The people behind the project

Elizabeth Stinson, Executive Director

Elizabeth Stinson, LMFT, is a staff clinician at the Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Center, a military sexual trauma consultant for the Returning Veterans Project, a clinical advisor to the Bay Area Military Law Panel, and a member of the Portland VA Think Tank on military sexual trauma. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Dominican University and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the University of San Francisco. She is an AAMFT clinical fellow and a clinical member of the International Society of Stress Studies. Elizabeth received the Agape Foundation’s Visionary Peacemaker Award in 2006 and 2007, and the ACLU’s Jack Green Civil Liberties Award in 2008. She is a contributor to The Invisible War, the award-winning documentary on sexual assault in the military.

Tia Christopher, Treatment Instructor

Tia Christopher is a proud US Navy Veteran. After her honorable discharge in 2001, she received her BA in Humanities with a focus in Psychology and is currently an independent consultant residing in California. Previously, Ms. Christopher served as Chief of Staff for the Farmer Veteran Coalition, worked for Concepts, Inc. PR on the National Resource Directory, a joint project of the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, and served as the first Women Veterans Coordinator for the Iraq Veterans Project of Swords to Plowshares. Ms. Christopher speaks nationally on issues facing women veterans and MST, has testified before state and national legislature, and was a community instructor for the National Center for PTSD, Menlo Park. Ms. Christopher serves as a community member for the Bay Area’s Women Veterans Connect, a committee member for the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust’s Military and Veteran Program Advisory Committee, and a member of the Pat Tillman Scholarship Review Committee. She is the author of You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are: A Straightforward Transition Manual. Ms. Christopher received IVAT‘s Returning Veterans Resiliency in Response to Trauma Award in 2010, and the White House’s Champions of Change Award in 2013.

Margaret Bregger Coston, President of the Board
My youth was spent in the segregated southern part of this country in a non-southern humanist home. This experience has profoundly affected my views on social justice. My professional work as a nutritionist has been in county hospitals with diverse populations and in Native American clinics.

I understand that trauma needs to be addressed to assure clients can develop good health practices.

After retirement, I worked with Elizabeth Stinson helping young men and women who were traumatized get out of the military. My current focus is promoting community policing.

Jane R Kaplan, Board Member

Jane R Kaplan is a California attorney practicing military law as part of her practice. She has represented active duty servicemembers seeking separation from the military and military benefits since 2005. She is a member of the Bay Area Military Law Panel and the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force, and is an experienced board member of veteran and legal programs. Jane is a tenacious advocate for military personnel in their dialogue and struggle to get earned benefits. She and Elizabeth have worked on many cases together during the past nine years.

Paul Cox , Board Member
Paul Cox is a civil engineer and associate principal of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates. He joined the USMC in 1968 and served in Vietnam. He attended the University of Oklahoma and holds an engineering degree from San Francisco State University. Paul is one of the founders of Veterans Speakers Alliance and American Legion Robert Basker Post 315 in San Francisco, and is the chair of the American Legion War Memorial Commission in SF. He serves on the National Board for Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign. He is on the Board of Swords to Plowshares and served as Board Chair from 2009 to 2012.

Ann Wright, Advisory Board Member

Colonel Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves. She spent 16 years in the US Diplomat Corps and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua Granada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan, and Mongolia. She resigned from the US State Department in 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq. Ann has worked tirelessly on behalf of survivors of military sexual trauma for the past 11 years, testifying on behalf of survivors at many courts marshall and calling for needed change within the military.

Jeff Paterson, Advisory Board Member

In August 1990, US Marine artilleryman Corporal Jeff Paterson became the first of many US military personnel to refuse to fight in Iraq. Today, Jeff is the project director of Courage to Resist, an Oakland-based organization dedicated to supporting GI rights, war resisters and conscientious objectors, and helps lead the campaign to support Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.

James Cook, Advisory Board Member

Jim Cook, a California native who has lived and worked over twelve years outside the U.S.A., lives in Sonoma when he is home. Jim’s a one-time Titan ( his high school mascot), two-time father ( both girls), and three-time husband. He has been a gardener for the British Officer’s Club in Berlin, taught conversational English in Istanbul at the Grand Bazaar, and coached high school girl’s basketball. Jim has played guitar for over forty years, sings nearly on-key, and plays a mean blues harp. A counselor by trade, he worked in the school system for fifteen years before opening his own office in Oakland seventeen years ago, where he continues to be a practicing Marriage family Therapist when he’s not overseas providing counseling services for military personnel and their families.

Tanya Brannan, Advisory Board Member

2003 Jack Green Civil Liberties Award Honoree

Tanya Brannan has been an activist since the 1970s when she began working in the women’s movement, community organizing in the Haight-Ashbury, and fighting to end U.S. intervention in Central America. After traveling with a number of delegations to El Salvador, Tanya then moved to Central America for four years, where she worked as an organizer, bodyguard and women’s rights activist in Guatemala and El Salvador.

Tanya returned to Sonoma County in 1990 when her best friend and environmental activist, Judi Bari, was car bombed. Within minutes of the bombing, the FBI attempted to frame her for the bombing that was clearly meant to kill her.

For the next twelve years, Tanya directed the Redwood Summer Justice Project, which conducted Judi Bari’s lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police for federal civil rights violations. In June 2002, after a six-week trial, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $4.4 million, the largest-ever civil rights award against the FBI.

In 1991, Tanya founded the Purple Berets, a grassroots women’s rights group dedicated to standing with women who are standing up to sexist violence and discrimination. “If I learned only one thing in Guatemala it was this,” Tanya states: “if we’re serious about changing the world, we have to change women’s world. It was with that goal in mind that the Purple Berets was formed.”