El Centro de Libertad

Recovery with Dignity.

About Us

El Centro de Libertad was founded in 1994 by Mr. George Borg in response to the growing need for culturally competent drug and alcohol services for adults in urban centers; however, the gap between need and available services in San Mateo County has resulted in El Centro expanding to serving both adults and youth in both urban and rural Coastside communities, and to offer Specialized Services to other underserved adult populations such as those in custody, those who have co-occurring disorders, those needing Parenting, Domestic Violence or Anger Management counseling.

El Centro made all the difference when I was in a very dark place in my life. I found the strength to move past my addiction and re-train for a new career. My family and I cannot thank El Centro enough for helping me turn my life around.

Adult Intervention Participant, 2018

Our Board of Directors


Paul Mangan, President
Ralph Garcia, Vice President
Carl Segelke, Treasurer
Patrice JE Osborne, Secretary


Hugo Avila
Daniel Oliveira
Wendy Marzetta

Our Staff

Michael Akana, Executive Director

"Self knowledge is not adequate to keep us clean and sober."

Mike worked with and advised non-profits in areas of administration, systems, finance, research and human resources.  He then stepped through the doors of El Centro in 1994 as one of the first clients.  In 1998 he began 15 years of work with El Centro on finances, contracts and compliance.  He returned to El Centro in 2023 and now as Executive Director works closely with the management team and Board of Directors.

Mike loves travel and writing.  He volunteers with the American Red Cross in Disaster Preparation and Response and with Kiwanis International in Youth Leadership.


Luis Valdivias, Director of Operations

Luis has been with El Centro since 2010. He oversees all programs that El Centro offers and supports the Treatment Team in effectively serving clients, growing professionally, and empowering all staff members to reach their full potential. "I am committed to the mission of helping to serve Individuals in our diverse community, to strengthen opportunities for everyone and break the cycles of abuse and addiction."


Maria Cerrillo Hernandez
Director of Finance and Human Resources

Maria has a deep knowledge of systems and processes--administration, finance,  electronic health records, facilities and Human Resources -- having served 20 years in a variety of roles at El Centro.


Taylor J. Smith, LMFT
Clinical Director

Taylor describes "Change" as "maybe the scariest word in any language."

Taylor guides our counselors, clients, and the the organization as a whole through a process of healing and change. Taylor is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. We celebrate his return to El Centro.


Do you want to make a difference in the lives of people in your community? Join El Centro de Libertad/The Freedom Center and you can make a difference every day. View our careers page to see current openings.

Read About Careers

Your Support Helps

Make a gift to support the agency or one of our programs! El Centro de Libertad/The Freedom Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit agency and all donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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