Our Mission

The mission of the Violence Intervention Program is to protect and treat all victims of family violence and sexual assault.

VIP’s unique model of care has set the gold standard for the treatment of all victims of violence across the country.

Our Story

“The cornerstone of the Violence Intervention Program is care and service. Our staff strive to ensure the long-term success of our clients, never afraid to ask, “How can we help you?” ~ Dr. Astrid Heppenstall Heger

Before 1984, the response to a child who had been physically or sexually abused was dismal; victims were “diagnosed” as having been abused and were then tossed into the child welfare system, with few resources or support. Families were in distress, children were broken, and lives crumbled under the emotional trauma that had occurred.

After witnessing patient after patient go down the same dark path, Dr. Astrid Heppenstall Heger, a USC pediatrician trained in child abuse, decided there needed to be a better way. With that decision, the Violence Intervention Program was created, determined to provide better outcomes for victims and the families that support them.


Only able to secure a clinic space roughly the size of a child’s bedroom and a couple of part-time staff, Dr. Heger began to see patients. From the forensic sexual assualt center to the mental health community center, each program was built around a particular patient that represented a failing in the current system. Where there were insufficient services, or no services at all, the Violence Intervention Program would be there to create and pilot a solution, eventually giving it to the county to run in perpetuity, strengthening the system as a whole.Over time, this uniquely successful public-private partnership served as a model for transforming a broken system into a more patient-sensitive network of support.


aged 0-21, received mental health care from VIP Mental Health Clinicians.



volunteers dedicated




Collected during the VIP holiday toy drive


for clients and their siblings.



victims of abuse or neglect were evaluated  and treated at the VIP Hub at LAC+USC Medical Center.

– Reflecting FY 15-16 –

responsible governance, compassionate advocacy

Board of Directors

Linda Bernstein Rubin – Chairperson

Lauren Cameron Bender – Secretary/Treasurer

Cornelia Funke
Eve Somer Gerber
Birgitta Granberg
Astrid Heppenstall Heger, MD
Richard Leweke
Lou Mele

Alison Petrocelli, Esq.
Charon D’Aiello Sandoval
Deborah Santana
Lyne Scott, MD
Allie Weinstein


building progressive solutions
for victims of violence

  • team1

    Astrid Heppenstall Heger, MD

    Executive Director of the Violence Intervention Program at LAC+USC, Founder and CEO of VIP Community Mental Health Center

  • team3

    Jorge Fuentes, MD

    Medical Director, Community-Based Assessment and Treatment Center

  • team5

    Diana Homeier, MD

    Medical Director, Adult Protection Team

  • team6

    Lyn Laboriel, MD

    Director, VIP Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Clinic

  • team7

    Bin Li, CPA

    Chief Financial Officer, VIP Community Mental Health Center

Dr. Heger received her bachelor’s degree and M.D. from the University of Southern California. In 1984, she founded the Center for the Vulnerable Child (CVC) at LAC+USC Medical Center for the evaluation of child abuse, which would grow to become the multi-disciplinary, public-private partnership known as the Violence Intervention Program. Dr. Heger is the Executive Director of VIP, as well as a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and has extensive knowledge and background working with victims of violence. She is highly respected in government industry, is well versed on policy matters and is considered a world-renowned expert in the field of child sexual abuse and assault. She has received the President’s highest award for victim advocacy, and continues to be a powerful advocate for the rights of children and families impacted by violence.

Information coming soon.

Diana Homeier, M.D., is a physician, advocate, researcher, and educator dedicated to expanding access to health care and social services for seniors and disabled adults who are victims of crime at the hands of their caretakers, family members, and others. In 2000, Dr. Homeier was recruited to establish and direct the Adult Protection Team (APT) at the Violence Intervention Program, which was Los Angeles County’s first hospital-based, multidisciplinary clinic serving victim of elder and dependent adult abuse/neglect. In January 2006, Dr. Homeier developed the L.A. County Elder Abuse Forensic Center (LACEAFC). Through the Forensic Center, Dr. Homeier successfully convened a team of community professionals that has provided expert case examination, documentation, consultation, and prosecution of many of the County’s most complex cases of elder abuse/neglect. Dr. Homeier is a board certified geriatrician and is also an Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine and Director of The Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Training Program at the USC Keck School of Medicine.

Lyn Laboriel M.D. is an experienced developmental and behavioral pediatrician. She is a graduate of Boston University School of Medicine, with broad experience in identification, diagnosis, intervention, and educational strategies with a wide spectrum of developmental disabilities and learning styles in infants, pre-schoolers, school-age children, and adolescents. She began work at VIP to assist Dr. Heger in founding our specialized Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Clinic in 2004, now the largest in the country.

Bin Li joined the Violence Intervention Program in 2010 and serves as the agency's Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining the agency, Bin taught accounting and international taxation at a university in China. She has also held positions as an accountant with a local architectural firm and a CPA firm.

  • team8

    Maribel Mejia, PhD

    Chief Operating Officer, VIP Community Mental Health Center

  • team9

    Dustin Schiada, LMFT

    Clinical Director, Administrative Birth to Five, and Outpatient Services

Licensed Psychologist Maribel Mejia received her Ph.D. from Alliant International University in Los Angeles. She began her career with the LAC+USC VIP SCAN clinic in 1999 as a bilingual (English/Spanish) clinical staff member and DV/SA Crisis Interventionist. She was one of the first therapists hired for the newly formed VIP Community Mental Health Center, Inc. private non-profit in July of 2002. In 2012, Dr. Mejia began leading the mental health services support for all the VIP medical clinics, including the VIP “Hub,” Sexual Assault Program, School-Based Program, and Indigent Services. She ensures the delivery of high quality and ethical clinical service.

Mr. Schiada has been working in the mental health field for the past 18 years. He has served as a director, manager, supervisor, clinician, care coordinator, and case manager at different times throughout his career. He is committed to providing youth and families the highest quality of care, using the best practices and engagement strategies to impact those suffering from severe emotional disorders, hopelessness and isolation. Mr. Schiada attended Whittier College where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Chapman University where he obtained a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

30 years of GROWTH!


Employment Opportunities at VIP

join our team

At the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), we understand that every employee plays an integral role in protecting and caring for the children and families we serve each day. Composed of a diverse and growing community of concerned and caring individuals, VIP is dedicated to helping abused and neglected children and their families find hope for today and opportunities for a brighter tomorrow. Every employee knows that they can make a difference and change a life.

We value our employees, which is why VIP offers a competitive benefits package that allows employees to meet their personal and professional needs while contributing their special talents and passion to our community.

Benefits include:

  • Competitive Salaries
  • Generous Paid Time Off
  • Medical, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance, and Flexible Spending Account Benefits
  • 401(k) Employer Contribution
  • Supportive and Flexible Work Environment

If you believe in our mission and want to work in a fast-paced environment with a dynamic and growing team, please click the button below to view and apply to one of our current openings.


Corporate & Foundation Partners

Funding for the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) has been provided in part by these generous corporate and foundational partners: