Victim Empowerment Program Mission Statement
The Victim Empowerment Program’s mission is to provide confidential assistance to FIU students, faculty, staff, and university visitors who have been victimized through threatened or actual violence and to support the healing process. Traditional college-aged students are an at-risk population for violence, and staff are dedicated to assisting students remain successful in their academic pursuits. In addition, the Center seeks to enhance safety and promote healthy relationships by sponsoring awareness activities, prevention education, peer education and collaborating with university officials. Through clinical practice and research, the VEP aims to contribute to the body of knowledge and influence public policy regarding to issues related to victimization.
Victim Empowerment Program Staff
Armeen, Irani LCSW Armeen is an LCSW and has been practicing as a therapist in the Miami Dade community for the past 7 years. Armeen specializes in relationship counseling; working with adolescents and families and addictions. She has also worked as clinical faculty at Florida International University and Florida Memorial University’s Schools of Social Work. Armeen has conducted groups in the areas of healthy relationships; substance abuse; self-esteem, parenting and breast cancer support for women and their care givers. Armeen believes that each person reaching out for help deserves to be heard and helped in a manner that is best for them. As such she practices various forms of therapy and is familiar with both modern and ancient schools of thought about therapeutic work.
Sharon M. Aaron, LCSW
has been the Director of the FIU Victim Empowerment Program since 2001.
She is the former Director of a national initiative of the Centers
of Disease Control and Prevention aimed at identifying and intervening
in cases of intimate partner violence in health care settings.
Previously, Ms. Aaron served as the Advocacy Director of the Dependency
Court Intervention Program for Family Violence, also a national
demonstration program, supported by a U.S. Department of Justice grant
to Miami’s Juvenile Court. Designed to identify and meet the needs of
abused children and their battered mothers in the child protection
system, the program has been recognized by the National Academy of
Sciences Research Council. Ms. Aaron was part
of the team that planned, developed and implemented the program. In
addition, she designed and supervised the intensive case management and
intervention protocol. Further, Ms. Aaron is engaged in coordination
efforts within the community; she is past Chair of the Dade County
Alliance Against Domestic Violence, and the Domestic Violence and Sexual
Assault Council of Greater Miami. Ms. Aaron has served on the Dade
County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, and currently serves on
the Domestic Violence Oversight Board of Miami-Dade County.
Marianela Fajardo, LCSW
a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and one of the Victim Services
Coordinators at the Victim Empowerment Program. She is a graduate of
Florida International University where she received an undergraduate
degree in psychology and a graduate degree in social
work. She first became interested in the field of victim advocacy as a
result of her graduate internship. Ms. Fajardo has experience providing
therapy for adolescents, adults in substance abuse recovery, and victims
is a Victim Services Coordinator with the
Victim Empowerment Program at FIU’s Counseling and Psychological
Services. Ms. Carhuayo is a graduate of Barry University were she
obtained her Master's degree in Counseling
with a dual specialization in Mental Health and Family Therapy. She is a
Nationally Certified Counselor and a Registered Mental Health Counselor
Intern in the State of Florida. Ms. Carhuayo has extensive clinical
training working with victims of sexual assault,
childhood sexual abuse and relationship violence.
Wendy X. Ordóñez H. M.A.
Ordóñez has been working with the Victim Empowerment Program since
2004. She started as a Peer Educator and became the Coordinator of
Educational Media for the Center in 2007. She plans, recruits, and
coordinates the Annual Peer Education Training and has revitalized the
program by leading and organizing the department's involvement in
activities such as the annual Relay for Life, and Take Back the Night.
She has extensive public speaking experience having presented and
managed the scheduling of prevention and awareness presentations about
Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence, and Stalking intended for the
University Community. Miss
Ordóñez completed her Master of Art in Art Education at Florida
International University in 2010.
Vanessa Gondar, MBA
the Administrative Coordinator at the Victim Empowerment Program. She
is a graduate of Florida International University where she received an
undergraduate degree in Business Management and a Master’s in Business
Administration. She has been part of the center since 2012 and continues
efforts in developing the program. Mrs. Gondar's areas of expertise
include administration, organizational change, personnel management and
budgeting as well as financial management.