About the Center



 anita Anita Saavedra is a graduate student completing her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. Anita also serves as a graduate assistant and research assistant to Dr. Miguel Gallardo at Aliento, The Center for Latina/o Communities at Pepperdine University's Irvine Campus. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. During her undergraduate career she interned as a data analyst for La Clase Mágica, a university-community connection that serves children and adults in the under-served neighborhoods throughout San Diego. Anita helped bridge educational resources such as technology and a fun curriculum to minority populations. Anita has also been working as a Behavioral Interventionist for the past two years. She has been able to help young kids with Autism engage in positive and socially reinforcing activities as well as modifying their behaviors. Anita also assisted in creating the first Spanish version behavioral intervention plans used at her behavioral intervention company. She plans to continue using her bilingual and bicultural skills to continue the progressive growth of understanding mental health illnesses in Latina/o communities. She also hopes to become an advocate for mental health competence and awareness. After she completes her Master's degree, Anita hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology with the focus in working with minority communities in Southern California. 


Brian Clawson  is a graduate student in Aliento’s fifth year cohort class, completing his Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy-Latino focus. He graduated from Seattle University with a double major in Psychology and Spanish. During his undergraduate career he studied abroad in both Spain and Mexico. Brian has a love for learning new languages and is fluent in Spanish & Portuguese as well as learning Italian. He also published research on the social perceptions of promiscuity on likability, the results of the study found that persons who are promiscuous, especially women are perceived more negatively by others than those who are not. He presented his findings at Stanford, University of Washington, Psi Chi the international honor society of psychology, and Seattle University. During his junior year he interned at the Gottman Institute, and learned about the Gottman method for marriage counseling as well as attended numerous workshops. Brian is currently a research assistant to Dr. Miguel Gallardo, volunteers for the Child Guidance clinic in Santa Ana, and is a member of the graduation committee. He hopes to develop more cultural competency through his education at Pepperdine University and use his bilingual skills to help serve the Latino community as well as attend a doctoral program in the future. 


Dawn-Marie Luna is a graduate student in Aliento's third year cohort class, completing her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy-Latin@ focus. Dawn-Marie also serves as a research assistant to Dr. Miguel Gallardo and Dr. Carrie Castañeda-Sound. She graduated from California State University, Fresno with her Bachelor's Degree in Women’s Studies and Psychology. During her undergraduate career she worked at a high school where she worked closely with learning directors, counselors and teachers to help increase graduation rates through providing students with subsidized employment during implementation of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. She organized and developed a core group of young people to present pre-employment workshops to their fellow peers equipping the youth with the skills needed to succeed in the workforce. Dawn-Marie has experience working with non-profit, and government agencies throughout the Central-San Joaquin Valley implementing Racial and Economic Justice programing for queer youth along with, developing conscious youth leaders. She plans to utilize her bilingual and bicultural skills to increase access to culturally congruent therapy for Latin@ families (specifically LGBTQ families) whose mental health needs are often overlooked and provide psychoeducation to decrease the stigma that has long been associated with mental health treatment within Latin@ community. She is dedicated to being a voice for mental health access, and culturally congruent practices in the Latin@ community. With her personal and educational experiences within the mental health arena, she hopes to use her Master's degree to fill the need for culturally sensitive and competent mental health providers.


Dr. Gallardo and the entire Pepperdine community would like to thank Nahal Kaivan, Michelle Rubio, Cynthia Ruiz and Huna Yim for their commitment in conceptualizing, researching, and developing Aliento. Without their help, Aliento would still be a work in progress. Their commitment to the Latina/o community will serve many students, and the entire university community, for years to come.



Tiffany Wright, MA, Aliento Program Administrator

e-mail: tiffany.wright2@pepperdine.edu

phone: (310) 568-2317