Recovery through Evidence-Based Treatment Modalities
C.U.R.A., Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt behavior modification program, that gives men and women the opportunity to live lives free from drugs and alcohol. Clients are given the chance to change their past behavior by working on their core issues and planning for their futures. The final goal is for participants to graduate as contributing members of society.
C.U.R.A., Inc. is fully certified and licensed by the State of California and operates a Residential Therapeutic Community in Fremont, California and a Recovery Residence in Oakland, California. C.U.R.A., Inc. has been in continuous operation for over fifty years.
C.U.R.A. Board of Directors. Left to Right: Jane Taylor, Diane Bellas, Carolyn George, Joseph Locaria, Sheri Schoenber
C.U.R.A. Graduation Ceremony.
Meet C.U.R.A.’s Board of Directors
Joseph Biaggio Locaria is the President/CEO of C.U.R.A., Inc. located in the San Francisco Bay Area. A native San Franciscan, Joe has spent his career as a community organizer and advocate for those suffering the effects of substance abuse, poverty, incarceration, and homelessness. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from San Francisco State and his MA in Psychology from San Francisco State University. Joe has worked in the field for over 40 years and as an addiction and behavioral health treatment professional, he believes in community as method. He loves to travel and has presented numerous papers to the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities.
Sheri Schoenberg has a BA from Brooklyn College, and a JD from Cleveland Marshall College of Law, followed by an E. Barrett Prettyman fellowship at Georgetown University. She retired from the Alameda County Public Defender’s office after 30 years of service, where among other assignments, she helped pioneer the first post-conviction felony drug court and the Juvenile Mental Health Court (Collaborative Court). She is an avid cook, and pre COVID, had cooked the evening meal at CURA’s Recovery Residence in Oakland for 8 years. Along with her 4-year-old Labradoodle Kasha, she does hospice visits for VITA’s Paw Pets program. She has been on the CURA board since 1998.
Diane A. Bellas grew up in the East Bay and has been an advocate seeking equity and justice for underrepresented people since graduating from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She served her clients at the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office as a trial lawyer who took many complex and challenging cases to jury trial, then eventually led the office as the Chief Public Defender, by appointment of the Board of Supervisors. During her tenure she joined with court stakeholders and community entities providing services to people experiencing homelessness to create the Alameda County Homeless and Caring Court, where she gratefully represented clients for many years and for which she was recognized by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Diane Bellas is a Past President of the California Public Defenders Association, from which she received its Lifetime Achievement Award; and she has served on the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, by appointment of the California State Senate, as well as on the Judicial Council of California, Collaborative Justice Courts Advisory Committee, by appointment of the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. After serving as a commissioner on, and Chair of, the California Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, which assists the Governor in the judicial selection process and seeks to build a fair and diverse judiciary, she was appointed by the Board of Supervisors of Marin County to serve as Interim Public Defender. She will always be “inspired to aspire” by the C.U.R.A. family, its residents, and staff.
Jane Wolff Taylor
Jane Wolff Taylor came to the Bay Area from Lake Villa, IL, a small town north of Chicago. She graduated from Carroll College (now Carroll University), Waukesha, WI and went on to serve two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chimbote, Peru, where she worked in Community Development. She returned to the Bay Area and taught in San Francisco Unified School District and then in the Oakland Unified School District for almost 30 years as a Spanish Bilingual teacher and Reading Coach. She also mentored new teachers. She serves on the Boards of several nonprofits in her community.
Jane is married and has two adult sons and two grandchildren. She joined the CURA Board in 2007. Jane has seen CURA help so many men and women of all ages get their lives back. In the town where she grew up a program of CURA’s stature would have benefitted so many families.
Dr. Harsha Ramchandani
Dr. Harsha Ramchandani is Board Certified Internist and currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Bay Area Community Health Center (BACH); one of the largest FQHC in Northern California. She oversees clinical teams in Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Her work is instrumental in improving the continuum of care through partnerships with neighboring hospitals and medical teams; making BACH a leading primary care health center in the Bay Area.
Dr. Ramchandani is an advocate of health care equity; implementing telehealth to prevent delay of care; deploying mobile clinics reaching vulnerable patients; and been on the forefront of BACH’s response to COVID-19 pandemic by coordinating and executing vaccination and testing clinics. Dr. Ramchandani is a trained expert in opioid use disorder and has extensive knowledge in treating patients with this condition. She started and grew MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) program at BACH that is now serving patients in two different counties. She strongly believes in the power of teamwork and collaboration in achieving successful outcomes for her patients.
Dr. Ramchandani serves on Alameda County Public Health Commission. She is a member of the California Medical Association, California Primary Care Association, American Medical Association, Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, and American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. Dr. Ramchandani received her medical education from Gandhi Medical College, India. She continued her training with a residency in Internal Medicine at Sinai Grace Hospital, Detroit Medical Center, Michigan.
Cicero said that running the Roman Empire is akin to harmonizing the various groups of instruments in a large orchestra. It takes a great deal of balance and integration of divergent groups to achieve a beautiful sound. I look at the program in a similar fashion. That is to achieve the goal of our mission statement, “to the complete restructuring of the individual whose life has been destroyed by chemical dependency with the final goal of supporting that individual in successfully reintegrating into the community”. The orchestration of C.U.R.A. entails the melding of three major components.
Corporate: This area is primarily composed of the Board of Directors and is broken into two parts; Governance and Management. I think that a The Board should be a storehouse for the acquisition of members in the community who would be willing to provide needed services and supplies to the organization as part of their civic duty to making the community a better place. If members of the Board wish to bring on new members, the singular qualification should be what could this person contribute to C.U.R.A. and not what can C.U.R.A. do for this individual? This would be in addition to the statutory requirements of the corporate code and our Bylaws and would entail such responsibilities as fiscal oversight and corporate management rather than micromanagement. The Board needs to agree upon what constitutes conflict of interest and have a clear conception of governance mutually exclusive from management. Ingrained within drug treatment, and especially within the Therapeutic Community, the concept of “Principles before Personalities” must be strictly adhered to regardless of any personal feelings. Each Board Member should be knowledgeable in theory and practical application of the Therapeutic Community modality and its international reputation for successful treatment of not only substance abusers but also many different groups of people in distress.
Administrative: We have organized a team comprised of Administrative and Clinical Personnel that meet on a regular basis to carry out the day-to-day operations of the Program, to trouble shoot areas of concern and explore ways and means to provide additional services and resources to our Residents. The administration of the Program has been and continues to be the key element within the Program in spite of the fact it is hamstrung by inadequate funding. This is complicated by late payments for services rendered, unrealistic demands made by outside agencies without compensation for those demands and the never-ending cat and mouse game of continuing funding. What we have devised is a schema that anticipates the worst possible scenario. Some examples are all the excitement that surrounded newly devised funding pronouncements. With each of these we are told to expect some windfall beginning sometime in the year and continuing for a period of several years. At the end of the specified term of funding, we begin to seek ways and means to reduce services if the voters decide not to refund the initiative for another period of years. The most important aspect of the Administrative component is to anticipate the demise of promised public support and to find a solution to continue the same service level from a different source. Our vision is to be able to project into the future for at least five years some form of fiscal stability, and we think that the Program must find a way to become self-sufficient. In the past, we have established a separate reentry program that is not publicly funded, a three-story Victorian house that provides for a certified 48 bed Recovery Residence in the City of Oakland and maintained an aftercare program for resident graduates. This was accomplished without the use of public funds in spite of the uncertainty of these precarious times.
It became apparent during this period of development that to go beyond a certain point in expansion would be detrimental to the quality of the Program. That is to say that the larger a program becomes, the more likely the treatment component will suffer. Our vision is to find the harmony and balance between size and quality of care fully recognizing the need to develop independent economic resources. Now that we have created a sizeable program, our vision is to concentrate on making it viable by providing the necessary grants and training over the next few years to guarantee the continuance of quality treatment.
Clinical: The true vision of the Clinical component is to be able to offer a place for every individual who is seeking treatment on demand. The key concept of why Therapeutic Communities work very well is that residents treat residents while the staff treats the environment and keeps it safe. The self-help philosophy gives the individual a sense of healing as well as being a contributor to his/her own well-being and to those around them. The treatment regimen becomes a surrogate family, and our vision is to enlarge that family to a point where it is at the maximum effectiveness.
In C.U.R.A.’ s history, we have never been more successful than we are at this time. Complimenting this success will entail the Program recognizing that it must provide additional resources for the Staff. Our vision is to find a way to provide the ways and means for increasing staff education, training and a living wage with reasonable benefits. We have accomplished so much with so very little or in some cases, with nothing at all imagine what we could accomplish if there was real financial support. Our vision is we will continue to provide the best treatment available. Our experience has been that if we want to develop resources, additional services or expand, we must recognize that this entails a great deal of risk and a great deal of time.
Joseph B. Locaria, MA, LAADC