Laughter Yoga in 2009. A passionate and charismatic teacher, Diana is best known for her ability to empower and help people rediscover hope and spiritual strength in times of illness and crisis. She has shared her laughter yoga skills with major companies, including AT&T, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, as well as many senior / retirement centers and hospitals. She volunteers her laughter skills to organizations involving cancer support for patients and their caregivers and the American Heart Association. Diana is currently an active participant in a global movement for health, joy and world peace through laughter, under the guidance of Laughter Yoga International led by its founder Dr. Madan Kataria. Ms. Perez has been appointed to ATOP Meaningfulworld Board of Directors.
Miriam Mukasa, Graduate Intern, Press Secretary
Mrs. Mukasa received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Social Administration from UCU Uganda and Master’s in Social Work from SUNY University at Albany. She has been working as a social worker with over 6 years of experience counseling and advocating for at risk children and advocate for families. Her interests are healing trauma, transforming child and adolescent depression, mindfulness, psychodynamic solution focused therapy, working with individuals with ADHD and PTSD. She was the Ambassador of Peace in 2007 from the Interfaith Missionary in New York. Currently she is a Clinical Intern at PSCH, in Flushing, Queen. Mrs. Mukasa is a Graduate Intern and she will be the press Secretary for ATOP Meaningfulworld. We welcome Mrs. Miriam Mukasa to Meaningfulworld.
Ms. Campbell is an ordained Interfaith Minister and an Interfaith Disaster Chaplain whose main focus and passion is supporting trauma survivors, and in particular, veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and transitioning back into civilian and family life. She holds an M.A. in Organizational Management and Development, as well as an Evidence-Based Coaching Certificate, both from Fielding Graduate University. Ms. Campbell has spent most of her professional life in the fast-paced commercial construction project management. Becoming abruptly ill in 2003 and diagnosed with an acute chronic condition, Michele embraced a journey of wholeness, increased awareness, and redirection to her early calling and passion to serve the oppressed, underprivileged and underserved. Ms. Campbell considers some of her most formative experiences to be: Her attendance at the United Nations International School in New York City, a vibrant multi-cultural community focused on issues of economic and social justice in the midst of which she had the fortune to come of age; her first job out of college, at the Rockefeller Foundation, which further exposed her to the challenges of poverty, privilege, education and justice and fostered within her a sense of communal responsibility to “do something” about them; her exposure to the work of Victor Frankl at a crucial point in her own healing, and which is now informing her own work; and raising a 21 year old daughter as a mostly single mother. Ms. Campbell will be ATOP Meaningfulworld Intern Coordinator. We welcome Ms. Campbell to Meaningfulworld.
Nira Shah, EdM, MA, ATOP Research and Grant Writing Intern
Ms. Shah has completed her MA and EdM in Psychological Counseling at Columbia University, Teachers College in May 2012. She has always had an interest in global outreach and international work and has aspirations to combine this passion with counseling and research work. Her research interests lie within global mental health; specifically, trauma and resilience cross-culturally, family dynamics in vulnerable international populations and therapeutic interventions for vulnerable populations. Ms. Shah served as a research assistant at the NYU/Bellevue Survivors of Torture program and hopes to continue learning and contributing to the field of global mental health and working with refugees, asylees, and survivors of torture and trauma. She has been inspired by scholars, researchers, and clinicians in the field and hopes to make a stronger impact in the future with a Doctoral Degree in Counseling Psychology, focusing on global mental health and well-being on both clinical and research levels. We welcome Nira Shah to ATOP Meaningfulworld.
Tianchen Fan, Graduate Intern
Ms. Fan has a BA in Psychology from Hunter College. She is interning at Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training and affiliated with Hunter College Psychology Club, Psych News. She was the president of the Hunter College Chapter of Psi Chi. Tian is an Intern for research, publishing and grant writing at ATOP.
Oleg Voronov, MPA, Editor of Newsletter and UN Representative
Mr. Voronov is an associate at a consulting firm in Hillsborough, New Jersey. In January 2010 he graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Oleg was born and raised in Volgograd, Russia, and later lived for 7 years in Israel. Since 2001 he has been residing in the New York City area. Oleg has a variety of responsible roles within the organization such as compiling the Annual Report, lay out and editing of ATOP’s Seasonal Newsletter, attending and writing press releases at a variety of conferences and United Nations Representative. We welcome Oleg as a Graduate Intern to our dedicated team.
Ms. Kola is a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner, holds a Master’s degree in Mental Health Clinical Counseling from Bellevue University, in Nebraska, and Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from Madurai Kamaraj University (India). She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in International Psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, concentrating in trauma, and recently engaged in international field experience in Peru to enhance her professional interests in trauma. Her current dissertation focus is on understanding the concept of forgiveness after acts of violence (survivors of genocide in Rwanda). Ms. Kola also serves as a current student Ambassador club member at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her interest in trauma has recently led her to join ATOP/Meaningfulworld as the Editor of the Newsletter. We welcome Ms. Kola.
Justin Daehym Oreizi, Chair of the Grant Committee
Mr. Oreizi is currently working on a Masters Degree in Conflict and Dispute Resolution from the University of Oregon School of Law; he plans to graduate in June 2013. Justin recently completed his Bachelors Degree in American History from the University of Hawaii. Justin plans to involve himself with the rest of his career focusing on youth empowerment in third world countries. He plans on utilizing his new found appreciation of non profit organizations as well as honing his skills in fundraising and grant writing. Justin also holds a mediation training certificate and is excited about integration of his mediation education through his internship with ATOP Meaningfulworld. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Justin as a graduate intern and as the new Chair of the Grant Committee.
Evelyn holds a medical degree from her Native Dominican Republic as well as a double Master’s degree from Western Michigan University in Public Administration and International Development. Her main focus has been International Health Care Services, and in particular the design, implementation and evaluation of programs aimed at averting preventable diseases in developing countries. This interest was largely influenced by her year-long tenure with the National Program against Malaria in the Dominican Republic, during which time she worked with diverse populations in malaria endemic regions, and became exposed to and deeply affected by the repercussions of social injustice. She came to realize that achieving access to healthcare for the entire population was a challenging task, and individuals devoted to this cause were very much in need. She truly believes that access to quality healthcare is a right for every individual and should not be a purchased good in any society. One of her desires is to be able to travel globally and attain real-life experience of the impact these programs on various individuals and populations. We welcome Evelyn as the new Coordinator of our Research and Grants Committees.
Prior to joining ATOP / Meaningfulworld, Abu received a Masters in Science in Agricultural & Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. In addition, he helped develop and implement the Win-Win Campaign pilot program for the non-profit, Envirolution. Abu joined the team because his goals of empowering others is well aligned with ATOP’s mission. As Research, Social Media and Grants intern, his focus at ATOP Meaningfulworld is to help streamline procedures, reduce program costs, increase impact, improve program effectiveness, and assist on grant proposals.
In his free time, Abu participates in a daily photo blog project, which keeps him sharply observant, mindful of his surroundings and appreciative of the small and simple things in everyday life. You can follow him and cheer him on Instagram.com/sustainabu. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Abu to our Social Media and Fundraising Committee.
Alanna was born in San Francisco, California before moving abroad to live in England, Nigeria, Venezuela, and China. Alanna is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business and Political Economy at New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business. She is particularly interested in trauma outreach for young children and the environmental and economic effects of humanitarian crises. At ATOP Meaningfulworld, Alanna serves as the Assistant Clinical Coordinator. In this position, she works with the clinical program in the area of business development, PR, outreach, and grant writing. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Alanna to our team.
Blanka Angyal, MA, M.Ed., Clinical Coordinator and Research Intern
Blanka Angyal is an ethnic Hungarian who grew up in Romania and eventually emigrated to the U.S. ten years ago. She received an undergraduate degree in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and more recently, graduated with an advanced Masters of Arts and Masters of Education in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Blanka has a broad range of skills and experience, including an internship with the Harlem Educational Activities Fund; counseling work with college transfer students, severely impaired homeless women, and inner-city after students; as well as Participatory Action Research (PAR) work with youth, elderly, and minority communities. She has also assisted the supervision of PAR facilitator teams in two Bronx middle schools and has collaborated with the Department of Counseling at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in starting their own PAR initiative.
Currently, Blanka is seeking to contribute in a more meaningful way through practice and research. She recently participated in an ATOP humanitarian outreach mission to the Middle East where she had a unique opportunity to observe and help facilitate the healing of diverse communities exposed to acute and chronic trauma. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Blanka our Clinical Coordinator and Research Intern.
Victoria Garrick, BA, Grants & Research Intern
Victoria received her B.A. in Diplomacy and International Relations, with a minor in French, from Seton Hall University. She began her academic career at La Salle University where, during her freshman year, she volunteered for a young grassroots organization, Explorers Sans Frontiers. As a student leader for ESF, Victoria organized fundraisers and community events, and ultimately participated in a service trip to Senegal where she realized her true passion to promote human rights and human security for underserved populations.
Victoria recently completed a semester abroad in Strasbourg, France, where she also interned and completed a thesis on human trafficking in the post-Soviet bloc. Also during her time abroad, she received an International Peace Scholarship to observe peace building initiatives at the Annual BCA Divided Societies Conference in Derry, Ireland. Returning home for her final undergraduate semester, she worked as a Planned Giving Intern for Amnesty International and completed senior her thesis on “Social Movements and the Deterioration of Human Security in the Arab Spring.” Victoria looks forward to pursuing a joint MSW/JD degree focusing on forced migration and refugee law within the next year. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Victoria as a Grants & Research Intern.
Laura Cadena Ibarra, IT / Social Media Coordinator
Laura is currently an undergraduate student at the Universidad Javeriana (UJ) in Bogota, Colombia where she is studying Communications in two areas of concentration: Advertising and Public Relations. As part of UJ’s Mision Pais Colombia program, Laura has brought assistance to families and communities in areas most affected by violence and poverty. In 2007, Laura volunteered with Hands across the Americas as a simultaneous translator between doctors and Colombian patients. These experiences have fueled her passion for humanitarian work, as well as a great desire to learn more and share this work with others.
In her bachelor’s thesis, Laura developed a trans-media model for non-profit organizations focused on developing narrative strategies across media and social media platforms. Her professional goals include organizational management and leadership, and working for the rights of indigenous minorities in her native Columbia. Her ultimate goal is to create an organization that assists refugees of war and large-scale violence, as well as other vulnerable populations. Her personal goals include travelling the world, gaining the experience of different cultures, and yoga training in India as part of her spiritual quest. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Laura as the IT and Social Media Coordinator.
Carol Raff, United nations Representative & Representative of the Armenian Constitutional Rights Protective Center
Carol Raff is a retired school social worker with over thirty years of experience counseling and advocating for school aged children. She holds a Master’s in Social Work from Rutgers’s University and is currently conducting social history evaluations for nonpublic schools in Passaic County, N.J. Carol is an energetic physical fitness specialist and YogaFit instructor. She is currently teaching yoga to senior citizens, cancer patients at Hackensack University Medical Center and psychiatric hospital patients at Christian Health Care Center. Carol also serves as a volunteer for ‘Mentoring Moms’, which is a program for mothers who have been involved in the Bergen County Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Carol is a loyal, honest and personable individual who is committed to a job well done. As for her personal life, Carol enjoys playing tennis, leading bicycle rides for the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey and sharing time with her five granddaughters! We welcome Carol as a United nations Representative to ATOP Meaningfulworld’s UN Team as well as the Representative to the Armenian Constitutional Rights Protective Center.
Katherine Kaze, BA, United Nations Mentor
Katherine Kaze is a United Nations Mentor and formerly United Nations Main Liaison for Meaningfulworld, a position she has held since 2009. Katherine most recently served professionally as an operative at the United States Mission to the United Nations, and is currently employed with a private financial firm where she provides consulting services across commodity markets. With 3 years in field experience among high-level international professionals at the United Nations, United States government, and the international NGO community, she is poised to provide critical insight towards regional developments in disaster-faced communities. Ms. Kaze received a BA in Economics and Political Science from Fordham University in New York City in addition to independently pursued business and management certification. Through ATOP Meaningfulworld, she has been fortunate enough to collaborate on several publicized projects in Africa, including an analysis of trauma in communities in Sierra Leone and Kenya. She has led a humanitarian outreach with Meaningfulworld to Haiti in 2010 and participated in a Humanitarian Outreach Mission to Armenia in 2013.
Marianne is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in International Student at Ramapo College of New Jersey, with minors in Human Rights and Genocide Studies, as well as Psychology and Anthropology. Marianne loves travelling and meeting people of diverse cultures. Marianne was born in France and is fluent in French. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Marianne as a Clinical and Research Intern.
Jaklin Temurcu, Intern for Special Projects
Ms. Temurcu was managing family owned jewelry business specializing in customer relations and administration for over twenty years. Jaklin came to Meaningfulworld with a quest to add meaning to her life by serving her community. Currently she is an intern for special projects, “Sponsor a Child Project,” for ATOP/Meaningfulworld.
Natalia Avendano-Garces, ATOP Intern
Ms. Avendano-Garces was born in Medellin, Colombia. At the age of 11, Natalia and her family arrived to United States of America to start a new life. She recently completed her Baccalaureate Degree in Psychology at The City College of New York. Her interest is to have a career in which she can make a difference in a person’s life. Natalia’s passion is to become a special education teacher and help children succeed academically addressing their specific needs. Her interest in children and the importance of their development began while working as a teacher’s assistant. Natalia joined the ATOP team in January 2012 and is naturally working with the Youth Empowerment Program. She would eventually love to participate with many Humanitarian Missions with ATOP Meaningfulworld. She is looking forward to help others through ATOP Meaningfulworld. ATOP welcomes Natalia!
Mileka Ackie, BA, Fundraising and Public Relations Intern
Ms. Ackie graduated with honors, magna cum laude from Howard University where she majored in Film Production and minored in Political Science. Her research on the “Prison Industrial Complex” was published with the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. She has a great passion for the performing arts, including music and documentary film, and volunteerism. She previously volunteered on post-disaster missions in Tohoku, Japan and New Orleans, LA. She’s a New York Cares volunteer who works on varying projects such as record books for individuals who are blind and dyslexic and soup kitchens.
Ms. Ackie has a certificate in basic mediation and currently training to be a New York State certified Mediator and Arbitrator. As an intern with ATOP Meaningfulworld, she works on fundraising projects, attends proposal writing workshops, and participates in monthly Humanitarian Psychosocial Outreach Programs. Ms. Ackie is committed to being a change agent through research, fundraising, the performing arts, mediation and outreach. ATOP Meaningulworld welcomes Mileka!
Ms. Marku holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Tirana, Albania. While she was a student she interned at the Mental Development Community Center in Albania. Her passion is to pursue social justice and equal rights for everyone regardless of gender, race, or social class. She embraces the internship at ATOP as a precious opportunity to expand her knowledge and further develop her skills in the field of social work. Currently, Ms. Marku works in the tourism field communicating with a multilingual clientele, which brings richness to her work. Ms. Marku’s ambition is to soon pursue a master’s degree and devote her passion to social work. Her mission is to serve herself, her community, and humanity at large. Serving people, in any way possible, is Blerina’s ultimate goal. Blerina Marku will be a Public Relations Intern. We welcome Ms. Blerina Marku to ATOP Meaningfulworld.
Katrina Martinez, BA, ATOP Fundraising and United Nations Intern
Ms. Martinez is a recent Temple University graduate with a BA in Political Science. Her main study focus has been on the Middle East and she currently has an intermediate level understanding of Arabic that she wishes to develop further. She has also focused on holistic healing methods as well as hip hop activism through her studies. Empowerment through education is important to Katrina and she is committed to continue working on healing and empowering children around the globe. Katrina is a UN intern with ATOP, representing the organization at various meetings. She sees ATOP as a very progressive family that can set a beautiful example for others to want to emulate and hopes that she can help make this happen. We welcome Katrina to ATOP Meaningfulworld.
Jessica Harlow, BA, Research and Fundraising Intern and YEP Program
Jessica was born in Peru and after being adopted she came to the United States. She graduated in June 2012 with a B.A in Psychology from the City College of New York. Jessica’s research on individuals who leave the Hasidic faith will be published this fall 2012 in the undergraduate student journal for the Michael and Irene Ross Program in Jewish Studies at the City College of New York. She is currently working on her Masters degree in Psychology also at the The City College of New York. Her wish is to focus mainly in the areas of international psychology and the psychology of individuals who are intellectually and developmentally disabled. She has previously interned at AHRC, which offers individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities a variety of services and opportunities. Jessica is passionate about Meaningfulworlds’ mission and their global outreach projects. In addition to research and fundraising internship, Jessica will also be working with the Youth Empowerment Program. We kindly welcome Jessica to ATOP Meaningfulworld!
Victoria Alexander BA, AAS, Research & Fundraising Intern
Victoria Alexander is a recent cum laude graduate of SUNY University at Buffalo with a BA in Psychology and also holds an AAS in Fashion Merchandising Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. She recently studied in Greece for a year and has traveled to multiple countries for work and recreation. Victoria comes from a multicultural family: Spanish, Greek and Italian and she loves to meet new people and finds it important to learn about cultures other than her own. After working as an undergraduate research assistant at UB, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University as volunteer, she now works full time as a Research Data Associate at the NYU Medical Center in PTSD division under the supervision of Dr. Charles Marmar, NYU Chair of Psychiatry. Victoria’s career goals include working with multicultural populations, and developing efforts to help people transform their traumatic experiences. Ultimately she wishes to work as a Clinical Psychologist for a humanitarian outreach organization possibly affiliated with the UN. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Victoria as a research and fundraising intern!
David Presseley, Intern for Digital Needs
Mr. Presseley is retired from working twenty years as a NYC Correction Officer. Now, he teaches tennis to the youth. He joined the army and served in Vietnam. He is a member of ATOP and contributes by assisting in digital needs, you tube slide shows; computer related issues, and focuses on trouble shooting.
Jane Kearns, United Nations Team
Ms. Kearns always had an open spirit and love for people. In her twenties she bought an around the world plane ticket and began a 3 year adventure. She had previously worked in television syndication but upon her return to NY she entered the fields of headhunting for lawyers and eventually worked in real estate. Simultaneously Jane trained in numerous holistic healing modalities such as The Barbara Brennan School of Healing, The Institute of Core Energetics, Integrated Kabbalistic Healing and most recently Somatic Experiencing trauma resolution work. Over the years she has gained deep insight on transformation and healing of the whole self. She currently provides counseling and healing to individuals in NYC and supports others on their journey to wholeness. Jane is currently working on her thesis for completion of her masters degree from SUNY New Paltz where she studied Counseling Psychology, provided psychological counseling to college students and implemented campus workshops on stress management and awareness of cultural diversity. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Jane to the United Nations team.
Shana’s professional path has been inspired by her mother’s work in identifying the components of the educational achievement gap. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Spelman College, Shana served in an AmeriCorps City Year Inc. program, where she worked as a tutor, mentor, and role model to help students stay on track and graduate. Being a full-time presence in the lives of these youth helped them thrive and strive for excellence, and she gathered further evidence that political, social and economic equality are the gateway to allowing all people to move forward.
Prior to her acceptance into the National Urban Fellows Program, Shana served as the Creative Director of Academic Pathways, a community-based non-profit organization that serves students in lower Westchester and all five New York City boroughs. In that role, she developed expertise in grant writing and created leadership and community opportunities for students. Shana seeks to continue working within the non-profit sector, serving underserved communities on a national level. Her five-year goal is to create diverse intergenerational programs and solicit the funds needed to run these innovative endeavors. As she believes that the greatest work is teaching children with love, Shana’s goal is to help young people achieve their dreams and reach their full academic potential. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Shana as a UN Intern and Membership Coordinator.
Susanna is a pre-law student majoring in Accounting with minors in Economics, Philosophy, and French. Her long-term goals include a career in international human rights law. From a very young age, Susanna knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Being a firsthand witness to injustice during her extensive travels has only served to strengthen her passion to advocate on behalf of human rights.
Susanna believes that many international issues such as poverty, violence, illiteracy, and malnutrition are 100% preventable, and yet remain unresolved. Over time, she hopes to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to have a positive impact in regions of the world where oppression and poverty are commonplace. She shares Meaningfulworld’s passion and commitment to developing and fostering effective methods for peace building, humanitarian outreach, and approaching complex global problems with compassion, love, and respect for all. Susanna cannot foresee a career with any greater reward than one which allows her to use her technical skills while contributing toward humanitarian causes. ATOP Meaningfulworld welcomes Susanna as a UN Intern and Conference Coordinator.
Margaret G Ruiz
Margaret is currently a Paralegal at the Law Offices of Ted Sofer, an Immigration Law firm. In the past, she worked as a Communications Assistant for WILPF’s PeaceWomen Programme at the UN office. In this role, she spearheaded PeaceWomen Enews, Communications and social media outreach and assisted with WILPF Campaigns and activism including WILPF’s work during CSW 57, ATT negotiations and attended several UN panel discussions on women, peace and security. She was also a Program and Resource Development Intern for Teen Support Line. In this position, she researched potential foundations and grant-making institutions and assisted with proposal writing including letters of inquiry and coordinating a fundraising event. She received her Bachelors of Arts from Syracuse University with majors in International Relations, Political Science and European Literature. During her undergraduate studies she participated in the Model United Nations Club and was selected as Student Delegate for the National Model United Nations Team and the National Model United Nations Conference.
Anne was born and raised in Ireland and is currently living in New Jersey with her husband and two lovely children. She is a graduate of University College Dublin with a degree in Business and Economics. Currently, she is working in the aviation industry while looking to transition to a more gratifying career.
Growing up near the border between north and south witnessed first-hand how conflict deeply affected people on both sides, and became involved with her father in helping children who lost family members during that time. Anne is involved with the ministry for the homebound in her local town doing grocery shopping and running errands for the elderly who are unable to leave their house. She enjoys theatre and has participated in numerous plays and sketch comedies. Meaningfulworld welcomes Anne Molloy as an Internship Coordinator.
Mikaella is an Undergraduate student at New York University College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Anthropology with Minor in Public Health. She has spent every year since birth traveling to the Philippines and other neighboring Southeast Asian countries where she witnessed the beauty of different cultures firsthand and developed a passion for traveling and humanitarian work. She interned for United Way whilst studying abroad in Ghana. It was there that she was able to develop skills necessary to pursue research work and administrative work in an NGO, particularly in the area of public health. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Mikaella as an Assistant Clinical Coordinator and Grants and Research intern.
Alessia is in New York for the summer from Italy. She graduated this year with a Master’s of Science Degree in Linguistic Sciences for International Relations from Cattolicia University in Milan. Her Bachelor’s Degree was in Foreign Languages and Literature, specifically English, Spanish, French and Arabic. Her dream is to work with other cultures around the world and to be part of an international team that brings assistance to families and communities affected by violence and poverty.
Back in her hometown of Verona she was a Leo Club member. With the Leo Club she has been involved in various fundraising efforts helping people and organizations within her community. She has also spent some time volunteering in a municipality program in Verona teaching immigrants the Italian language.
Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Alessia as a United Nations, Research, and Grants Summer Intern until 30 Sept 2014.
Julia is pursuing a BA in Psychology and Perspectives on Religion and Spirituality at the University of Michigan, and will be graduating in 2015. This combination focuses on a number of areas which she is passionate about: individual spiritual development, peaceful and productive conflict resolution, intergroup relations between people of different perspectives and contexts and alternative methods of healing and therapy.
Julia has contributed to research focused on the presence of mindfulness and compassion in the corporate world, as well as recently conducting a research project in Cape Town, South Africa that explored the effects of mindfulness meditation on cognition and anxiety. In addition to her internship with Meaningfulworld Julia is also currently working with The Horticultural Society for NY in a horticultural therapy program for detainees and sentenced inmates on Rikers Island. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Julia as a Grants and Research intern.
Sherene is in New York for the summer from Minnesota. She is currently a student of the University of Minnesota majoring in Political Science with minor concentrations in Social Justice and Leadership. Sherene has volunteered in numerous capacities over the years. She had a wonderful experience traveling across America with Students Today Leaders Forever helping out in local projects in underprivileged neighborhoods. In Minnesota she donates her time in a social justice theatre program helping young adults voice their thoughts and fears through theatre. She also volunteers in a local hospital.
Her ultimate goal is to enter into the field of human rights and assist people in achieving their civil liberties in the United States and around the world. She is especially passionate about women’s and children’s rights in countries of political and economic turmoil. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Sherene as a United Nations (till 2 August 2014) and continuing as a Research and Grants intern.
Courtney is currently pursuing her Undergraduate Degree in Political Science and International Studies at Ramapo College, New Jersey. She is very involved at her school through Student Government and Peer Mentoring. She was born and raised in Freehold, New Jersey. She has always taken an active role in her community volunteering her time at the food pantry and fundraising for Breast Cancer awareness events. In college she has become involved in a program to clean up Ramapo’s campus and also with Peer Facilitation.
Her ultimate goal is to work for the UN in helping others around the world who are less fortunate than her. She enjoys traveling and meeting new people and cultures. She looks forward to focusing on human rights once she graduates college. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Courtney as a Research and Grants Intern, and Conference Coordinator.
Currently Donna is in the technology industry working as a mobility application consultant. She started her career in business after graduating from Salve Regina College. However after several years in business, Donna trained and graduated from Peter Kump Culinary School and followed a career path in the culinary arts. Working in various businesses in the food industry, she ultimately opened her own restaurant. Through life’s challenges, she became very involved working with cancer patients from a nutritional and wellbeing perspective offering cooking, menu planning, meditation techniques etc. Her work led her to studying Sound and Vibration Therapy and Holistic Health Consulting; she became certified in the healing arts. Donna combined these modalities and worked as a private yacht chef in New England. Her desire to share her expertise and make a difference on a global scale, led her back to New York City to pursue opportunities around wellness and wellbeing for the mind, body, and soul. Donna is also proficient in mobility applications and wireless technologies.
Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Donna Vestuti as a United Nations Representative.
Liya Zhu is a graduate student of Stony brook University. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Literature and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. She believes that her education together with her social service experience has provided her with professional insights in performing tasks associated with policy analysis, education, language and social work. From a very young age Liya has been involved in voluntary work with International not-for-profit organizations such as the Red Cross and Vitality Community Fund.
She has also taught English in New Oriental, Chinas largest English education services provider in China. Liya’s worldwide life experiences have prepared her to become a social worker and an educator. She is dedicated to serving and empowering disadvantaged individuals and groups throughout the world through education and communication. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Liya as Grants and Research Intern.
Christine Overton PHD
Board of Directors
British by birth and a US citizen, Overton is the first woman President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce in New Jersey, USA and brings to the ATOP Board of Directors at the UN, 28 years of international business expertise. She served as a mediator to the 585 federally recognized Native American Indian Nations for several years and works closely with the Asian Indian community in NJ and India. Her projects have been recognized with 6 letters from U.S. Congress for business development and over 45 business, film making and humanitarian awards throughout Europe, America and India – including a Scroll of Honor from 4 Rotary International clubs in Pune, India, for her excellence in business acumen, global humanitarian work in the field of avoidable blindness and cornea donation and for the Indo-American relationship formed. Overton has worked with key global humanitarian outreach programs following major catastrophes, and actively campaigns to stop elderly abuse, premature birth, genocide, the discarding of important organs for donation and unnecessary cruelty to animals. With her unique gift for wildlife rehabilitation, Overton is particularly passionate about the care of all domestic and wildlife victims of war. She advises Government and community leaders to show compassion and understanding to animals and birds who contribute positively to the overall ecology and rehabilitation of the country, its people and for the world’s ecological balance. Overton’s Degrees and Diplomas are in theology, music, business administration and leadership. She is a 2009 graduate of the Gillette Area Citizen’s Police Academy and a graduate of the Gillette Area Leadership Institute in Wyoming, USA. As a certified Abider in dignified hospice care- Overton is trained to sit with people in their last few hours of life so they do not die alone. Following significant time in solitary retreat and study with leaders from all religious backgrounds and cultures, Overton is a respected meditation instructor and mentor to young adults. As a trusted mediator and strategic negotiator, Overton has successfully gathered substantial funding for global projects, which continue to evolve through community cooperation and Governmental support.
Dr. Overton has been appointed to ATOP Board of Directors, and will Represent the organization at the United Nations.
Dr. Ozichi Joel Alimole, ATOP Main Representative to the United Nations
Dr. Alimole is a retired career diplomat, professional Mediator and Consultant. A first class honors graduate of the University of Nigeria, Dr. Alimole possesses M.A. and Ph.D. from the universities of Saskatchewan and Ottawa respectively. He holds diploma/certificates in International Development Cooperation, Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Conflict Analysis. Dr. Alimole has a passion for Conflict Management. He has participated in several workshops/training programs on African Conflict Resolution and the Enhancement of African Peacekeeping Capabilities. He was involved in mediation efforts in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Darfur. Dr. Alimole is the author of three books including Diplomacy: the Written Art. We welcome Dr Alimole to our UN Team as the Main UN Representative.
Latoya C. Conner, New Chair of Grant Committee
Dr. Latoya C. Conner is a licensed psychologist in New York, Maryland, and Washington, DC. She completed her B.S. degree in psychology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; her M.A., M.Ed., M.Phil. and Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Columbia University, Teachers College; and an APA-accredited clinical/ community psychology internship at Yale University School of Medicine, The Consultation Center. Following a research post-doctoral fellowship at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC, Dr. Conner completed a Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery Certification Program sponsored by Harvard University Medical School, Program on Refugee Trauma and the Ministry of Health of Italy. Dr Conner has clinical and research expertise in the areas of grief and bereavement, health disparities, HIV/AIDS, sexual health, drug abuse among adolescents, youth activism and social justice, empowerment focused-psychotherapy, indigenous forms of coping, and resilience.
Janet Kearney, Coordinator for Training and Educational Programs
Ms. Kearney, originally from Ireland, has a keen interest in practicing Human Rights Law within the European Union. She is currently transitioning from corporate accounting to law as she is studying the Common Law System and European Union Law at the College of Law in the United Kingdom. Janet has worked with many charitable humanitarian organizations that aid countries stricken by natural and human-made disasters and is an active member of the United Nations Association, Human Rights Campaigns, and various European Human Rights Organizations.
George Kalpaxis, Graduate Research Intern
Mr. Kalpaxis was born and raised in Kalamata, Greece and immigrated to upstate New York with his family in his early teens. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Siena College, an Ms.ED in counseling children and adolescents from the College of Saint Rose, and is currently in his third year of Doctoral Studies at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago where he is pursuing a a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, concentrating in Diversity and International Studies. His current dissertation focus is on the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma with Cambodian refugees who survived Khmer Rouge. He is heavily involved at the Cambodian Association of Illinois where he is working on his current research and has taught English and Computer Skills to Cambodian Adults. He also volunteers at Heartland Alliance teaching English to refugees from various parts of the world. As Vice President of the International Cross-Cultural Awareness support group at his school, he strives to promote diversity amongst students and faculty and create a sense of camaraderie and cultural sensitivity in the community.
Kelsi Kimball, BS, Research and Grant Writing Graduate Intern
Ms. Kimball is currently completing her Master’s degree at Columbia University in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. In addition to her academic pursuits, she is also training to become a certified Health Coach and Yoga Teacher. Ms. Kimball is passionate about applying an integrative approach to healing and trauma recovery and has a specific research focus in families, couples and other intimate interpersonal relationships. Ms. Kimball is a trained Mediator and has lead and participated in a number of conflict resolution trainings and seminars. She has spent time volunteering at the Christmas Box House, a facility for abused or neglected children, as well as danced in over 75 charity events for organizations such as The Make a Wish Foundation of America, Schriners Children’s Hospital, Art With Heart, Huntsman Cancer Institute and many more. Ms. Kimball is grateful to be interning at ATOP Meaningfulworld where she gets the privilege to take part in advocating for the integrative healing of others, a pursuit extremely close to her heart. ATOP Meaningfulworld family welcomes Kelsi Kimball.
Marla Casamassa MCA, NYIT, BFA, Vice President for Development
Ms. Casamassa is a graduate of CWPost, LIU, Magna Cum Lande. She has 26 years of experience with SRACCT Sales executive-multimillion dollar organization. Owner of gourmet deli (11 years) licensed Health +Life Insurance sales executive for 21 states. Currently, she is pursuing psychic phenomena, and energy field science. Marla is serving as the Vice President for Development, specifically working on securing grants for ATOP/Meaningfulworld.
Julie Lira, United Nations Main Representative & Coordinator, UN Reps & Interns
Reverend Lira spent a majority of her life performing, appearing on Broadway, and with many dance companies across the US and abroad. She is also a highly regarded teacher, specializing in working with children in the arts. Recently she turned her attention to her work as an Interfaith Minister. Currently, she is the Dean of the second year students at the New Seminary. Reverend Lira was honored with the “Anna Festa” Award given in recognition for willingness to bring concepts of Interfaith to the world, specifically to Sierra Leone in Africa. She is a graduate of ATOP Humanitarian Service Program and Meaningfulworld Ambassador.
Dana L Mark, MSW, Membership Coordinator
Dana L Mark is licensed in NY & NJ and a graduate of Fordham University Graduate School of Social Work. Ms. Mark is an Interfaith Minister working with various populations including geriatrics, domestic violence, the prison system & the psychiatric population. She was awarded” Ambassador of Peace” on two occasions. She is graduate of ATOP training; a bioenergetics practitioner (since 2006); & Reiki practitioner (since 1998). Ms. Mark was on ATOP Humanitarian Mission for Sierra Leone, W Africa.
Alexandra Nagy, Research Intern
Ms. Nagy has lived and traveled the world for several years. After returning to the US, she decided to pursue a career in the wellness and holistic industry by becoming an esthetician. She’s currently working at a Wellness Day Spa in Jersey City and working towards her Masters in Social Work.
Pınar Özbek, M.A., Ed.M. Curriculum Coordinator
Ms. Özbek is a Fulbright scholar from Istanbul, Turkey. She received a Master’s degree in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. Currently, she is a vocational counselor at Vida Family Services where she works with individuals recovering from substance-related disorders. She also volunteers in a psychiatric rehabilitation program under F.E.G.S. Health and Human Services System. Pinar is the Humanitarian Outreach Coordinator/Conference Coordinator for ATOP.
Tochi Anueayiagu, International Intern, UN intern
Ms. Anueayiagu is a 20 year old Fordham student from Nigeria currently studying Political Science. She is a UN intern at Meaningful World and looks forward to future endeavors with the organization.
Danielle Caminneci, Events/Correspondence Coordinator
Ms. Caminneci is an undergraduate student at St. Johns University. Her major is psychology and her minor is international relations. Danielle plans on obtaining her doctorate degree in psychology and plans to conduct research around the world to connect global citizens and help guide communities lead a healthy life. Danielle is enthusiastic intern for ATOP of Meaningfulworld. She is the Events Coordinator and Correspondence Coordinator. She loves working with people and is looking forward to connecting other people with this organization. Danielle is currently volunteering in Cusco, Peru.
Harvey Newman, Volunteer/Alternate UN Representative