Past Event – October 17th, 2013

You are invited to a symposium on

Domestic Violence, Gender, and Culture: Shining a Light


  • The Sexuality, Women & Gender Project (SWG) – Counseling & Clinical Psychology Program, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • The Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, Teachers College, Columbia University

When:  Thursday, October 17th, 2013, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Where: Millbank Chapel Auditorium
             125 Zankel Building, Teachers College, Columbia University
             525 West 120th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)
             New York, NY 10027


Media Presentation, Panel Discussion, Wine Reception


  • Yi-Hui Chang, ATR-BC – Dean Hope Center of Educational and Psychological Services at Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Jennifer DeCarli, Esq., LMSW – Executive Director Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (
  • Sethu Nair – Manager of Communications & Outreach at Sakhi for South Asian Women (
  • Stephanie Spanos, M.D. – Attending Psychiatrist, Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Girls’ Unit; Agapi Circles; Elpides
  • Sujata Warrier, Ph.D. – Director, NYC Program, NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
  • Moderators:

    • Aurelie Athan, Ph.D. – MA Program Coordinator, Department of Clinical Psychology; Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project, Teachers College, Columbia University; AGAPW, Board of Directors
    • Katerina (Katia) Stefanatou, B.S. – UNICEF; AGAPW, Focus on Youth Committee

    This is a complimentary event, but RSVP is required as space is limited. Please RSVP here (you will be redirected to the Eventbrite secure connection).

    To download the flyer of the event, please click here.
    To listen to Dr. Aurelie Athan interviewed by Anna Eliopoulos about the event, please click here (broadcast by Hellenic Public Radio – Cosmos FM 91.5 on October 8th, 2013).
    To watch the video of the symposium, please click here (added on December 16th, 2013).

    Histories and Missions of Co-Sponsors and Participating Organizations:

    Sexuality Women & Gender Project (SWG) was created in 2012 to envision and implement the next wave of theories and practices to improve well-being in persons at the intersection of the above identities and social locations. This forum is located at Teachers College, Columbia University, a world-renowned training ground for the next generation of educators, researchers, practitioners, administrators, and activists. SWG’s mission is to play a vital role in the creation of research initiatives, innovative curriculum, and institutional programming on campus and with partners beyond. SWG’s organizes didactic lectures, events, and colloquia open to students and the New York City community. SWG is concurrently developing masters- and doctoral-level certification programs, actively collaborating with TC departments to integrate sexuality and gender lenses into course offerings, and networking with outside organizations to establish fieldwork and internship placements. SWG’s long term vision is to elaborate a comprehensive research agenda that will generate and disseminate theory as well as attract cutting-edge scholars (

    The Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs was created in January 2001, in response to recommendations of the President’s 1999 Taskforce Report. The Office for Diversity and Community leads the President’s and College’s initiatives concerning community, diversity, civility, equity, and anti-discrimination. The Office, working with others in the College, addresses issues from faculty, staff, students, and alumni. These concerns may overlap with equity, discrimination, due process, retaliation. The philosophy is to encourage the College community to listen, learn, educate, and work together in positive ways. At the same time, the Office focuses on systemic issues by addressing policy and procedural concerns. In September 2008 President Susan Fuhrman recognizing and supporting the work as central to TC’s mission elevated the office to a Vice Presidential Appointment. Diversity, community and civility are integral to our institution and touch every corner of our community. They are also the office of the Title IX coordinator. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex and gender discrimination, including sexual harassment and gender-based misconduct, in educational programs and institutions. The Teachers College, Columbia University Title IX Coordinator is Janice Robinson, Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, 128 Zankel – phone: 212-678-3391, email: The Office of Diversity and Community Affairs is proud to serve the students, faculty, professional and union staff and alumni that together make up the TC community (

    Sakhi for South Asian Women exists to end violence against women. We unite survivors, communities, and institutions to eradicate domestic violence as we work together to create strong and healthy communities. Sakhi uses an integrated approach that combines support and empowerment through service delivery, community engagement, advocacy, and policy initiatives. Founded in 1989 by a group of five South Asian women from diverse professional fields such as banking, film, law, and public health, Sakhi, meaning “woman friend,” was created to fill a critical need — in spite of an abundance of religious and cultural centers, professional associations, and ethnic-specific groups within New York’s large South Asian immigrant population, there was no place for women to address the silenced subject of domestic violence. Through Sakhi’s efforts to serve survivors and mobilize community members to condemn abuse, Sakhi has changed the conversation on domestic violence in our community. Margaret Abraham, author of Speaking the Unspeakable: Marital Violence Among South Asian Immigrants in the United States, has noted, “What Sakhi did was bring together issues around ethnicity and gender, which were previously not discussed in our communities. They shifted domestic violence from a private family problem to a public social issue.” Sakhi structured its programming to follow a two-pronged approach in addressing domestic violence within the South Asian community: we create a safe place with a full range of culturally-sensitive, language-specific information, support, services, and advocacy for South Asian women facing abuse in their lives; and, we work to inform, actively engage, and mobilize the South Asian community in the movement to end violence against women forever. Sakhi serves South Asian women who trace their backgrounds to countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the South Asian Diaspora (including the West Indies and Africa). These women come from diverse backgrounds including age range, religion, ethnic origin, economic and educational background, language spoken, and immigration status. After 22 years of working with and being an integral part of our community, we at Sakhi know that in order for families to be healthy and happy, violence and oppression must be eliminated at the heart and root of our communities. We know that community members themselves must be aware of, and participate in, the dialogue in order for true and sustainable change to occur. Our vision of a society without domestic violence lies within the community’s ability to take ownership in the fight to end violence against women (


    Aurelie Athan, Ph.D., is a Full-Time Lecturer and Program Coordinator of the Masters Program in the Department of Clinical Psychology where she also co-founded the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project as a vehicle to disseminate and innovate our understanding of these subjects. Her scholarly interests center on female development across the lifespan, with a current emphasis on the transition to motherhood. She teaches courses on Women and Mental Health and is committed to understanding the influence of gender, gender inequity, and gender-based violence on the psychology and social lives of girls, women, and mothers. Dr. Athan has presented in numerous conferences, published in journals such as the Journal for the Association of Research on Mothering, and sits on the advisory board of the Museum of Motherhood and AGAPW. Her clinical orientation is informed by feminist as well as depth perspectives and has worked predominantly with women and girls with abuse histories. As an administrator in higher education, she applies a strength-based and transformational learning framework to foster the positive development of students through innovative curriculum design and academic guidance.

    Yi-Hui Chang, ATR-BC, prior to joining Dean Hope Center of Educational and Psychological Services at Teachers College, Columbia University, Yi-Hui worked for the New York Asian Women’s Center (NYAWC) (, the largest domestic violence organization serving pan-Asian domestic violence and human trafficking survivors as the Assistant Director. Yi-Hui was responsible for the management and oversight of clinical services, which include counseling, case management and advocacy/accompaniment services. Her clinical services team also provides legal assistance for adult survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. Yi-Hui oversaw NYAWC’s new initiatives and special projects, including those designed to train other professionals to provide linguistically and culturally specific services to Asian domestic violence victims. Yi-Hui started her professional career as a mental health counselor intern at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and served as the community based caseworker at the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston before relocating to the New York City. Yi-Hui continuously provides mentoring to young professionals who served DV survivors and conducts workshops to promote awareness of vicarious trauma and growth resulted from serving populations suffered gender based violence.

    Jennifer DeCarli, Esq., LMSW, is employed by the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence ( where she is the Executive Director of the New York City Family Justice Center in Brooklyn, NY. Prior to joining the Family Justice Center staff, Jennifer was the Director of the Safe Horizon Brooklyn Family Court Program. Prior to directing the Brooklyn program, Jennifer was the Director of the Staten Island Family and Criminal Court Program for Safe Horizon. Jennifer’s prior legal experience includes the University at Buffalo Law School’s Family Violence Clinic where she focused on assisting communities in developing a coordinated community response to domestic violence. She also worked for Southern Tier Legal Services, representing victims of domestic violence in Family Court. Subsequent to this, Miss DeCarli was the Domestic Violence Legal Coordinator for the Greater Upstate Law Project in Rochester, New York, where she provided technical assistance to legal service providers and domestic violence advocates across New York State. Jennifer obtained her J.D. from the University at Buffalo Law School in May 1998 and a Master’s in Social Work from New York University in May 2003. In May 2001, she was the recipient of the NYS Women’s Bar Association Doris Hoffman Outstanding New Lawyer award. In July 2005, she was selected by Sanctuary for Families, Court Room Advocacy Project, for their yearly domestic violence advocacy award which honors an advocate for her empowerment of domestic violence victims and leadership in the fight to end domestic violence in the community.

    Sethu Nair serves as the Manager of Communications & Outreach at Sakhi for South Asian Women, an anti-domestic violence organization that works with the South Asian community in the New York metropolitan area ( Sakhi, meaning “woman friend,” was created to fill a critical need — in spite of an abundance of religious and cultural centers, professional associations, and ethnic-specific groups within New York’s large South Asian immigrant population, there was no place for women to address the silenced subject of domestic violence. At Sakhi, Sethu Nair mobilizes grassroots community member to take action to respond to violence against women in their lives. She uses creative community engagement tools to challenge the silence surrounding violence and abuse. She also manages Sakhi’s online marketing and press and external relations. Prior to her work at Sakhi, Sethu has served in various social justice organizations in New York City, including the Coalition for the Homeless and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict. Sethu also serves as the founding board member of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus- a community based organization dedicated to social justice through faith-based initiatives. A graduate of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, Sethu is currently training to become a certified conflict mediator.

    Stephanie Basilia Spanos, M.D., is an American descendant of Greek immigrants from Asia Minor, Thessaly and the islands of Andros, Kythera, Icaria and Crete. She studied medicine at the University of Athens, Greece, and did her residency in Child and Adult Psychiatry at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. As a psychiatry resident and child fellow, Dr. Spanos began 18 years ago, working with activists Dr. Maria and Ms. Katina Zachmanoglu Ellison and their organization GAMI, a Greek American branch of NAMI, now renamed The Agapi Circle of the Greek Cathedral. Together with Elpides, another Greek American organization devoted to the problems of domestic violence in the Greek community, and their joint committee of volunteers, they tended to the mental health problems of the Greek American community in NYC by guiding individuals to the appropriate resources and services. As a result of her work with Dr. Zachmanoglu, Dr. Spanos was given a NAMI award for her service. She has been interviewed by Ms. Tina Santorineou on Greek Television. Stephanie also has worked for the last 18 years, in a variety of capacities helping children, teens and adults, in crisis intervention, outpatient treatment and in the child welfare system. She helps families and children with a variety of mental health, behavioral and family issues. She is currently a consulting psychiatrist to the NYC Department of Education, and works with troubled teens in residential facilities as well as working in private practice. She has also delved into the very complex issues of teen aged girls growing up in the inner city and has been very interested in the problems of women and sexual abuse, and where it all starts: in the home, community and popular culture.

    Katerina (Katia) Stefanatou holds a B.S. in Economics with a concentration on Socio-Economic Development from Sorbonne University in Paris, France and a Certificate in Global Affairs from NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Ms. Stefanatou currently holds the position of UNICEF Global Citizenship fellow at the U.S Fund for UNICEF where she focuses on raising awareness about UNICEF’s work and building global citizenship and youth leadership. Prior to that, she served with the Volunteer and Community Partnerships at the US Fund for UNICEF and was instrumental in launching and developing the UNICEF High School Club program through the creation of innovative initiatives and resources. From supporting and engaging students by providing them with unique opportunities to inspiring change and mobilization in America’s high schools and communities, during that time, Ms. Stefanatou sought to energize and empower youth which would grow into lifelong UNICEF supporters. While pursuing her studies in Paris, Ms. Stefanatou was the co-founder of ETU.HELL.A (Etudiants Hellénes Association) a student run association aiming to foster a platform of support among students of Greek decent studying in Paris by hosting inter-cultural events, providing volunteer opportunities and overall administrative support to new students. During her studies Ms. Stefanatou spent two summers interning for the Department of Urban and Regional Development of Panteion University, Athens under the auspices of Professor Constantine Athanassopoulos where she conducted a social research study on Decentralization, Local self-Government and Economic Regional Growth in Greece. Ms. Stefanatou is the sole recipient of the Honorary President’s Call to Service Award in 2011 and was one of the 97 volunteers nationwide to receive the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2010, the President’s honor offered in recognition of volunteer service. She is also the recipient of the Olympic Certificate of Appreciation by the Olympic International Committee for her role of Accommodations Coordinator where she managed the accommodation of over 500 International Olympic Referees during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

    Sujata Warrier, Ph.D., is the Director of the NY State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence ( where she trains and provides technical assistance to professionals in various systems such as health care, law enforcement, criminal and civil justice and human and social services on the issue of domestic violence. Additionally, she provides assistance on legislative and policy issues on battered immigrant women for the state. She has also trained extensively on the issue of cultural competency for various professionals and has delivered numerous keynotes on the issue of culture, competency, relativism, domestic violence and violence against women. She received her Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She has written and published numerous articles on violence against women in the international context. Dr. Warrier continues to work in Manavi, a pioneering South Asian women’s organization in New Jersey. She also serves on other Boards and groups: the Rape Crisis Center of Columbia University, the Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence and the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women. She is also a faculty on the 10 state National Health Initiative of the Family Violence Prevention Fund as well as faculty at the National Judicial Institute. She recently authored “From Sensitivity to Competency: Clinical and Departmental Guidelines for Achieving Cultural Competency” for the Family Violence Prevention Fund; “Achieving Effective Public Education in a Diverse Society: A Solutions Oriented Approach.” For the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and “Outreach to Underserved Communities: A National Curriculum for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and Cultural Considerations in Domestic Violence Cases: A National Judges Training Curriculum. In addition, Dr. Warrier has provided training on the issue of culture and cultural competency to health care providers, domestic violence advocates, prosecutors and judges throughout the nation. She has also provided keynotes, workshops and lectures on the same issues in many venues throughout the country.

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