Celebrating our women, celebrating our history

March 16, 2021

Throughout our 50-year history, Venice Family Clinic has had many women to thank for our visionary leadership in community health.

Fern Seizer, our visionary executive director for a decade through most of the 1980s, forged a path marked by the purchase of our first clinic building and the launching of several patient programs, paving the way for our current CEO and executive director, Elizabeth Benson Forer, to lead us through expansion on all levels – the latest of which will take us into an entirely new service area to help even more people in need.

This Women’s History Month, the Clinic celebrates the past, present and future accomplishments of our staff at all levels – 80% of whom are women – as they lead us through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Here we feature just a few of the everyday heroes serving on the frontlines of this global crisis who inspire us to continue innovating to serve people in need.

Anita Zamora, MSN, RN, CNS, deputy director and chief operations officer

As deputy director and chief operations officer, Anita Zamora, who has been with Venice Family Clinic for eight years, makes sure the Clinic is running smoothly and that our programs and services are effective in meeting the needs of our community. Among her many other responsibilities, Zamora currently leads our COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, managing our testing and vaccination programs, procuring the Clinic’s supply of tests and vaccines, and even donning PPE and giving patients shots.

What do you like most about your job?

“Two things: one, the people I work with, who are fully committed to our mission and have a very can-do attitude, and two, the tremendous variety in my work day – I might jump from planning a renovation, to exploring new services, to advocating on important policy issues. I find it very stimulating, and I really enjoy how all the pieces fit together into one big picture.”

Who is one woman that inspires you in your life? Why?

“Well, I’m a nurse by profession, so I have to mention Florence Nightingale. She worked to establish nursing as a profession, created a model for nursing education, and set a standard for science and best practice to inform the care we provide.”

What are you most proud of in your time with Venice Family Clinic?

“I’m very proud of how we always rise to the challenge in front of us.”


Cynthia Robles,  Common Ground PrEP navigator

Cynthia Robles first came to the Clinic in 2018 as a medical case manager and recently returned as PrEP navigator in Common Ground, our HIV treatment and prevention program. In this new role at Common Ground, Robles connects with individuals who are at risk for HIV infection and helps lower barriers to accessing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medication, taken before or after possible exposure to HIV from sex or injection drug use, as part of the Clinic’s harm reduction approach.

What do you like most about your job?

“It’s great to be able to connect to patients on a consistent basis and to get to know them throughout the years. It makes me happy that patients feel welcome at Common Ground and that we provide them with high quality care and services in a non-judgmental manner.”

Who is one woman that inspires you in your life? Why?

“My mother has always been the woman who has inspired me the most in my life. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize how scary it must have been to immigrate to a country that was totally foreign to her. Due to her sacrifices and courage, I was able to have the opportunities that allowed me to access basic health care and higher education. I thank her for all that she has done for my siblings and me.”

How do you see your role fitting into the Clinic’s history?

“I’m the only PrEP navigator on the Westside, and I’m providing a service that was previously nonexistent. I hope to bridge this gap in my new role, in line with Venice Family Clinic’s mission of providing high quality care to people in need.” 


Linda Lopez, health insurance enrollment manager

Linda Lopez has seen a lot of change over the past 20 years with the Clinic. She started as an Americorps intern helping enroll patients into California’s version of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Healthy Families, building trust and providing assurance to families unsure and afraid of the government. Today she is the Clinic’s health insurance enrollment manager, overseeing the operations of the Health Insurance Enrollment department, which assists patients and community members in enrolling, using and retaining health coverage and benefits.

What are you most proud of in your time at VFC?

“When the Affordable Care Act passed! The clinic advocated for and supported its passage to ensure health care for all. I was a health insurance enrollment counselor at the time. Until the ACA passed, I worked face-to-face with people, and not being able to help them get health insurance wasn’t a good feeling. There were a lot of patients experiencing homelessness who were in need but weren’t eligible, and they couldn’t understand why. When the ACA passed, there were a lot of challenges in educating people about it, especially when it came to preventative care benefits and why they should use them. But we got through it, and now the majority of our patients have access to health insurance.”

What do you like most about your job?

“Working with a vibrant, passionate and hardworking team that cares about our patients and shares the values and mission of the Clinic.”  

How do you see your role fitting into VFC history?

“Over the two decades I’ve worked for the Clinic, I have seen my department grow from three to 10 staff members, plus volunteers. When we first started, the team was grant based, and we didn’t think we were going to be here as a permanent part of the Clinic. But one of our providers pushed for the program to be permanent, as she saw that it helped her patients. Now Health Insurance Enrollment is trusted in the community, so much so that patients will come to us instead of the county when they need help. And because of our reputation and the relationship we’ve built with the county over the years, the county now understands the important role we play and work with us, getting issues fixed for our patients in just a matter of hours and asking us to consult on their programs.”