The RAMS Breaking Barriers Forum
May 10, 2023
May 10th has been designated as APA Mental Health Day because of the efforts of RAMS and our community partners. This year join us for this dynamic conversation about mental health challenges experienced by the Asian & Pacific Islander communities and real-life solutions. The forum will feature an expert panel, keynote speaker, and answers to attendee questions.
Kaynote: Koorosh Ostowari
Panelist: Dr. Ulash Thakore Dunlap, EdD, MFT
Panelist: Dr. Michelle Fortunado-Kewin, DSW, LCSW
Panelist: Patsy M. Tito, MA, AMFT
Moderator: Domenica Giovannini
The purpose of the Breaking Barriers Forum is to have a conversation that helps build community through learning about diverse cultures, experiences, barriers to mental healthcare and proposed solutions. Check out the video recording of our event below!
Event Sponsored by:
Koorosh Ostowari is a Somatic Trauma Therapist, Dharma leader, and the author of The Money Anxiety Cure- A path to Financial Wellbeing.
From 2009 to 2019 he worked with thousands of incarcerated men and women as a spirituality and communications teacher at the Marin County Jail. He offered a combination of creative tools for men and women during his weekly classes to support them in managing and healing old wounds, trauma, dysfunctional patterns, poor habits, and challenging life circumstances that often lead to their incarceration in the first place.
As a first generation Iranian immigrant, Koorosh saw his single mother overcome great financial and cultural obstacles to provide her family with the American Dream, while he witnessed his absentee father living with severe mental illness.
Koorosh has been officially acknowledged as a local leader of change by the U.S Congress as well as the California State Legislature for his work at the Marin County Jail and his commitment to service throughout the Northern California prison system as well as his work with the public sector helping clients and students cultivate mindfulness, alleviate anxiety, achieve a work/life balance, and financial wellbeing.
Koorosh has written and performs a Social Justice, solo performance piece called Grandma’s Million Dollar Scheme which speaks to his work at the local Jail. The solo performance is produced and directed at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco. The intention of the performance is to humanize and raise awareness around the challenges we all face regardless of socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, etc. around greed, marginalization, and class structures. The performance encourages having a deeper empathy and understanding for the pain and suffering that many members of our society experience, including ourselves. This can cause slipping and falling through the cracks resulting in ending up in physical jail, or any kind of prison of our own making.
Dr. Ulash Thakore-Dunlap, EdD, LMFT
Dr. Ulash Thakore-Dunlap (EdD) is a licensed marriage family therapist (LMFT) in California and will complete her doctorate in Educational Leadership (EdD) May 2023.
Ulash currently is full-time faculty at the Wright Institute MA Counseling Psychology program.
Ulash has served on numerous boards and committees, such as past behavioral health commissioner for the Mental Health Board of San Francisco to support the behavioral health needs of the community. Ulash recently as senior editor co-edited and published Counseling and Psychotherapy for South Asian Americans: Identity, Psychology, and Clinical Implications with Routledge and is the first book of its kind in exploring the counseling needs of South Asian Americans.
Dr. Michelle Fortunado-Kewin, DSW, LCSW, PPS
Dr. Michelle Fortunado-Kewin, DSW, LCSW, PPS is a Pilipino-American social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works part-time as a “macro” school social worker and as an adjunct instructor/lecturer at San Francisco State University, University at Buffalo, and Smith College.
Most of her experience has been working in different non-profits and educational settings in California.
With the help of Twitter and social media, she has connected with Pilipino/a/x-American social workers nationally, and they created the Pilipina/o/x Social Work Scholar group (PSWS). The group meets monthly and is working towards showcasing and uplifting the work of Pilipina/o/x-American social workers in mental health and in academia.
Her areas of interest and expertise are suicidality in youth, crisis intervention in schools, clinical supervision and program and policy development, and implementation in educational settings. Outside of work, she enjoys taking walks, hanging out with her partner and dog, and finding new coffee shops.
Patsy M. Tito, M.A, AMFT
Patsy Tito is a native San Franciscan, born and raised. She has been serving the Samoan and Pacific Islander communities for over 25 plus years at the Samoan Community Development Center (SCDC) in the Southeast Sector of San Francisco, providing cultural and innovative programming and services to ensure that the Samoan Culture is thriving and strong for the next generation and generations to come. She has been a case manager, counselor, facilitator, and is currently the Executive Director at SCDC. Ms. Tito’s accomplishments and years of service continue to bring the Pacific Islander communities together so that the voices of her community are heard and the positive movement for a thriving community continues. Ms. Tito earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from San Diego State University, earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology with the emphasis of Community Mental Health at the California Institute of Integral Studies and is a PhD Candidate at Sofia University studying Transformative Psychology.
There is a Samoan Proverb that says, “O le Ala I le Pule o le Tautua,” “The Path to Leadership is to Serve”.
Domenica comes to RAMS after working within a myriad of disciplines developing a unique skill set which spans from major fund development and grant writing to digital marketing. By education, she is an expert in nonprofit and government operations, public health systems, fund development, program development, and compliance. By choice, she has become an expert in digital marketing, communications, equitable policy making, and collaboration for good. Fascinated with studying cultures and religions since she was young, Domenica has traveled and worked in several countries around the world.
Domenica has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara and a graduate degree in Public Health from Touro University. During her Masters program, she traveled to Ethiopia to research health perceptions and knowledge of the local Health Extension Workers. While there, she started to develop a health marketing versus health education model to share information. She currently is completing a Doctor of Business Administration degree at Touro University Worldwide with an emphasis on marketing and communications research.
Domenica has worked with government agencies, Tribal organizations, nonprofits, and social enterprises all over the greater Bay Area, Mendocino County, Sacramento County, and throughout the United States. In addition, she is a speaker and guest lecturer on health and community based communications as well as effective policy making with the aim to move the needle on the complex issues facing the United States. In her free time she hosts a podcast sharing the stories and points of view of a diverse population of individuals.