Constance Collins, J.D., is President and Executive Director of the the Sundari Foundation, Inc., a non-denominational 501c3 public charity, best known as the Lotus House Women’s Shelter, and its supporting foundations, Lotus Endowment Fund, Inc., Lotus Village Development, LLC, and Lotus Supporting Foundation, Inc. A lawyer and businesswoman prior to founding Lotus House, she has served as a full time volunteer for the Lotus family of charitable organizations since inception, overseeing the development, operations, programming, services, research and growth of the Lotus House and its new home in Lotus Village, an all new state of the art, comprehensive homeless services facility, Lotus House Thrift, LLC and Lotus Wellness Center, LLC. She is a passionate advocate for enlightened social policies and innovative solutions to ending homelessness that put children first.
Winner of the 2016 Non-Profit Innovation Award of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Lotus Village is a life-changing comprehensive homeless services facility designed as a mixed-use “village” combining state of the art shelter facilities and holistic, trauma-informed, supportive services to heal, nurture and uplift children and families experiencing homelessness. With capacity to shelter over 500 women and children nightly, this prototype for the future includes: solution focused individual needs assessments and social services supports, individual and group counseling, child and family therapy, and social services advocacy; a working classroom kitchen sized to deliver a half million meals a year; an urban garden nourishing body, mind and spirit; a healing hands salon to soothe and uplift; a computer library for adult education and after school programming; yoga, Reiki, meditation, dance and exercise classes; an art and activities lab offering alternative pathways to healing and creative expression; and welcoming play spaces for children throughout the village. Aptly named, Lotus Village, because it takes a village, this new facility is the first of its kind on a national level, the more so because it includes a trauma-informed, therapeutic children’s wellness center including six classrooms offering early child care and education for newborns to age three, with a therapeutic overlay of child-parent therapy, play therapy, parenting classes, resource coordination, and linkages to key community partners to strengthen and uplift children and families. Enriched with a health clinic for women and children, Lotus Village is deeply embedded in and serving the neighborhood it calls home, preventing and bringing an end to homelessness with a full range of medical and dental services. So much more than a shelter, Lotus Village is a center for innovative, best practices, research and advocacy for public and social policies to raise awareness of the gender specific needs of women and youth experiencing homelessness and advance the health, wellbeing and school readiness of children experiencing homelessness and address the special needs of women and youth, and offers a platform for deeper community engagement, collaboration, shared learning and dialogue, on a local, state and national level.
Ms. Collins’ work on behalf of the Foundation is preceded by over twenty-two years of business, finance, real estate and legal experience. She served as the chief operating and financial officer, general counsel, and co-founder of a full service real estate investment advisory firm, Urban Investments Advisors, LLC (and its predecessor Starwood Urban Investments) and real estate holding company, Starwood Urban, LLC, and its subsidiaries, responsible for the management and operation of a national commercial real estate investment portfolio, overseeing growth and value-added strategies, development, financing, accounting, and reporting for portfolio revenues, until the successful disposition of those investments in 2005. Prior to Starwood, Ms. Collins was in private law practice, representing institutional investors and lenders in structuring, negotiating and documenting complex real estate, business and financial transactions, credit recovery, litigation oversight, and repositioning of investment properties. She graduated Order of Coif with a Juris Doctorate Degree from University of Colorado School of Law, Boulder, Colorado, and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.
Current Board Service: Miami Dade County Homeless Trust; Miami Dade County Domestic Violence Oversight Board
Honors: 2018 Women of Impact Award, Women’s History Coalition of Miami Dade County, Inc.; 2018 Philanthropy Award, Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness; 2017 Spectrum Award, American Red Cross; 2016 Visionary Award, Miami Herald; 2016 Julia Tuttle Award by City of Miami Commission on the Status of Women; 2016 Salutation Honoring Women in Public Service by the City of Miami; 2015 Public Servant Award – South Florida Community Development Coalition; 2014 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award by Unites States Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; 2010 Woman of Vision Award by the Weitzman Institute; 2008 Local Hero Award by Bank of America; 2007 Honoree, Women Who Make a Difference by Junior League of Miami, Inc.; 2006 Commendation For Women Builders of Communities and Dreams, National Women’s History Month, by the City of Miami and Miami Commission on the Status of Women.
Lotus House/Lotus Village Awards: Four Stars, Charity Navigator; Platinum, Guide Star; 2017 Housing for Everyone Award, TD Charitable Foundation; 2016 Non-Profit Innovation Award of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; 2014 Housing for Everyone Award, TD Charitable Foundation; “Best Charity” by New Times 2013; 2013 Community Spirit Award from the Commission on Women; 2012 Outstanding Service Excellence Award from the American Society for Public Administration – South Florida Chapter; 2012 Zeta Phi Beta Community Achievement Award; Neighborhood Builder Award of the 2011 Neighborhood Excellence Initiative of Bank of America; Leave a Legacy 2010 Donor Next Door award presented by the Health Foundation of South Florida; 2010 Unity Award by Theodore R. Gibson Memorial Fund; 2010 Health Care Hero Award by Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; “Best of Miami Shelter” by New Times, 2010; and 2005 and 2006 Networking Deal of the Year for Sundari Foundation, by Miami CREW, for Lotus House.
Anna Frusciante, J.D., is Director of the Foundation. A board member of the Foundation and practicing lawyer prior to joining Lotus House, she now serves the Foundation full time assisting with operations, programming, services, reporting and growth of Lotus House, in addition to other initiatives of the Foundation, including the employment programs of Lotus House Thrift, LLC and free health clinic operated by Lotus Wellness Center, LLC. Previously an attorney at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Ms. Frusciante has extensive experience representing indigent individuals in a wide range of consumer and benefits matters, among other legal issues. In such capacity, she worked closely with many women at Lotus House, successfully handling appeals before the Social Security Administration for disability benefits. Working in concert with judges and private and public attorneys while at Legal Services, she also developed and taught “Street Law,” a community legal education course for women sheltered by Lotus House. Ms. Frusciante also has experience in commercial litigation, including civil rights and discrimination, professional liability, and contract dispute matters, bringing a wide range of expertise and experience to her work for the Foundation. She graduated, cum laude and Order of Coif, with a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, and also earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Miami. She has completed training in various low-income legal matters, mindfulness, supervision and suicide prevention. In 2012, she was selected by the Foundation as an Emerging Leader and completed the Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program of Bank of America.
Alexis Geller, LCSW, is Deputy Director of Clinical Programs at Lotus House. Ms. Geller directs and supervises a team of counselors and resource coordinators to provide a full range of counseling services, psycho-social education, and resource education to Lotus House guests. In addition, Ms. Geller provides individual and group counseling, coaching, educating and advising to women with high special needs; and trains and coordinates trainings for Lotus House counselors in an effort to ensure guests receive best practice treatment modalities. From the start of her career, Ms. Geller has worked with children and their families. Prior to her work at Lotus House, she was Coordinator of Therapeutic Services at the second largest community health center in the United States, overseeing an established foster care program, managing high profile cases that often received national and state news coverage. Ms. Geller also spent 8 years as the Supervisor of a Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) program at a non-profit agency in Broward County, FL, where she lead her team to earn international recognition placing in the top one percent among 40 states and 15 countries for sustained success of the clients that participated in the program. As a result, she received the honor of MST Supervisor of the year in 2009 and 2011 by the MST Institute. Ms. Geller has dedicated her career to helping children, adolescents, and their parents to live a healthy and productive life. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida and a Master’s Degree in Social Work specializing in Children and Families from Barry University.
Laura Klinefelter, M.S., L.M.H.C., CAP, is Assistant Director at Lotus House. She is responsible for a wide range of duties pertaining to the operations, program services, management, business, finances, record keeping, and resource development of the Foundation, including Lotus House, Lotus House Thrift, and Lotus Wellness Center and other initiatives of the Foundation on behalf of homeless and disadvantaged women, youth, and children Lotus House serves. In this capacity, she directs, manages and supervises multiple programs and services, while fostering a holistic, trauma informed, inclusive, respectful, nurturing and supportive shelter environment. In addition, Ms. Klinefelter manages the in-take, admission, and orientation of shelter guests, and works closely with outreach teams, government agencies, and other referral sources to Lotus House. She directs, manages and supervises all aspects of program participation in Lotus House programs and services; supervises program participants and progress; and is responsible for the implementation of restorative practices, and conflict resolution. As a licensed mental health counselor and a certified HIV Counselor, Ms. Klinefelter has extensive experience providing individual and group counseling, resource coordination and social services to homeless women, youth and children with high special needs who suffer from one or more disabling conditions and/or developmental delays and challenges. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University in 2010, with honors, and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Miami University in 2007. Ms. Klinefelter has extensive experience in working with trauma survivors, substance abuse addiction, dependence, and recovery, family therapy, crisis intervention, and adolescent behavior issues. As a SOAR representative, she is also skilled at assisting homeless individuals with high special needs in obtaining social security benefits (SSI/SSDI).
Dr. Michele Fiorot is the Clinical Director of Families. She is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist working in the field of clinical practice and community mental health since 1981. Dr Fiorot is licensed to practice Clinical Psychology in the State of Florida since 1987. Dr. Fiorot completed her undergraduate work in Psychology at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and her Master’s and PhD program in Adult/Child Clinical Psychology at the University of Miami. During doctoral training, she gained specialized practicum experience at Douglas Gardens Community Mental Health Center as part of the NIMH initiative to train psychologists in community mental health and geriatric care. Since the inception of her 30+ year career, Dr Fiorot was employed at Douglas Gardens CMHC. As Clinical Director for 20 years, she held clinical, administrative and supervisory responsibility for the full range of community mental health services. Her role at Lotus House includes supervising counselors and resource coordinators and provides counseling for individuals and families.
Stephanie Padro is the Clinical Director of Singles, Youth, Safe Haven, Elderly and Medically Needy at Lotus House. Ms. Padro provides individual and group counseling, coaching, educating and advising, to women and families with special medical needs. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the Florida State University. Ms. Padro has a Masters from the University of Central Florida in Counselor Education with a concentration in marriage and family therapy. She has been a licensed therapist since 2013. Prior to her work at Lotus House, she worked for four years as a Family and Child Therapist in a children’s hospital setting providing therapy to children and families affected by medical illness.
Katherine Pollak, Psy. D., is the Director of Children’s Services. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, who specializes in child psychology and infant mental health. She provides dyadic therapy to mothers and their infants, play therapy with children, and parenting classes. Her work at Lotus House also includes training for implementation of evidenced based groups and pre and post testing of the women and children to measure progress. Dr. Pollak graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in psychology from Cornell University and earned her doctorate in psychology from Nova Southeastern University. She completed her APA accredited internship at the Institute for Child and Family Health, Inc., where she also fulfilled her post-doctoral residency. During this time, Dr. Pollak specialized in Infant Mental Health and completed a nine-month intensive training. She presented with colleagues at Linking Forces XVI: The Children’s Mental Health Conference on Infant Mental Health: The Emotional Development of the Toddler. Dr. Pollak has significant experience working in community mental health centers and with adolescents and adults in an inpatient psychiatric hospital. She has been a one to one aide at a special needs preschool, and provided in-home Applied Behavior Analysis to children with autism. Her extensive experience providing individual therapy to children, adolescents and adults has focused primarily on psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, child-parent psychotherapy, and play therapy. She has completed additional trainings in trauma-informed care, child maltreatment, play therapy, and the Healthy Steps Program, which involves using a developmental specialist in pediatric settings. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Division 53, Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.
Gabrielle E. Carey-Johnson, MS, RMHCI, Ph.D MFT Candidate is the Infant and Child Therapist at Lotus House. Gabrielle is a licensure candidate for both Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, with a specialization in Infant Mental Health. She provides dyadic therapy with mothers and their children, play therapy with children and also parenting classes. Gabrielle earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Youth and Community Sciences from the University of Florida and a Master’s Degree in Child Protection with a specialty in Juvenile Justice System from Nova Southeastern University. She is on track to complete a Doctoral Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Nova Southeastern University. She will present at the International Family Therapy Association’s 25th World Congress on “The Link between Infant Mental Health and Adolescent Sexuality” as well as “Ways to break the cycle of Domestic Violence.” She has had the pleasure of working as a family therapist for over 5 years in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties providing in-home therapeutic services to individuals and families. Joining the Lotus House family in the summer of 2016, Gabrielle is looking forward to continuing her work of supporting families with infants and children by providing a holistic, family first therapeutic approach to care.
Rai Johnson, M.S.W., is the Health and Wellness Director and a proud alumnaof Lotus House. She is responsible for a full complement of holistic health and wellness programming at Lotus House, including personally meeting with every guest of the shelter to arrange women’s wellness exams, health care referrals, and HIV /AIDS testing and counseling. Health and Wellness education is her forte including coordinating acupuncture, art, yoga, dance, meditation, and countless other enrichment activities. Ms. Johnson provides individual and group substance abuse counseling to our Guests in recovery, and leads two weekly recovery meetings at Lotus House. She is on the Advisory Board of the Reaves House Recovery program and the Sundari Foundation. She has received the Department of Health Certificate of Appreciation for support and volunteer assistance in meeting the health needs of the residents of Miami Dade County. In 2012, she was featured on the cover of the Barry Buccaneer for her success in her community advocacy and her work at Lotus House with homeless women, youth and children. Ms. Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a dual concentration in Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health Counseling and holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Barry University. In 2015, Ms. Johnson was selected, from 60,000 Barry alums worldwide, as Barry University’s Distinguished Alumna Award for 2016. She is also a Masters Certified Addictions Professional (MCAP), Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor (AODC), Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern, and HIPAA Privacy Associate. Certifications include: Trauma Incident Reduction, HIV/AIDS Counseling and Testing, and Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) Trainer and holds Clinical Care for Transgender Patients Certification. Ms. Johnson serves as the volunteer coordinator of the free health clinic operated by Lotus Wellness Center, LLC, in cooperation with the DOCS Program of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Donna MacDonald, M.H.Sc., is Program Development Director. She is responsible for program research and development for the Foundation. Ms. MacDonald graduated with a Master’s Degree in Health Science from the University of Toronto, with dual major in behavioral health and nutrition, and earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts Degree in Human Nutrition at Ryerson University, Toronto. She has worked with a multitude of organizations in both Canada and the U.S. over the past 30 years in the areas of program development and implementation, evaluation, quality assurance monitoring, grant writing, budget development, and public information. Her background includes a broad spectrum of health, human services, education, housing/homelessness and workforce initiatives.