The mission of OLAS is to foster self-acceptance, emotional well-being, and community support among LGBT Latin American immigrants, with a special focus on asylum seekers. Most of our participants have experienced extreme forms of violence, discrimination, and rejection by social institutions and sometimes family. Our program is focused on personal and collective healing in order to support our participants to thrive as individuals as well as in the communities in which they reside.
OLAS was founded in September, 2014 when we launched our first pilot weekend retreat. Since that time, we have offered numerous weekend retreats, one-day workshops, holiday celebrations, and we have marched in San Francisco Pride parades!
In addition, OLAS members have taken the initiative to organize their own gatherings outside of the facilitated events our program offers them.
OLAS Staff We have a wonderful, diverse, and dedicated staff that work hard to make the mission of OLAS happen!
Diana Shapiro, MFT (MFC41975) Program Founder/Director
Diana is a licensed psychotherapist with several years of experience working with immigrants from Latin America. She began this work as an independent contractor with the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, providing psychological evaluations to individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. due to persecution in their countries of origin. She continues to work with EBSC, as well as private attorneys, to evaluate immigrants for legal asylum.
Diana founded OLAS as a response both to the extent of the abuse and mistreatment of sexual minorities in many parts of Latin America and also to their openness to, and eagerness for, mental health treatment.
Diana speaks English and Spanish.
Cristina Ceballos, Outreach Director
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Cristina’s passion for immigrant rights came from bearing witness to the obstacles her own family faced. Cristina joined OLAS in 2020. She has worked as LGBT Asylum Coordinator at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant since 2017.
Pedro Felix, LCSW Facilitator Pedro is a licensed therapist and social worker with more than 15 years of experience working in the mental health sector, primarily in agencies focused on the homeless, people with severe mental illness and/or alcohol or drug addiction, as well as HIV prevention. Pedro is passionate about offering social services to communities most in need. An immigrant from Mexico himself, Pedro has participated in the OLAS program since 2015. Pedro lives with his partner of 12 years and his dog. Pedro speaks English and Spanish.
Joaquin Basulto, Facilitator Joaquin is a permanent U.S. resident who started as a participant in OLAS in 2014. After attending several events, Joaquin was asked to join the OLAS staff as an event co-facilitator. Joaquin works in construction and lives with his partner of 12 years and his beloved dog. Joaquin speaks English and Spanish.
Francisca Lizana, MFT Facilitator
Francisca is a bilingual Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT 103989) specializing in Expressive Arts therapy. Originally from Chile, she trained in the UK and US with the vision to provide therapeutic services through the arts to children and adults in community settings. In the US, she has worked with Latino youth and their families through advocacy and counseling, and with adults in substance abuse recovery and prevention. Alongside, she has worked as a school counselor, through nonprofit agencies.
As of late, she works as an Social-Emotional Specialist at an international school and in her own private practice. She has collaborated working with women survivors of sex trafficking in Nepal and with refugees and migrants in Chile. Francisca has presented and led workshops in conferences nationally and internationally. She is very happy to be part of the OLAS community as the Clinical Director.
"I feel that my life is blessed because I am part of OLAS. It is a safe place that is like family for me. I feel happy, supported, and respected there." -Eduardo (Mexico)