Valerie Bengal, MD

Valerie Bengal, MD

Valerie Bengal, MD, is a family physician in Santa Cruz, California. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Natividad Family Medicine Residency Program, she has had a long career in academic medicine (Natividad Family and Community Medicine Residency Program) and 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, and is a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for a National Health Program, and the American Medical Womens’ Association.

In addition to playing violin with the Santa Cruz Symphony,  Dr. Bengal works at the Cowell Student Health Center of University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Barbara Lutz, PhD, LMFT

Dr. Barbara Lutz 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.”

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Sheila Grady, MSEd

Sheila Grady 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 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!”

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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. She 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.

Dr. Franck 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 the community. In the setting of the national opiate crisis, she has worked on pain management guidelines for Santa Cruz Community Health Centers and helped grow and develop the Medication Assisted Treatment Program at her Health Center. Dr. Franck has been a part Safe Rx Santa Cruz since 2015, helping to develop pain management guidelines in the Santa Cruz community.

Although a native of Massachusetts, Dr. Franck has fallen in love with the beautiful ocean wildlife of Santa Cruz, California.  She resides in Santa Cruz County with her partner Matt, a former professional surfer, and her young son.

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Wendy Ostrow, MSN, NP

As a longtime member of the Capacitar community, I am continually renewed and impressed by its emphasis on caring for one another and for oneself.

As Capacitar trains people to become wellness leaders in their communities, healing is “owned” and shared by each person.  In spite of differences in languages and cultures, the universality of this work enables the healing to belong to one’s community or country.

I have found that Capacitar wellness practices work for people who have nothing–absolutely nothing, no utilities, water, nothing. They are given tools that instantly calm their blood pressure  and make them feel better. As a health-care provider, I am delighted that there are effective practices that can meet people where they are and give them just what they need when they are in crisis.  I have seen Capacitar help people of all ages.

My home in Santa Cruz is a paradise. I like to take walks in the mountains and be by the ocean. I love being with my wonderful friends in the Capacitar network and with my own family. I have two lovely grandchildren. Being with people and being of service is in the fabric of my soul.  This is why I love being a part of Capacitar.

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Juliet Spohn Twomey, IHM, MA, MFA

julietteJuliet Spohn Twomey has a long history of working with many non profit organizations working on issues of peace and justice.

For 20 years, she worked with the American Friends Service Committee working with the 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.

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Ree Taylor, MA, CMP

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  non-profit 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 SoCal Network of Capacitar facilitators and conducts Capacitar workshops for churches and senior citizens in Southern California.

Ree Taylor holds a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Theology from Loyola  Marymount University (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.  Ree is also a Certified Meeting Professional.

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Sharon Kuehn, BA, MHRE

sharonSharon 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.

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