National Advisory Committee

Through our research and evaluation efforts, we learned that Joyful Heart's Healing retreat programs are transformative and life-changing experiences. In 2011, we set a clear goal to offer this as a resource not just to help bring healing and joy to one person at a time, but to create and share a program model that can be replicated by organizations far beyond Joyful Heart’s own reach. In 2012, Joyful Heart formally established a national committee of experts to guide the process of elevating our current healing retreat model into a scalable, replicable, evidenced-informed model that can be implemented by organizations around the world.

The National Advisory Committee is guiding Joyful Heart through this process by providing extensive content knowledge from specific disciplines—including cultural practices, trauma treatment, spirituality and holistic healing—that positively influence the implementation of the retreat model.

Trauma and Wellness Experts

Adam Cummings 

Mr. Cummings is currently Chair-elect of the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF). NCF is dedicated to addressing issues of social and economic justice within underserved communities.  During the past 20 years at NCF, Adam has overseen $300M in grant making while serving as a consultant in the non-profit sector. He is particularly interested in the field of neuroscience as it relates to behavioral change. He has convened conferences and forums focused on issues of emotional trauma and neglect in society. He is committed to being of service to others and deeply respects the interdependence of living beings.  Adam lives in Northern California with his daughter where he enjoys running, biking and swimming in the bay to train for triathlons. 

Patti Giggans, MNA

Ms. Giggans has been the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence (formerly The Los Angeles Commission on Assaults against Women) since 1985. A black belt in karate and Master Self-Defense Trainer, she founded the first women’s martial arts school in southern California, KARATEWOMEN in 1978. Ms. Giggans received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo and her Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Administration from the University of San Francisco. She has received numerous awards including The California Peace Prize, the Lifetime Achievement Award from The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and a Durfee Foundation Sabbatical Award. Ms. Giggans has held numerous leadership and advisory positions in the sexual assault and domestic violence arena both statewide and nationally, including President of The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA),  founding board member of the California Partnership To End Domestic Violence (CPEDV) and is considered a national expert on sexual and domestic violence, teen dating violence and youth violence prevention. She has spearheaded the creation of several violence prevention curricula including In Touch With Teens, is the co-author of What Parents Need To Know About Teen Dating Violence, 50 Ways To A Safer World and the soon to be published When Dating Becomes Dangerous. Ms. Giggans is currently a Durfee Foundation Stanton Fellow, a 2 year-grant to research and study the intractable problem of violence against women and girls: After 40 Years of an Organized Movement - Where Do We Go from Here? 

Monika Johnson Hostler

Ms. Johnson Hostler is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA). NCCASA is the sole statewide alliance working to end sexual violence through education, advocacy and legislation.  The organization represents 125 members, including local rape crisis centers. Prior to coming to NCCASA, Ms. Johnson Hostler worked at the local rape crisis center in Scotland County as the Crisis Intervention Coordinator. She has been an activist in the social justice movement for over 15 years. In that time, she has presented on the issue of sexual violence to numerous communities including the Joint Task Force for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Military Academy subcommittee. In addition to working on behalf of 90 rape crisis centers in North Carolina, she is a pivotal asset to the national sexual assault movement. Ms. Johnson Hostler serves as the board chair of the National Alliance Ending Sexual Violence (NAESV), one of the policy entities responsible for the passing of the Violence Against Women Act and securing over $420M for violence against women work across the country.  She was also appointed by the Obama administration to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women.  

Elizabeth Lesser

Ms. Lesser is a New York Times best-selling author and speaker in the fields of emotional intelligence and healing. She co-founded the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, a non-profit organization that focuses on health and wellness, personal spiritual growth and self-awareness. She is the author of Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow and A Seeker’s Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure and is a guest host on Oprah Radio on Sirius XM.

David Lisak, PhD

Dr. David Lisak is a nationally recognized forensic consultant, trainer and speaker whose research on non-stranger rapists has helped guide rape prevention and response policies in major institutions, including the U.S. Armed Services and colleges and universities. Additionally, he has researched the impact of childhood sexual abuse on male survivors, which has contributed to creating public attention and spurring new initiatives. Dr. Lisak has conducted workshops and trainings in all 50 states, Canada and overseas. He also serves as an expert witness in both criminal and civil cases, and has testified in state and federal courts across the country.

He is a founding member of  1in6 and currently serves as Board President on its Board of Directors.

Jenny Lorant Grouf, LMT

Ms. Lorant Grouf is a Licensed Massage Therapist currently working in private practice.  She earned her Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Degree in Massage Therapy at the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences.  Jenny has teaching experience and received her Master’s Degree in Teaching at the School for International Training.  Jenny is certified in Perinatal massage by Carol Osborne-Sheet’s Body Therapy Associates and Infant Massage Instruction by the International Loving Touch Foundation.  She has studied at the Ohashiatsu Institute, is a trained doula and is a member of Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).  Jenny's passion for women's self-development led her to become involved with various organizations such as the English Center for International Women (ECIW) at Mills College, Mujeres Unidas y Activas and The Women’s Building, the Women’s Health Resource Center at the University of California - San Francisco (UCSF) and the NY-based Safe Horizon. Jenny is currently a member of the Joyful Heart Foundation’s L.A. Committee. 

Tara Lynda Guber

Ms. Guber’s life and work reflects her four primary passions: family, education, health-wellness and spirituality. She is dedicated to the belief that conscious, compassionate and collaborative relationships are the foundation for a fulfilling personal and professional life.  A practitioner of yoga for more than 30 years, Ms. Guber founded Yoga Ed. in 2001. Called “the premiere yoga in schools program in the country,” Yoga Ed. is an international organization dedicated to the development of health/wellness education programs and materials designed specifically for schools that utilize the physiological, emotional and educational benefits of yoga to positively impact academic performance and mind/body health. Ms. Guber was a founding member of the board of directors of The Accelerated School, the internationally recognized charter public school in South Central Los Angeles, named “Elementary School of the Year” by TIME magazine, and she was responsible for including Yoga Ed. as in integral part of this landmark school’s curriculum. For eight years prior to founding Yoga Ed., Ms. Guber served as co-founder and President of EDUCATION FIRST!, a non-profit organization that utilized the resources of the entertainment industry to address the crisis in American education.  For three years, EDUCATION FIRST! produced EDUCATION FIRST! WEEK, television programming dedicated to education themes by all five networks, as well as a two-hour special on Education for CBS Television that was repurposed for schools by the Points of Light Foundation.  Ms. Guber is the author and creator of Contact Yoga: The Yoga of Relationships, the award-winning book that uses partner yoga postures to profoundly deepen practitioners’ relationships both on and off the mat through the “Seven Points of Contact.” 

Beckie Masaki, MSW

Ms. Masaki has worked in the movement to end violence against women for over twenty-eight years.  She co-founded one of the first programs in the nation to meet the language and cultural needs of Asian survivors of domestic violence and trafficking, Asian Women's Shelter (AWS) in San Francisco, and served as its founding Executive Director for 21 years.  Currently, Ms. Masaki serves as the Associate Director of the Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence (API Institute). She has extensive experience in providing multilingual, multicultural services to domestic violence and trafficking survivors and their children, innovative program development, prevention, community building, policy-making and institutional advocacy.  Past advisory and steering committee roles include the Department of Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence and the California Domestic Violence Advisory Committee.

Sharon Kaiulani Odom, MPH

Ms. Odom has been involved in native Hawaiian health issues for the past 20 years. Her specialty is Ai Kupele, nutrition from a cultural perspective as a practitioner with communities, schools and families. It is her goal to support local and indigenous communities to connect with the ike and practices passed down by their ancestors, fostering healthy lifestyles for future generations.  Kaiulani has a Bachelor’s of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Master’s of Public Health from the University of Hawai‘i. She is a certified Health and Fitness Professional under the American College of Sports Medicine, and also a Licensed Massage Therapist. Among her professional affiliations, she has been past president of the Hawai‘i Dietetic Association and Hui Mauli Ola (native Hawaiian healing practitioners) and Vice President of Aloha Aina (land based health organization). As an invited speaker, she has represented her work in Hawai‘i, across the United States and internationally.  Ms. Odom currently works for Kokua Kalihi Valley Health Center as the ROOTS Program Coordinator. The goal of ROOTS is to bring community members together as a part of a larger social network by centering food as a source of nourishment, identity and connection. 

Gwendolyn Packard 

Ms. Packard (Ihanktonwan Dakota) is a Program Specialist at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and has worked for many years in Indian country, both at the national and tribal level. She has worked for the National Congress of American Indians and the National Tribal Chairman’s Association, and has developed programs and organized trainings for the National American Indian Court Judges Association. She was instrumental in founding the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) and for ten years served as the Executive Director for Morning Star House, a program that works with off reservation Indian women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Additionally, Ms. Packard is the founder and Co-Chair of Rain Cloud, the off-reservation behavioral health collaborative in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As documented in her work experience, Gwendolyn has made a commitment to social change in working to address social and economic justice issues that affect the health and well-being of Indian people.  

Sharon Salzberg

Ms. Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has been a student of meditation since 1971, guiding meditation retreats worldwide since 1974.  Ms. Salzberg's latest book is the New York Times best-seller, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program, published by Workman Publishing.  She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is also the author of several other books including The Force of Kindness (2005), Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience (2002), and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (1995). 

Melissa Scaia, MPA

Ms. Scaia serves as the Executive Director of Advocates for Family Peace (AFFP), a six-program agency in Minnesota that provides services to families experiencing domestic violence and child abuse.  She also provides training and technical assistance as a consultant for Praxis International and serves as a faculty member for the Family Violence Department for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Ms. Scaia has conducted trainings for the Battered Women’s Justice Project and the National Network to End Domestic Violence and testifies as an expert witness on domestic violence in criminal court cases. She recently co-wrote two national curricula in the domestic violence field. These two curricula, Addressing Fatherhood with Men Who Batter and Turning Points:  A Nonviolence Curriculum for Women, are both widely used in communities as an intervention to end domestic violence. She has participated in numerous roundtable advisory discussion groups for the Office on Violence Against Women through the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence related to domestic violence, custody and batterers intervention programs. Most recently she provided expertise on coordinating a community response to domestic violence for UN Women, an agency of the United Nations, at one of their Expert Meetings in Central Asia/Eastern Europe.

Irma Seilicovich, LMFT

Irma Seilicovich is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been actively working in the mental health field for the past 20 years.  Her primary focus of practice has been in working with children and families who have been victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and who have been exposed to traumatic events, including domestic violence. Irma has been trained on several evidence-based practices that are supported by The National Center for Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).  She has also provided several trainings to other professionals in the mental health field. Irma has touched the lives of literally thousands of children and families: she has helped to treat and heal young victims of abuse and neglect; responded with police to provide on-the-scene support for victims of violence; empowered mothers and fathers to become effective, nurturing parents; guided youth away from the lure of drugs and gang involvement; navigated children and families through the complex foster-care and adoption systems; and developed training programs that have benefited thousands more. A staunch advocate for trauma-informed care, she is a member of the International Society Trauma Stress Studies (ISTSS) and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). She currently serves on the Advisory Board for Peace Over Violence, and as the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of The Village Family Services, a non-profit organization located in the San Fernando Valley that works primarily with children exposed to trauma.  


Board Representatives

Sukey Novogratz

Ms. Novogratz is a philanthropist and a devoted supporter of the visual and performing arts, music education, international development and research in neurological science.  She graduated from Princeton University in 1990, with a degree in Anthropology, and then went on to study fashion design at Parsons.  Among the organizations with which she has a close association are: the Joyful Heart Foundation, The Acumen Fund, The Robinhood Foundation, School for Strings and Princeton University.  In recent years, Sukey has also been an active supporter of The Kitchen. 

Rev. Al Miles, MDiv 

Rev. Al Miles received his undergraduate degree from Anderson University and his Master of Divinity degree at the Anderson School of Theology, both located in Anderson, Indiana. Since 1993, he has worked for Pacific Health Ministry at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu as the Coordinator of the Hospital Ministry Department. Rev. Miles has been an ordained minister in the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) since 1983.  His publications include: Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know, First and Second Editions; Violence in Families: What Every Christian Needs to Know; and Ending Violence in Teen Dating Relationships: A Resource Guide for Parents and Pastors. In 2012, he received the Sheila and Paul Wellstone Humanitarian Award from the Institute on Domestic Violence in The African American Community. 

Peter Hermann

Mr. Hermann is a writer and communications strategist with expertise in messaging and content development for various organizations and initiatives in the anti-violence movement. As a founding board member of the Joyful Heart Foundation, he has played a lead role in establishing and crafting the organization's mission, vision, and strategic direction.  He has also been a driving force in Joyful Heart's Healing, Education and Advocacy messaging for various constituent groups including survivors, lawmakers, corporate executives, major donors, the media, digital communities and bystanders.  He was a charter member of the Teach for America Teaching Corps and worked as an actor in theater, film and television for fifteen years. His first children's book is forthcoming.


Sherisa Dahlgren, LMFT 

Ms. Dahlgren is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California with specific expertise in integrating arts and holistic modalities into the healing of primary and secondary trauma. She has built her professional career with a strong focus on somatic therapies, including yoga, breathing, mindfulness and movement, as well as applying these techniques to strengthen naturally existing, healthy coping skills in young children and adults.

Kata Issari, MSW

Ms. Issari has worked in the field of sexual and domestic violence for 30 years.  She is an advocate, educator, fundraiser, therapist and community activist with over 20 years experience as a manager, organizational consultant and anti-oppression trainer. For over a decade she managed PACT Family Peace Center, a domestic violence program serving survivors, batterers and children exposed to domestic violence in Hawai‘i. 

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