Monthly Archives January 2023

Faces of Mosaic Georgia

Susan Nerenbaum
Marketing & Communications Specialist

Fun Fact: Susan is a devoted animal enthusiast.Dogs are her favorite, with cats running at a very close second!

Susan is a proud alumna of Georgia Gwinnett College, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing in May 2022. Her journey into the world of nonprofit marketing took its first steps when she became a Marketing and Outreach Intern at Mosaic Georgia. Driven by her unwavering commitment to effecting positive change, she smoothly transitioned into the role of Marketing and Communications Specialist at Mosaic after successfully completing her degree. Susan’s dedication is rooted in her aspiration to create a safer world for everyone. Beyond her professional pursuits, Susan’s heart beats for the great outdoors and having an active lifestyle. You’ll often find her hiking through nature trails, embracing the tranquility of the natural world, or eagerly venturing into new experiences.

Amanda Makrogianis Mickelsen

Fun Fact: Amanda got a job working at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics after graduating from the University of Massachusetts – then after 15 years living in Southern CA – ended up right back in Atlanta in 2013 due to a documentary film her husband was making. The ATL always comes a callin!

Amanda feels lucky to have landed as a consultant at Mosaic Georgia where she works copywriting and project managing marketing initiatives and strategy. After gathering many years of account management experience in the corporate sector, Amanda put a focus towards her personal passion of health and wellness as a Wellness Consultant, and later a Chopra Certified Instructor, teaching meditation and the benefits of holistic health and yoga at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in CA. She currently teaches at Southwest Atlanta Yoga studio. Amanda feels passionate about serving the collective and contributing to a more just and humane world. She has served as Board President at the Doc B Cares, Inc. program and volunteers with various Atlanta organizations such as the King Center.

Amanda enjoys traveling, reading, meditation, the quiet of nature, cooking (when the mood strikes!) with her young son, swimming, and exploring new ideas. Oh, and she will soon-to-be enjoying RVing with her family!

Brian Darden
IT & Data Administrator

Fun Fact: Brian is running his first marathon later this year!

Brian was born and raised in and around Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2013 with a BA in Sociology and recently completed a Master of Public Administration at the University of North Georgia. Brian previously worked for FOCUS, a non-profit in Atlanta that serves families who have children with developmental disabilities and who are medically fragile. He now works as Mosaic Georgia’s IT and Data Administrator where he handles all things technical and database-related.

Vanessa Zavaleta-Beltran
Client Experience Specialist

Fun Fact: Vanessa is the first one to graduate from her mom’s side of the family!

Vanessa graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s in criminal justice with a concentration in criminology and a minor in psychology in 2022. She spent time interning at Forever Family which is a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping at-risk youth. She began her journey at Mosaic Georgia in June 2022.

Danny Fernandez
Schedule and Intake Coordinator

Fun fact: Danny worked with capuchins and orangutans; the primary focus of his psychology degree was primate behavior. He also plays guitar in a band. 

Danny started with Mosaic Georgia during the summer of 2020 as a Client Experience Specialist. He has subsequently been promoted to Schedule and Intake Coordinator. Prior to joining Mosaic, he was working as a bar manager and beverage director in Atlanta. The pandemic encouraged him to change his life’s trajectory to become more aligned with community engagement. He had previously worked at The Ronald E. McNair Program from 2012-2014, an organization that assists first-generation college students matriculate to their PHD’s. Danny received his Bachelor of Science in psychology from Georgia State University in 2012.

Maryam Jordan
Professional Education & Training Services

Fun Fact: Maryam has been to five continents so far, but still wants to see and experience more of our world! 

Maryam Jordan manages Mosaic Georgia’s Professional Education and Training Services and has been with the organization since September 2019. She provides educational programs for medical professionals, law enforcement, educators, and other community members who may interact with victims of sexual assault. Maryam also manages outreach and community engagement efforts, where she draws from her experience working with people from various cultures. She is energized when she is able to go out into the community and educate about sexual assault awareness and prevention, especially to young people. Maryam earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Prior to joining the team, she worked in the international affairs arena where she lived, worked and traveled abroad and conducted training and educational programs for volunteers and members of an international non-profit organization. Maryam is a native Atlantan and moved to Gwinnett County over 10 years ago with her husband and three children. In her free time, she enjoys “getting outdoors” and hiking in the North Georgia mountains with family and friends.

Rachel Pearson
Advocacy Specialist & Volunteer Coordinator

Fun Fact: Rachel wrote an essay for a writing contest at her university and won! Her essay is published in her university’s literary magazine. 
Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Human Services Delivery and Administration from the University of North Georgia. Before joining the team at Mosaic Georgia, Rachel was an advocate at a domestic violence shelter which enabled her to gain valuable insight on the work of non-profits catered towards ensuring the safety and justice of victims of family violence. Rachel started last July as an Advocacy Specialist and has recently taken on the role of Volunteer Coordinator as well. She is incredibly proud and grateful to work for an organization whose mission is focused on believing and empowering all victims of sexual assault, providing them with lasting resources, and working alongside law enforcement and other agencies to ensure justice.

Marilucia Munoz
Bilingual Advocacy Specialist and Latinx Outreach Coordinator

Fun Fact: Mari loves to read true crime books. 
Mari Munoz is a first generation American with family origins in Mexico and Honduras. She graduated from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelors in Human Services Delivery and Administration in 2022. While getting her Associate’s degree, she discovered a strong interest in helping people of all sorts and in various ways. Her years of studying included multiple internships; the last one was with the DA’s office. In her time there it became clear that she wanted to become an advocate and help survivors during their process in the legal system. Mari started at Mosaic Georgia as a Bilingual Advocate in July of 2022 and in December moved into the role of Latinx Outreach Coordinator. 

Liliana Jimenez
Bilingual Advocacy Specialist and Campus Outreach Coordinator

Fun Fact: Liliana won the College of Health Sciences Outstanding Student award at her graduation.

Liliana graduated from Georgia College & State University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health in 2022. When she first started interning at Stepping Stone CAC she fell in love with this work and wanted to continue doing it after graduation. Liliana started as a full-time Bilingual Advocacy Specialist at Mosaic Georgia in May. Since then, she has also started as a Campus Outreach Specialist and works with surrounding campuses to spread awareness and implement on-campus education. Liliana is very excited to continue supporting victims of sexual assault.

Danna Downs
Executive Administrator

Fun Fact: Danna played softball in college! 
Danna earned her bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). When the pandemic hit, she decided to support the public school system and go back to teach math at her alma mater, Brookwood High School. While teaching full time, she continued her education at UGA and pursued her Master’s in Public Administration. Danna’s time working in the public school system and her work on her master’s degree led her to stay in the public sector and transition to her current role at Mosaic Georgia. She is honored to be able to support an organization with a mission as important as Mosaic’s and hopes to continue to further its growth so that more members of the community have access to their services.

Helen Cha-Choe
Forensic Interview Manager

Helen is the Forensic Interview Manager at Mosaic Georgia.  Prior to joining our team in July 2018, Helen worked with the Asian American and immigrant communities and provided immigration legal and educational services, as well as legal advocacy to victims of domestic violence at non-profits in the Metro Atlanta Area and has also counseled high school students at a non-profit in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has always had a strong commitment to public service, previously working as a federal government attorney for over twelve years in New York and Washington, D.C.  Helen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University, her J.D. from the University of Hawaii School of Law, and her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.  Raised in Hawai’i, she brings the “aloha spirit” to Georgia and has made Fulton County her home with her family.

Fun fact: Helen played tennis in high school and recently rediscovered her love for the sport.

Edith Garcia
Bilingual Advocate & Forensic Interviewer

Edith started with Mosaic during the pandemic in summer of 2020 as our Bilingual Advocate & Forensic Interviewer. She received her Bachelor’s of Human Services from the University of North Georgia and is currently working on her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Bellevue University. Edith is a first generation college graduate and the first in her family to continue her education to obtain her master’s degree. Before working at Mosaic Georgia Edith interned at Partnership Against Domestic Violence assisting survivors obtain temporary protective orders.

Fun fact: Edith has watched the show New Girl over five times (and will continue to watch New Girl in her spare time).

Jessica McGinnis
Advocacy Specialist, Forensic Interviewer, & SART Coordinator

Jessica currently works as an Advocacy Specialist, Forensic Interviewer and SART Coordinator at Mosaic Georgia. She devotes her time to serving victims of all ages. She completed the ChildFirst Forensic Interview Training in March 2022. Her graduate studies were completed at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) in May 2018. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, GA in December 2015 where she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice with a Forensics Concentration. Jessica completed the Gwinnett Young Professionals Journey Program in April 2023. She also is a recipient of the 1PowerHouse Unsung Hero Award.

Fun Fact: Jessica was the creative inspiration and driving force behind the beautiful painted “mosaic” design currently covering a picnic table at Ironshield Brewing’s Biergarten in Lawrenceville.

Jaime Albright
Part-Time Forensic Interviewer & Advocate

Jaime serves as a part-time Forensic Interviewer and Advocate. Jaime’s interest in serving children was sparked through volunteerism. She began her work at Mosaic Georgia in February 2014 as a volunteer Victim Advocate and moved into the role of SART Coordinator in 2015. Jaime earned her Bachelor of Sociology from Kennesaw State University in 2013 and earned her Master of Social Work from Valdosta State University in May 2018. Jaime was born and raised in California. She resides in Alpharetta with her husband and children. She enjoys writing and producing podcasts, yoga, serving on mission trips, and spending time with her family.

Fun fact: Jamie has a fear of heights and overcame it by going cliff jumping and parasailing.

Maria Herrera
Bilingual Forensic Interviewer and Advocate

Fun Fact: If you catch Maria watching TV it will most likely be The Office, and in her free time you might see her shooting some hoops.

From Atlanta, GA, Maria is of Mexican descent and is bilingual in Spanish and English. Maria received her bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University and is currently working on her Master’s in Public Administration at Kennesaw State University. Before Joining the Mosaic team, she worked at the Douglas County Task Force for almost three years as a Legal Services Coordinator, then as a Bilingual Forensic Interviewer. She joined Mosaic Georgia in March of 2022. Maria is passionate about serving her community and giving survivors a place to feel heard.

Charmaine Hayes
Part-Time Bilingual Forensic Interviewer & Advocate

Charmaine is of Cuban and Mexican descent and originally hails from New Orleans, Lousiana. In 2004, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Georgia State University and is currently perusing a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Liberty University. Charmaine spent many years working with Boys and Girls Clubs of Atlanta as a Program Director then transitioned to Emdeon as a Bilingual Healthcare Representative. Over the last 10 years she has operated her own business in the real estate market. Charmaine joined Mosaic in March 2023 and is passionate about supporting victims of sexual assault.

Fun fact: Charmaine lived a year in Miami, Fl. with a Brazilian group who only spoke Portuguese so by default had to learn the Portuguese language!

Rebeca Ruelas
Part-Time Forensic Interviewer

Rebeca Ruelas is part time Forensic Interviewer for Mosaic Georgia. Additionally, she is involved with a start-up app company focused on teenagers mental health. With over 10 years of experience in the field of social services, she has dedicated her career to working with victims, survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and advocating for children’s rights. Throughout her journey, she has worked at various centers specifically focused on addressing these issues, providing crucial support and resources to those in need. In addition to her professional work, she is an active volunteer for a local Hispanic non-profit in Georgia working tirelessly to raise awareness and support these communities. In 2017, she graduated from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration.

Fun Fact: Rebeca loves dancing to music, going to museums and finds joy in hearing and sharing jokes.

Spring 2023

Kendall Wolz
Mental Health and Wellness Manager

Fun fact: Kendall once got stuck on a train in Italy and missed her destination. Thankfully, any destination in Italy is desirable.

Kendall Wolz, LPC moved to Georgia and joined our staff in October 2022. Prior to joining Mosaic, she worked as the Center Director of a nonprofit organization in New Orleans that served individuals experiencing homelessness, struggling with addiction, and recovering from trafficking. She has her Masters of Arts in Counseling with a specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is currently working on her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. Kendall comes to Mosaic with first hand experience of what it is like to be a client at a Child Advocacy Center. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Kendall is trained in both Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI). Kendall loves all things coffee and reading a good book.

Hagikah Birden

Fun fact: Hagikah was a part of a Brazilian Street Drumming troupe in California. She played the Agogo, a type of bell.

Hagikah Birden is a licensed master social worker and therapist working towards clinical licensure. She joined Mosaic in October 2022 after moving to Georgia from the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She has a Masters in Special Education and a Masters of Social Welfare (MSW). Prior to becoming a therapist, she was a special education teacher working with teens and adolescents with cognitive, developmental and behavioral disabilities. Hagikah has worked as a social worker, advocate and educator in schools, criminal legal settings, and with survivors/victims of sexual assault in the Bay Area. Her experiences have significantly shaped her passion for and understanding of how exposure to violence and abuse can impact the individual, family, and community. She is excited to continue this work in the South.

Emily Felton

Fun fact: Emily enjoys letting her creative juices flow with painting and other crafts.

Emily Felton is a Therapist/Counselor for Mosaic Georgia. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker in Georgia and is currently working on her LCSW. Prior to joining the team, Emily gained experience as a hospice/medical social worker and as a mental health therapist in the prison system. She is excited to continue her social work journey with us by providing therapy to children, families, groups, and individuals that have experienced trauma. Her areas of focus include: trauma, crisis intervention, addiction, life adjustment difficulties, parenting issues, anxiety, depression, and death and dying, grief and loss, and self-harm. Emily loves family time and traveling.

Melissa Drinkard
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)

Fun fact: I love to mountain bike in my free time. 
Melissa earned her nursing degree from Georgia Perimeter College in 2015 and began her career as an Emergency Room Nurse. From there, she discovered her passion for helping individuals that have been victims of sexual violence. Melissa became a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner at the beginning of 2022 and began her journey as an on-call SANE at LiveSafe Resources in Marietta. Melissa Joined the Mosaic Georgia team in July 2022 as a full-time SANE where she gets to pour all of her dedication into the care of her patients.

Ashia Gallo
Wholeness Collective Coordinator

Fun Fact: Ashia wrote scripts about serial killers for a true crime podcast on Spotify.

Ashia graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism in 2015. She then spent two years serving as a Health Outreach Volunteer in Peace Corps Mozambique from 2016-2018. Following her time abroad, Ashia moved to Vermont and earned a Master of Public Administration in 2020. She returned home to Georgia that same year and got involved in community activism in the areas of housing and racial equity during the pandemic. In 2021, she started as an outreach advocate for a SAC and fell in love with supporting and uplifting survivors of sexual assault. She joined Mosaic Georgia in June 2022 as the Wholeness Collective Coordinator, providing long-term, varied holistic healing modalities for trauma survivors. Ashia is passionate about creating spaces of safety, inclusion, and healing.

Fall 2022

Teresa Bullard
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)

Fun Fact: Teresa met her husband on the school bus freshman year and they won cutest couple for senior superlatives. (Not sure it gets any sweeter than that.)

Teresa earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of South Florida in Tampa and worked in Mother Baby at NSH for 17 years. She first worked with Mosaic Georgia as an on call SANE and is now a full-time member of the staff. Teresa feels passionate about getting age-appropriate, sex positive inclusive sex education into our schools. She is very involved in her church’s outreach and advocacy for LGBTQ+ individuals and participates with the Atlanta area Lutheran church to support the Atlanta Pride Parade and Festival.

Read More

Wholeness Collective – A Wellness Program Launch


By: Ashia Gallo, MPA

At Mosaic Georgia, we play a very sensitive role in the lives of the clients we support. From the first moment we meet them, the stakes are high. We are likely making introductions with a crime victim on the worst day of their lives. It’s a sacred responsibility that our team doesn’t take lightly.

At Mosaic Georgia, we specialize in crisis response for victims of sexual assault, child abuse, and more. A survivor may come to us after experiencing a sexual violation, calling the 24-hour crisis line mere hours or days after an incident. Next steps include an advocate helping the victim to ground, informing them of our services, and possibly making a same-day appointment at our confidential office location.

Once the victim arrives in person, we work to establish safety and trust among trained advocates, provide medical and law enforcement support, and determine the best plan for next steps – navigating difficult healing, and possibly legal, journeys.

The need to further develop these long-term responses became an issue that Mosaic Georgia leadership was desperate to solve. Our legal team helps victims through rigorous and otherwise expensive court proceedings to receive justice against an abuser. Our counseling team provides the one-on-one processing space that so many trauma survivors must undergo in order to move through their pain and not let the impacts of sexual or child abuse dominate their futures.

What isn’t often considered, though, is the isolation felt by these victims as they move through the healing process. The spiritual warfare, the identity crisis, the loss of self and safety at a soul level. The Wholeness Collective was born from these realities. When I signed on as program coordinator in Summer 2022, I was determined to combine my experiences as a victims’ advocate, activist, and international service worker to nurture the creation of this vision.

The goal of the Wholeness Collective was simple – design a trauma-informed healing and wellness program enhancing Mosaic Georgia’s mission by extending care to abuse survivors beyond our established crisis response period. To encourage and support long-term healing and wellness for those on the road back from trauma.

I spent the first several weeks creating a network of people who knew how to do just that. Reflecting its namesake, I aimed to build a “collective” healing community and knew that it couldn’t happen independently. I cold called and emailed countless community-serving nonprofits in Gwinnett County to spread the word about what we were creating. I also ensembled an Advisory Committee from those I talked to with diverse backgrounds, in terms of both identity and area of expertise. Committee members include local business owners, artists, mental health professionals, higher education administrators, and esteemed Mosaic Georgia staff members.

After months of building community interest, partner support, and referral processes at Mosaic Georgia and beyond, the Wholeness Collective launched in October 2022. The results were more than I could’ve ever imagined!

We held a total of 24 FREE Wholeness events and classes in the program’s first quarter, a variety of offerings: support groups for adult, female sexual assault survivors, music classes for children, sound healing and yoga classes, and a workshop for youth-serving professionals and parents about the ways we can protect our kids from abuse.

Nearly 70 participants registered for Wholeness events. Seven healing modality facilitators shared their gifts and led classes. Our program evaluation process (44% response rate) reflected success, revealing an increase in participants’ sense of agency, well-being, empowerment, and positive feelings about their healing journeys over an 8-week period.

We also received notable feedback we are excited to implement in 2023: creating more connection among participants and facilitators, offering culturally specific programming, and taking our events out of the office and into the community!

The sky is the limit for the future of the Wholeness Collective, and I am honored to lead the charge in Mosaic Georgia’s unique, holistic approach to victim services. Amongst our class facilitators, community stakeholders, victims, their families, and the Mosaic Georgia team, the message will remain the same: You are not alone.

Read More