Our Core Faculty and Staff
Affiliated Faculty and Joint Appointments
George Askew, Professor of the Practice, Family Science
George L. Askew, MD, FAAP is the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Health, Human Services and Education for Prince George’s County, Maryland. He is responsible for oversight of the county’s Health Department, Department of Family Services, Department of Social Services, and the liaison relationships to the public schools, library system, and community college. He is former Deputy Commissioner of Health in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where he was responsible for overseeing and managing the Division of Family and Child Health. Prior to that, he was appointed by the Obama Administration to serve as the first Chief Medical Officer for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Askew was born and raised in inner-city Cleveland, Ohio. He earned a BA in Psychology and Social Relations at Harvard University, is a graduate of the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Class of 1992 Epidemic Intelligence Service, also known as the “Disease Detectives.”
Anna Paden McCormick is a doctoral student in Maternal and Child Health. Prior to beginning her PhD, Anna spent 14 years working for mission-driven health and development organizations as a project and research manager, and as a design, monitoring, and evaluation specialist. She has worked to strengthen community, primary and laboratory healthcare systems in more than 25 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Currently Anna is interested in conducting research to explore factors that affect reproductive justice around the globe, including infertility care and treatment in low-and-middle-income countries (LMIC), and the development sector’s role in preventing infertility and providing infertility care in LMIC. She is also interested in exploring women’s pharmaceutical drug use before, during, and after pregnancy and how this impacts maternal health outcomes, child development, and family health. She has global public health related degrees from Georgetown University and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and grew up bi-culturally between the US and UK.
Becky Shasha is a Maternal and Child Health doctoral student. Her research interests include family planning and abortion access, use, and decision making among women in Africa. She currently serves as a graduate teaching assistant for the Global Public Health Scholars program. Becky is also a Program Officer at Jhpiego, where she creates data visualization products for Performance Monitoring for Action. Previously, Becky worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs conducting qualitative research on patient-centered care. Becky holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Health, both from the University of Pennsylvania.
Chinedu Obioha is a first-year doctoral student of Maternal and Child Health. She is interested in health determinants, experiences of intimate partner violence and pregnancy outcomes research in underserved populations. She is presently a teaching assistant for Dr. Donney’s Research methods in Family Science class (FMSC 302) and serves as a research assistant for Dr Barrie whose research work centers around gender roles in minority populations. She received her B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the Allied Medical Sciences department of the University of Calabar, Nigeria and an M.Sc. in Environmental Management from Coventry University, UK. Her MPH degree is from Adelphi University’s College of Nursing and Public Health, NY.
Deborah Quint Shelef is a PhD candidate in Maternal and Child Health. Her research focuses on risk and resilience factors for women’s and children’s health, and on strategies to improve health outcomes across the lifespan. Her recent projects have focused on women’s mental health, prenatal and postpartum support, infant mortality, and parental stress. At the University of Maryland, Debbie has taught FMSC 302: Research Methods in Family Science and FMSC 332: Children in Families, and was a teaching assistant for FMSC 310: Maternal, Child and Family Health.Debbie currently works as a public health analyst in the Division of Research at the HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Previously, she spent 15 years at Children’s National Hospital as the program director of IMPACT DC (“Improving Pediatric Asthma Care in the District of Columbia”). Debbie studied anthropology at Harvard and received an MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Gabriela Barber is a doctoral candidate in Maternal and Child Health whose research is focused on the intersection of reproductive health and decision making and mental health. Gabriela is originally from Central Florida and studied psychology with a minor in neuroscience at Princeton University. She received her Master’s degree in Couple and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland. Currently, Gabriela is a teaching assistant for the undergraduate course FMSC 310, Maternal, Child, and Family Health. In addition to her work at the University of Maryland, Gabriela is also a licensed marriage and family therapist who treats individuals, couples, and families in private practice in Bethesda.
Isha Chawla began the Family Science Ph.D. Program in Fall 2020. Her primary research interest includes family and personal finance. She received her M.S. in Financial Counseling and Planning from Iowa State University, U.S., in 2020 and an M.B.A in Finance from Bharati Vidyapeeth University, India, in 2016. Before pursuing the Ph.D., Isha worked at The Bank of New York Mellon, a corporate investment banking company, as a Process Associate, and at the IndusInd Bank, a commercial banking company, as a Deputy Manager in Pune, India. Currently, she is a graduate assistant with the financial wellness team, University of Maryland Extension, In addition, she is an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) ® certified by the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE). Recently, she served as an editor for the ACCI’s Consumer Interests Annual, Volume 68, 2022. She may be reached at email@example.com and LinkedIn.
Janay Johnson is a doctoral student in Maternal and Child Health. Johnson earned her BA in Psychology and Religion from Kalamazoo College and earned her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from the George Washington University School of Public Health. After graduating from undergrad, Johnson worked at the Michigan State University Division of Public Health, helping to lead research projects focused on African American men's mental health and diabetes management. During her master's degree, Johnson worked as a research specialist, conducting numerous projects on international maternal, infant and young child nutrition. She currently serves as a graduate assistant for the Global Public Health Scholars program.
Jessica Moore-Solorzano - Information forthcoming
Jingshuai Du is a PhD candidate in Family Science. Her research focuses on the impact of stressful experiences (e.g. discrimination and intimate partner violence) on mental health and couple relationship with a focus on Asian American populations. She is also interested in neurodiverse couple (where one or both partners are on the autistic spectrum) research and clinical therapy practice. She has been a teaching assistant for FMSC 332 Children in Families, FMSC 302 Research Methods in Family Science, and FMSC 431 Family Crisis. Originally, she is from Northeast of China and got her master’s degree in Social Work at Peking University in 2016. After that, she came to the U.S. and got her master’s degree in Couple and Family Therapy at K-State University in 2019. She is also a licensed couple and family therapist in Maryland.
Krystle McConnell is a Maternal and Child Health PhD candidate in the department of Family Science. She is passionate about researching women with substance use disorders and their families. She continues to do research at the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy located in Baltimore, MD, where she has worked since 2012. At UMD she has served as a research assistant on the evaluation team for El Camino, a teen pregnancy prevention program aimed at Latinx youth, and for a project examining Sickle Cell Disease and Trait in partnership with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Maryland Department of Health. She also served as a graduate student ambassador for the School of Public Health. On her non-linear path, she received an A.A. degree in social sciences from Howard Community College, a B.S. degree in English literature from Notre Dame of Maryland University, and an MPH from George Washington University. She currently teaches the undergraduate course FMSC310 Maternal Child and Family Health. Feel free to contact her with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lindsay Mallick began her Ph.D. in Maternal and Child Health in 2020. Her research in both international and domestic settings spans equity in, access to, and quality of health care for family planning and perinatal services. Before starting her doctoral program, Ms. Mallick served as a Community Health Agent in the Peace Corps in Mauritania, West Africa, and earned an M.P.H. in International Health and Development from Tulane University. She then fulfilled two ORISE epidemiology fellowships with the United States Air Force and Army and, most recently, was a Lead Research Analyst seconded to The Demographic and Health Surveys Program through Avenir Health. She is currently a TA for FMSC310 Maternal, Child and Family Health and is a student affiliate of the Maryland Population Research Center. Follow her on Twitter @marmelinz.
Martha Yumiseva-Lackenbacher is originally from Quito - Ecuador. She is currently a PhD candidate in Family Science at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. She earned her M.S.Ed. in Human Development at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and her B.S. in Education and Psychology at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. She is a passionate researcher, investigating family practices and dynamics in the context of health as the baseline of children’s optimal cognitive, social, and emotional development. Her main work has focused on Latino families in the US and the implications of immigration on family separation, family reunification, and mental health. Currently, she is part of the following research projects: El Camino, a collaborative sexual health promotion program for Latino youths, the TOGETHER Program, a financial and relationship education program offered to couples in the area, and the Galápagos Education and Research Alliance from the University of Pennsylvania geared toward community science initiatives at the intersection of poverty, ecology, conservation, health inequalities, and educational inequality. In addition, she was recognized as an Outstanding Research Assistant by the Graduate School. Feel free to contact her on Twitter: @titayumiseva and Linkedin: Martha Yumiseva.
Matthew Rodriguez is a Family Science doctoral candidate who is passionate about researching ethnic minority men and their families. He is a research assistant for the Padres Preparados, Jóvenes Saludables Latinx obesity prevention program and also the Familias Activas study. Matt is also an instructor for the undergraduate family science course, "Modern Families" (FMSC170). Prior to his studies, Matt was a professional web developer and currently uses his coding skills to create mobile health apps. He was recently elected as the Co-Chair of the the National Council on Family Relations' Men in Families focus group. Feel free to contact Matt on ORCID and Twitter @MattR_Rodriguez.
Natasha Williams is a Chicago-based doctoral candidate in Family Science whose research focuses on the mental health of LGBTQ+ people. Specifically, she explores mental health disparities at the intersection of sexual identity and race as well as factors that influence access to affirming mental health care. Natasha is an investigator in the UMD Prevention Research Center and Dr. Jessica Fish’s SOGI Health Lab. She also works as a Research and Evaluation Associate at Sharp Insight and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Since 2013, she has been the TA or instructor of record for courses in statistics; families, poverty, and affluence; human sexuality; and behavior disorders. She holds an M.S. from Purdue University Northwest and a B.S. from Florida State University. Twitter: @Atakigo email@example.com
Pond Ezra is a doctoral student in Family Science who’s research focuses on transgender parenting. Specifically, they wish to explore how transgender parents, specifically seahorse dads, navigate parenting roles after birth; in what contexts does gender dysphoria show up in transmasculine parenthood; and what socialization messages are transgender parents sending to their children about gender. Pond is a research assistant in Dr. Jessica Fish’s SOGI health lab, working on multiple projects that investigate socialization messages communicated among heterosexual parents and sexual minority youth. Pond holds a B.A. and M.S. from Texas State University.
Rebecca Foss is a Family Science doctoral student, whose research focuses on mental health and innovative communication and dissemination methods, particularly in the use of online interventions, social media, and transmedia storytelling. Rebecca has nearly two decades of experience in marketing and communications resulting in a working knowledge of multiple media executions and communication delivery methods. She aims to draw from her past experience and present research to transform public health communication using mixed-media methods based on what resonates most with specific populations. Rebecca has been involved in multiple capacities with the TOGETHER Program at UMD, including marketing and recruitment, research, data management, and case management. Feel free to reach out to Rebecca on LinkedIn.
Sahra Ibrahimi is a doctoral candidate in Maternal and Child Health (MCH). Her research focuses on reproductive health. Recently, she received the People's Choice award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for one of her research projects, and she was featured by Washington's Top (WTOP) News. In addition to research, Sahra teaches FMSC110, an undergraduate course on Families and Global Health in the School of Public Health at UMD. She serves as a graduate student ambassador for the School of Public Health and a Graduate Writing Fellow for the UMD Graduate School Writing Center. If you are a Maryland graduate student and need assistance with writing, you can make an appointment here. Sahra also serves as an MCH student representative on the FMSC Graduate Committee, representing students’ perspectives and concerns on academics, leadership, and service programs. Prior to completing her master's in public health, Sahra worked as a Technical Project Officer at Abt Associates on the Health Financing and Governance (HFG) project, a 5-year global contract awarded by USAID and implemented in 40 countries. Sahra was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and came to the U.S. at age 14 for the Seeds of Peace Program in 2009, after which she received a full scholarship to attend the Ethel Walker High School in Simsbury, CT. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA, with a BA in Economics and fulfillment of pre-med requirements in 2017. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and learn more about her @ https://sites.google.com/sahra-ibrahimi. Twitter: @sahra_ibrahimi1
Salwa Shan is a doctoral candidate in the Family Science Program with research interests in Muslim Americans' mental health. Having completed her undergraduate and master's degrees at UMD, she is very familiar with the campus and the surrounding area. Her involvement with the Muslim community, experience as a high school teacher, and educational background in Couple and Family Therapy, allowed her to build a strong foundation in mental health and explore meaningful relationships. Her master's thesis focused on Black families and racial socialization. Salwa is very passionate about tying together her clinical and research experience to serve marginalized communities and to increase awareness about mental health and accessibility to mental health services in diverse communities.
Samantha Moran (she/her) is a Doctoral Student in the Family Science program. Broadly, her research interests include the experience of sexual and gender minority youth in the context of the school system, and the importance of creating safer environments, inclusive curricula, and supportive measures that empower teachers and staff to affirm students. Samantha is involved with Dr. Jessica Fish's SOGI Health Research Group and is currently involved in a project assessing the impact of anti-trans legislation, specifically bans on gender affirming medical care, on the mental health of transgender and non-binary youth. Samantha holds an M.S.W from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and a B.S. in Family Science and Sociology from Towson University. She is also a Project Manager in the Psychology Department at UMBC working on maternal and child health research and training. Twitter: @SamanthaMoran__ || email: email@example.com
Sun Cho is a second-year Ph.D. student in Family Science. Her research focuses on men's health and masculinities in men of color. She is passionate about exploring how the structural inequities shape their masculinities, how masculinities are transmitted from generation to generation in families, how masculinities impact men's health and family relationships, and how masculinities can shift in a positive, healthy way. She has been a teaching assistant for FMSC 190 Man Up! Masculinities, Health, Families, & Inequality and a research assistant for Dr. Kevin Roy. She is originally from Seoul, South Korea. She earned her M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies at Kyunghee University in 2018 and her B.S. in HDFS and Psychology at Duksung Women's University in 2016. After graduating from her master's program, she worked as a research assistant in the family policy research center at Seoul Women's Foundation. She likes hiking, listening to Bossanova, 6-hours driving, and COFFEE.
Zack Berman is a doctoral student in Family Science whose research focuses on the sexual and mental health of individuals and partners. Specifically, his work explores unique clinical considerations for providing efficacious therapy to individuals and partners in non-traditional relationships (e.g. BDSM practitioners), as well as the associations between pornography use and relationship outcomes. Zack is an investigator in Dr. Jessica Fish's SOGI Health Lab. He also provides individual, couple, family, and sex therapy as a Licensed Graduate Marriage and Family Therapist with Harmony Holistic in Bethesda, MD. Since 2018, he has been a TA and instructor of record for courses in couple relationships, adult development and aging, and Family Science internship analysis. Zack holds a B.A. and M.S. from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Zeina Alkhalaf is a doctoral candidate in Maternal and Child Health. Her research focuses on diet exposures that cause reproductive health disorders, infertility, and adverse maternal and pregnancy outcomes. More specifically, her research has been focused on vitamin D and risk of mode of delivery, preeclampsia, PMS, and ovarian reserve. Previously, Zeina received the Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) where she was mentored by Dr. Sunni Mumford. Her work focused on research from the Impact of Diet, Exercise, and Lifestyle (IDEAL), Folic Acid and Zinc Supplementation Trial (FAZST), and the Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction Trial (EAGeR) studies and coauthored several manuscripts assessing time to pregnancy, an ovulation, ovarian reserve, and live birth and loss. Zeina received her bachelors in Communication with a minor in Women and Gender Studies, and Masters in Public Health (MPH) from George Mason University (GMU). Zeina is currently working on her dissertation research focused on maternal vitamin D levels and risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes with Dr. Marie Thoma as her Dissertation Chair and Advisor."
Zeinab Azizi - I’m a first-year Family Science PhD student at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. I am originally from Tehran, Iran. I received my B.A. in Counseling and Guidance in 2018, and my M.A. in Family counseling in 2022 from the University of Tehran. Having done an externship in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and an internship in a pre-divorce counseling center, I became passionate about researching couples’ relationships through the lens of romantic attachment, particularly in the couples facing adverse circumstances like chronic diseases. My master’s thesis focused on relationship satisfaction, empathy, and forgiveness of couples with cardiovascular disease. Currently, I am part of the TOGETHER program. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Molly Bernhard is from Temecula, California. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Political Science. After graduating, she worked as a paralegal at a law firm based in Washington, D.C., specializing in litigation, labor and employment, and pro bono representation. Prior to joining the University of Maryland, Molly spent three years as an educator in Sofia, Bulgaria through the Fulbright Program and later, at an international high school. She cares deeply about the intersections of activism, artistic expression, and mental health, and has served as a TEDx speaker exploring these intersections. Molly’s research interests include fat acceptance and anti-fat bias, intergenerational and collective trauma, and suicidality. When Molly is not at work, you can find her thrifting, listening to Balkan pop, reading (especially the likes of James Baldwin, Kazuo Ishiguro, Maggie O’Farrell, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), and attending creative non-fiction writing workshops.
Sydney Bristol is from San Diego, CA. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2019 with a BA in Psychology (intensive track) and honors in the major. While in undergrad, Sydney interned at Corporacion de Ayuda al Paciente Mental (CORPAM) in Santiago, Chile, an adult residential facility, and at 7th Avenue Center in Santa Cruz, CA, a 99-bed adult inpatient psychiatric facility. After graduating, Sydney has worked in adult and children inpatient and outpatient facilities and found her passion in children and family crisis work. Sydney's research interests include suicidality in youths and young adults, sexually exploited children, life after domestic violence, holistic wellness, and trauma in family systems. Sydney is currently a Graduate Assistant in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Advising office in the Feller Center at the University of Maryland. Sydney is also Couples Expert Facilitator at the TOGETHER Program where she provides education on how to promote healthy family relationships, personal well-being, and employment and financial stability in our communities. In her free time, Sydney enjoys playing with her Australian Shepherd, hiking, reading, playing volleyball, and exploring the DMV.
Jazmine Diggs was born and raised in Maryland. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S in Community Health, Certificate in Women’s Studies, and Specialty in Health Risk Behaviors. During her undergraduate years, she served as the Indigenous Community Outreach Student Intern for the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy where she planned and facilitated Native American Heritage Month and aided the university in developing their Land Acknowledgement statement in honor of the Piscataway Conoy tribe. Jazmine helped provide mental health resources to UMD’s minority community through the Multi-Ethnic Mental Health Organization founded in 2020 amidst the pandemic as an avenue to educate the university’s minority population on resources reflective of their specific needs. She also taught introductory medical summer courses to high school students across the U.S through the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine. Through this, she went on to mentor twenty-five of her former students and aid them throughout their application processes and transitions to four-year universities. In 2022, Jazmine completed her undergraduate capstone internship at the University of Maryland’s health center through Health Promotion & Wellness Services where she served as both their mental health and sexual health student advocate. In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry, traveling, and modeling to promote diversity in the fashion industry.
Mansi Dougall was born and raised in New Delhi, India. She graduated from Jesus and Mary college, University of Delhi with a degree in Psychology (Hons). During that period, she served as vice president of the psychology department, organized department events and set up an online and offline campaign under a mental health initiative. Her first thesis investigated how parents of juvenile delinquents cope with the absence of their offspring and the implications for the child’s reintegration back to society. Thereafter, she completed her master’s degree in applied psychology- specialization in counselling psychology from Tata institute of social sciences, Mumbai and gained experience in counselling, ranging from shelter homes for women, to working with children and adolescents in schools and NGOs. At the end of two years, she was awarded the shield prize for the best student at fieldwork in her university. As a part of her master’s thesis, she explored the nature of romantic relationships and resilience among committed emerging adults in romantic relationships. Her work experience began in 2020 with an employee assistance program that offered teletherapy to employees for concerns related to self development, relationship and work. Post this, she worked as a part time role counsellor at the Delhi commission for protection of child rights. Additionally, she was empaneled as a psychologist in a pioneering pilot project by the Health department and Hans foundation. In the project, she was placed in a government school for a period of 6 months to offer counseling to children and adolescents. Through the completion of the CFT program she intends to enhance her skills in working with a systemic lens to understand different cultural nuances and dynamics impacting families, and to consolidate her past learnings of working with children and adults. During her free time, she enjoys exploring new places, traveling, yoga and dancing has been a major part of her life in school and college.
Nicole Gerber is from Silver Lake, Kansas. She graduated from Kansas State university in May of 2022 with a B.S. in Education Studies and a minor in Conflict Analysis and Trauma Studies. Prior to college graduation, she worked at a community mental health center in Manhattan, Kansas, where she worked with an underserved population of school-aged children and their families to provide mental health resources and advocate for their success in schools. Her current interests are addiction and its effects on the family and mental health issues for teen girls and young women. In her free time, she enjoys reading, quality time with friends and family, exercising, and trying new foods.
Kaitlin Grant McGirr is from Austin, Texas. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology from Texas State University. As an undergraduate, she occupied her time working as a Resident Assistant, being the president of a women-empowerment student organization, and volunteering as a research assistant at the Supporting Teachers And Ready Students (STARS) Lab. She also had the opportunity to work on and present a systematic review student poster about recent family therapy techniques for families with sexual minority youth. Her research interests broadly include LGBTQIA+ issues, social class disparities, gender identity, multi-ethnic families, and non-traditional family structures. Some of her hobbies outside of school include finding new music, collecting vinyl records, visiting art exhibits, trying local food and coffee places, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with her cat.
Adam Hedelund is from Newbury Park California. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Family Life. As an undergraduate he worked as a peer mentor in the Office of First Year Experience where he met with first year students and counseled them through their transition from high school to college. He volunteered at the Family Academy where he served as a court appointed supervisor for families struggling through the effects of divorce. This job granted him insight into the complex family dynamics as well as the struggles surrounding male mental health. After graduation Adam worked as a data base coordinator for Project M.E.D.I.A looking at the role of technology in the development of children. Adam also worked a Character Development Coordinator at American Preparatory Academy where he had the chance to facilitate activities and lessons that encouraged mental, emotional, and social resilience in high school students. Adam’s research interests include men’s wellness and dismantling the stigma around men’s mental health and therapy. During his free time Adam likes going to the movies, singing, museums, and good food.
Janynea Hutchinson grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from Bowie State University with a Bachelors of Science in Sociology. Janynea has worked for several years within the Prince George's County Public School system, where she creates a safe environment for students to further their academic knowledge and knowledge of self. She's a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and utilizes the platform to elevate young women of color. Janynea is an active leader in her community where she hosts programs to illuminate mental health resources and mentor the upcoming generation. Her primary goal is to destigmatize therapy within communities of color. Her clinical areas of interest include couple’s relational and sex therapy. In her free time, she likes to binge watch television series and craft. Janynea believes she can make anything she sets her mind to, but her favorite thing to make is someone's day.
Marina Kerlow is from Maryland, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a 2022-2023 AAMFT Minority Fellow. Having a Mexican and Cuban heritage and being raised in a multicultural family has made Marina passionate about helping families adapt to change and accept one another. Marina joins her clients as they undo harmful messages which they have received from different systems including racism, sexism, and systemic oppression, to better understand themselves and create new ways of being. At UMD’s Center for Healthy Families, Marina provides bilingual therapy to families from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. She treats children, teens, and families dealing with interpersonal trauma, anxiety, depression, neurodivergence and identity development. Marina is also a clinical extern with Greenbelt CARES, a community-based organization. She utilizes a family-centered approach with a variety of techniques including narrative therapy, attachment-based therapy, play therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. She provides LGBTQ+ affirming care. Marina participates in research with the TOGETHER Program, and El Camino, which offers comprehensive sexual education to Latinx teens. Marina has co-authored several publications on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted low-income Latinx and African American families. Marina hopes to reduce mental health stigma in the Latinx community and add to research about Latinx family trauma and resilience. Marina enjoys yoga, biking, and spending time with family, friends, and her Golden Retriever, Coco.
Mia Lemus grew up in Arlington, Virginia. She graduated from Rhode Island College with a B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Chemical Dependency Addiction Studies in 2021. She began studying Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Wisconsin-Madison post grad from 2021-22, where she focused on experimental research techniques and methodology and applied it to various areas of psychology. Mia has worked in a clinical setting advocating for teenagers and young adults with behavioral, emotional and developmental disorders. Prior to joining the University of Maryland, College Park, she interned at Bradley Hospital in East Providence, Rhode Island facilitating social skills groups for adolescents with autism while collecting behavioral data. She was trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy- Adolescents (DBT-A), an empirically validated treatment model used to teach and reinforce emotion regulation and distress tolerance skills. She applied these skills to address relationships with family and peers and was helpful in implementing individual treatment programs. Mia's research interests include mindfulness-based relapse prevention, intergenerational and collective trauma, parent-child relationships in immigrant families, loss, and grief. In her free time, Mia enjoys reading, road trips and trying new Italian recipes.
Gabriela (Gabby) Loayza Jaramillo was born and raised in Ecuador and currently lives in Maryland. She graduated from Universidad de Las Américas in her native country as a Clinical Psychologist. She has worked giving psychotherapy to individuals, families, couples, and children. Also has experience working with cancer patients and their families. Gabriela is a founding member of CONATUS, an organization in her country dedicated to facilitating focus groups, talks, conferences, workshops, and exhibitions on issues related to sexuality and couples’ life. She has participated in various research projects and study groups related to sexuality, gender, and the Latinx population - topics that have interested her since the beginning of her professional career. Gabriela is a Student Ambassador at the School of Public Health. She enjoys outdoor activities, singing, photography, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Adassa Phillips was born and raised in the DMV. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Exercise Science in 2019. While there, she was a part of the Wilmington, DE Community Intervention Team where she worked as a healthcare navigator. She helped to provide community resources on public health, positive youth development, and violence prevention. She also worked as a resident assistant for 3 years and led a living learning community for LGBTQ+ and Racial Justice Activism. After graduating, she worked in the biopharmaceutical field for almost 2 years at GlaxoSmithKline in Rockville, MD as a Manufacturing Associate II. She also created a smoothie business geared towards promoting holistic wellness and positive affirmations. This past summer 2022, Adassa worked as a Community Engagement Intern for Therapy for Black Girls. In this role she helped to uplift a community of Black women, hosted events to engage the community, and created social media content promoting mental health resources for Black women. Adassa was involved in varying fields of research during her undergraduate career but her current interests are mental health awareness amongst Black families and breaking stigmas of sex therapy within minority communities. During her free time, Adassa enjoys going out to eat and trying new restaurants, dancing, and traveling.
Tenzin Palbar is a Tibetan refugee born and raised in India. He did all of his primary schooling from various Tibetan refugee schools across India. After high school, he volunteered at the Environment and Development Desk of the Department of Information International Relations (Central Tibetan Administration) for roughly 9 months. Following that, he received a full scholarship to do my undergraduate studies at Emory University in the United States. He double-majored in Psychology and Sociology at Emory. He also got a brief opportunity to do cross-cultural child development research in New Zealand and Western Samoa. During his time at Emory, he had the opportunity to intern at Gateway Center for the Homeless. After Emory, he returned back to India. For the past three years, he has volunteered at multiple Tibetan institutes in various capacities. Primarily, he has translated and taught Neuroscience to adult Buddhist monks studying at Drepung Loselling Meditation and Science center in southern India. I also volunteered at the Department of Health (Central Tibetan Administration) as a Mental Health Intern. Besides that, I had the fortune of serving his Tibetan refugee community more through some independent and small awareness projects on lifestyle diseases, mental health, and higher education. After completing the FCT program, he wishes to serve refugee communities in need in the longer run. His primary aim is to focus on helping poor families build a more cost-effective enriching environment within the family to create an ideal environment for parents and/developing children.
Dara Ogunsakin is from Warner Robins, Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia where she received her Bachelor's degree in Social Work. As an undergraduate, Dara was interested in social justice, child advocacy, and various student-based campus initiatives. She interned with the Office of Student Care and Outreach working with the Embark program, an initiative to provide support and resources to students that experienced foster care and/or homelessness. Dara also completed a practicum her senior year, working with the regional child advocacy center conducting supervised visitation, and leading parent coaching sessions. Most recently, she worked as a research fellow and program assistant with The Work First Foundation in Washington D.C. In this role, she conducted independent research on workforce development strategies for families that receive TANF benefits as a means of poverty alleviation. In addition to this fellowship, she also began working to complete a full-spectrum doula certification. Dara enjoys hanging out with her dog Remi, connecting with people, and finding new hotspots in the city!
Allaeh Tafaghodi was raised in Maryland and is of Iranian descent. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She has worked in various research labs on studies related to resilience in families of incarcerated individuals, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fatherhood, and the psychological well-being of Shia Muslim students on college campuses. Community has always been a great part of her life and she hopes to serve the Muslim and other minority communities. She is interested in learning more about Islamically integrated psychotherapy to better serve Muslim clients who seek faith-based treatments. Her research interests include developing treatment models that are rooted in Islamic teachings as opposed to molding Islamic teachings into current models. During her free time, she enjoys writing, spending time with family, having deep conversations, and hiking with her husband.
Sonia Villatoro Ramos was born in El Salvador but has lived in Maryland most of her life. Recently, she graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a double major in Sociology and Family Science. She has worked as a receptionist for a healthcare facility that provides rehabilitation, nursing homes, and long-term care services. She has volunteered as a teaching assistant for religious education classes for children with special needs. Currently, she works as a secretary for a local parish where she engages with members of her community, including Spanish-speaking families and low-income individuals. Sonia hopes to be able to provide services to minority groups who often see therapy as a taboo. Her areas of interest are mental health awareness, early childhood intervention, immigrant family resilience, and family relationships after separation. In her free time, Sonia enjoys spending time with her family and friends, doing outdoor activities, reading, and doing volunteer work.
Nick Warnick is from Cumberland, Maryland. He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Science in Family Science and Psychology. As an undergraduate, he served as a Research Assistant and Peer Mentor in the Comprehensive Assessment and Intervention Program Lab (CAIP) where he collaborated on a project which examined behavioral manifestations of frustration and their impact on parent-adolescent disagreement. Additionally, he volunteered as a Peer Counselor at Help Center where he was able to connect with callers who needed support. After graduation, he worked as an Administrative Assistant at Kirstin Care, LLC. where he assisted clients in scheduling appointments and matching them to appropriate resources that best suited their needs. Through this job, he got an insight to be able to see how intergenerational poverty, trauma, violence, racism, and mental illness interact within the lives of many clients. During his time as a graduate student, Nick has collaborated on various research projects centered around exploring the needs for Black Sexual Minority Men living with HIV who are not engaged in care, as well as evaluating the efficacy of program that provides training on trauma-informed practice. Currently, Nick serves as a graduate assistant in the School of Public Health working alongside the Clinic Director of the Center for Healthy Families, as well as with the UMD Extension Program’s Farm Stress Team. Nick’s clinical interests include same-sex couples, non-traditional families, sex therapy, grief and loss, suicidality, and chronic illness. In his very limited free time, he enjoys music, watching movies, cooking, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Azure Zheng is from Guangzhou, China. She graduated from New York University Shanghai with a B.A. in Social Science. After graduation, she worked as a Customer Experience Associate specializing in customer PR, crisis intervention, and de-escalation training in a bilingual setting. Prior to joining the University of Maryland. Azure was actively engaged in programs and campaigns that promote mental health in China. As a Peer Counseling Volunteer, Death Cafe Organizer, and a Suicide Prevention Training participant, she is passionate about raising awareness of mental health care and cultivating communities that support one another. Azure’s research interests include masculinity and depression, the domestic division of labor in East Asian culture, and culturally sensitive therapy. During her free time, she enjoys exploring new podcasts, solving sudokus, making Kung-fu Tea, and trying out new sports (bouldering, surf skating, and the list is growing!)