DEI & Mental Health Leader
Dr. Pinder-Amaker is McLean Hospital's inaugural Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, the Founding Director of McLean's College Mental Health Program (CMHP), an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and Consulting Psychologist for the Boston Celtics. Guided by the models of Cultural Humility (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998) and shared responsibility, Dr. Pinder-Amaker is passionate about moving organizations beyond “diversity-by-the-numbers” toward sustainable inclusivity and promoting culturally-responsive mental health approaches. She has consulted with dozens of universities, secondary schools, sports teams and non-profits to develop interventions at the intersection of sociocultural identity and mental health. Her new book, Did That Just Happen?! “Beyond Diversity''-Creating Inclusive and Sustainable Organizations (2021), has been selected as a community reads choice by colleges and corporations, nominated for several national awards, and named as a top read for Black History Month by the Next Big Idea Club. In 2018, she co-founded Twin Star Intersectional Diversity Trainers with her DTJH?! co-author, Dr. Lauren Wadsworth, and serves on the boards of several organizations committed to social justice and health equity including the Augustus A. White Institute for Health Equity, The Steve Fund, Boston Celtics United for Social Justice, and The Steppingstone Foundation. She earned her B.S. from Duke University, her doctorate in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and completed her pre- and post-doctoral fellowships at Yale School of Medicine and Duke Medical School, respectively. In 2022, Dr. Pinder-Amaker was named by Color Magazine among the “Power 50” Chief Diversity Officers in the US.
Dr. Myra Mathis is a faculty member at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Trained in General Adult and Addiction Psychiatry at Yale University Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Mathis currently provides substance use and mental health services at Strong Recovery - an outpatient dual diagnosis clinic. Nationally, Dr. Mathis serves as Co-Chair for the Opioid Response Network Black Communities Workgroup, promoting effective utilization and dissemination of culturally responsive technical assistance for Black Communities disproportionately affected by the overdose crisis. As a clinician-educator, Dr. Mathis facilitates educational experiences for medical students, residents, and fellows in addiction psychiatry and pursues academic interests in advancing health equity and racial justice through scholarship and the development of collaborative community partnerships.
Former U.S Representative
During his time in Congress, Patrick J. Kennedy was the lead author of the landmark Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Federal Parity Law), which requires insurers to cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders no more restrictively than treatment for illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer. He founded in 2013 The Kennedy Forum, a nonprofit that unites advocates, business leaders, and government agencies to advance evidence-based practices, policies, and programming in mental health and addiction. In 2015, Kennedy co-authored the New York Times Bestseller, “A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction,” which details a bold plan for the future of mental health care in America. He was appointed to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in 2017.
Kennedy is also the founder of DontDenyMe.org, an educational campaign that empowers consumers and providers to understand parity rights and connects them to essential appeals guidance and resources; co-founder of One Mind, an organization that pushes for greater global investment in brain research; co-chair of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Mental Health & Suicide Prevention National Response to COVID-19 (National Response); and co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Behavioral Health Integration Task Force.
Addiction Psychiatrist & mental health expert
Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, is an Addiction Psychiatrist and the Barbara Wilson Endowed Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry, with a secondary appointment in Population Health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Pillar Co-Lead for Community Engagement at NYU Langone’s Institute for Excellence in Health Equity. The fundamental message of equity and inclusion has informed her research, clinical work and leadership duties at NYU and beyond; she is dedicated to creating spaces and opportunities for more people of color, specifically Black women in academia who are vastly underrepresented. Jordan was the first Black Associate Program Directors for the Yale Psychiatry Residency, her immediate past academic home, supervising a large group of 64 physicians providing mental health and addiction services throughout Yale medical systems in the state of CT.
She recently became Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiative for the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network within the National Institute of Drug (Ab)use, where she’ll be working to improve health outcomes for people with opioid use disorder in the carceral system. Dr. Jordan also serves as the medical director of Recognizing and Eliminating disparities in Addiction through Culturally informed Healthcare or (REACH), a Substance (Ab)use and Mental Health Services Administration grant, in conjunction with the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, geared at increasing the number of addiction specialists from racial and ethnic minoritized populations who obtain training to provide culturally-informed addiction treatment. Dr. Jordan is an NIH-funded researcher where she studies long term outcomes for providing addiction treatment in faith settings. She was inducted into the Top 40 under 40 society, by her undergraduate alma mater, Hampton University.
Psychiatrist Advocate & mental health expert
Dr. Hankerson is Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Community Engagement in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of Mental Health Equity Research in the Institute for Health Equity Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He is a nationally recognized expert on faith-based mental health services research and his research focuses on reducing racial/ethnic disparities in mental health treatment by partnering with Faith-Based Organizations. The National Academy of Medicine recognized Dr. Hankerson as a “Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine,” an honor bestowed upon only 10 healthcare professionals annually.
NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio recently appointed Dr. Hankerson as Chair of the Community Services Board of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Additionally, D. Hankerson has presented his study results at the White House, United Nations, NIMH, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Gracie Mansion (NYC Mayor’s Office), and numerous national academic conferences. He was an inaugural member of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Council of Faith and Community Partnerships and served on the APA Council of Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities.
Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue, NYC
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl serves as the Senior Rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City and is the first woman to lead Central’s Reform congregation in its 180-year history. Born in Korea to a Jewish American father and a Korean Buddhist mother, Rabbi Buchdahl is the first Asian American to be ordained as a cantor or rabbi in North America. In 1994, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in religious studies from Yale University, and in 1999 she was invested as a cantor. In 2001 she was ordained as a rabbi. She first joined Central Synagogue as Senior Cantor in 2006 and in 2014 was chosen by the congregation to be Senior Rabbi.
Prior to her service at Central Synagogue, Rabbi Buchdahl served as Associate Rabbi/Cantor at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York.
She has been nationally recognized for her innovations in leading worship, drawing large crowds in the congregation’s historic Main Sanctuary and via livestream & cable broadcast to viewers in more than 100 countries. Additionally, she has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the Today Show, NPR, and PBS. She was listed as one of Newsweek’s “America’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis ” and she serves on the boards of the Avodah Jewish Service Corps, AJC, the New York Board of Rabbis, UJA-Federation of New York, and Yale University Council. Rabbi Buchdahl and her husband Jacob Buchdahl have three children.
Award Winning Co-Anchor & Reporter
Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Northern California, Chang graduated with honors from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and communication. A former news anchor for Good Morning America, Chang joined ABC News just after college as an entry-level desk assistant in 1987 and rose to become a producer for World News Tonight. After reporting for the ABC News affiliate service News One in Washington, she co-anchored the overnight show World News Now. Chang’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including multiple Emmys, Gracies, a DuPont, a Murrow and Peabody Awards. She has been recognized for her in-depth personal narratives set against the backdrop of pressing national and international news: from natural disasters to terrorism and racial equity. Some of Chang’s award-winning work includes her report “Trans and Targeted” on violence against transgender women of color and her GLAAD awarded story about Matthew Shepard’s murder and the legacy his parents built in his honor. Chang’s decades of reporting, converged in two hour-long specials about the rise of hate crimes toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in 2021 and she co-anchored an ABC News Live special "Stop the Hate: The Rise In Violence Against Asian Americans." She’s reported on global issues and gender-based violence, including in Honduras for “Femicide: The Untold War,” an eye-opening look at rampant violence against women. Chang has profiled newsmakers like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Joe Biden and Oprah Winfrey. She is an Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News’ Nightline and reports regularly for Good Morning America and 20/20.
Psychiatrist and Mental Health Policy Leader
Charles C Dike, MD, MPH is a distinguished fellow for the American Psychiatric Association and a fellow for the Royal College of Psychiatrists of England. He is also a fellow for the American College of Healthcare Executives and a diplomate in Clinical Psychiatry at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ireland.
He is the chief medical officer for the Office of the Commissioner in the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services .
Dr. Dike is also the associate professor of Psychiatry, co-director of the Law and Psychiatry Division at the Yale University School of Medicine. He also serves as the co-editor of Behavioral Sciences and the Law Journal and the chair in the ethics committee for the American Psychiatric Association.
ER Doctor & Healthcare Equity Advocate
Esther Choo, MD MPH is a Professor in the Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University and co-founder of Equity Quotient, a company that provides metrics of organizational equity. She is a practicing physician and NIH-funded investigator, with expertise in drug policy, injury, and health disparities.
She writes a regular column for The Lancet focused on inequity and has written about COVID-related issues in NBC Think, USA Today, and The Washington Post. During the pandemic, she has provided medical commentary for BBC, CNN and CNN international, MSNBC, and Al Jazeera.
Pro-basketball Star & AAPI Youth Advocate
A Palo Alto native, Lin is one of few Asian Americans to ever play in the NBA. Prior to his NBA career, Lin played four seasons at Harvard and was an All-Ivy first team selection two times (2009, 2010). Lin graduated with a degree in Economics and a minor in Sociology from Harvard. In February 2012, two years after going undrafted in the NBA Draft, Lin’s rise to prominence spread like wildfire. His performance for the New York Knicks, commonly known as “Linsanity,” made him an overnight sensation. Lin has played with the Warriors, Knicks, Rockets, Lakers, Hornets, Nets, Hawks, Raptors and is currently playing with the Beijing Ducks for the 2021-2022 season. In 2020, Lin's "Be The Light" campaign, donated $1.4 million to COVID relief efforts and helped raise greater awareness of increasing anti-Asian racism during the pandemic. UNICEF USA appointed Lin as an Ambassador in October of 2021. In this role, Lin uses his platform to champion children’s rights and to help create a more equitable world for every child. In 2021, the Jeremy Lin Foundation grantees served over 22,000 youth (46% AAPI, 54% other communities of color) through grants, narrative change, community empowerment, and racial solidarity.
Sam Chanse’s plays include MONUMENT (A SLOTH PLAY) (Magic Theatre, Spring 2022), DISTURBANCE SPECIALIST (NAATCO/The Public Theater’s OUT OF TIME, Winter 2022); TRIGGER (Lark Venturous Fellowship), FRUITING BODIES (Ma-Yi), and WHAT YOU ARE NOW (EST/Civilians).
A past fellow at MacDowell and Sundance, her work has also been recently developed with Ars Nova, NYSAF, and Playwrights’ Realm, among others, and is published by Kaya Press (Lydia’s Funeral Video) and TCG (The Kilroys List). She’s a member of Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and a resident playwright at New Dramatists. More info: www.samchanse.com
Pisay Pao is a Cambodian American actress best known for playing Cassandra on the Syfy series, ZNation. Her family settled in Seattle, Washington after escaping the Cambodian Civil war.
Though she is currently in NYC for her very first stage debut at Ensemble Studio Theatre (for What You Are Now) she permanently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her partner, 3 cactuses, and a very fruitful lime tree.
Robert Lee Leng
Robert Lee Leng is a multi-ethnic/ multi-cultural / multi-disciplinary artist from Revere, MA with a focus on acting & writing. He is currently based in NYC. He has worked in many Theatre productions, Major films and TV.
Sonnie Brown is proud to be a part of What You Are Now, playing Chantrea. She can be seen currently in NBC's Endgame, CBS' FBI: Most Wanted, and the upcoming Netflix show Partner Track.
She has appeared in numerous other television and film productions. Her last theatrical appearance was in London, England in Soho Theatre's This Isn't Romance. Her first off-Broadway show was En Garde Arts' Occasional Grace and in AR Gurney's Far East at Lincoln Center plus others.
She can be seen baking in Sonbobs, her little coffeehouse in Astoria, when she is not acting.
Tobacco health disparities expert & director
Dr. Fagan is a Professor and the Director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco in the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education and the Director of Research in the Office of Health Initiatives and Disparities Research, College of Medicine University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is also a Senior Advisor to the Director of the Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She formerly served as Program Director for the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and served as a Health Scientist in the Tobacco Control Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute. For over 25 years, Dr. Fagan has conducted research that seeks to understand factors associated with tobacco use and exposure in racial/ethnic, women, low socioeconomic status, and youth/young adult populations and develop community interventions that aim to reduce tobacco and cancer health disparities. Dr. Fagan has extensive experience in serving on leadership teams of large NIH-funded center grants and other NIH-funded grants since leaving the federal government in 2011. She is a multiple principal investigator on the newly funded Center for Research, Health, and Social Justice, which aims to reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease disparities among African Americans and rural populations. Dr. Fagan is the Director of the Contextual Knowledge Core of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Fagan serves as the Deputy Director of Research at the Arkansas Center for Health Disparities .
Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) director
As director of the Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller leads FDA's efforts to reduce disease and death from tobacco use and bring previously unavailable information about its dangers to light. Zeller is dedicated to carrying out CTP's charge to reduce the harm from all tobacco products across the entire population—with a focus on how and why people start, stop, or start using these products again.
Mitch Zeller, J.D., became director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products in March 2013. Zeller, a graduate of Dartmouth College and the American University Washington College of Law, has been working on FDA issues for more than 30 years. He began his career as a public interest attorney in 1982 at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In 1988, Zeller left CSPI to become counsel to the Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Government Operations Committee where he conducted oversight of enforcement of federal health and safety laws. In 1994, he began serving as associate commissioner and director of FDA's first Office of Tobacco Programs. Zeller represented FDA before Congress, federal and state agencies. Zeller also served as an official U.S. delegate to the World Health Organization (WHO) Working Group for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In 2000, Zeller left FDA to continue his work for tobacco control as executive vice president of the American Legacy Foundation. In 2002, Zeller joined Pinney Associates as senior vice president.
CTP Communications and Education director
Kathleen Crosby is currently Director of the Office of Health Communication and Education at the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). Since joining CTP in February 2011, Ms. Crosby has led the development and implementation of multiple public education campaigns targeting at-risk and underserved populations, including FDA's first-ever national youth tobacco prevention campaign, "The Real Cost."
Ms. Crosby's career spans 20 years of senior-level marketing and advertising experience working on large-scale multimedia campaigns and education programs for major national brands in both the private and non-profit sectors. Before beginning at CTP, Ms. Crosby was Senior Vice President, Group Campaign Director of the Washington office of the Ad Council. One of Ms. Crosby's leadership roles at the Ad Council was as Campaign Director for 17 United States government agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Transportation, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, Agriculture, and Justice. Previously, while serving as Vice President of Strategic Planning at Arnold Worldwide, Ms. Crosby oversaw the strategic development of the Legacy Foundation's "Truth" campaign, which is widely regarded as one of the most potent and successful tobacco prevention campaigns ever conducted in the United States. Ms. Crosby received a B.A. degree from University of Colorado in Political Science with a minor in Spanish.
Renowned Educational Psychologist, Character Development & Parenting Child Expert
Michele Borba, Ed.D. is an internationally renowned educator, award-winning author, and parenting child expert recognized for her solution-based strategies to strengthen children’s character, resilience, and reduce peer cruelty. A sought-after motivational speaker, she has spoken in 19 countries and five continents, and served as a consultant to hundreds of schools and corporations. She offers realistic, research-based advice culled from a career working with over one million parents and educators worldwide.
Dr. Borba is an NBC contributor who has appeared 150 times on the TODAY show and countless shows. Dr. Borba is recognized globally for her work in bullying and youth violence prevention. She’s a media spokesperson for major corporations including 3M, Office Depot, Unilever, Similac, General Mills, Mastercard, All, Galderma, V-Tech, Cetaphil, Splenda, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson and consultant to Apple TV, McDonalds and Disney.Dr. Borba is a former classroom and special education teacher with a wide range of teaching experience, including work in a private practice with children with learning and emotional disabilities. She received a Doctorate in Educational Psychology and Counseling from the University of San Francisco, an M.A. in Learning Disabilities and B.A. from the University of Santa Clara, and Life Teaching Credential from San Jose State University. She lives in Palm Springs, California with her husband and has three grown sons.
PTSD Expert & Veterans Program Director
Barbara Olasov Rothbaum, PhD is Director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program. She is a professor and Associate Vice Chair of Clinical Research at Emory School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program and holds the Paul A. Janssen Chair in Neuropsychopharmcology. Dr. Rothbaum’s research focuses on PTSD. She was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Study on Assessment of Ongoing Efforts in the Treatment of PTSD, and briefed the DOD, VA, House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs and Armed Services Committees on the IOM report results. Dr. Rothbaum has disseminated some of the most innovative and effective treatments available for PTSD. She is an inventor of virtual reality exposure therapy and a pioneer in applying it in the treatment of PTSD in combat veterans. She has authored over 400 scientific papers and chapters, has published 11 books on the treatment of PTSD and edited 4 others on anxiety, and received the Diplomate in Behavioral Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. She is a past president of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), is currently on the Scientific Advisory Boards for the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), National Center for PTSD (NC-PTSD), and the executive committee of the Warrior Care Network. She was awarded the 2010 “Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Practice of Trauma Psychology” for APA Division 56 and the Robert S. Laufer Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). Dr. Rothbaum just received the 2021 ISTSS the Lifetime Achievement Award. Her recent book is on PTSD for the general public: PTSD: What Everyone Needs to Know.
Ellsworth "Tony" Williams
CEO, Veterans Counseling Veterans
Tony was born in Fort Hood, Texas and was a dependent of a career Vietnam Army Combat Veteran. He spent over 44 years of his 53 years in a military environment. He is a retired Army Combat Veteran, having faithfully and honorably served on active duty in the Army for over 24 years (8 enlisted and 16 Commissioned), including service during Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. He received numerous military awards including a Bronze Star and 3 Meritorious Service Medals (MSM). After he retired in 2007 at the rank of MAJOR, he still wanted to continue to serve his fellow veterans, so he rebranded himself by getting a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Troy University. Upon graduation, he founded Veterans Counseling Veterans Inc. and is still the active President/ CEO. Tony is married to Thelma William who is a retired Police Detective from Plainfield, NJ.
Author & Former Army Ranger
Steven Elliott is a veteran of the War in Afghanistan having served there as an Army Ranger in 2004. He is the author of 'War Story: A Memoir' in which he details his journey to and from the battlefield and the reality of the unseen wounds of war. Steven has been featured on ESPN, NPR, NBC, FoxNews and MSNBC in the hope that he and his family's story would help others find hope and healing.
Steven is a native of Kansas and earned his MBA from Oklahoma State and his BS in Business from Oral Roberts University. He is an entrepreneur and resides in Southern California with his wife, Brook and their two daughters.
Dr. Mays Imad
Trauma Informed Teaching Expert
Mays Imad received her undergraduate training from the University of Michigan–Dearborn where she studied philosophy. She received her doctoral degree in Cellular & Clinical Neurobiology from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. She then completed a National Institute of Health-Funded postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona in the Department of Neuroscience. She joined the department of life & physical sciences at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona as an adjunct faculty member in 2009 and later as a full-time faculty member in 2013. During her tenure at Pima, she taught Physiology, Pathophysiology, Genetics, Biotechnology, and Biomedical ethics. She also founded Pima’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). Mays is a Gardner Institute Fellow and an AAC&U Senior Fellow within the Office of Undergraduate STEM Education. Dr. Imad’s research focuses on stress, self-awareness, advocacy, and classroom community, and how these impact student learning and success. She seeks to provide her students with transformative opportunities that are grounded in the aesthetics of learning, truth-seeking, justice, and self-realization. Dr. Imad works with faculty members across disciplines at her own institution and across the country to promote inclusive, equitable, and contextual education–all rooted in the latest research on the neurobiology of learning. She advocates for institutions to make mental health a top priority and to systematically support the education of the whole student. She is currently teaching at Connecticut College’s department of biological science.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Warren Kinghorn
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Co-Director, Theology, Medicine and Culture Initiative
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Andra Gillespie
Associate Professor of
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.
Dr. Jeff Gardere
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.