USC University of Southern California

Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices In Military-Connected Schools

External Field Instructors

Anthony Ceja 

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Anthony has been a coordinator in the Student Support Services Department in the San Diego County Office of Education over the past 15 years. He received his MSW in 1994 from San Francisco State University and has since worked with students at risk for gang membership, violence and negative behaviors. He served in the Army National Guard from 1976-1982. Working in the San Diego County Office of Education that serves all 42 school districts, he has come to learn that some of the school districts serve a high percentage of students coming from military families. He perceives these students to be at risk because of the large sacrifices that their families are making for this country. His hope is that the MSW interns will be able to make a positive difference for these students as they go through these difficult times.

Debbie Boerbaitz 

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Debbie Boerbaitz is a licensed clinical social worker and a credentialed, practicing school social worker in the Chula Vista Elementary School District for the past eleven years. She holds a MSW from San Diego State University and has served as a field instructor for graduate-level social work interns since 2005. She is an active member of the California Association of School Social Workers—San Diego Region and serves as Continuing Education Coordinator. Debbie embraces the opportunity to support and strengthen military families through school-based social work services.

Diana Pineda 

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Diana Pineda has a psychology degree from UC Irvine and masters’ degrees in social work and health administration from USC. Currently, Diana works as the San Diego Field Manager for the Building Capacity project and Project Manager for Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families. Diana also teaches at the USC San Diego Academic Center as an Adjunct Professor and consults as a Problem Solving Therapy (PST) trainer. Diana has presented at various conferences and conducted trainings at various agencies. Diana is an active member of NASW. Diana’s interests include mental health and health with a focus on minorities and the military. Diana has worked on a research project focusing on educating and empowering veterans, military service members, and families on health care through the use of technology. Diana is familiar with various veteran and military organizations from Los Angeles to San Diego and has worked collaboratively with many of these organizations. Diana’s interest in working with military children and families derives from the impact from within her own community from living near a large military base. Her personal experience comes from visiting close friends at military bases who served OIF/ OEF, extended family who served in the military, and friends with military families in the community, which motivated Diana to become involved in the project.

Louisa Triandis 

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Louisa is a licensed clinical social worker with 20 years of counseling experience with families, adults and children of all ages. She is currently an adjunct professor for the USC School of Social Work. Louisa is a certified school social worker and has worked in settings for severely emotionally disturbed children (as well as regular education) supporting teachers with classroom management since 1994. She is a Certified Nurtured Heart Approach trainer, and holds a certificate in art therapy. She is a co-author of There’s Always Something Going Right: Workbook for Implementing the Nurtured Heart Approach in Schools. Louisa provides counseling, coaching and training in both English and Spanish. She received her BS from Northwestern University and her MSW from the University of Illinois.

Molly Engblom 

Molly Engblom has been working as a school social worker for over 10 years. She has her BA in Psychology from the University of Redlands and her master’s degree in social work from San Diego State University. In addition, she has a current Pupil Personnel Services credential in both School Social Work and Child Welfare and Attendance. Molly has a strong background in school social work with an emphasis on implementing character education and providing positive prevention based interventions for students, teachers and parents. Molly spent several years working as a district counselor for Poway Unified School District and San Diego City Schools. She has implemented successful and creative guidance programs that included psycho-educational groups, classroom workshops and school-wide violence prevention programs. In addition, Molly was previously employed as the Safe and Drug Free/Behavior Specialist for the Escondido Union School District. She participated in site-based behavior support services including implementing school-wide discipline policies and developing student behavior contracts. She was also in charge of the implementation and monitoring of the district-wide Positive Action character development program and other student intervention/prevention programs. Molly has previously supervised graduate student interns as well as several other social work staff. Molly truly enjoys working with students, teachers and parents in a collaborative setting and is excited to be part of this project.

Paul Brazzel 

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Paul Brazzel is a school social worker in the Lemon Grove School District. He has a BA in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MSW from San Diego State University. Paul is in his tenth year working as a school social worker, supervising MSW interns each year. Understanding the unique challenges that face military families has been important in his work in the school district. Paul has partnered with parents, outside agencies, and the east region’s Navy Liaison Officer to support military families. His experience also includes working in residential treatment and foster care. Paul is working on his licensing hours and is excited to have the opportunity to work with USC and their graduate students.

Sabrina Monahan 
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Sabrina Monahan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working in private practice and in clinical supervision. She graduated from San Diego State University with her MSW and PPS in 2001 and has been working as a social worker with children, youth, and families since then. She spent several years as an EPSDT clinician providing therapy services at schools. She then managed an outpatient children’s mental health clinic in El Cajon for two years. That clinic provided EPSDT and AB2726 services to East County’s public schools. She currently provides individual and family therapy at Beach Psychotherapy, a private group practice in Pacific Beach.

Stacy Townes 
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Stacy Townes is a licensed clinical social worker who currently works full-time at a Children's Hospital. She spent three years as a therapist in the San Diego School System. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and her master's degree in social work from Florida State. She also spent a year as a school counselor through Americorps. Additionally, Stacy has an art therapy certificate from UCSD.

Valerie Kipper
Valerie received a BA in Psychology from UCLA, a MA degree in Education and Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a MSW degree from San Diego State University. She also holds a California Professional Clear single-subject teaching credential in Health Science and Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a Pupil Personnel Services credential (School Social Work and Child Welfare/Attendance) from San Diego State University. Prior to becoming a social worker, she worked in education and public health. Since becoming a social worker, she has worked in medical, foster care, and school settings. She believes social work in the military setting is increasingly vital given the large number of individuals and families affected by military action over the past nine years, and the services that are needed to support them.