Susan Yee, LCSW, Mental Health Specialist (she/her)

I’m a second generation Oakland native/OUSD grad, Chinese-American daughter, wife, mom and friend.  I am passionate about the integration of our physical and mental health, and believe in the power of our communities to help us heal.  I’ve been a teacher, manager, social worker and therapist in Oakland for almost 30 years and am grateful to all the students and colleagues I have learned from along the way.  I now coordinate the Laney mental health services, provide consultations, individual therapy, groups and workshops, and work closely with our student navigation team.  You can listen to me talk with Laney President Besikoff about mental health on the President’s Podcast!


Danielle Burroughs, Wellness Center Student Support Specialist (she/her)

“Let your light be your shield.” I truly believe we are all special with much to offer, no matter our circumstances. With this belief, I extended my knowledge on how to help people navigate through the challenges of life and became a certified NLP Success/Life Coach in 2018. My journey with helping people find their light began in 2010, where I specialized in helping young students and peers through mentorship and tutoring. I moved on to become a hair stylist and quickly found my passion through mentor-coaching new hair artists and students, instilling the belief that skillset must meet mindset for success. That is true for everyone, no matter what unique skills you possess. I grew up in the heart of New York City and have been submerged with so many people of different backgrounds, challenges, and successes. Go Yankees! I moved to the Bay Area in early 2022 and am in love! I am here to support you the best way I can. You got this! 



Alicia Mandac, Associate Clinical Social Worker (she, her)
I have 15+ years of experience providing academic counseling, mentorship, and coaching at colleges and universities. I am passionate about helping nurture personal growth by providing a compassionate space for people to feel seen and heard. As a therapist, I work in collaboration with the client to discover their own path towards healing and transformation. My approach is informed by mindfulness, acceptance, and trauma-informed therapy. I earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan and I am working towards a License in Clinical Social Work. 



Branden Valentine, MSW Graduate Intern, University of Massachusetts Global (he, him)

My name is Branden Valentine, I am from Oakland, California. As a barber I have been an informal therapist for the last 11 years, in 2021 I decided to take my passion for helping others a step further and start the journey of getting my MSW (master’s in social work). I am committed to helping all my clients reach their goals. When partnering with someone to improve their mental health I believe the client is the expert in knowing which direction is the best. My goal is to create a safe space for everyone to healMy approach is based on mindfulness, anti-racist, and anti-oppression theories. I love musicals, video games and cooking. Outside of being a therapist my life goal is to become a food writer or publish a food travel book.  



Cassandra Milspaugh, MFT Graduate Intern, University of San Francisco (she/her/ella)

I am a Laney College alum who believes in this college and the students here. I am a therapist in training finishing my master’s in counseling psychology. I have worked as a teacher, tutor and mentor for students and with folks in recovery from childhood adversity and trauma. I am also trained as a cultivating emotional balance teacher. I approach healing through a holistic lens and believe that healing and wellness happen on all levels physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and mental. In my life and therapy practice I value humility, curiosity, self-reflection, humor, presence and meeting each person where they are. I feel honored to be working with students at Laney this year. Hablo español. Soy terapeuta en formación, terminando mi maestría en psicología clínica. Es un honor poder trabajar con l@s estudiantes en Laney este año.


Linda Bui, MSW Graduate Intern, California State University, East Bay (she/her)

Hello, I am from Oakland, CA. I attended Peralta community colleges and obtained associate degrees in Humanities, Social Science, and Early Childhood Development. Presently I am working on my Masters in Social Work. I have been in the mental health field for over a decade and I continue to be a student in order to adjust and accommodate the needs of the communities I serve. Places that brings me peace is the sand and the beaches. My family gives me energy to continue to advocate for mental health awareness and social justice. Tôi hiểu tiếng Việt nhưng tôi không nói được nhiều.



Christy Sangpolsit – (she/they)

I’m a Mental Health Navigator, Wellness Ambassador, and student at Laney College. I am currently majoring in Theatre, Psychology, Sociology, and Humanities. Other degrees I hope to complete include Asian American Studies, Mathematics, Art, Music, and Ethics.  I am ambitious and driven to learn about a variety of subjects in order to gain more knowledge and perspective, in order to know, understand and better myself and being able to help others in the way they need, and being a part of necessary change needed in our communities. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 10 and it has been a journey with a lot of coping and struggle as well as exploring and acceptance. During my time in college, I found that success and happiness, in any form, is dependent on mental health and it doesn’t have to be as exaggerated, outlandish, or painstaking as the media, or even people around you, makes it seem. As someone who has navigated and still is navigating through the system, I will help support you and help you get the resources you need, to the best of my ability.

Kyla Kelley (she, her)


Randi Cross (she, her)


Eliseo Lopez – (he/him)

I am a second year student in the Peralta system studying to have a career in mental health, born and raised in Berkeley. A few words to describe myself is patient, understanding and passionate. I identify as Chicano, and a second generation bay area native.  As a Mental Health Navigator and Wellness Ambassador, I want to help the people that come to me get the resources that they need for their specific situation. One of my biggest beliefs in this field is that your mental health is affected by everything, including your lifestyle. So, I’m here to make sure that you have the resources outside of school to help that go as smoothly as possible. I speak conversational Spanish and am looking forward to working with the Laney community.


Edgar Valladares (he, him)

Three words to describe myself are respectful, compassionate, and dependable. I am in my second year in the Masters in Social Work program at Cal State East Bay, Hayward. I am from Oakland, CA, and plan to work in the mental health field and give support to different populations such as college students, war veterans, chronic pain patients, adults with intellectual disabilities, and many more. I want to work with clients to learn new coping strategies for life stressors and mental health issues.  I hope to specialize in different topics such as trauma, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance use. Lastly, I speak fluent Spanish. I look forward to working with the students at Laney College.

Lauren Nieraeth (she/her)

I am a multiracial daughter, sister, cousin, and friend that identifies as Mexican, Native American, Dutch- Indonesian, German, and Portuguese; born and raised in the Long Beach area. A few words that best describe me, are: Empathetic, Athletic, and Preparer. I have had the privilege of working with student athletes and marginalized young folks. I am passionate about cultivating genuine, trusting relationships that will allow space of encouragement for folks to dream outside of the lines set by their current situation and reach for way more than the limiting expectations of their reality. I am currently at San Francisco State University as a College and Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Training.  I am eager to gain the knowledge through my experiences on the intersectionality of physical performance and mental performance.  Let’s go Eagles!

Sam Ho (they, 他, él)

I’m a therapist in training currently attending the counseling program at SFSU, entering this field at the intersection of mental health advocacy and healing justice for marginalized folks. I believe that individual wellness is tied to the healing of our communities, and vice versa. I am passionate about uncovering the innate and wise connection between our minds and our bodies.  I identify as Taiwanese American from Peru and speak Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Some values I bring to the therapy room include warmth, humor, curiosity, and meeting each person right where they are. I love curating playlists and memes and cooking for my friends and family. I’m excited to get to know the amazing community of students at Laney!

Danielle Martinez (she/her) 

My name is Daniela Martinez, I am a second-year, Master of Social Work student at Cal State East Bay – Hayward, a daughter of immigrant parents, and second-generation Bay Area native.  I began my journey in providing advocacy and support in mental health services while pursuing undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation at San Jose State and have not slowed down. My biggest belief is that wellness happens on all levels, physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual, in whatever way feels right for the individual. I speak Spanish and am super excited to grow in education and community at Laney College! 

Indra C. Thadani, Health Services Coordinator, RN, MSN (she/her)

I have been a nurse for 42 years and have worked at Laney for 21 years! I love working with students and assisting them towards college and life success! I am a first generation college graduate; I obtained my AS from Napa Valley College, then went on to SFSU and then to UCSF! In my spare time, I hike, play with my pups, spend time with my son, dance, and teach dance! I am half Japanese and half East Indian, my son is African American. I look forward to meeting you!

Luc Nguyen, Health Intern (he/him)

I am a first-generation Vietnamese American college graduate from UCI. Originally from Stockton, CA, I moved to the bay area after undergrad. I love working with children and my goal is to become a pediatric nurse where I would help children recover from their illnesses and injuries so they can live happy healthy lives. I am currently a behavior technician where I teach life skills to children with autism and reduce behaviors that are harmful. Some of my favorite hobbies are playing video games, reading manga, discovering new music, watching sports, and dog watching. My dream is to own a dog and I cannot wait until that day comes!


History of Peralta Student Health Services

Circa 1980s – a nurse position was created at College of Alameda and Laney
1980s to 1989- there were masters prepared nurses at Laney, Merritt, and College of Alameda


  • Three masters prepared nurses/health services coordinators: one at College of Alameda, Merritt and Laney (these nurses provided public health services, got TB supplies from a Doctor at Alameda County Health Services TB program, and did flu shots through Visiting Nurses Association).


  • The nurses at Laney (Indra Thadani) and Merritt(Karen Bougae) advocated having a health fee passed with their College administration, (since most colleges in the California Community College system had a health fee and offered more health services, including mental health counseling), but was unsuccessful.


  • Nurses at Laney worked with Trustees: Linda Handy, Abel Guillen, and Nicky Gonzalez-Yuen to get the health fee passed. Trustees Handy and Gonzalez-Yuen visited student health services off-site at local high schools and SF City College Health Center.
  • Alameda County Health Services Deputy: Alex Briscoe also assisted in the process of bringing more student health services to Peralta. Trustees Handy and Gonzalez-Yuen sat on board subcommittees for planning student health services along with the nurses and other interested participants.

April 2010

  • BOT Resolution passed to start student health fee in the fall of 2010.

October 2010

  • PCCD contracted with Asian health services through Alameda County to have a nurse practitioner two days a week and a patient navigator five days a week at Laney: Peralta Wellness Center for all colleges. Also, a part-time mental health counselor at Merritt and COA funded by the general funds were created. The FT nurse at Laney and COA continued, and Merritt nurse retired.


  • PCCD brought on a mental health counselor from Asian health services and contracted with Lifelong Medical Services to provide three days of mental health counseling at Berkeley City College.
  • The district created two new positions for the nurses at Peralta, one became the Director of Health Services, filled by Dr. Patricia Dudley to handle most district contracts, and the other was the Director of the Peralta Wellness Center at Laney, filled by Indra Thadani RN, MS.
  • A new job description for COA (and PCCD) was created to allow mental health counselors to be Health Coordinators, since the district had a job description for minimal qualifications of a master’s prepared RN to be the district director PCCD met Title V requirements to have a masters prepared nurse to lead and develop student health services.


  • In the fall, the district Health Services Director went back to the college of Alameda and the position was vacant for 8 months.


  • The Health Services Director position was filled by the Peralta wellness Center Director/Laney nurse (.75 district, .25 Laney) Indra Thadani.
  • The full-time nurse at Merritt was hired, Dr. Jon Murphy who had changed assignment from the Medical Assistant program to Student Health Services.
  • A new community partner, Healthy Communities, Inc brings a nurse practitioner and medical assistant to Berkeley City College, and a health insurance enrollment person to Laney.


  • Spring 2015 full-time health services coordinator/mental health counselor was hired at College of Alameda, Evan Schloss.
  • LANEY nurse becomes full-time Health Services Director at the district, 30 hours/week while serving students at Laney as the nurse and coordinator.
  • In June, a first-time District Health Services clerk II was hired who also served students at Laney as the front desk receptionist.
  • In June, the contract with Asian health services ends, an RFP was created to offer health services at each college, and Healthy Communities, Inc gets the larger contract to provide nurse practitioners and medical assistants at Laney and BCC, two days a week, and a Patient Navigator(Medi-Cal enrollment specialist).


  • A Peralta, 20-hour nurse masters prepared nurse hired at College of Alameda.


  • A new community partner, Roots is brought on board to provide nurse practitioner services at COA.
  • In September, the contract with Healthy Communities, INC ends abruptly due to several factors, the most salient being the loss of their clinic license.
  • In September, the Roots nurse practitioner who would have been working at COA transferred to Laney (where the need is greater) and created a new public health nurse position at Berkeley city college filled by Roots. Roots also provided a Patient Navigator 1.5 days at Laney.


  • District VC of Academic Affairs hires a former director of health services, and an M D consultant costing $21,000 to evaluate student health services, report available. Most salient finding: student health services are highly regarded by students despite the district being dysfunctional.
  • On July 1, District Director (30 hours per week) returns to Laney College full time.
  • August, Interim Director hired at 20 hours/week.
  • Nurse Practitioner from Roots expanded at Laney to four days
  • Roots provide NP at COA and BCC, 2 days per week
  • In November, the district Health Services Director was hired from faculty at Merritt, Dr. Mia Kelly and the district clerical relocate to the district offices.
  • Roots provide a health navigator to enroll students into Medi-Cal and Cal Fresh, 1 day at each college.
  • The Health Service Coordinator at COA leaves.
  • Laney hired a full-time mental Health Specialist, Lisa Sawadogo.

2019 -2022

  • The Director of Health Services, Dr. Mia Kelly left the position in the fall of 2022.
  • The full-time Health Services Coordinator at Merritt left and a new coordinator was hired, Stefani Devito.
  • All PCCD personnel provided online support to students.
  • COA replaced the health Service Coordinator with a new Mental Health Specialist, Lisa Sawadogo.
  • In the fall of 2021, Susan Yee, MFT hired as Laney’s new Mental Health Specialist.
  • Roots continued to support PCCD students at their clinic site at 7272 Mac Arthur, Oakland, and then returned part-time to campuses in the late spring of 2022.
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