Throughout IFR’s 44-year history, hundreds of incredibly talented and committed staff have come through our doors. Most recently, IFR was tasked with identifying the new Director of La Clínica. We are proud to introduce Julio Gonzales!
In many ways, this program and position seems to have been created with Julio in mind. Originally from Peru, Julio brings two Master’s degrees in Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on community mental health, and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Julio’s exemplary educational credentials are just the beginning of his many attributes. In fact, he represents, without exaggeration, the gold standard.
“It's a blessing and an honor to be part of La Clinica’s legacy. It is a huge responsibility that I take seriously and with lots of pride,” Julio offers with a smile. “In fact, I always knew I would be back here.”
It is true. Julio actually began work at IFR as an intern in 2013. Learning from IFR’s co-founder, Dra. Concha Saucedo, during a class visit to IFR where she presented when he was an undergraduate, he promised her he would return to IFR. He kept his promise, returning as an intern in 2013 for La Clínica, and continuing on as a Mental Health specialist. Like many before him, it was IFR’s use of a cultural lens to support healing that drew him back.
“We recognize certain cultural structures – respect for community, the important role of family, honoring our elders – they represent our norte. It is evident in our community events and ceremonias, programs, and role in the community. At IFR, we recognize and support these values and see them as strengths. We have the opportunity to lead and teach around these values. This cultural piece is not something you can learn in a class; you have to live it and experience it. IFR is the only place that provides this support in such a holistic and honest way.”
Julio’s kindness, humility and integrity are legendary. In fact, regardless of your perspective within IFR, he seems to excel. For example, IFR Associate Director Germán Walteros must rely on a program director who can navigate IFR’s highly complex contracts: “Julio is committed to enhancing La Clínica’s outpatient services. It is unique to find in one person an excellent clinician and one who excels at addressing the organization’s extremely complicated contractual requirements.”
With La Clínica serving approximately 150 plus clients per year, Julio’s leadership is both critical and timely given the significant impact of COVID on the mental health of our community. Recognizing this, Julio admits that clinicians don’t have all the answers, and that no two client stories or challenges are alike. Julio shared his philosophy on the work itself, “Clinical work becomes an art form when we balance the relational qualities with our theoretical approaches to develop an alliance with the client.” It is the partnership between clinician and client that, as Julio notes, “provides the space to co-create solutions to improve the day-to-day lives of people; that partnership opens the door to healing, especially during these times.”
It is this unique culturally-based partnership that Julio suggests will keep him at IFR for many years to come. “It is the cultural glue that keeps us connected to the community and keeps our legacy strong. Much like when we were children; we would go off to play but look back every once in a while to see our parents and feel safe. For over 40 years, that is what La Clínica and IFR has been for the community. We are a safety net of sorts. This is a contribution that you don’t find in any records or client information, but it is one of the most important things we offer. Our community knows that, in their moment of need, they can count on us. It is why IFR continues to be our community’s go-to agency.”
Congratulations Julio! We welcome your leadership and vision.