Marina Tomazinis, PhD, mph
Marina Tomazinis, a Greek American, is a Clinical Psychologist and is Welcome Foundation’s founder. In both psychology and public health, her focus has been refugees. For her doctoral dissertation, Marina looked at the experience of African asylum seekers in Asia, and her Master in Public Health is in Global Health, with a focus on Refugee Health and Disaster Response. Last fall, when the news was flooded with images of people fleeing their home countries for the safety of Europe, and risking their lives to land on Greek Islands with comparatively small permanent populations to receive them, Marina’s professional interests and personal identity intersected. She went to Athens and Lesvos in October. The need was tremendous, the NGOs present were not able to act comprehensively and left more gaps than coverage. Dedicated volunteers had flown in from all over the world to help. The Greeks on the islands, who had opened their hearts to refugees trickling in on the islands for years, were totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume, and still they helped. The suffering of the people coming in the boats was vast - watching their children die from drowning or hypothermia - their own feet macerated because they are in wet socks and/or shoes for many days. Hungry people, hungry children.
Upon returning to California, Marina was determined to help more effectively and more widely - to communicate to others that there are people who are desperate to escape danger and find safety for themselves and their children. Welcome Foundation is the result. Marina feels that we can help, and that we must help.
Mia Capanna is a mother and Los Angeles native who has spent her life working in the Entertainment Industry as an actress, writer and producer. She has been inspired by Marina Tomizinis' dedication and knowledge of the refugee crisis and her actions on the ground in Greece. These are families and children that need the most basic necessities immediately to survive. Mia is committed to help grow Welcome Foundation to be a force for change during a serious crisis, which has global implications and affects us all.
Esther Chon, Phd, edm
Esther Chon is a Clinical Psychologist with a specialty in Infant Parent Mental Health. Dr. Chon’s first hand experience in growing up with poverty, discrimination and injustice led her to work at various nonprofit community mental health agencies for ten years - it is also her impetus for taking an active role in the current refugee crisis and Welcome Foundation. Esther currently works as a psychologist in a neonatal intensive care unit at a children’s hospital in the greater Los Angeles area.
DAVID GERMAN, JD, PHD
David German is an attorney and represents individuals and families in a broad range of disability rights and education matters. He is a Clinical Instructor in Education Law at the UCLA School of Law and has presented on special education law and disability law topics at colleges, community organizations, and parent groups throughout Southern California. After graduating from law school, David completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy while working as a Habeas Corpus Law Clerk for the United States District Court for the Central District of California. His dissertation focused on issues in professional ethics faced by attorneys whose work is dedicated to civil rights and social change.
Nik Stefanides, phd
Dr. Nik, as he is known to the youth with whom he works, grew up on the Greek island of Chios. He is the clinical director of the High Risk Youth Program of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He has been working with homeless runaway/throwaway youth for the past twenty-seven years. Dr. Nik was the Director of Clinical Training at the Los Angeles Youth Network, (LAYN), which operates a Drop-in center, Shelter, and two Group Homes for homeless runaway/throwaway youth ages 12 to 17. The Los Angeles Free Clinic, now the Saban Free Clinic, is another site where Dr. Nik provided services to homeless youth, and youth at risk of becoming homeless, as well as, My Friends Place (MFP), a drop-in center for 12-25 year olds, and A Brighter Future, (ABF), a shelter for young women survivors of domestic violence. Dr. Nik is an assistant clinical professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Adjunct Professor at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, and the Clinical Director of the Community Trauma Treatment Center for Runaway and Homeless Youth.