Spirited Souls: 10 questions for the Executive Director of The Healing Center, Maryann Clesceri

Maryann Clesceri is the Executive Director of the Healing Center of Aurora Sinai.

1. Tell me a little about your background. How have the situations you’ve dealt with and the choices you’ve made impacted your current position at The Healing Center?
In 1997, I was moving, (more like running!), along in my life as a mom, wife and as a program director, administering a program for sexually abused children and for youth who sexually act out, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 37. This changed my life. I always knew my work was important but it taught me to really appreciate the magnitude of my family, my work, and my life. After my surgery and treatment, I decided to work to make my life more meaningful and impactful. When the position became available at The Healing Center, I had to give it a try. I do not regret it at all. 95% of the time, I love my job!

2. How do you incorporate spirituality into your life?
Every night I read from a daily spiritual book. This is a non-denominational book that offers daily spiritual insight. It is interesting how often the passages relate to my day. I also say the prayer the “Our Father” especially when I can’t sleep. It is very comforting to me and gives me peace. Lastly, I often just thank God often for keeping me here to watch my daughters grow.

3. What do you feel The Healing Center does for the community as a whole?
When people come to us with long term un-healed trauma, we often see that they are struggling with anxiety, sleeping, relationships and drugs and alcohol. When I see survivors who have used our services and the complete shift it has made on their lives, it is immensely rewarding. This change often allows people to become better parents, employees, spouses, and caregivers. All of these make our community stronger.

4. Do you think you are a different person today (mentally and emotionally) because of your work with trauma survivors?
I have to admit that this work does change you. You cannot hear so many stories of pain and suffering and not have it change you.  Unfortunately, this work has made me more fearful of my surroundings and I have a need to feel safe. Because of this, I know I need to have a good balance between work and family. I cannot do sexual assault work on the evenings or weekends. I need to separate that intensity with things that I love to do like gardening, reading, exercise, and spending time with friends and family.

5. What daily activities do you participate in that foster healing and peace in your life?
I love to breathe deeply everyday. It feels so good.

6. If you could describe your outlook on life in just one word, what would it be?
Dance

7. What do you wish the public knew about The Healing Center that you feel they might not?
I don’t think people know how exceptional we are and how doing this work in non-traditional ways makes an important impact on the lives of survivors.

8. Whom do you most admire?
I admire my brothers and sisters. I have three of each! All of my siblings are hard working people very committed to family and faith. I feel so lucky to be a part of my family.

9. What is one long term goal you have for The Healing Center?
I really would like to see multiple locations of The Healing Center. This model works so well that I think it should be everywhere. The difficult part will be getting our healing collective partners, Core El/Centro and Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic to be with us.

10. If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
I’ve always wanted to answer this question. I would like to meet our president, Barack Obama. I think he is an amazing man who has accomplished something that has never been done before.  It is not often that you get to meet people like that.

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services to adult survivors of sexual violence. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, has a right to heal from abuse. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

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