Wendy C. Orellana is a Survivor Advocate in the Sexual Violence Response Office, joining the team in June of 2019. Wendy brings extensive knowledge and over nine years of experience working and supporting survivors who have experienced physical, financial, and emotional abuse, sexual assault and violence.
Wendy completed her B.A. in Women Studies at Queens College, City University of New York and her M.S.W. at Silberman School of Social work at Hunter College with a focus on Clinical Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups. After graduating with her B.A., Wendy worked as a Family Case Manager at a family shelter where she counseled and supported families with children who were homeless and facing issues such as mental illness, substance abuse, poverty, a history of trauma and or domestic violence. In addition, Wendy was trained and certified by the New York State Department of Health as a Rape Crisis Counselor for The Mount Sinai’s Sexual Assault and Intervention Program. As a Rape Crisis Counselor , she assisted survivors of sexual assault and violence in the Mount Sinai Hospital emergency rooms providing supportive and emotional counseling, crisis intervention and advocacy. While earning her M.S.W., Wendy had the opportunity to provide emotional and supportive counseling to survivors of human trafficking and to families of homicide victims.
Most recently, Wendy worked as the Special Victims Unit Victim Advocate / Community Coordinator for the New York City Law Department Office of the Corporation Counsel in the Brooklyn Family Court Division and as a Social Worker at the Victim Services Unit in the King’s County District Attorney’s Office. There she provided continuous crisis counseling, trauma-informed care, emotional support and advocacy to survivors and co-survivors of sex crimes including crimes against children, homicide, elder abuse, teen dating violence, human trafficking and intimate partner violence. She assisted survivors and co-survivors in understanding and navigating Family Court and/or Criminal Court and assisted in providing trainings to staff interns and teen students about teen dating violence and sexual assault.
Wendy is passionate about empowering and supporting survivors. She is a proud advocate for survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence. Wendy is fluent in Spanish.
- B.A. in Women Studies, Queens College, City University of New York
- M.S.W. Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, City University of New York
- New York State Department of Health Certified Rape Crisis Counselor, 2011
- School Violence Prevention and Intervention Certification, 2017
- New York City Department of Education Dignity for All Students Act Certification, 2017
- Mental Health First Aid USA, 2018
Niara J Carrenard is a temporary Survivor Advocate in the Sexual Violence Response Office, joining the team as a staff member in December 2019. Niara was an Administrative Intern for two years at the SVR CUIMC location, where she planned and facilitated tabling events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Relationship Violence Awareness Month.
During her time as an Administrative Intern, Niara completed her Master of the Arts in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College Columbia University. She was a research assistant in the Psychology, Psychotherapy and Technology Lab, where she decoded Talkspace transcripts and analyzed the strength of the therapeutic alliance, giving her insight on the fundamentals of psychotherapy.
Prior to joining Sexual Violence Response, Niara was a Senior Counselor in social services at Union Settlement. Here, she provided support for and worked with children who were survivors of physical and sexual abuse and had various mental and physical disabilities along with providing support for their parents. Her Haitian-American background has fueled her interest in improving mental health and reducing stigma surrounding mental illness and therapy in her community. She does this through her weekly podcast and speaking engagements. Niara has spoken to hundreds of elementary and middle school students throughout Harlem and the South Bronx about the importance of mental health and continues to do so regularly. Niara is currently working on her New York State Department of Health Certified Rape Crisis Counselor Certificate. She is passionate about sexual violence trauma, intergenerational trauma and she is a strong advocate for mental health.
- M.A. Clinical Psychology, Teachers College Columbia University
- B.A. Psychology, Hunter College
- Senior Counselor at Union Settlement, 2016-2018
- Psi Chi: The International Honor Society in Psychology
Michele Paolella (she/her/hers) is the Assistant Director of SVR at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, joining the team in October of 2019. Michele has been working with teenage and young adult survivors of violence for over fifteen years. Prior to joining Columbia, Michele was the Director of Social Services and Training at Day One, where she delivered and oversaw prevention, awareness, and intervention services for young survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence and their communities. During her time at Day One, Michele developed and managed several new programs, trained thousands of professionals, and spearheaded key partnerships with city institutions and community partners. She also chaired multiple coalitions including the NYC Domestic Violence Task Force Youth Intervention Prevention and Education Services (YIPES) Committee and a group of culturally specific service providers called Advocates for Safe and Empowering Relationships (ASER). Before Day One, Michele worked primarily with LGBTQ and HIV positive youth, as well as youth involved in the criminal justice system.
Master of Social Work (Dual Concentration Social Action and Change and Individuals, Families, and Groups), San Francisco State University
Bachelor of Psychology (Concentration Women and Gender Studies), Ohio University
Certifications and Licensure:
- Licensed Master of Social Work
- Student Intern Field Instructor Certification
- Day One
- The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth
- Youth Leadership Institute (YLI)
- Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY)
- The Children’s Place
- My Sister’s Place
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
Awards and Honors:
- 2017 Advocate of NYC Award
- 2018 Strell Executive Leadership Fellow
La’Shawn Rivera, M.A. has served as the Executive Director of Columbia University Sexual Violence Response & Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center (SVR) since August 2013. La’Shawn supervises all direct-services and prevention based staff-members, oversees all SVR campus-wide events and initiatives, and acts as a liaison to the Columbia campus and the New York City community through her participation in multiple taskforce initiatives and community collaborative committees. She leads a team of 10 full-time staff members as well as peer advocates, volunteers and casual staff dedicated to the eradication of sexual and gender-based violence.
Prior to joining the team at Columbia University, La’Shawn was the Assistant Coordinator at the University of Central Florida Police Department’s Victim Services Program for 6 years. Her work there focused on providing direct services to survivors and co-survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, elder abuse, and homicide. During this time, she also coordinated sexual violence prevention education programs on-campus and in the community, supervised and trained full-time Victim Advocates, and managed the volunteer program. During that time, she also served on committees implementing statewide violence prevention initiatives like Talk About It! and Coaching Boys Into Men.
She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Bethune-Cookman University and received her M.A. in Applied Sociology with a concentration in Domestic Violence from the University of Central Florida.
- M.A., Applied Sociology, Domestic Violence Concentration, University of Central Florida
- B.S., Psychology, Bethune Cookman University
- University of Central Florida Public Safety and Police, Victim Services
Jose joined the SVR team as the Assistant Director of Direct Services in June of 2020. He has been doing power based personal violence (PBPV) intervention and prevention work for 6+ years. Prior to coming to Columbia, Jose spent 5 years at Florida State University coordinating campus-wide prevention education for PBPV and advising student organizations focused on advocacy and prevention.
Prior to FSU, Jose spent 2+ years providing technical assistance and training to victim advocates with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. Jose centers his work on providing access to equitable services that are identity informed to support survivors of color, LGBTQI+ survivors. He also has a research interest in masculinity and male survivors.
He received his Bachelor's in International Affairs from Florida State University and is in the process of completing his Master's in Higher Education. In his spare time, Jose enjoys music, sports, bad puns and spending quality time with his dog and best friend, Abbey.
- Masters in Higher Education, Florida State University (In progress)
- Bachelor’s in International Affairs, Florida State University
- Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness, Florida State University
- Florida Council Against Sexual Violence
- 211 Big Bend
- Florida Statewide Sexual Violence Helpline Advocate
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
Emma Reynolds is a Survivor Advocate at Sexual Violence Response, having first joined the team in 2015 as an administrative intern while also pursuing her MFA in Fiction from Columbia’s School of the Arts. During her nearly four years as a graduate intern, Emma participated in panel discussions about sexual assault on college campuses, co-created and co-facilitated workshops on how to address sexual violence in creative writing, and spoke at campus awareness events such as Denim Day. In the spring of 2016, she certified as a volunteer Peer Advocate and spent two years in that capacity, taking regular on-call shifts and responding to the Sexual Violence Response helpline. Emma became a full-time staff advocate in March of 2019.
In addition to her work with Sexual Violence Response, Emma completed Bellevue Hospital’s Patient Advocacy training program and has experience in international advocacy, having worked with survivors of childhood sexual assault, forced marriage, honor-based violence, and nonconsensual pornography. In 2018, she completed an internship with Taman Baca Kesiman, a social justice NGO in Bali where she supported events aimed to raise public awareness on topics such as political violence, sex work, LGBTQ+ rights, and human rights abuses in minority and underserved communities.
- B.A. History and English, Williams College, 2007
- M.A. in Humanities, University of Chicago, 2010
- M.F.A. in Writing, Columbia University, 2019
Certifications and Licensure:
- New York State Department of Health-Certified Rape Crisis Counselor
- NOVA Campus Advocacy Training
Debjani Roy is the Assistant Director of Training and Prevention for the Sexual Violence Response Office. She has been a thought leader and an advocate for gender equality and justice in the US and UK for over fifteen years. Most recently, Debjani was the Training Director at Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) and prior to this was the Deputy Director of anti-harassment organization, Hollaback!, where she managed operations, led key initiatives on leadership development and bystander intervention, and contributed to the culture shifts around the issue of street harassment. At Hollaback!, she also co-founded HeartMob, an online platform providing support to victims of online harassment. She has additionally led key culturally specific initiatives as the Program and Development Manager at Manavi, the first organization working to end violence against South Asian women in the United States.
She has expertise in program creation and management, direct service provision, development, training and technical assistance, curriculum development, communications, research, and policy advocacy on issues including domestic violence, street harassment, sexual violence, forced marriage, ‘honor’ based violence, commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, widows’ rights, and hate violence across the lines of identity.
Debjani’s work and commentary has been featured in several media outlets, including The New York Times, BBC World News, Fox News, The Guardian, NPR, Huffington Post and Salon.
Her academic publications include South Asian Battered Women’s Use of Force against Intimate Male Partners in the Violence Against Women Sage Journal and a first ever publication: An Introduction to Forced Marriage in the South Asian Community in the United States, published under Manavi and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. She is an alumni of the Progressive Women’s Voices Class at the Women’s Media Center and is a SheSource expert.
Debjani has a Master’s of Arts Degree in Cultural Studies with a focus on Gender Theory from the University of London, Goldsmiths and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the Stern School of Business at NYU, with a minor in Gender Studies.
Leadership That Works, Certified Community Coach (2018)
Certificate in the Art of Leadership, Rockwood Leadership Academy (2016)
Certificate in Facilitation, Training for Change (2015)
Domestic Violence Response Team 40-hr Training, Women Aware (2009)
Counseling &Therapeutic Interventions for Working with Women Survivors of Violence Certificate, London Open College Network (2007)
Understanding Women’s Human Rights Certificate, London School of Economics (2006)
Danielle Louis is a Survivor Advocate in the Sexual Violence Response Office, joining the team in June of 2020. Prior to functioning in the capacity of an advocate, Danielle was an Administrative Intern for Sexual Violence Response for one year. Throughout her internship, she participated in many prevention and advocacy events throughout the University and local community. This allowed for her to gain extensive knowledge and experience surrounding survivorship, advocacy, and how to build collaborative relationships with community partners.
Currently, Danielle is a Mental Health Counseling graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she has completed experiential coursework training her for proficiency in Group therapy and Individual Therapy, Military Psychology, diagnosis of child, adolescent and adult psychopathology, and Career Development. Danielle earned her undergraduate BA in Psychology from Queens University of Charlotte and an AAS in Emergency Medical Science, which she used to serve a metropolitan community for seven years as an EMT-Paramedic.
Danielle is currently working on her New York State Department of Health Certified Rape Crisis Counselor Certificate.
- EdM Mental Health Counseling, Teachers College Columbia University- In Progress
- B.A. Psychology, Queens University of Charlotte
- A.A.S. Emergency Medical Science
CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSURE:
AWARDS AND HONORS:
- Alpha Sigma Lambda
- Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology
- Psi Chi: The International Honor Society in Psychology
- APA Division 19 Society for Military Psychology
Christine Janick is the Associate Director of Direct Services for the Sexual Violence Response team. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and has been an advocate for Survivors of Crime for over twenty years.
Christine’s previous position began in 2014 when she joined the Student Health Center at New York University, in a new role at that time as the Director of Sexual Misconduct Support Services. At NYU, she primarily worked confidentially with students providing counseling, support, advocacy, and ran Survivor Support groups. She also partnered with her NYU Title IX Office of Equal Opportunity colleagues to conduct Consent Zone workshops on campus. Christine also provided support to various student groups on campus in a non-confidential role.
Prior to NYU, Christine was the Victim Services Program Coordinator at Bellevue Hospital Center; a program that provides comprehensive services to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and all victims of crime, in order to promote resiliency and recovery in the aftermath of a traumatic victimization. Prior to her fifteen years at Bellevue Hospital, she provided assistance to victims of crime in the Witness Aid Services Unit at the New York County District Attorney’s Office for over five years. Additionally, she began her work in the field volunteering and working in a domestic violence shelter in Rockland County, NY.
Christine obtained her Masters in Social Work from New York University. Additionally, Christine is an active member for many years in the Coalitions and Tasks forces in New York City to support the victims’ right movement. Christine’s focus in her work with survivors is providing a safe space to be empowered by understanding rights and resources, while beginning the healing process of trauma.
MSW, Masters in Social Work New York University, Silver School of Social Work New York, NY
BSW, Bachelors of Science in Social Work, Dominican College Orangeburg, New York
Certifications and Licensure:
Licensed Certified Social Worker, R credential
Student Intern Field Instructor Certification
Licensed Master of Social Work
Certified Social Worker
New York University, Sexual Misconduct Support Services, Counseling and Wellness (SHC) New York, NY
NYC Health+Hospitals|Bellevue-Victim Services Program, New York, NY
New York County District Attorneys Office- Witness Assistance Services Unit, New York, NY
Center for Safey and Change- Rockland County, New York.
Awards and Honors:
NYU Public Safety- A Community Member Commendation Award-2018
Charlene A. Bernasko is the Violence Prevention Educator for the Sexual Violence Response Office, beginning in December of 2019. Charlene comes to Sexual Violence Response with a commitment to providing trauma-informed care in anti-violence work. She has extensive years of experience working with and supporting survivors of intimate partner violence, family violence, childhood sexual abuse, forced marriage, and sexual assault and violence.
Prior to relocating to New York for her graduate studies, Charlene was a registered/licensed Social Service Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). During her 6 years as a licensed social service worker, Charlene worked in various capacities in residential and community settings with survivors who have experienced a spectrum of violence and abuse. Charlene brings relevant experience in the fields of trauma and violence, social activism, prevention through community awareness and capacity building and crisis intervention. Her background includes providing 24-hour crisis hotline support, providing individual psychotherapy, creating and facilitating group psychotherapy, trainings and workshops, crisis response and counseling, and advocacy for survivors of violence.
Charlene has experience in international anti-violence work, having worked with childhood sexual violence, forced marriage and working with spiritual/religious and traditional values in counseling, in Manzini, Swaziland (now Eswatini). In 2015, she worked in partnership with Crossroads International Canada and Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), a non-governmental organization that has been working for almost 30 years to end gender-based violence (GBV), sexual abuse and human trafficking in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), where she participated in staff capacity building through collaborative training.
Charlene first joined the Sexual Violence Response team in 2018 as an administrative intern while also pursuing her M.A. and Ed.M. degree in Psychological Counseling and Mental Health Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. During her time as a graduate intern, Charlene participated in discussions about sexual violence on college campuses, and spoke at campus awareness events such as Denim Day. Charlene is currently working on her New York State Department of Health Certified Rape Crisis Counselor Certificate. She is an avid learner and she is passionate about demystifying, empowering, and supporting survivors and community action for social change.
Ashley Delphia (she/her/hers) is the Associate Director of Operations for the Sexual Violence Response Office, joining the team in February of 2015. Ashley brings significant experience in the fields of psychology, trauma and violence prevention, crisis intervention, administrative operations, and program management.
Her background includes crisis response and advocacy for survivors of violence, large scale initiative design and implementation, grant reporting and management of federal and state programs, fiscal and budget oversight, strategic planning, marketing and communications, event planning, and staff supervision.
Ashley's work has been focused primary on college campuses and within hospital settings. Prior to joining the Sexual Violence Response team, Ashley was the Department Administrator for the Center for Neural Science at New York University. While completing her graduate degree in Applied Psychology, Ashley was a Rape Crisis Advocate at Bellevue Hospital, where she was an on-call first responder, administering crisis counseling and intervention, and psychological first aid for primary and secondary survivors.
Ashley completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology and English at Adelphi University in 2008 and received her M.A. in Applied Psychology with a concentration in Trauma and Violence from the New York University in 2012.
- M.A., Health Policy and Administration, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health (In Progress)
- M.A., Applied Psychology (Specialization in Trauma and Violence), New York University Steinhardt School for Culture, Education, and Human Development
- B.A., Sociology and English, Adelphi University
Certifications and Licensures:
- New York State Department of Health Certified Rape Crisis Counselor
Sexual Violence Response Directory
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