Elise Johnson

Elise Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years of social work experience in her home town of Los Angeles.

She has worked with homeless families, in community mental health and at DCFS. She is currently a clinical social worker at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center/Miller Children and Women’s Hospital where she works in the Emergency Department and in Pediatrics.

Her clinical and academic interests include trauma-informed care, social determinants of health, homelessness, history of social work in L.A. and child maltreatment. An area of particular interest is the role technology plays in social work practice and social work education.

She is always on the lookout for innovations that enhance and augment patient care. In 2016 she was invited by NASW to consult on their upcoming publication of Standards for Technology in Social Work Practice.

In 2014 she began teaching MSW students and finds working with rising social workers extremely inspiring.  She teaches Human Behavior in the Social Environment and one of her assignments as been included in a forthcoming textbook on the incorporation of technology in social work education.

Students in Johnson’s classes often remember her strengths-based approach to the profession, her penchant for ’70s funk bands and her reminders to always “find the good!”


Tom De Simone

Tom De Simone is President & CEO of Genesis LA, a community loan fund (CDFI) that invests in community and economic development projects in underserved areas of Los Angeles County.

Under De Simone’s leadership, Genesis LA has more than doubled its assets and annual lending volume, delivering greater impact to low-income communities.  He has also designed innovative investment programs that have helped Genesis LA to become a unique financing entity within the Los Angeles community.

Prior to joining Genesis LA, De Simone was a John Gardner Fellow in the Office of Mayor James K. Hahn, where he worked on policies and programs to alleviate homelessness.

After his fellowship, he worked for the General Manager of the Los Angeles Housing Department, helping to develop a supportive housing program and establish an acquisition and predevelopment loan fund.

De Simone holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley.





Monica Blauner

Monica Blauner, LCSW, is a graduate of Smith College School for Social Work, 1979, and earned a certificate in psychoanalysis from the New York Freudian Society Psychoanalytic Training Institute. She is also a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist.

She is currently in private practice in Los Angeles, and has worked at all levels of care in mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Blauner currently leads an Integrative Seminar for Smith College School for Social Work students placed in Los Angeles.

Previously, she taught at the Psychoanalytic Training Institute of the New York Counseling Center and Metropolitan Institute for Training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. She is dedicated to teaching foundational clinical skills, including client engagement, understanding unconscious process and using the therapeutic relationship.




Renee Garett

Renee Garett is a Part Time Lecturer, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Private Practice, as well as the Co-Coordinator and Clinical Supervisor of the Adolescent and Child Therapy Program at the Maple Counseling Center.

Garett earned her MSW from UCLA and her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California.

She has been trained in several Evidenced Based Treatment Interventions (EBPs) such as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Managing and Adapting Practice, and Seeking Safety for at risk adolescents.

Garett has a special interest in the intersection of health and mental health and has worked on several research projects involving the use of social media to monitor and predict adverse health and mental health outcomes. She also works as a consultant on several research projects designing interventions to circumvent negative health and mental health outcomes through the use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, Garett has an interest in the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent mental health and was recently published for her work examining this issue.


Garett R, Menacho L, Young SD. (2016). Ethical Issues in Using Social Media to Deliver an HIV
Prevention Intervention: Results from the HOPE Peru Study. Prev Sci. 2016 Dec 9. PMID: 27933425

Garett R, Chiu J, Zhang L, Young SD. (2016). A Literature Review: Website Design and User
Engagement. Online J Common Media Technol. Jul; 6(3):1-14. PMID: 27499833

Garett R, Smith J, Young SD. (2016). A Review of Social Media Technologies Across the Global HIVCare Continuum. Curr Opin Psychol. Jun 1;9:56-66. PMID: 2692545

Garett R, Smith J, Chiu J, Young SD. (2016) HIV/AIDS stigma among a sample of primarily African-American and Latino men who have sex with men social media users. AIDS Care. 28(6):731-5. doi:10.1080/09540121.2016.1146395. PMID: 26873022

Garett R, Lord L, Young SD. (2016). Associations between social media and cyberbullying: a review of the literature. M Health Dec.



Claire Towle

Claire Towle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over 25 years of experience combining direct clinical care, supervision, teaching, and management responsibilities.

Towle received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California where her focus was health. She also has a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach.

She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, a Certified Bereavement Facilitator and is certified in Thanatology.

Towle’s professional career includes working in the hospital setting as Program Coordinator of the Pediatric/Family HIV/AIDS Program at Memorial Miller Children’s Hospital and as Supervisor of Social Services for Children’s Hospital of Orange County. She was also a consultant for California Children’s Services (CCS) on the county and the state level.

Towle held the position of the Director of The Gathering Place, a center for loss and life transitions, and was the Associate Director of Bereavement Services for Providence Trinity Care Hospice. In addition, she has had a private psychotherapy practice where she specialized in grief and loss.

Over her career, Towle has provided multiple presentations on grief and loss and health and mental health topics, including self-care for professionals. Presently, she serves on the Alumni Leadership Council for the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and is cochairman of the Programs Committee.

Patti Park

Patti Park is a licensed clinical social worker with a Master’s in Social Welfare and a Doctorate in Psychology.

She has extensive experience in executive and senior leadership positions in community mental health organizations throughout Los Angeles County, and has been providing direct clinical services since 2001.

Dr. Park’s areas of interest include mental health, organizational leadership, and contextual competence. Her experience includes clinical practice, research, teaching, program evaluation and development, grant writing, and executive management.

She was involved in the planning and implementation of Proposition 63 funded trauma-focused and evidence-based programs in L.A. County. She has served on county best practices committees to enhance assessment and treatment for children involved in the child welfare system. Her most recent agency-based leadership role was as Regional Director for Children’s Institute, Inc. In this position, she provided strategic and organizational leadership to develop and sustain comprehensive trauma-focused mental health programs to children and families suffering from the intersecting effects of poverty, oppression and trauma.

She integrates her clinical and leadership experiences into her teaching roles at UCLA and at CSU Dominguez Hills, where she has taught social work theory and clinical practice courses.

In addition to her teaching roles, Dr. Park maintains a private practice where she provides psychotherapy and consultation services. Her clinical interests are primarily in the areas of mindfulness-based approaches in psychotherapy, resiliency, complex trauma and interpersonal neurobiology.