Institute on Violence, Abuse & Trauma

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Meet Our Team

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President & Founder

Robert Geffner, Ph.D., ABN, ABPP

Robert Geffner is a licensed clinician (Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist in California and a Licensed Psychologist in Texas) and directed a full-service private practice mental health clinic in East Texas for over 15 years prior to relocating to California 15 years ago.

Dr. Geffner has trained mental health professionals, judges, attorneys, and others for over 28 years.

He is President and Founder of a nonprofit international resource and training center (the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute in Texas and now in California), the Founding President of the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant International University, a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at Alliant International University in San Diego, and editor of five professional journals (including the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Journal of Family Violence, and the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma; he is also in the process of becoming the editor of the Journal of Child Custody). He has a Diplomate in Clinical Neuropsychology from the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology, and is Board Certified in Couple and Family Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology.

He has lectured extensively on the subjects of child abuse, domestic violence, trauma, forensic psychology, child custody, expert witness, and diagnostic assessment. Dr. Geffner is a past president of the American Psychological Association Division of Trauma Psychology, and he is currently co-chair of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV) and president of the American Academy of Couple & Family Psychology. He has served on numerous state, national, and professional committees and task forces concerning family violence, child abuse, interpersonal violence, family law, child custody, and family psychology.  

Contact Dr. Robert Geffner at

Chief Executive Officer (cEO)

Sandi Capuano Morrison, M.A.

Sandi Capuano Morrison has worked with victims and offenders of interpersonal violence for 24 years in Colorado, Massachusetts and California. She has been with IVAT since 2008. Sandi received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder in Psychology with a focus in Women’s Studies in 1996. Her commitment to domestic violence survivors began after volunteering at a battered women’s shelter as part of a course on Gandhi’s philosophy of ahimsa, nonviolent resistance, and satyagrapha.

Sandi was a victim advocate at Boulder County Safehouse and then Children’s Counselor at Alternatives to Violence domestic violence shelter before moving to Boston in 1998 and graduating from Boston College with her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology in 2000. It was at BC that Sandi became certified as a Batterer Intervention Program Facilitator and assisted with research on the process and efficacy of offender programs. She became the Program Director of the IMPACT Batterer Intervention Program and ran offender groups for 5 years in Boston suburbs.

After moving to San Diego in 2005, Sandi managed the county-wide domestic violence and sexual assault 24-hour hotline and volunteer program and then the city of San Diego’s Rape Crisis Center at the Center for Community Solutions. In that position she was a member of both the San Diego Sexual Assault Response Team and the Sex Offender Management Council and became certified by California’s Office of Emergency Services as a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault counselor. She was also a Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) volunteer.

Sandi serves on the Executive Committee of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV) and is also a board member of Stop the Silence, Stop Child Sexual Abuse Inc. 

Sandi is committed to empowerment-based, survivor-informed programs & processes as well as offender accountability. She has interests in Restorative Justice, Holistic Healing, Cultural Competency, Human Rights and Social Justice.

Contact Sandi Capuano Morrison at


Executive Administrative Assistant & Bookkeeper

Tiffany Robbins

Contact Tiffany Robbins at


Meeting & Events Manager

Mark Yunker

Contact Mark Yunker at
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Continuing Education & Bookstore Coordinator

Patricia Smith

Originally from the West Coast, Patricia is glad to be back.  Over sixteen years ago, she joined in the service provider role almost by accident, but realized it was meant to be.  Since coming into this field, she has never looked at a day and thought “why am I here?”  As a survivor of 18 years of domestic violence, she can’t imagine not doing this work.    

Patricia has over 16 years of experience in direct and indirect service in programs regarding violence against women.  She has been a direct service provider, as well as in a supervisory capacity in residential programs, to include emergency shelter and transitional living facilities.  She has extensive experience in handling crisis and has forever been a problem solver, both personally and professionally. 

She has worked serving adult & children’s needs, sexual violence victims, and served in an outreach capacity.  She has been a presenter for a number of years, to diverse audiences on a variety of topics regarding violence against women on a state, as well as national level.  She has presented to professionals such as law enforcement, medical providers, attorneys, and social workers.  
Patricia has worked with incarcerated women and teens, both male and female.  She has started programs from the ground up, such as the Adopt-A-Family for the Holidays program which is in its 14th successful year;  assisted in the first in the Big Bend of Florida area Spanish speaking support group, and International Thanksgiving just to name a few. 

She has served as the Battered /Formerly Battered Women’s Caucus Chair – Florida, and the Women of Color Caucus Chair as an agency Chair in Tallahassee, Florida.
This work is important to me so that my children and grandchildren will have a better chance in having a life without violence.

Contact Patricia Smith at

Registration & Summits Assistant

Erycha Butler

Contact Erycha Butler at

Summits Assistant

Cao Buck

Cao was born and raised in Iowa. She graduated from The University of Iowa in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology (Criminology). She then moved to San Diego in July of 2015. Cao has a strong interest in law enforcement and hopes to one day become a detective within the sex crimes division. She loves to help people in need which is why she took on the Summits Assistant job here at IVAT. She has years of experience working with non-profits and healthcare. She has also worked as a supervisor in a sub-acute psychiatric facility in Chula Vista. When Cao is not at work she likes to go out and have fun with her friends and fiancée. She also loves listening to music, especially her favorite artist Rihanna!

Contact Cacao Buck at

Summits Assistant

Alisha Cunzio

I’m a recent graduate from UCSD and received my BAs in Psychology and Literature/Writing. I hope to one day help field research in adolescent and adult treatments and therapies for autistic individuals, and emphasize working with the autistic community as an important aspect of being a researcher and clinician. In my spare time I enjoy crafting, video games, needlepoint, and bees. When I retire from my future life as a clinical/research advocate I would like to turn to beekeeping to help sustain one of the most important creatures on our planet while also being surrounded by many beautiful flowers.

Contact Alisha Cunzio at

Marketing & Sponsorship Consultant

Sarina Moretti

Contact Sarina Moretti at

Outreach & Collaboration Consultant

Alicia Brav, MAS

I received my degree in Justice Studies (BS) from Arizona State University (2012), with a special focus on sexual victimization and complex trauma from a social ecological perspective. I have been affiliated with IVAT as a volunteer, research assistant, and consultant since 2013. I completed my masters in Criminology, Law & Society at University of California, Irvine (2014). My professional focus is on translational research to improve the efficiency of interventions at the systems-level, and to design trauma-responsive models that are culturally-sensitive and gender-specific. My strong belief is that if we are going to effectively address interpersonal violence, we must proactively collaborate across disciplines and across systems locally, nationally, and internationally.  "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."-- Maya Angelou

Contact Alicia Brav at

Clinical and Forensic Staff


Clinical Director

Morgan Shaw, Psy.D.

Dr. Shaw is a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist. She currently oversees the Professional Clinical and Forensic Services department at IVAT as the Clinical Director where she manages the training program and provides clinical supervision to the pre-doctoral interns and post-doctoral fellows on staff. Dr. Shaw also provides trauma-informed therapeutic services to a variety of child, adolescent, and adult clients. She specializes in working with individuals who have a history of child abuse. She also assists in serving clients who are involved in criminal, family, and civil cases involving a broad range of forensic issues. She conducts evaluations within the criminal, civil, and family courts and is also on the county approved provider list for juvenile probation evaluations. Dr. Shaw provides trainings both locally and nationally on a wide variety of topics including the effects of trauma on children. She has further experience in forensic interviewing, biofeedback training, applied behavior analysis, and crisis intervention.  Dr. Shaw also serves as an Assistant Editor for five professional journals, including the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse; Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma; Journal of Child Custody; Journal of Family Violence; and Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma.  

Contact Morgan Shaw at

Training Director

Gimel Rogers, Psy.D, License #PSY29407

Dr. Rogers is a licensed psychologist and the Training Director of the Professional Clinical and Forensic Services department at the Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma (IVAT). She earned her doctorate from Pepperdine University and has provided trauma focused care with clients from the Children of the Night Program, the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, FCI Terminal Island, and community programs serving survivors of intimate partner violence. She utilizes an array of therapeutic interventions with an emphasis on cognitive behavioral therapy. Dr. Rogers presently works with survivors who are recovering from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Additionally, she assists clients who are involved in criminal, family, and civil cases involving a broad range of forensic issues. Having published in the areas of culture, coping, spirituality, and trauma, she is an adjunct professor at Pacific Oaks College, Pepperdine University, and Point Loma Nazarene University. Dr. Rogers dedicates time and energy to individuals across the world through her organization Fearless Individuals Resistant to Entrapment (F.I.R.E.) and its brand One Temple Fitness.


Pre-doctoral Interns & International Interns


Aileen Herlinda Sandoval, M.A.

Has experience working within a psychiatric hospital serving patients with various diagnoses and symptoms including acute psychosis, dementia, developmental delays, drug detoxification, depression, and anxiety. These services were provided in individual and group settings, as well as for a forensic unit. Prior to this experience, Ms. Sandoval spent 2 years of practicum training in pediatric assessment. Her work included assessment of the neurocognitive latency effects of chemotherapy.  Ms. Sandoval has training in both intellectual and neuropsychological assessment, as well as training in psychotherapy, utilizing various modalities. She has also worked on projects with Break The Cycle and contributes to an organization called Redes de Amor, in Irapuato, Mexico.  This organization provides psychoeducation, basic employment training, referrals to safe houses and orphanages, as well as food and clothing. Most recently, she received training from a Board Certified Neuropsychologist and Diplomate from the American Board of Professional Psychology.  Throughout this training she experienced referrals from most major medical specialties as well as very unique and challenging cases (e.g. active civil litigants, Primary Progressive Aphasia, environmental toxins, and liver/kidney transplant candidates), and is in the process of learning the clinical presentation of multiple complex neurocognitive disorders. Ms. Sandoval has served diverse populations throughout her training and experience, making her aware of pertinent clinical issues and sensitive to the effects of culture and effort upon both cognitive data and psychotherapy. She is currently completing her pre-doctoral internship with IVAT in order to obtain her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.


Diana Avalle

Graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Women/Gender/Sexuality Studies in 2011. She is currently completing her pre-doctoral internship at the Institute on Violence Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) to obtain a Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. While working in a confidential emergency domestic violence shelter, Diana gained experience working with survivors of domestic violence who were also experiencing struggles with substance abuse. She also has Case Management experience working with formerly homeless women on Skid Row in Los Angeles in a permanent supportive housing facility.


Nani Jenson, M.A.

Is a 4th year graduate student at Alliant International University/ California School of Professional Psychology, working on her PsyD in Clinical Psychology. Before that, Nani received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of California, San Diego and her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University. She is currently a psychology trainee at the Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma. Her graduate clinical training focuses on working with adult and adolescent populations who are persistently mentally ill in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute Board Members

President - Robert Geffner, PhD, ABN, ABPP

Treasurer - Krystel Edmonds-Biglow, Psy.D

Secretary - Teri Schroeder, LCSW