About Us

History of The Organization

In 2004, Judge Mary Helen Maley (Santa Cruz County Justice Court), in collaboration with Dr. Linda Mills (New York University’s Center on Violence and Recovery), decided to develop a program that would meet the needs of underserved family violence victims in Santa Cruz County in a holistic, culturally sensitive manner. Maley convened a diverse group of fifty community leaders from law enforcement, health and social services and faith based communities to craft a program. The result was the establishment of Circles of Peace. Since then, Circles of Peace has been successfully treating families affected by domestic violence as well as mobilizing the community into action around this issue. Circles of Peace now represents a model for discussion and replication across the nation.

The Center on Violence and Recovery at New York University was awarded a grant in 2004 by the National Science Foundation to study the Circles of Peace program in comparison to the local Batterers Intervention Programs. The study has been completed. Please call our office for more information.

Our Team

Blanca Acosta serves as the Executive Director at Circles. She has been working in the Social work field since 1999, serving as a Health Promoter in various programs providing education, training and advocacy for low income families. She also has over 6 years of experience as a facilitator for non-violence programs. Her main interest is preventing domestic violence in order to strengthen individuals, families and the community. Along with serving as a Circle Keeper, Blanca works for Child Parent Centers: Head Start as a Health and Nutrition Specialist for the past 7 years. She was born in Mexico and has lived in Arizona for 23 years.

Sonia Sanchez is the Prevention Coordinator for the Underage Drinking and Substance Program for youth, founder of the (ADDYCT) Anti Alochol Drug Youth Coalition Team youth group, and coordinator for the Santa Cruz County Drug Free Community Coalition.  She is also a Co-facilitator for the (CCRT) Santa Cruz Community Response Team for domestic violence, active board member of the Woman’s Club, and in charge of the Reading is Fundamental program for Santa Cruz County schools, member of the The Lions Club, Zonta Club and Rio Rico Rotary. Her main interest is preventing youth from drinking and substance abuse in our community. Sonia was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona, married with three children.

Roxanna Gonzalez, MA LISAC LAC serves as the Clinical Director for Circles of Peace. She was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona. She has been working in the behavioral health field for over 19 years, having served as a therapist and presently a part of the administrative team of Southeastern Arizona Behavioral Health Services, Inc. (SEABHS). Her interest lies in the areas of domestic violence, substance abuse, and overall effects on family dynamics. Roxanna currently focuses on program development to address mental health needs in rural communities.

Gabriela Baldenegro is the Prevention Specialist for the All Stars Youth Program for Circles of Peace.  she’ve lived in Nogales, AZ all her life and she is married with three children.  She is an active volunteer with the Nogales High School Band Boosters and also volunteer with the Desert Shadows Middle School Band were her daughters participate. She has 13 years experience working with low income families empowering them to further their education and become involved parents in their children’s lives.  She also have four years experience working with elementary and middle school aged children in the classroom as a substitute teacher.  Her passion is to work with youth from our community to support them in having a successful and bright future.

Ana Karen López, BA, BHT is a Circle Keeper for Domestic Violence at Circles of Peace and Prevention Specialist for the All Stars Leadership Club for youth in the Nogales community. She was born in Mexico, and has lived in Nogales, Arizona for 16 years. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Arizona, and will be receiving a Master’s Degree in Family Therapy at the Universidad del Valle de Mexico. Her main goal is to open a private practice to help everyone who can benefit from psychotherapy. She is interested in family and marriage counseling as well as individual therapy and restorative justice for domestic violence. Ana Karen considers herself and advocate for Kindness.




Mary Helen Maley

Judith Claremon

Adeline Cripe

Tony Sedgwick

Ex-Officio Member
Linda Mills (Founder)

Orlando Blake
Joyce Hubbard
Gloria Gonzalez

Executive Director
Blanca Acosta