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Dory Magasis Escobar

Assistant Professor

Full-Time Faculty


Dory Magasis Escobar, PhD has worked in community organizing, coalition building, and grassroots leadership development for decades in Northern California and Central America.  She was Director of Healthy Communities and Community Building at a regional health system for 13 years; where she also oversaw the organization’s Community Benefit planning and reporting. Prior to that time, Dory worked for 11 years in Central America in community mental health, community-based rehabilitation, community organizing, and coalition building.  Dory taught in undergraduate and graduate level courses in two private universities, focusing on community mental health, humanistic psychology and group therapy. She is also the Director of Applied Practice (DAP) at USF.

Dory provides technical assistance to community-based organizations, hospitals, public health agencies, other community stakeholders seeking to increase and enhance their capacities in collaboration, strategic planning and program evaluation, and authentic community engagement.  Recent clients have included United Way of the Wine Country, Public Health Institute, the County of Sonoma, Petaluma Bounty, Glasswing International, and others.  Dory recently founded the community capacity building initiative, Coaction Institute. Her innovative integration of community organizing and collaboration into hospital Community Benefit work led to her participation in national work groups convened by the CDC, Dept. of Health & Human Services, and the White House Office on Neighborhood and Faith-Based Partnerships.


  • Community engagement
  • Community organizing & coalition building
  • Community psychology
  • Social determinants of health
  • Participatory strategic planning & evaluation
  • Non-profit hospital Community Benefit


  • Director of Applied Practice


  • PhD in Public Health, Community Health Promotion, Walden University, 2016
  • MA in Clinical Psychology, Universidad ML Escamilla, 1997
  • BA in Psychology, Sonoma State University, 1984

Additional Information

Other Professional Training

  • Strategic Planning for Inter-Institutional Networks (PAHO/WHO, El Salvador)
  • Strategic Planning (University of Central America, Managua)
  • Operative Groups (Salvadoran Association of Mental Health)
  • Extreme Traumatization: Intervention Model (Latin American Mental Health & Human Rights Institute of Chile
  • Treatment of Victims of PTSD (U.S. Dept of Veteran’s Affairs)
  • Psychological Interventions in Processes of Social Change (year-long program) (Latin American Mental Health & Human Rights Institute of Chile)

Professional Achievements


  • Professor, Licensure in Psychology (5-year program, El Salvador) – teaching group therapy and community psychology; supervision of community service; thesis advisor for all community-focused research.
  • Professor, M.A. in Clinical Psychology (El Salvador) – teaching humanistic & existential psychology, family therapy, mental health intervention models, group therapy; students all working mental health professionals.
  • Author, bi-lingual popular-education style leadership training program, “Agents of Change Training in our Neighborhoods – A.C.T.I.O.N.” and training curricula for Pan-American Health Organization’s family violence prevention initiative in El Salvador

Action Research

  • Gender Violence in El Salvador, for the United Nations Development Program
  • Gender and Food Insecurity in El Salvador, for the World Food Program

Program Design & Development

  • Participation in team implementing Pan-American Health Organization’s “Women, Health and Development” program to address gender and family violence in El Salvador; including development and implementation of curriculum of self-care for participants in program, crisis intervention, and training of mutual support group facilitators
  • Neighborhood Care Staff - community organizing, resident leadership development, community partnerships to address issues of priority community concern
  • Agents of Change Training in our Neighborhoods/A.C.T.I.O.N. – leadership, organizational development & strategic planning training for community groups and agencies that serve them (Author, founder)
  • Quality of Life Initiatives on Water and on Community Mental Health – key stakeholder and resident engagement on priority issues of community concern, facilitation of community planning and action, coalition building
  • Advancing the State of the Art in Community Benefit – Local Demonstration Site – Public Health Institute project on quality improvement procedures for hospitals’ Community Benefit work; development of planning, monitoring and evaluation tools and processes
  • Scholarship Program – for rural peasants from communities throughout El Salvador
  • Community-Based Mental Health Promotion – training lay mental health promoters and establishing networks of mental health promotion in rural communities throughout El Salvador (Directly with community councils, El Salvador) & Community-Based Psychosocial Rehabilitation (for Assoc. of War-Wounded of El Salvador)

Community Partnerships / Facilitation of Collaborative Strategic Plan Development, Implementation & Evaluation

  • Formulation of the Healthy Novato Initiative’s Theory of Change and Strategic Plan for the Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund of the Marin Community Foundation.
  • Panelist on “Community Engagement” at CDC conference on Best Practices for Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation
  • Member of “Improving Health Outcomes through Community Partnerships” Learning Community, convened by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives and the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
  • Petaluma Youth Network/”Ready by 21 Initiative” – public/private partnership facilitated by the Healthy Communities Consortium (Steering Committee member)
  • South County Senior Forum - Petaluma, CA - public/private partnership to identify and address priority advocacy and service needs of senior population (Founder, Coordinator of initial strategic plan)
  • Healthcare for the Homeless Collaborative - Sonoma County, CA (Founder, past facilitator)
  • Child Abuse Prevention Council of Sonoma County (Board of Directors, past)
  • Family Action of Sonoma County – public/private partnership advocating for children and family (Steering Committee, Past Chair)
  • Healthy Communities Consortium – public/private partnership engaging local agencies, businesses and residents in action to improve the quality of life in Petaluma, CA (Board of Directors, Co- Coordinator & Facilitator of Strategic Planning & Evaluation Processes)
  • Mental Health Coalition of Sonoma County (Founder, Supervisor of Staff, Oversight of Strategic Plan Development, Implementation & Evaluation)
  • Community Activity & Nutrition Coalition – Sonoma County – public/private partnership facilitated by County of Sonoma Dept of Health Services, addressing childhood obesity through various grant- funded projects and organizational member programs and initiatives (Steering Committee)
  • National Network Against Gender and Family Violence - El Salvador (Co-Coordinator)
  • Regional & Municipal Networks Against Gender and Family Violence - 8 local communities, El Salvador (Founder) Grant Making & Grant Writing
  • Grant Maker for Petaluma Valley Hospital’s Care for the Poor Funds – identification of potential grantees, support for proposal development, screening of proposals and presentations to Board for approval, monitoring of implementation & review of reports
  • Grant Maker/Writer for Christian Committee for the Displaced – support of community councils of rural communities affected by civil war, development, monitoring and reporting of grants to address emergency needs, health, education and community development (El Salvador)
  • Member of Sonoma County selection committee for Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange Health Foundation grants
  • Grant Writing for SJHS-SC Community Benefit work with vulnerable communities in Sonoma County, and for collaborative grants with community partners; includes: Substance Abuse Prevention among Latino Community in the Sonoma Valley (with Nuestra Voz), Community Building Initiative in Sonoma, Healthcare for the Homeless Collaborative project, Addressing Childhood Obesity through Environmental & Policy Change in South Petaluma (for Community Activity & Nutrition Coalition), and others.