Guests

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Dr. Gerard Sanacora

Mental Health Expert & Researcher

Dr. Gerard Sanacora is the Gross Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, Director of the Yale Depression Research Program, and Co-Director of the Interventional Psychiatry Program at Yale-New Haven Hospital. He completed an NIH sponsored Medical Scientist Training Program at the State University New York at Stony Brook, earning his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics in 1992 and his M.D. degree in 1994. He later completed the Clinical Neuroscientist Training Program Residency in the Department of Psychiatry, and an NIH funded Neuroimaging Scientist Training Program Fellowship at Yale University. His research employs both preclinical and clinical studies to study the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders and to develop new approaches for treatment and prevention. He has served as PI on a broad range of NIH, foundation, and industry sponsored studies, which have helped highlight novel pathophysiological mechanisms in relation to mood disorders and contributed to novel treatment approaches. He has worked on the creation and dissemination of educational resources and provided leadership on national and international consensus statements. He was elected a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2012. He has received the Anna-Monkia Stiftung international award for the investigation of the biological substrate and functional disturbances of depression in 2009 and the Joel Elkes Research Award for Outstanding contributions to Psychopharmacology from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2011.

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Ashley Clayton

Mental Health Activist & Community Psychology Researcher

Ashley Clayton grew up in Kentucky and moved to CT for grad school, where she has lived for the last 12 years. She has a Master’s degree in community psychology and is a Research Associate in the Department of Psychiatry in the Yale School of Medicine. She has developed and evaluated various community-based mental health interventions. Ashley ventured into community psychology through a determination to use her first-hand experience with mental illness for good and her dedication to social justice. She has extensive qualitative and quantitative research training, with particular expertise in community-based participatory research, questionnaire development, and stigma. Ashley is a mental health activist and has published numerous research papers on the social inclusion of individuals living with severe mental illness, maternal mental health, recovery-oriented and person-centered care, and healthcare narratives and essays. Ashley has served on advisory boards for various patient-focused and advocacy organizations. She owns a consulting business where she provides consultation services in program evaluation, patient engagement, and UX design to healthcare and healthcare adjacent organizations.

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Patricia Churchland

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy University of California, San Diego

Patricia Smith Churchland is a Professor emerita of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct Professor at the Salk Institute. Her research focuses on how discoveries in neuroscience impact traditional philosophical ideas. She is author of the pioneering book, Neurophilosophy (MIT Press 1986), and co-author with T. J. Sejnowski of The Computational Brain (MIT 1992). Her current work focuses on morality and the social brain; Braintrust: What Neuroscience tells us about Morality  (2011 Princeton U P). Touching a Nerve, published by Norton in 2013, portrays how to get comfortable with this fact: I am what I am because my brain is as it is. In June 2019, her latest book was released – Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition. She has been president of the American Philosophical Association and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and won a MacArthur Prize in 1991, the Rossi Prize for neuroscience in 2008, and the Prose Prize for science for the book, Braintrust.  She was chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of California San Diego from 2000-2007.

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Larry J. Young

William P. Timmie Professor of Psychiatry Emory University

Dr. Larry J. Young, PhD is Director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience and of the Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition at Emory University in Atlanta.  He is also William P. Timmie Professor of Psychiatry at Emory School of Medicine. He also leads the Center for Social Neural Networks at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.  Dr. Young is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Golden Brain Award, the Frank Beach Award, and the ACNP Daniel H. Efron Award, and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Young’s research focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying social relationships, and the translation of those mechanisms into novel treatments for social deficits in psychiatric disorders such as autism. His work has identified a role for oxytocin in mediating pair bonding and empathy-based consoling behavior in prairie voles 
He is the author of The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction explores the latest discoveries of how brain chemistry influences all aspects of our relationships with others. 

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Corey Minor Smith

Attorney and Founder of Corey Empowers

Corey Minor Smith is an Attorney, Author of #Driven, and Founder of Corey Empowers and the Driven U Community. After navigating through the mental health care services industry for over 25 years, earning a Master’s in Education, Guidance and Counseling and being a trained facilitator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), she is known as a thought leader in the social justice space, focusing on mental wellness advocacy. Corey lived in three states, went to 14 schools, and moved at least 21 times before she went to college. Along the way, Corey became a lawyer. She later was elected to a City Council at Large position, making her the first African American to be elected to a city-wide position. In 2019, she published the now highly celebrated debut book, #Driven, with a foreword penned by Les Brown. After self-publishing #Driven and founding Corey Empowers, Corey has appeared on several platforms including, the Audible Original, We’ve Got Answers, the Breakfast Club, in addition to various SiriusXM podcasts and news programs. #Driven was even lauded as “searing and moving” in the New York Times! Subsequently, global Fortune 500 companies like ViacomCBS, The Timken Company and Xerox have selected  Corey to offer presentations to enhance leadership development by incorporating a strong and relevant mental  health care component. In her role as the driving force behind Corey Empowers, she has led the charge with customized presentations designed to foster a culture of care that focuses on mental wellness as a top priority. 
On a personal note, Corey lives in Canton, Ohio and is the mother to two adult sons.

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Matt Kudish

Executive Director, NAMI NYC-Metro

Matt Kudish is the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City.  NAMI-NYC is one of the largest affiliates of NAMI and helps families and individuals affected by mental illness build better lives through education, support, and advocacy.  
Named to City & State’s “Health Power” list for the last three years, Matt is recognized for his expertise and leadership.  He is the recipient of the Beatrice M. Goldberg Community Award by the West Side Inter-Agency Council for the Aging and the Emerging Social Work Leadership Award by the National Association of Social Workers, NYC Chapter.   
Matt received his Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University and his Master’s in Public Administration from New York University.  He was a Fellow in the inaugural Strell Fellowship in Executive Leadership at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, has taught at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and guest lectured at NYU’s Silberman School of Social Work.

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Sean Astin

Award winning actor, director, producer and mental health advocate

Sean Astin is an American film actor, director, voice artist and producer, best known for his film roles as Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, the title character of Rudy, and Bob Newby in Netflix’s hit series, Stranger Things 2. He is also the author of the New York Times best-selling There and Back Again, a memoir – co-written with Joe Layden – of his film career with emphasis on his experiences with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Son of Academy Award winning actress Patty Duke and acclaimed actor John Astin, Sean Astin has received several awards for his performances, including the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor and awards from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, the Seattle Film Critics, the Utah Film Critics Association and the Phoenix Film Critics Society. Astin has been a long-distance runner since his teens. While training for the LA Marathon in 2012, he began a Twitter campaign using #Run3rd, a way to dedicate his runs to causes and ideas that mattered not just to him, but to others. Since Lord of the Rings, Astin has served on the board of several non-profit organizations, including the National Center for Family Literacy. A vocal advocate for literacy, mental health awareness, bi-polar disorder, civic engagement and other issues, Astin is an energetic, passionate speaker who promotes a culture of volunteerism to all audiences. 

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Michael Eric Dyson

Centennial Chair and Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies, Vanderbilt University 

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is the Centennial Chair and University Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University, and Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society in the Divinity School. He is also a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a contributing editor of The New Republic, and of ESPN's The Undefeated website. His rise from humble roots in Detroit to his present perch as a world class intellectual, noted author of 21 books, prominent leader and national media fixture testify to his extraordinary talent. Dyson's influence has spread far beyond the academy in his roles of renowned orator, highly sought-after lecturer, and ordained Baptist minister. For the last quarter of a century, Dyson has also enlivened public debate across the media landscape on every major television and radio show in the country, from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to Real Time with Bill Maher, from Good Morning America to The Today Show, from NPR's All Things Considered to its Talk of the Nation, from the Tavis Smiley Show to Def Poetry Jam, from This Week with George Stephanopoulos to Meet the Press, and Face the Nation -- and several programs on ESPN. Dyson’s recent book, Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America, is a testament to Dyson’s consistent celebration of the outsized impact of African American culture and politics on this country. 

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Dr. Obo Addy

Sleep Medicine & Mental Health Expert

Dr. Obo Addy is a Sleep Physician at the University of Michigan Health-West, and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry at Michigan State University.

He attended medical school in Accra, Ghana and has had previous clinical appointments at Case Western Reserve University, Emory University and at Grady Memorial Hospital.

He is a husband, a father of 4 (including Dr. Nii Addy), a grandfather, and an active member of his church. Over the last several years, Dr. Addy has also helped establish community Sleep Clinics in Ghana. 

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Dr. Amy Newman

Scientific Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Dr. Newman is Scientific Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Intramural Research Program, a role she has served in since 2020, after serving as acting Scientific Director for 2 years. Dr. Newman’s research focuses on the design and synthesis of novel ligands to study the structure and function of specific classes of receptors (G-protein coupled receptors) and chemical messenger regulators (monoamine transporters) in the brain that are associated with addiction. Her research program is currently studying the dopamine and serotonin systems and the dopamine D2 receptor family (D2/D3) through the design, synthesis and pharmacological evaluation of novel ligands. Dr. Newman is a prolific scientist, having published over 300 scientific articles, she is an inventor of multiple patents. Dr. Newman is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2018 Remarkable Women in Medical Chemistry honor from the American Chemical Society and the 2019 Ruth L. Kirschstein Mentoring award from the NIH.

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Dr. Luigi Ferrucci

Scientific Director, National Institute on Aging 

Dr. Luigi Ferrucci is a geriatrician and an epidemiologist who conducts research on the causal pathways leading to progressive physical and cognitive decline in older persons. In September 2002, he became the Chief of the Longitudinal Studies Section at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging. Between 1985 and 2002 he was Chief of Geriatric Rehabilitation at the Department of Geriatric Medicine and Director of the Laboratory of Clinical Epidemiology at the Italian National Institute of Aging. During the same period, he collaborated with the NIA Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry. Dr. Ferrucci has made major contributions in the design of many epidemiological studies conducted in the U.S. and in Europe, including the European Longitudinal Study on Aging, the "ICare Dicomano Study," the AKEA study of Centenarians in Sardinia and the Women's Health and Aging Study. Dr. Ferrucci has been Scientific Director at NIA since May 2011.  

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Omer Bajwa

Director of Muslim Life, Yale University

Omer Bajwa serves as Director of Muslim Life in the Chaplain’s Office at Yale and has been engaged in religious service, inter-religious engagement and educational outreach since 2000. He earned his Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary, has an MA in Near Eastern Studies and an MS in Communication from Cornell University, and a BA from Binghamton University. Omer has also studied several classical Islamic sciences with traditional scholars from Pakistan, Turkey and the United States. His interests include Islam in the United States and the intersections of culture, media, politics and spirituality. He regularly lectures about these and other topics around the country. Additionally, Omer mentors contemporary Muslims on exploring their intellectual and spiritual lives in today’s world. He is a co-editor of the forthcoming book, “Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America” by Templeton Press. He loves taking long hikes with his family and friends, and when not working, he can often be found sampling local desserts.

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OrLando Yarborough III

Pastor, Black Church at Yale

OrLando Yarborough III, PhD is a scientist, certified leadership coach, consultant, speaker, and trainer. He coaches and trains a diverse international portfolio of young professionals, academics, and community and business leaders in leader development, professional and communication skills, and personal growth. He is passionate about empowering everyday people to change their world, to create healthy systems where leaders are equipped, encouraged, and empowered to live transformed lives and multiply their influence to create positive change. Dr. Yarborough is a Meyerhoff Scholar and holds a B.A. in Biology/Africana Studies from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and a Ph.D. and M.Phil in Genetics from Yale University. He pastors the Black Church at Yale—BCAY, a student-run church on Yale's campus since 1972—holds certificates in marriage counseling and pastoral leadership, and is certified as a Maxwell DISC Method Behavioral Consultant and Maxwell Parenting & Family Guide. Before consulting and pastoring, Dr. Yarborough worked in biomedical research investigating the molecular mechanisms of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes at Yale School of Medicine.

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Sharon Kugler

Yale University Chaplain

Sharon M.K. Kugler became the seventh University Chaplain to Yale in July of 2007. She came to New Haven from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where she had served as the University Chaplain since 1993.  She has three decades of experience in ministry in higher education, interfaith collaboration, pastoral and social ministry. Her main focus at Yale is the cultivation of a chaplaincy for students, faculty and staff which defines itself by serving the needs of the richly diverse religious and spiritual traditions on campus allowing for deeper dialogue, increased accessibility, personal growth, creative educational opportunities and pastoral leadership. Ms. Kugler is the past president of both the National Association of College and University Chaplains (NACUC) and the Association of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA).  She received her Masters degree from Georgetown University, is a member of the Theta Alpha Kappa National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology and is a lecturer at the Yale Divinity School in college and university chaplaincy.

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Angelina Spicer

Comedian and Maternal Mental Health Activity and Advocate

Angelina Spicer is a comedian, social media influencer and accidental activist. A cum-laude graduate of Howard University, Spicer has smartly delved deep for comedy that’s authentic. Her original content has garnered a staggering 90 million views in more than 45 countries. She was a regular sketch performer on both Jimmy Kimmel Live and Conan and has also appeared on Ellen and The Real. In 2017, Angelina became an outspoken advocate for maternal mental health after her diagnosis and hospitalization of postpartum depression (PPD). Not only is Spicer using her voice in comedy clubs across the country, she is also working with lawmakers in California and on Capitol Hill to implement laws to support early motherhood. She has worked with organizations like Postpartum Support International and the World Health Organization, has been featured in USA Today, NPR, and was part of Essence’s Woke 100. Her Postpartum Revolution Recovery Road Trip saw Spicer hosting movie theater screenings of her comedy special The Waldorf-Hysteria and moderating panel discussions. Spicer is currently in production on The Push For Permission, a feature length documentary that uses comedy to empower women to advocate for themselves and to normalize PPD. 

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Stacey D. Stewart

President and CEO, March of Dimes

Stacey D. Stewart, our President and CEO, joined March of Dimes as its fifth President on January 1, 2017.  In this role, Stewart heads the organization leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Stewart came to March of Dimes from United Way Worldwide, where she held several positions, most recently serving as U.S. President of United Way, the nation's largest nonprofit organization. There she provided strategic direction for more than 1,000 local United Ways and was responsible for United Way's national efforts in education, financial stability and health as well as guiding efforts to enhance the brand and grow revenue. A business veteran, Stewart has also held a number of senior roles, including Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President for the Office of Community and Charitable Giving at Fannie Mae, as well as President and Chief Executive Officer for the Fannie Mae Foundation. Stewart has a master's of business administration in finance from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of arts in economics from Georgetown University. She currently serves on several boards nationally and in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

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A.D. Thomason

Author, filmmaker, Co-founder
      of 3StrandFilms, and Adjunct 
  Professor at Kilns College

A. D. "Lumkile" Thomason is a speaker, poet, and award-winning filmmaker. He has spoken around the nation and in places such as Sudan, South Africa, China, and Palestine. As an adjunct professor at Kilns College, he teaches on human rights, de-colonizing your faith, and filmmaking.

 

A native of Detroit, A. D. has more than seventeen years of experience preaching and teaching the peace of Jesus in ethnically divided countries, cultures, and communities. He and his wife, Dawntoya, live in the Atlanta area with their family.

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Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

James S. McDonnell Distinguished University
Professor & Chair, Department of African
American Studies, Princeton

One of the nation’s most prominent scholars, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. is an author, political commentator, public intellectual and passionate educator who examines the complex dynamics of the American experience. In his writing and speaking, Glaude is an American critic in the tradition of James Baldwin and Ralph Waldo Emerson, confronting history and bringing our nation’s complexities, vulnerabilities and hope into full view.  Hope that is, in one of his favorite quotes from W.E.B. Du Bois, "not hopeless, but a bit unhopeful." Glaude is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton. He frequently appears in the media, as a columnist for TIME Magazine and as an MSNBC contributor on programs like Morning Joe and Deadline Whitehouse with Nicolle Wallace. Combining a scholar’s knowledge of history, a political commentator’s take on the latest events, and an activist’s passion for social justice, Glaude challenges all of us to examine our collective American conscience, "not to posit the greatness of America, but to establish the ground upon which to imagine the country anew." 

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Shino Prater

Associate Pastor at Every Nation Church NYC, Assistant Chaplain for the NY Jets

Shino Prater, is married to Anne Marie Prater and has 3 children Selah , Kaia and Nathan.

He played football at Penn State University . He also played for the Tennessee Titans in the NFL, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League.

He was a campus pastor, youth pastor and associate pastor. Today he is  an associate pastor at Every Nation New York He is also the assistant Chaplain of the NY Jets.

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R. Kweku Smith

Psychologist, President and CEO of Blaquesmith Psychological Consultative Services, Inc.

R. (Ramel) Kweku Akyirefi Smith, PhD, has worked as a clinical psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, in the Trauma Department, and in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. He has taught in the Milwaukee Public School system and has held adjunct instructor positions at the graduate and undergraduate level at multiple institutions. He has authored multiple journal articles, book chapters and edited and co-authored two books.  As a consultant, Smith has worked with multiple companies and organizations ranging from school districts to the federal governments on a plethora of issues (e.g., workplace performance, diversity and inclusion, mental health). Smith previously served as the Team Psychologist for the Milwaukee Bucks, currently works with the University of Wisconsin Badgers as a Senior Clinical and Sport Psychologist, and also works regularly with Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League to provide training for players, coaches and parents. He has been featured on ESPN.com, Time.com, CNN, PBS News Hour, and is in the documentary Growing Up Milwaukee being streamed on HBOMax. Smith has hosted two different television shows (i.e., Asque the Blaquesmith and Unspeakable Truth) to discuss mental health issues. An activist in the community, he works on civil justice issues of mental health reform, human trafficking, and violence prevention. Smith is married and the father of five children.

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Victoria Garrick

Influencer, Former D1 Athlete, and Mental Health & Body Image Advocate

Victoria Garrick is a former Division I volleyball player, TED Talk speaker, and mental health advocate. She was a four year starter at USC, where she won a PAC-12 Championship and finished her career with the top five most digs in program history. Victoria first began sharing her story of how she battled and overcame depression and anxiety in her 2017 TED Talk, “The Hidden Opponent,” which has been viewed over 370,000 times.


Victoria has been featured in The Players’ Tribune, People Magazine, USA Today College, and has amassed over 1M followers on her social media platforms where she’s known for her positive media campaign, #RealPost. She brings this campaign to life weekly on her podcast Real Pod where she has interviewed some of the greatest athletes and psychologists in the world.


As the founder of mental health non-profit, The Hidden Opponent, Victoria now tours the country as a public speaker and advocate, sharing her story in hopes of raising awareness and destigmatizing the conversation around mental health.

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Tara Schuster

Best Selling Author &
Veteran Entertainment Executive

Tara Schuster is a best-selling author, playwright, and accomplished entertainment  executive. Tara Schuster served as Vice President of Talent and Development at Comedy  Central where she was the Executive in Charge of the Emmy® and Peabody Award-winning Key  & Peele, and the Emmy® Award winning @Midnight, amongst many others. For her work on Key  & Peele, Jordan Peele remarked that Schuster is “ahead of her time...she sees the future a little  bit.” Her book, Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies, debuted as the #1 New Release in Humor Essays  and Self-Help on both Audible and Kindle. InStyle, People Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Goodreads,  BuzzFeed, Goop, and many others have chosen Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies as one of the best  new books of 2020.

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David Hogg

Co-Founder of March for Our Lives

Thrust into the world of activism by the largest school shooting in American history, Parkland survivor David Hogg has become one of the most compelling voices of his generation.  His call to “get over politics and get something done” challenges Americans to stand up, speak out and work to elect morally just leaders, regardless of party affiliation. Passionate in his advocacy to end gun violence, David’s mission of increasing voter participation, civic engagement and activism embraces a range of issues. Following the tragic shooting at his high school in 2018, he joined with friends to co-found March For Our Lives, now one of the world’s largest youth-led movements. With his younger sister, Lauren, also a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, he co-wrote #NeverAgain, a New York Times best-seller. David and Lauren also contributed to the best-selling book, Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement, a compilation of writing from the founders of March For Our Lives. A prolific voice on social media with more than a million followers, David uses his platform to promote civic engagement, activism and voting.

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Michael A. Walrond Jr.

Senior Pastor, First Corinthian Baptist Church

Michael A. Walrond Jr. is the Senior Pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem, New York. Walrond—affectionately known as Pastor Mike—is quickly rising as one of the most prolific and sought-after teachers and preachers in the country. Pastor Mike has received numerous honors, accolades, and recognitions include induction into Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers as a “Distinguished Preacher.” In 2012, Pastor Mike’s foresight and passion for the Harlem community shaped the vision for the FCBC community development corporation (CDC). The most ambitious project to date of the FCBC CDC is The Dream Center. Focused on creative arts, leadership development, and economic empowerment, The Dream Center offers over twenty-five completely free programs to the Harlem community for all ages, races, and backgrounds. In 2016 Pastor Mike opened the H.O.P.E. (Healing On Purpose and Evolving) Center; the first faith-based mental health facility in Harlem. The H.O.P.E. Center is a manifestation of Pastor Mike’s vision to effectively support the vast mental health needs of the community. The center seeks to minimize the stigma that exists in many communities of color when seeking mental health services.

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Dr. Lena L. Green

Executive Director of the HOPE Center
Adjunct Professor of Social Work, NYU

Dr. Lena L. Green is a clinical social worker, psychotherapist and fatherhood practitioner. She currently serves as the executive director of the HOPE Center, a community based mental health clinic in NYC. In her more than 20 years of direct practice and management experience as a clinician, professor and administrator, Dr. Green has had a tremendous impact on countless New Yorkers. In 2019, Dr. Green received the National Association of Social Workers, New York City Chapter’s Social Work I.M.P.A.C.T. Award. The award, which is the chapter’s highest honor, is presented to a social worker who “exemplifies the commitment to social justice, equity, empowerment, and civil rights, through their work, research, advocacy, practice, embodiment of the social work profession, and their dedication to the communities and individuals they serve.” Dr. Green holds both a doctorate and master’s degree in social work from NYU; a BA in psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, post-master’s certificates in Advance Clinical Practice from Hunter College, and the Treatment of Alcohol and Drug Addicted Clients from NYU. Dr. Green serves on several boards and is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

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Dr. Warren Kinghorn

Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Co-Director, Theology, Medicine and Culture Initiative
Duke University 

Dr. Warren Kinghorn is a psychiatrist who teaches at Duke University School of Medicine and Duke Divinity School, and cares for veterans as a staff psychiatrist at the Durham VA Medical Center. He also co-directs the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School, which offers opportunities for students headed into health professions and practicing clinicians the opportunity to study in a seminary context, and to connect the world of health care and the world of Christian faith. He has written on topics such as the philosophy of psychiatric diagnoses, the moral dimensions of combat trauma, the role of the clinician-patient relationship in psychiatric medication prescribing, and the way that Christian communities understand mental health and mental illness.  Dr. Kinghorn holds an MD from Harvard Medical School and a Doctor of Theology (ThD) from Duke University Divinity School and lives in Durham, NC with his wife and children.

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Lecrae

Award Winning Hip-Hop artist and NY Times Best-Selling Author 

A Multi Grammy Award-winning platinum selling artist, Lecrae has evolved into a New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur, speaker, thought leader, philanthropist, and Co-Owner/President of Reach Records. To date, Lecrae has sold more than 3 million copies and been nominated for 7 Grammy Awards including a win for Best Gospel Album, 15 Dove Awards, one Billboard Music Award, and received both a Soul Train Music Award and BET Hip-Hop Nomination. His single “I’ll Find You” ft. Tori Kelly, is now certified platinum by the RIAA (sold over 1 million copies) and “Blessings” ft Ty Dolla $ign is now Gold (sold over 500k). In addition to his new book, I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith, Lecrae has released a new album Restoration and The Road To Restoration 3-part video narrative, a prelude to his forthcoming documentary. Lecrae is also involved in several community initiatives that are rebuilding the west-side of Metro Atlanta. 

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Dr. Amy Arnsten

Albert E. Kent Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, Yale School of Medicine

Arnsten studies the molecular regulation of higher cortical circuits, identifying changes with stress and age that cause cognitive deficits and increase risk of disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Much of her research focuses on the prefrontal cortex, a newly evolved region that subserves higher cognition. Arnsten received her BA in Neuroscience from Brown University in 1976, and her PhD in Neuroscience from UCSD in 1981, with postdocs at Cambridge, and then Yale, where she became Assistant Professor in 1986. She is currently the Albert E. Kent Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Yale, and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. She received the Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Research in Cognitive Neuroscience. Arnsten’s research has led to the development of guanfacine (Intuniv) for the treatment of prefrontal disorders, and prazosin for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

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Dr. Kerry Ressler

Chief Scientific Officer, Chair in Psychiatry, McLean Hospital

Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, is the James and Patricia Poitras Chair in Psychiatry, and Chief of the Division of Depression and Anxiety Disorders at McLean Hospital, affiliate of the Harvard Medical School. His work focuses on translational research bridging molecular neurobiology in animal models with human genetic and epigenetic research on emotion, particularly fear and anxiety disorders. Prior to moving to McLean in 2015, he spent 18 years at Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he led the Grady Trauma Project, a study focused on understanding the Psychology, Biology, and Trauma-Related factors contributing to intergenerational cycles of trauma exposure and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Substance Abuse and Violence in over 12,000 participants from urban Atlanta. He continues to be active in this work as a visiting professor at Emory and through national leadership roles in understanding the biology and genetics of PTSD through large multisite consortia. He was also the 2017 President of the US Society for Biological Psychiatry, and currently serves on the Councils for the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 

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Dr. Bianca Jones Marlin

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Dr. Bianca Jones Marlin’s career path has a rich connection to her life experiences. Her biological parents were also foster parents, so Dr. Marlin grew up with over 20 siblings. Hearing stories of their traumatic experiences shaped and inspired Dr. Marlin’s goal to fuse her passion for science with a desire to serve and educate young scholars of diverse backgrounds. Her transformative dissertation work was groundbreaking in furthering understanding of a fundamental role of oxytocin in maternal behaviors. This work was not only published in top tier scientific journals, but was also featured in National Geographic, Science Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, and named one of Discover Magazine’s top 100 stories of 2015. Dr. Marlin currently investigates transgenerational epigenetic inheritance - how experiences and trauma can affect the brain structure and sensory experiences of future offspring. In contrast to the transgenerational inheritance of trauma that she studies, Dr. Marlin is a leader in facilitating positive outcomes for the next generation of neuroscientists. She has mentored many undergraduates and technicians who have gone on to pursue graduate degrees across the globe.

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Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble

Mental Health Expert, Founder of the AAOKMA Project

Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble (Dr. Alfiee) is an internationally recognized scientist, author, speaker and media contributor.  As Founder of the AAKOMA Project, Inc. (an innovative 501(c)(3) mental health nonprofit) she translates complex scientific concepts (developed over 25+ years as a disparities researcher at Duke and Georgetown Psychiatry) into useful, everyday language for communities of color.  A sought-after mental health expert, Dr. Alfiee’s media work includes hosting her video podcast “Couched in Color with Dr. Alfiee,” which is currently airing Season 2, and addresses mental health issues in BIPOC youth, young adults across all marginalized identities (i.e. LGBTQ+ and disabilities).  She regularly appears on media platforms like CNN, NBC, Refinery29, Black Enterprise, Dr. Oz, Shape Magazine, Roland Martin Unfiltered, Areva Martin’s Special Report, National Press Foundation, NPR, and others.  Widely recognized for her ability to draw in audiences and inspire, she embodies her belief that there is enough love and light (informed by strong culturally relevant science) to help everyone achieve #optimalmentalhealth.

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Doug Middleton

NFL Safety,  President of the Dream Impossible Initiative 

 

When it comes to mental health advocacy, Doug Middleton is all about action. Since the death of his best friend, AJ Morrison, who suffered from severe depression, Doug honored his friend by starting “Dream The Impossible.” This foundation brings awareness to Mental Health, with a focus in the African-American community, and addresses the top risk factors that contribute to mental health by providing community support and focusing on youth development. Doug has partnered with many organizations, including NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illnesses). Doug also holds an annual “Let Your Light Shine Celebration” event that brings together kids, teachers, and their parents and he also speaks regularly to high school and university student athletes. Doug is a Safety for the Jacksonville Jaguars preparing for his 6th season of the NFL. He is no stranger to adversity as he has experienced his own trials and tribulations through back to back season ending shoulder surgeries. Doug used his time to receive a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Appalachian State.  

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Allan Houston

New York Knicks Vice President of Player Leadership & Development

Allan Houston is the New York Knicks Vice President of Player Leadership and Development, and all-around powerhouse in the sports industry. 

A consummate athlete, Allan is a two-time NBA all-star with a 12-year playing tenure with the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks and was a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Men’s Basketball team at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Allan’s impact extends beyond the court through the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation, through The FISLL Project, which serves underserved youth, families and communities nationwide through its strategic partnerships, coaching clinics, fatherhood and family programming. 

He received the President’s Council on Service and Engagement Award from the Obama Administration and earned his Bachelor of Arts in African-American studies from the University of Tennessee. Allan and his wife, Tamara of 22 years, have 7 children.

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Dr. Rajita Sinha

Professor of Neuroscience and of Child Study,

Yale School of Medicine

Dr. Rajita Sinha is the Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry, and Professor of Neuroscience and of Child Study at Yale School of Medicine. She is Chief of Psychology in Psychiatry at Yale and also the Founding Director of the Yale Stress Center. She is internationally known for her pioneering research on the mechanisms linking stress to addictive behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, smoking and also overeating. One of her research goals is to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies to reverse the effects of chronic stress and unhealthy behaviors to improve performance, functioning and health outcomes. Dr. Sinha has been featured as an expert on numerous news outlets including the Dr. OZ Show, NBC Nightly News, CNN Health, Wall Street Journal, HBO Documentaries and USA Today to name a few. She conducts workshops, lectures and retreats on stress management, self-care for the stressed professional and for senior executives, and on ways to reduce stress to enrich and enhance work, family and life.

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Dr. Andra Gillespie

Associate Professor of

Political Science,

 Emory University 

Andra Gillespie is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University. Gillespie teaches courses on American politics, race and politics and qualitative methodology. Her research focuses on the political leadership of the post-civil rights generation. In particular, she studies African American politicians who attempt to transcend race and how Black voters respond to them. She is the author of The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark and Post-Racial America (2012) and Race and Obama Administration: Symbols, Substance and Hope (2019). She is also the editor of Whose Black Politics? Cases in Post-Racial Black Leadership (2010). In addition, she is an active public scholar whose interviews and op-eds have appeared in numerous local, national and/or international media outlets.

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Dr. Jeff Gardere

“America’s Psychologist”

and Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine,

Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine 

Dr. Jeff Gardere, better known as “America’s Psychologist,” is a board certified clinical psychologist and an ordained interfaith minister. In addition to having a private practice in Manhattan, he is an Associate Professor and Course Director of Behavioral Medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. Dr. Jeff, is also a prolific author of four books, a contributing author of a half-dozen books including "The Causes of Autism," and a co-producer of multiple documentary films including Erasing Family, Parental Alienation and the Effects on Children. In addition to being a respected academician, Dr. Jeff has been a contributor to the FOX Network, the Today Show, MSNBC, and CNN, and was the host of VH1’s Dad Camp. He’s a devoted family man, raising his six children who range in age from 4 to 27 years old. Dr. Jeff’s favorite activities include attending religious services, exercising daily and volunteering to help those in need.