Meet Our Staff
Maria Hess, Ph.D.
Maria Hess, Ph.D., MFT, is a co-founder of Humanidad, Executive Director and Clinical Director, who is currently serving the agency as an advisor while out on medical leave. She has over 40 years experience in the field of mental health and 35 years as an educator, psychotherapist, clinical supervisor and trainer. Prior to founding Humanidad, she was Clinical Director of Lomi Community Clinic, and was part of Sonoma County’s first forensic Marriage & Family Therapist Training program. In 2012, Maria had a vision to create a program for culturally-proficient therapists and began recruiting MFT trainee associates for Humanidad’s bilingual/bicultural MFT training program. Dr. Hess is a leader in the movement dedicated to exploring Trauma-Informed Care and Vicarious Trauma, and a pioneer in bringing this work to the Sonoma County public schools.
Cecilia Perez, MFT
Cecilia Perez MS, MFT, is a co-founder of Humanidad, and currently serves as Humanidad’s Interim Clinical Director and Supervisor. Ms. Perez has a Masters degree from San Francisco State University, has published her joined research, and has more than a decade working as a bilingual/bicultural therapist with the Latino community. She has been an active member of Sonoma County’s mental health community since 2006, working with adults, couples, families and children to provide counseling services in a variety of settings including schools, court and community health agencies. Ms. Perez has been in mentorship with Dr. Hess for the last 15 years.
Claudia Cendejas, MS
Claudia (Avalos) Cendejas MS, MFTI, is a co-founder of Humanidad, currently serving as Interim Executive Director. She provides leadership oversight of the agency and works directly with the Clinical Director to support the day-to-day operations of HTES programs and services. She also works with the Humanidad Board of Directors and is spearheading an effort to develop a Community Advisory Board for the agency. As a bilingual/bicultural clinician and social worker specialist in public health, Claudia brings her administrative and clinical acumen to the task.
Christina Zapata, LCSW
is a bilingual/bicultural therapist for Humanidad, providing case management and counseling services. She has a Bachelor in Social Work from Michigan State University, a Master of Social Work from San Francisco State University, and is licensed by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and certified by the EMDR Institute, Inc. She is also trained in trauma-informed care and influenced by Psychodynamic, Humanistic, and Cognitive theories. She moved to Sonoma County in 2005, and is passionate about her work in the community with children, couples, individuals and families.
provide direct client services in the schools and Humanidad’s counseling clinic with on-going supervision and training by Humanidad supervisors. All staff engage in on-going continuing education.