Sacramento, CA – As part of the California State Assembly’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month, Assemblymember Lisa Calderon recognized Ms. Monica Shahbaznia Alvarez, Ph.D. as the 57th Assembly District’s Woman of the Year in commemorations of her quarter-century of excellence in service to our communities by providing psychotherapy to the children, adolescents, parents, and families of California, throughout Los Angeles County.
“I am thrilled to announce Monica Shahbaznia Alvarez as Woman of the Year for the 57th Assembly District,” said Assemblymember Calderon. “She has dedicated her education, training, and career to strengthen the communities she serves by focusing on the mental health of each individual patient - guiding and supporting each to achieve their goals so they may in turn put into motion a continuous positive ripple effect throughout their lives. I am proud of the work she and healthcare professionals alike continue to do to provide for the children and families in my district and across Los Angeles County.”
In July 1997, Dr. Shahbaznia Alvarez began treating children, parents, families, and individual adults in both Spanish and English in Hayward at La Familia Counseling Service of The Multicultural Psychotherapy Training and Research Institute. Her dedication to social science, social service, and the protection of children began long before. A strong calling to a vocation of selfless service to those in need originated as a child in a Roman Catholic family upbringing and education from kindergarten through high school in Sherman Oaks where an emphasis in social justice and global citizenship was deeply instilled. A natural life flow to choose a career as a healer and teacher in mental health led to a B.A. degree in Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) which fulfilled her dream to help people learn, heal, and live healthy lives.
A proud Bruin, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend a doctoral program to focus on Family and Child Psychology with an interest in child abuse prevention. She trained in early child development at the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute and her research of child abuse and aspects of acculturation for her doctoral dissertation led to hospitals and an interest in pediatric quality of life. She was accepted in the only opening for the Pediatric Psychology pre-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland where she began a 22-year love of supporting and treating patients struggling with chronic illnesses and medical issues that can compromise mental health.
After earning her doctorate degree, she returned to her beloved hometown to pursue further training in Pediatric Psychology as a two-year post-doctoral fellow at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where she began her journey working with patients living with diabetes and fighting cancer as well as teaching medical residents. There she created and presented a self-monitoring tool for adolescents struggling with noncompliance of their diabetes care regimen. Leading support groups simultaneously in English and Spanish at CHLA’s ‘Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases’ and ‘Padres Contra El Cancer’ cleared a path towards more focus in Pediatric Oncology.
Once licensed as a Clinical Psychologist by the California Board of Psychology, Dr. Shahbaznia Alvarez met her goal to start her own business and opened the private practice. As a tricultural and bilingual Family and Child Psychologist with specializations in both Pediatric Psychology and Health Psychology, she’s had the great opportunity to extend clinical services to patients of diverse communities in Los Angeles County and has earned the trust of renown medical specialists to help treat their patients who struggle with depression or anxiety related to their illnesses.
While establishing her private practice, Dr. Shahbaznia Alvarez was soon called upon to teach medical students at The Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She was later invited to join the Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association’s local chapter and served as the chair of the Advocacy Committee to promote awareness and education in Southern California and Nevada. As a member of the California delegation, she has traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby members of the United States Congress for insulin affordability and continued funding for research towards a cure.
Dr. Shahbaznia Alvarez was born in Los Angeles and is the proud daughter of immigrant parents, Feridon Shahbaznia from Iran and Silvia Alvarez Shahbaznia from México, who raised her in the San Fernando Valley with her brothers Fernando and Andrés Shahbaznia. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Mark McQueen, who shares her love of travel, exploring historic places, architecture, cinema, and marveling in the splendor of the extraordinary California landscapes.
Contact: Alberto Ruiz, Alberto.Ruiz@asm.ca.gov