WHY SUNLIGHT RETREATS?
Sunlight Retreats is a nonprofit empowering rape survivors to take back their power at safe and healthy retreats where we come together to learn, grow and thrive in a serene environment with guided sessions facilitated by trauma care specialists based on scientific research. Shine with us at www.sunlightretreats.org
Meet The Sunlight Team
Founder Brittany Catton Kirk
Social Entreprenuer and Rape Survivor
Brittany Catton Kirk is the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit and social enterprise Sunlight Retreats for Survivors, an accelerator for healing for survivors of rape. After being attacked overseas in 2012, she struggled in her career, relationships and gained 60 pounds as she tried to recover from her attack and Post Traumatic Stress. She looked for a safe place to go and heal but found nothing so she created Sunlight Retreats for Survivors. Drawing on her ten years’ experience creating award-winning programming for military families and wounded warriors at the San Diego Armed Services YMCA, she set out to create a tangible in-person program to empower survivors with tools, trauma education, resilience training and peer support. Sunlight Retreats is a changemaking program that gives survivors a better way to heal, so that they can rebuild and empower others. 100 percent of the forty participants from the first two retreats reported via anonymous survey that they would recommend Sunlight Retreats to a fellow survivor, 100 percent said it aided them in their healing, and 100 percent said Sunlight Retreats made them stronger. Brittany is married to Lieutenant Commander Brian Kirk. They reside in San Diego, CA, with their two sons, Cal, age 3, and Bo, age 9 months.
Dr. Shiva Ghaed
Volunteer Trauma Psychologist, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Shiva Ghaed is a California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, currently working for the Department of Mental Health in the Naval Medical Center San Diego healthcare system (Marine Corps Recruit Depot). Dr. Ghaed provides group and individual therapy to active duty patients in the catchment area, maintains ongoing involvement in academia and research, and has served as a voting member on the Institutional Review Board for NMCSD. Dr. Ghaed’s clinical experience includes several years of training and specialization in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare Systems of San Diego and Los Angeles. She completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the San Diego VA, specializing in anxiety disorders, non-combat trauma, and combat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans. Dr. Ghaed is a member of the American Psychological Association, and strives to maintain competency and excellence as a therapist and professional in her field. In 2015, she was presented with the Associate Master Clinician Award.
Dr. Ghaed’s formal education includes a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (Behavioral Medicine) from the Joint Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University (2008), an M.P.H. in Health Promotion (2006) and an M.S. in Psychology (2006) from SDSU, a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland (2001), and a B.S. in Zoology (Premedicine) from the George Washington University (1993). For the past 30 years, Dr. Ghaed has been involved in research ranging from bench research in the pure sciences to clinical research in the social sciences and psychology, and she has worked for world and nationally renowned organizations such as the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIH), the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. She was Project Director for an NIH-funded research study for several years, and has served in leadership positions at the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control, at NMCSD and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton (NHCP). Dr. Ghaed regularly presents at professional conferences and grand rounds for a variety of mental health departments (including the VA, NHCP, and MCRD), local clinics, and universities. She has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, and has received honors and awards for excellence in her field throughout the course of her career.
Oct 1, 2017, Dr. Ghaed’s love of country music took her to Route 91 on the night of the shooting in Las Vegas and she, along with many others, witnessed the horror of that night as people around her were shot and killed. She found purpose and meaning in surviving the massacre, and made it her mission to give back to her community and help guide other Route 91 survivors in their healing. One week following the shooting, Dr. Ghaed launched a free weekly support group for survivors and their family and friends. She posted weekly therapy-based articles specifically catered to and witnessing the Route 91 community recovery process. Her goal is to help people better cope with the traumatic aftermath through education and support, and with the hope of preventing the development of PTSD. A website was created, www.route91therapy.com, to allow public access to these documents, and this information has been disseminated to the Route 91 community across the United States and Canada. In April, 2018, Dr. Ghaed was honored with the Citizens of Courage Award by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, and the National Hero Award by the American Red Cross (Metro New York).
There are still many people who have not connected to care or who do not have adequate social support or healthcare. Dr. Ghaed’s strong belief that healthcare is a basic human right, her faith in the resiliency of the human spirit, and her sense of obligation to serving others fuels a mission of destigmatizing mental illness through knowledge and awareness. In honor of the 1-year anniversary of the Las Vegas massacre (on Oct 1, 2018), Dr. Ghaed released her book, Route 91: Healing from Mass Violence and Trauma for free download on her new platform www.loveexpands.com. The book documents her experience surviving the massacre, as well as the journey of recovery since then, for her and her Route 91 community. She hopes that her book will provide insight into the process of recovering from mass violence, expected reactions, barriers to recovery, and tools to heal. Furthermore, her teachings are applicable to a broader audience who may suffer from anxiety, depression, or other types of trauma.
Ashley Guzik is a senior college student at Point Loma Nazarene University, majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Peace. Originally from Southern Orange County, she chose Point Loma because of the supportive and loving community she found. She has lead a few ministries at school, including a dance ministry as well as a ministry focused toward feeding and initiating conversation with our homeless neighbors in downtown San Diego. This upcoming year, she plans on leading a team of women ministry leaders, all striving to bring community and inclusion to those who feel like they are on the outskirts. Additionally, at her university, she has done research studying the factors behind the underreported rate of domestic violence by survivors in Latin America, even conducting interviews in Spanish while abroad in Chile.
After Ashley graduates, she plans on taking a few gap years working with nonprofits and local governments with an emphasis on women before returning for either law or grad school.
She joined the Sunlight Retreats team as she strongly and sincerely believes that sunlight is the best disinfectant for those affected by trauma, she strives to stitch up scars in the world instead of leaving one. Incredibly excited and passionate for her work as an intern, Ashley genuinely hopes to bring love, light, and inclusion to survivors at Sunlight Retreats.
In her free time, she loves to boogie board, dance, and watercolor (while it is very limited to just pictures of sunsets), and aspires to own a golden retriever named Oatmeal in the future.
Board And Advisory Council
Sunlight Retreats Board:
Brittany Catton Kirk
Dr. Shiva Ghaed
Dr. Eveyln Bardales Knipe
Sunlight Retreats Advisory Council: