A LOCAL RESPONSE TO INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE
California is the asylum capital of the Americas. Every year, more than 75,000 human rights activists, war survivors, ethnic and religious minorities, gang/cartel victims, LGBT survivors, and other displaced immigrants flee violence in their home countries to resettle in California. These refugees uproot their lives and disrupt community and family ties to seek freedom and safety.
Many arrive penniless having spent their life savings on a perilous journey to get to the US. Many are broken mentally and physically but aren’t eligible for health coverage or other benefits. Many refugees struggle with a new language, the challenges of a new country, and the bureaucracy of its systems.
PTV restores the health and human dignity of survivors of human rights abuse, providing critical assistance to more than 400 refugees annually. As the pioneer in human rights abuse rehabilitation, we have developed an integrated and comprehensive approach that encompasses a full spectrum of needs. Committed to survivors’ well-being and care, we have partnered with some of the region’s leading health and legal service providers, including the Eisner Health Family Medicine Center, St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Public Counsel, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, among others.
The story of the Program for Torture Victims begins with two people: Dr. José Quiroga and Ana Deutsch.
These pioneers in the torture rehabilitation movement founded the first program in the United States dedicated to treating torture survivors years before torture was legally defined. As refugees themselves, they understood the difficulties of dealing with trauma while simultaneously having to rebuild a support system of friends, family and employment.
In Chile, Dr. Quiroga was a personal physician to democratically elected president Salvador Allende. He watched from inside the government palace as soldiers went from room to room randomly selecting civilians to execute during General Pinochet’s brutal military coup backed by the United States in 1973. Dr. Quiroga tended to those who were severely beaten and tortured, but thankfully his life was spared. Four years later, in 1977, he accepted a position at the UCLA School of Public Health and moved his family to the United States.
Meanwhile, Ms. Deutsch, a psychologist, had fled Argentina’s “Dirty War” in 1977 after those involved in opposition activities were threatened with arrest by the military dictatorship. The rest of her family arrived in the U.S. the following year, after they were released from prison. They had been targeted and persecuted and many other victims of the military junta were tortured.
Dr. Quiroga and Ms. Deutsch met in Los Angeles in 1979. They began working on an aggressive campaign against torture with the Los Angeles Amnesty International Medical Group. The organization was conducting a study documenting cases of torture and the consequences for refugees and asylum-seekers in the United States. Dr. Quiroga assessed the medical consequences of torture while Ms. Deutsch assessed the victims’ psychological well-being. However, Amnesty International decided that they, as an organization, were unable to provide direct treatment to torture survivors.
Dr. Quiroga and Ms. Deutsch knew that the torture survivors with whom they had been working needed rehabilitation services and decided to start an independent program. And so, in 1980, North America’s first torture rehabilitation program was launched.
After the study by the Amnesty International Medical Group was completed, Dr. Quiroga presented it to the American Psychological Association. This was among the first research on the medical and psychological consequences of torture. Dr Quiroga and Ms. Deutsch quickly became known as experts treating victims of torture. It wasn’t until 1987, years after PTV began, that the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was enforced and torture was legally recognized and defined for the first time.
From the beginning, PTV established a multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation of torture survivors that included medical, psychological, case management and legal services. Dr. Quiroga and Ms. Deutsch had begun to treat clients in local clinics and in their own homes. Partnering with organizations such as Clinica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero, El Rescate, CARECEN and Amanecer, PTV quickly became well known in the Central American refugee community. Dr. Quiroga, having already been a volunteer at Venice Family Clinic for years, formed a partnership in which he was able to use their facilities to see PTV patients.
In 1994, PTV received its first grant from the United Nations Voluntary Fund and was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Several years later, in 2000, PTV received a federal grant for $2 million over a four-year period, allowing PTV to add staff and relocate the administrative office from Ms. Deutsch’s home to Mercado La Paloma, near downtown Los Angeles. With paid staff and a central office, PTV was finally able to greatly expand its scope to include social service and peer support programs. Over the years, Dr. Quiroga and Ms. Deutsch have won numerous prestigious awards and have worked internationally in court cases, trainings and other avenues advocating against torture.
Both founders retired from PTV in 2014, after more than 34 years of service. They remain as important volunteers in our treatment team and also serve as advisers and trainers to PTV’s staff.
In 2015, PTV moved to a larger, more accessible office in Koreatown, just one block from the Metro. A new partnership with the USC Eisner Family Medical Center and the USC Keck Medical School allowed PTV to dramatically increase the capacity and scope of the PTV Human Rights Health Clinic. All survivors, regardless of medical insurance coverage, have access to a PTV primary care physician and specialty care.
Our Board and Councils
Andrew Atkin is PTV’s Treasurer and is an attorney at Rodriguez, Horii and Choi, LLP. Atkin engages in the general practice of law with emphasis on California State and local taxation and nonprofit corporations. Atkins, a graduate of the J.D. Emory University School of Law, is also Founder of the Andrew S. Atkin Charitable Foundation.
Arun Baheti is PTV’s board chair and is currently Vice President of Operations at the California Wellness Foundation. Arun’s career has focused on operations across multiple sectors, including technology, government, political campaigns, and non-profits. He serves on the board of Coro Southern California and graduated from Macalester College and UCLA School of Law.
Erica Deutsch is an attorney at Bush Gottlieb specializing in labor law. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Deutsch was an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board. She has an extensive background handling representation elections, unfair labor practice proceedings, collective bargaining negotiations, Section 10(j) proceedings, and arbitrations. She taught Labor Law from 2008-2013 at Loyola Law School as an Adjunct Professor. Ms. Deutsch is a member of the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association, and the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee. She is fluent in Spanish and was a contributing editor to The Developing Labor Law, published by the American Bar Association.
Greg Good is Chief of Legislative and External Affairs for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Prior to joining the Mayor’s office, Greg spent six years at LAANE, most recently serving as Director of the Don’t Waste LA project. The Don’t Waste LA project is a comprehensive campaign by over 30 environmental, labor, community and faith-based groups to ensure that the region’s commercial waste and recycling industry is a source of clean air, green jobs and recycling for all. Before that, Greg was LAANE’s Director of Campaign Communications, working on multiple projects including its Retail, Construction Careers and Food Services campaigns. Before joining LAANE, Greg was an elementary and high school teacher in the Inglewood and Compton Unified School Districts, teaching grades ranging from Kindergarten to 12th grade English. After that, he served two years as Teach for America’s California Recruitment Director and five years as its Los Angeles Executive Director. Greg received his undergraduate degree in history from Brown University and his J.D. from UCLA School of Law.
Jennifer Fisher is an intellectual property attorney, serving as a Senior Counselor for Boeing. She is also a board director for the Association of Corporate Counsel.
Niels Frenzen is a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Southern California Gould School Of Law where he teaches immigration law and directs the Law School’s Immigration Clinic. He is a member of the State Bars of California, Florida (inactive) and Iowa (inactive) and a member of the Law Society of England and Wales (practicing certificate not active). He has represented hundreds of asylum seekers and other immigrants and has litigated numerous lawsuits against the US government challenging the mistreatment of immigrants and asylum seekers. He has participated in human rights delegations on behalf of Amnesty International USA, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and other human rights organizations in Haiti, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, and the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba. He has been an attorney since 1985 and is from Washington, DC.
Marilyn Ho is the Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, a not-for-profit pediatric academic medical center ranked as one of the top ten children’s hospitals in the nation and the top pediatric medical center in California. Marilyn’s professional career has been dedicated to provider-based healthcare, spanning a variety of roles including strategy, operations, mergers & acquisitions, human resources and sales management. Marilyn earned a BS in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego and an MBA from the University of Southern California.
Joe comes to PTV after two-decades of service with the U.S. House of Representatives where he served several members of Congress, including former Representative Barney Frank and Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. Joe is currently a registered lobbyist where he helps advance social justice for various national NGO’s. He lives in Virginia with his husband Jay and their dog Zoey.
Gary Braitman is an EVP, Strategic Planning Manager at Wells Fargo Bank with a portfolio spanning strategic planning and initiatives, transformation and efficiency, and information design. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2003, Gary was a managing director for Scient in New York, and has worked in various capacities at The Advisory Board Company, IBM Global Services, American Express, SG Warburg, and HK Catalyst Strategy & Finance in both the U.S. and abroad. Gary earned his B.A. at Princeton, M.A. in Middle Eastern studies at Harvard, and M.B.A. at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Having lived and studied in the Middle East and traveling extensively in Latin America for many years, Gary enjoys various levels of proficiency in Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic. Active in the Los Angeles community, Gary currently volunteers with PTV and the International Rescue Committee teaching financial literacy and job skills, and has played various roles for the Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund and the Jewish Free Loan Association.
Adam Levine is PTV’s Secretary and has been practicing law at O’Melveny & Meyers LLP’s Los Angeles office since 1999. He specializes in complex commercial litigation, and has spent extensive amount of time representing political asylum applicants before the Immigration Court on a pro-bono basis. Levine volunteers with the Constitutional Rights Foundation to teach introductory constitutional law to 8th grade public schools. Levine is a 1992 graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and a 1998 graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law.
Julie Gutman Dickinson | Stella Maloyan | Hector Aristizabal | Peggy Farrell | Kim Luu-Ng | Paul Herzog
Consultants and Volunteers
Cecilia Gelpi, BA Psychology, MA Psychology, Meditation and Mindfulness Workshop Leader
Diane Lefer, Author and Playwright, Writing Workshop Leader
Pat Berger, Artist, Art Therapy Workshop Leader
TRE Los Angeles, Nkem Ndefo and Robin Schoenfeld, Tension Release Exercise Workshop Leaders
Gary Braitman, Financial and Employment Literacy Trainer
Michael Leck, Videographer
Rev. Catherine Wagar, Housing Advocate
Avijit Datta, Bengali/Bangla
Abdu Emano, Arabic and Tigrinya
Catherine Monkarsh, French
Dayir Saleh, Amharic
Geeta Brara, Punjabi & Hindi
Haneef Kitchel, Sinhala
Jay Brara, Punjabi & Hindi
Kumkum Mukherjee, Bengali/Bangla
Leah Vincent, Spanish
Lili Liew, Cantonese, Hokkien, Mandarin, Indonesian and Malay
Lina Safa, Arabic
Nouri Almashat, Farsi
Stephanie Oganesian, Russian and Armenian