About Us

Background | Goals | Needs
A PLACE OF HER OWN (PLACE) is an art based healing program dedicated to fostering the long-term mental health and wellbeing of women. In a culturally and gender acceptable creative space, to deeply reconnect internally and in a group, women learn to identify and release negative patterns, journeying along an artistic path to not only survive, but thrive. Engaging families and communities, PLACE aims to grow compassion for women.

Who is PLACE for?: Open to all women. Grown from an Asian American cultural perspective, we focus on women of color, but open to  all women seeking a new way forward.
 PLACE especially works for women that are ready to have their stories heard, becoming courageous storytellers as part of their healing and transformation. 
The artistic spirit behind it asks participants to put themselves visually out into the world during the arts exhibition, the artists’ talk and privately within our workshops.​
No art experience necessary, just a big interest in creative learning, growing and participating.

Founder/Director: Cynthia Tom
  BIOS of the Faculty and Advisors

​  2015 A PLACE OF HER OWN @SOMArts Cultural Center - Photo Cris Matos​​

A PLACE OF HER OWN™  is a culturally informed, arts-based healing and transformation program
 is designed to deeply transform those who want to move forward in their lives.
PLACE offers down to earth healing meditation techniques that relieve stress while opening up our ability to access and trust our intuition and heal. During the 6 month WORKSHOP series of creative art modalities and meditations these changes become physically tangible. The work is designed to release underlying patterns and old habits along with their links to individual, family and cultural histories and patterns of dysfunction.
EXHIBITION: “A Place of Your Own” curator Cynthia Tom asserts, “It is especially vital that women learn to define what important to them as individuals and claim their metaphorical and/or physical place. The goal of this project is to inspire everyone to think deeply about where they’ve been, who they want to become and what they need to do to get there.
If you had a place of your own, what would it be?
What is your life path? This may be the catalyst you are looking for.
A Place of Her Own excavates the vital dreams and hopes of women. In order to thrive and take ownership of their life’s path, women must define what is important to them alone. . 
By the end of the workshop series, women will know how to:
  • Find inner peace and balance by letting go of the past, including trauma, move past patterns and fear.

  • Deconstruct and analyze their beliefs, rules, boundaries and ancestral patterns that dictate(d) choices in their lives.

  • Think critically about their aspirations to make informed decision about their present and future life.

  • Live in and trust their intuition, building new communities of support.

  1. APLACEOFHEROWN, AsianAmericanwomenartists, womenartists, artsandhealing
    A PLACE OF HER OWN Facilitators
  2. 2016 PLACE workshop session photo Reiko Fujii
    2016 PLACE workshop session photo Reiko Fujii
 A Little Bit About Us
Faculty and Staff

Founder/Director/Curator: Cynthia Tom
Co-Curator / Art Director:​ Maggie Yee
Development: Cynthia Tom and Natalie Sacramento
Exhibition Installation Preparators: Cris Matos and Brian Garvey
Facilitators and Advisors: Susan Almazol , Sigi Arnejo , Manon Bogerd Wada ,  Reiko Fujii, Kelsay Elizabeth Myers , Judith Nihei MFT, Natalie Sacramento MPh,   Irene Wibawa
Advisor: Amy Grace Lam , Ph.D., Community Mental Health Consultant
Photographers | Videographers
Reiko Fujii , Cris Matos

Cynthia Tom
Maggie Yee
A professional artist for over 20 years and cultural/community curator for 10, Cynthia Tom is the founder of A PLACE OF HER OWN™. As an artistic truth teller, she is a  community organizer and curates programs in partnership with:  Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA), Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, Asian Women’s Shelter (AWS) and Gallery Route One in Pt Reyes,  Community Health for Asian Americans (CHAA). She also curated several of AAWAA’s major exhibitions including underCurrents and the Quest for Space, and numerous A PLACE OF HER OWN© exhibitions, funded by the California Arts Council (CAC), San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

A 3rd generation Chinese American and native San Franciscan, Cynthia Tom grew up with family members who were trafficked for opium and money. She inherited ancestral trauma from their experiences of Angel Island Immigration incarceration and interrogation, being sold for drugs, extreme racism and deep poverty. She ended up choosing abusive, domineering partners, and having never seen her parents raise their voices, she worked to understand where her patterns came from. Finding her artistic spirit gave her the platform to ask “Why?” and the tools to express the answers along with the emotions tied to them. She had a slow, steady awakening realizing the need to face the pain and then the joy of healing herself. In time, a loud, innate feminist voice rose up driving a dream to share her learnings with other women. Driven by a passion for social justice for women, Cynthia develops art and programs designed to transform women and their communities from the inside out.

Cynthia uses visual art as a means to transform souls. She is a visual mixed-media artist, painter and curator who likes to play with the accepted norm. Her art is known as a source of inspiration for healing, empowerment, spirituality and change, fostering dialogue and building community in innovative ways. Painting, mixed media, art installation and curatorial projects are her means of expression. Cynthia has won awards for leadership and curatorial vision, and she has been included in art history textbooks and the press.

Cynthia has a BS in Business Marketing and Management from San Francisco State University. During her 25-plus years in healthcare marketing, she trained under Lynn Rolston (Free Heart Farms – Spiritual Corporate Leader) and Dr. Sylvia Lafair (CEO at Creative Energy Options, Inc. professional leadership development). These women taught her to question assumptions and grow confidence, which eventually led her to create A PLACE OF HER OWN© using these approaches. Other influential people who contributed to Cynthia’s Arts & Transformation path have been Dr. Trinity A. Ordona; Keiko Gill, DC; Cris Matos; Ilya Skolnikoff, DC; DIBAK; and Amy G. Lam PhD.

Maggie Yee was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1955. She is half Chinese and Filipino. Primarily a painter, her other passion is combining found and new objects. Her work documents her history and experiences. Paint, canvas, found and new objects provide the ideal materials for expression. Partly self taught and West Coast educated, she received a Certificate in Commercial Art. As a graphic designer for 17 years, she was employed by various publishing houses producing magazines, catalogs and tabloids. She recently published Maggie’s Men’s Group, subtitled Collective Figure Drawings: Under the Influence of Wine, Chocolate & Conversation and has contributed many original collage works to Joe Cardella’s “Art/Life” Magazine for 7 years. With Cardella’s permission, she launched “Folio 94, Conversation for Those Who Create” in Honolulu. Like “Art/Life,” “Folio 94” was a portable gallery style of hand bound images, 3-D design and poems from 1992-1998. With the help of her husband, Brian, she published “Folio 94” for 4 years. Opportunities to branch out into International Mail Art (Postal Art) arose in 1996.

She is a current member of Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) and has participated in many group shows including Los Gatos Museum of Art, The Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles and the Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland. In addition, she had solo shows in Hawaii and California.

She participated in the women’s arts and healing program A PLACE OF HER OWN™ in 2014 and went on to become an art facilitator, eventually adding PLACE exhibitions manager and co-curatro to her list of roles.. She has worked part time as a seasonal scenic painter for Cabrillo Stage since 2003. Brian Garvey is her husband of 29 years. They met in Kaneohe, Hawaii. She has a son, Daniel Yee and a daughter, Kimberly Connors. She lives and works in Santa Cruz, California. www.maggieyee.com

Facilitators / Co-curators / Admin
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Susan Almazol, MA, is an artist, writer, educator and woman of color who explodes boundaries.  At 22, she became the first Filipina journalist in San Francisco. At 33, she developed the core writing and presentations courses in the Engineering Management Program at Santa Clara University. At 35, she co-founded a communications consulting company in Silicon Valley.  At 54, she exhibited mixed media/ceramics sculpture for the first time. At 66, she danced on stage for the first time. Susan joined PLACE at its inception in 2009 as part of an artist residency at de Young Museum in San Francisco. She continues as a PLACE artist and workshop facilitator. Based in Oakland, CA, Susan has an MA in Communication from The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. www.susanalmazolsculpture.com

Sigi Arnejo, , C.P.C, is a life coach specializing in bereavement coaching. She is part of the Kaiser Permanente Hospice team and facilitates drop in grief groups regularly. During the fall and spring, she leads the Daughters Who've Lost Mothers group, an 8 week series that combines grief processing with storytelling. Sigi also holds expressive art workshops aiming to ease bereavement through visual stimulus. Sigi is a graphic artist with a certificate from Silicon Valley College and is certified as a life coach from The Life Coach Institute of Orange County, approved by the International Coaching Federation. She is the principal of Flourish Coaching for Life where she has her private practice helping women live confident, productive lives. www.sigiarnejo.com

Manon Bogerd Wada completed her BFA in Community Arts from California College of the Arts. Landscape and humanity are significant threads in her art practice. Within found objects, Manon discovers hidden stories and is intrigued to divulge the unseen and overlooked. She is based in San Francisco where she works with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. www.mbwada.com

Reiko Fujii, MFA, earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Arts from John F. Kennedy University in 2004, a BA in Psychology and a K-8 Elementary School Teaching Credential, both from the University of California, Berkeley. A found object and mixed media installation artist, she has been creating, exhibiting and teaching art since 1989. www.reikofujii.com

Kelsay Myers, MFA, is a San Francisco Bay Area writer, artist and teacher. She is a doctoral candidate in Transformative Studies at California Institute of Integral Studies and earned dual MFA degrees in Nonfiction and Poetry from Saint Mary’s College of California, where she currently serves as Chair of the MFA in Creative Writing Program Advisory Board. Her interests are in identity construction, personality theories, different forms of creative expression and aestheticism for personal growth and transformation. She uses everything she can to look at herself, humanity, and the world to try to create something beautiful from the composition and, sometimes, from the wreckage. Her literary works and found object installations are attempts at understanding the self on the brink of surrender. For her, art is about the act of seeing and being seen — the feeling that you have to share the beautiful, or grotesque, or really frightening, or the true self with someone else. She joined PLACE in 2011 and has been an Art Facilitator since 2012, with a hiatus in 2014-2015. www.kelsayelizabethmyers.com

Judith Nehei, MFT, Mental Health Advisor and mediation facilitator. Judith is in private practice in San Francisco, she is also a performing artist infusing humor into healing.

Natalie Sacramento joined the PLACE family as a artist in residence in the A PLACE OF HER OWN Fall 2014 cohort. She works in occupational health and HIV prevention. She aspires to work to improve the health outcomes of her community, people of color and immigrants. Natalie is excited to continue her exploration of public health through the lens of community healing and art.
Education: Bachelor's of Science in Anthropology and minor in Asian American Studies from UCLA

Irene Wibawa - Co-curator, administrative advisor, art facilitator

Amy Grace Lam, Ph.D., Advisor - Community Mental Health Consultant. Amy Grace Lam is a poet-musician, mother, community advocate and intuitive energy healer. Her life's work is dedicated to personal and collective healing. She believes in the power of art to express and heal what words alone cannot. Visit her website at www.amygracelam.com