Laguna Collective

Young Professionals

Below you will find members of Laguna Collective who are in the starting phase of their carreers and feel committed to our target groups. We aim to support our young members in taking relevant developmental steps.

Lotte Dijkstra

Lotte Dijkstra is a medical doctor. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 2019 after which she worked in psychiatric emergency services. She is currently taking an MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. During her studies, Lotte has developed an interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR); first as a sexuality educator in primary schools and later as the Netherlands first youth ambassador for SRHR. In this position she worked closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, many national and international NGO’s, and with several UN agencies. Currently she serves as a supervisory board member at Rutgers, centre for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

After finishing her MSc Lotte aims to train as a psychiatrist and use her epidemiological skills in researching the social determinants of mental health.

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Juul Leijssen

Juul Leijssen graduated in 2020 as a medical doctor at the Amsterdam UMC, location AMC. Besides a great interest in public (mental) health, it is clear to her that as a doctor she wants to work with marginalized groups. During medical school, Juul gained clinical experience in Surinam, Rwanda, Sudan and Senegal and worked in January 2020 on Lesvos as a coordinator at a medical clinic for refugees. During her study, she also conducted research into causes of depressive symptoms among various ethnic groups in Amsterdam.

Juul is currently working at Doctors of the World in Amsterdam as a volunteer, where she provides psychosocial support to undocumented refugees. She also works at the Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD) as a medical doctor for infectious disease control.

Zoë Nieuwhof

Zoë Nieuwhof is a medical doctor who will start her psychiatry residency in 2022. She graduated from Maastricht University in 2019 with a master’s degree in Medicine and Global Health. For her master thesis she conducted a qualitative study investigating possible factors influencing outcomes of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in traumatized refugees and asylum-seekers.

Zoë has great interest in Global Mental Health, social psychiatry and transcultural psychiatry. In the future she would like to work with marginalized populations. She also hopes to contribute to the improvement of mental health(care). Currently Zoë is working on a research project with Doctors of the World to evaluate the Method for the Empowerment of Trauma Survivors (METS).

Elizabeth Nolan

Elizabeth Nolan is currently finalising her Master’s degree in Clinical Developmental Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). Over past years she spent time working with children in refugee camps. In Athens (2016), she worked with several NGOs helping to set up Child Friendly Spaces. In Beirut (2017) she worked for the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) contributing to guidelines on disaster management focussing on children’s wellbeing during emergency situations in refugee camps. In addition, she was part of a team monitoring implementation of the LRC’s psychosocial care programs in the field.

Following these experiences, Elizabeth decided she wanted to learn more and returned home to study and develop competences around working with children who suffer from psychological distress due to their experiences as refugees and migrants. During her Bachelor’s at the VU (completed in 2021) Elizabeth was involved in research on attachment therapy and translated a book on this subject written by one of her professors, from Dutch to English. She developed a strong interest in the theme of ‘attachment’ within the treatment of psychotrauma in children.

In the future Elizabeth plans to return to the field, as the direct contact with children is where her passion lies.

Nienke Vonk

Nienke Vonk is a medical doctor, starting her psychiatry residency in April 2024. After graduating at the University of Amsterdam in 2020, she worked as a doctor in obstetrics & gynecology, emergency medicine, surgery, and psychiatry in the Netherlands and Suriname .

Nienke is interested in providing care for people who experience barriers to adequate healthcare and did clinical internships in low resource settings in Ecuador, Ghana, Zambia, and South-Africa. She conducted her master thesis with data from the large refugee camp Mae La on the Thai-Myanmar border, where she also participated in a teaching program for Thai midwifes working in clinics along the border. Currently, she volunteers as a facilitator at Doctors of the World in the Method for the Empowerment of Trauma Survivors (METS) and is a member of the Ethics committee at Arkin, a large mental health care facility in Amsterdam.

Nienke is a doctor who loves to work together on local initiatives with a global view and is committed to develop herself further in the field of global mental health.

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Karen Wekema

Karen Wekema is a driven young woman whose foremost interest lies with human beings and their psyches. Especially the intersection between wellbeing, conflict and crisis is the object of her focus. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights (UU), she now works as a senior at Slachtofferhulp Nederland. Karen researched the implementation of the peace accord in Colombia and the role of trust in peace building processes in the recent past. She supported several projects with (un)documented refugees and people who suddenly became homeless.

Besides her mother tongue Dutch, Karen speaks English and Spanish and is currently learning Portuguese. She is developing her mindfulness skills now and plans to work as a mindfulness teacher in the near future.

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Therese Wong

Therese Wong is a driven, broadly interested psychologist. She has a great affinity with the human psyche in relation to culture, conflict and collective trauma. Next to this, she has a specific interest in the development of (culture-sensitive) psychological and psychosocial interventions for victims of war and human rights violations.  

Therese holds a BSc degree in Health Sciences with a specialization in Mental Health (Maastricht University). During this bachelor she investigated the relationship between terrorism and psychology in her thesis ‘The combat against terrorism: implementing the terrorist’s psyche’. In her final year, she was selected for a national honors program (NAHSS) that focusses on strengthening the bond between the Netherlands and China. Through NAHSS she has been in China for longer periods of time during which she refined her Chinese and deepened her knowledge of Chinese politics. 

In 2020 Therese has completed her MSc in Clinical Psychology (UvA). As part of this master she has done her clinical internship at ARQ Centrum’45 in the expertise team Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Psychotrauma. She has also written her master thesis on 7ROSES/METS, a recovery-oriented method for traumatized populations. The NIP has awarded this thesis with the Master Thesis Price for the best master thesis in the field of Psychotrauma. Therese intends to pursue a second master’s degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights.

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