Board of Directors
Valerie Bengal, MD
Valerie Bengal, MD, is a family physician working at the Cowell Student Health Center of University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Bengal is a graduate of UC Berkeley, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Natividad Family Medicine Residency Program. Her professional experience includes serving as a UC San Francisco-Natividad Family Medicine Residency Program Associate Clinical Professor (1988-2015) and serving many public sector clinics, primarily in the agricultural Salinas and Pajaro Valleys of California.
Dr. Bengal’s interests in medicine include global health, medical ecology, liberation medicine, and social determinants of health. She has served on the boards of the Monterey County Sanctuary for Central American Refugees and the International Medical Relief Fund. She is a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for a National Health Program, and the American Medical Women’s Association.
As an accomplished musician, Dr. Bengal performs regularly with the Santa Cruz Symphony (violin) and with the Monterey Symphony (viola).
Leelia Franck, MD
Dr. Leelia Franck, MD, Leelia Franck, MD is a family physician by training from MCP Hahnemann in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a residency completed at in the Worcester Family Medicine program, in Massachusetts. Her previous areas of focus include women’s health, intra-partner violence and working with vulnerable populations affected by social determinants of health.
Dr. Franck has worked as a hospitalist, as a primary care physician and most recently as a substance use disorder treatment specialist and Medical Director for Encompass Community Services. She received a degree in Medical Acupuncture from Joseph Helms School in 2015. She has worked for Santa Cruz Community Health Centers since 2015, first as a primary care physician and then as a Site Medical Director, helping to create a medical safety net for vulnerable populations in her community.
Dr. Franck assisted in the development of pain management guidelines for Santa Cruz Community Health Centers in the setting of the national opiate crisis and helped grow and develop the Medication Assisted Treatment Program at her Health Center. As a part Safe Rx Santa Cruz, she has been helping to develop pain management guidelines in the greater Santa Cruz community.
Although she is a native of Massachusetts, she has fallen in love with the beautiful ocean wildlife of Santa Cruz, California. Dr. Franck resides in Santa Cruz County with her partner Matt, a former professional surfer, and her young son.
Sheila Grady, MSEd
Sheila Grady, MSEd, brings years of experience in K – 5 education to her work with Capacitar. Since she discovered the Capacitar Training at La Casa de Maria in 2011, she has regularly shared the work professionally and personally. She finds these simple wellness protocols put self-care into the hands of people of all ages. Sheila says that Capacitar practices are the easiest, most engaging, and most effective lessons she has taught in over 40 years in classrooms!
After retiring from being an elementary school principal, Sheila joined the Capacitar Board of Directors. She uses her skillset to support trainings and workshops in California. She continues to practice Capacitar regularly and shares the work with family and friends. Sheila’s favorite advice is, “Take a deep breath and squeeze your fingers!”
Barbara Lutz, PhD
Dr. Barbara Lutz, PhD, is a psychotherapist in Santa Cruz County serving client populations who have experienced significant trauma: children in foster care, probation youths, patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, and immigrant families.
Fluent in German, English, and Spanish, Dr. Lutz teaches psychology to a rural and predominantly Hispanic student population at Hartnell College in California. She also teaches the course she developed, “Global Mental Health and Human Rights,” for The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Lutz holds a doctorate in International Psychology with Trauma Focus from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, a California Marriage and Family Therapist license, and a degree in Social Work from Germany.
Dr. Lutz describes her path, “My work experience, my own immigration history, and my marriage to a Mexican metal artist have crystalized my beliefs in the possibilities created by our commonalities and our differences to influence our mental and physical global well being.”
Sharon Kuehn, BA, MHRE
Sharon Kuehn, BA, MHRE, serves as the Executive Director of Mental Health America of Oregon (MHAO). MHAO, a peer- run, grassroots organization, is dedicated to empowering consumer/survivor voices to drive services and policies that foster wellness and full participation in life choices and recovery. Her experience as a peer recovery leader, facilitator, community organizer, and public speaker powers her work to achieve a vision of health as connection, purpose and inclusion in community.
Sharon’s academic background includes Community Studies, Organizational Systems, Intentional Peer Support, and Capacitar Multicultural Wellness Education. Sharon shares trauma healing practices as part of her unique approach to peer support and wellness through the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Through appreciative advocacy, Sharon focuses on moving toward what is desired. Her current passions include developing a statewide Peer Support Coalition in Oregon and promoting Reconnect! – a facilitated approach to enlivening change and alternatives for social justice and a compassionate, life-sustaining society.
Sharon enjoys yoga and time in nature in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Sharon has served on the Capacitar International Board since 2007.
Wendy Ostrow, RN, MSN, NP
Wendy Ostrow RN, MSN, NP is a graduate of UCSF with a Master’s Degree in Nursing and is a Certified Nurse Practitioner with 37 years of experience providing healthcare, education and expertise in many Nursing specialties. Her experience includes midwifery, hospice care, geriatric, primary, and family healthcare in a variety of hospital and out-patient settings. She utilizes allopathic and complementary medical practices such as movement, breath work, Tai Chi, healing touch and meditation. She has been a certified Tai Chi Chih instructor since 1978.
Living in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Wendy became a leader in end-of-life advocacy and the “home” hospice movement. She was involved as a volunteer and trainer for Zen Hospice Project at it’s inception and served as a volunteer and Board member of Maitri-AIDS Hospice from 1989-1995. In Santa Cruz, her home, she is a member of Threshold Santa Cruz whose purpose is to demystify death and educate the community about choices in end of life care.
Wendy has been a member of the Burning Man community since 1999. She has been a volunteer since 2014 with the Emergency Services team and People Operations. As a student of conflict mediation, Wendy enjoys advocating for individuals and community groups to build healthy relationships and communication.
A proud member of the Capacitar International Board of Directors since 2009, Wendy serves as Secretary of the Board. She believes that Capacitar practices are a culmination of practical, simple and extraordinary methods to improve one’s sense of mastery and to live with emotions that can be overwhelming.
“Dr. Patricia Cane has distilled ancient practices for our time, available to everyone while creating community and support through an international network of leaders and practitioners.”
Juliet Spohn Twomey, IHM, MA
Juliet Spohn Twomey, IHM, MA, has a long history of working with many non profit organizations working on issues of peace and justice. For 20 years, she worked with American Friends Service Committee’s Peace Education Committee, regionally and nationally, on issues of the Vietnam War, Nuclear Disarmament, and Middle East Peace. As Program Director for the Northern California Ecumenical Council, Juliet served on a national, joint project with the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches holding hearings around the US on Racism as a Violation of Human Rights. She coordinated the reporting of the project at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva and in New York. Juliet served as the Coordinator of the Justice Education and Advocacy Work Group at the St Anthony Foundation, a Franciscan social service agency in San Francisco.
During Juliet’s tenure as Associate Director at La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Santa Barbara, California, a ministry of the Immaculate Heart Community, she established and coordinated Capacitar’s Foundational Program, Training in Healing and Transformation. She has travelled with Capacitar Founder, Pat Cane, to the Middle East to facilitate Capacitar training in Israel and Palestine.
Juliet is a member of the Immaculate Heart Community, an ecumenical lay community of women and men. She holds graduate degrees in Spirituality, Philosophy, and Book Design. She lives in Monterey and enjoys spending time with her three sons and six grandchildren – the loves of her life.
Ree Taylor, MA
Ree Taylor, MA, is currently the Parish Director of a church in Orange County, California. She manages all the business functions for both the parish and school. In her long career in meeting and event management in Southern California and Detroit, Michigan, Ree has also supported nonprofit organizations in marketing, public relations, and event management.
Ree graduated from the Capacitar’s Training in Healing and Transformation at La Casa de Maria in 2012. She credits the training with giving her focus and serenity in her hectic life. She uses the diverse practices of Capacitar to control minor health issues caused by stress and tension. Ree is committed to healing mind, body, and spirit through Capacitar, and connecting with people across borders in solidarity, understanding and reconciliation. As a member of Capacitar’s Board of Directors, Ree coordinates the Capacitar Network of Capacitar facilitators and conducts Capacitar workshops for churches and senior citizens in Southern California.
Ree holds a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Theology from Loyola Marymount University LMU (Los Angeles) and is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for theology. She serves on the Advisory Board for LMU’s Graduate Theology Council. Ree graduated from the Protocol School of Washington in 2010 as a Protocol Officer and completed an Advanced International Protocol Course in 2013. She is also a Certified Meeting Professional.