Our Team

Sergio Rizzo Fontanesi, Ph.D. | Acting Executive Director

The son of immigrant parents from Argentina and Nicaragua, Dr. Sergio Rizzo Fontanesi was born and raised in San Francisco and moved to Los Angeles for graduate school, completing a joint MSW and PhD in Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. While at UCLA, his areas of study and research were nonprofit evaluation, faith-based social services, and the broad intersections between culture, spirituality, and mental health care. After earning his doctorate, he joined the faculty at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, where he continues to teach graduate courses.

He also worked for four years at the UCLA Luskin Social Justice Research Partnership, overseeing a robust research and evaluation portfolio of nonprofit, philanthropic, and public agencies across Los Angeles County. While in this position, he served as Project Director of a two-year program evaluation of Beit T’Shuvah (BTS); the start of his deep love for, and commitment to, the organization. It was during this time that he learned a transformative lesson: “step out of your role and into your soul”, and in the process, he discovered a place of belonging, passion, and purpose.

In early 2018, he was part of a BTS Strategic Planning Committee created to address program continuity and succession planning; later that year he was appointed Director of Clinical Services. An inquisitive and skeptical spirit, it is in this position that Sergio has finally arrived home.