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Continuing Education

Liberation-Based Healing Presenters

Presenters at the 2013 event in Puerto Rico will include:

Rhea V. Almeida, LCSW, Ph.D., founder of Institute for Family Services, is a family therapist, Columbia Graduate and creator of the Cultural Context Model, a Liberation Based Healing Perspective. Dr. Almeida is internationally and nationally acknowledged for her work on Intersectionality, which addresses the matrix of power, privilege and oppression in therapeutic and policy practices. In 2005 she received the American Family Therapy Academy Distinguished Award for Innovative Contributions to Family Therapy. For her cutting edge work in Liberation Based Healing, Dr. Almeida has been invited to expand scholarship in Ecuador, Jamaica, India, Sweden, South Africa and the United States. She has provided consultation and training to educational institutions, human service agencies and businesses.  She has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, CNBC, National Public Radio, USA Today, and Pure Oxygen. She serves on the Council on Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Diversity (CRECD) at Council on Social Work Education and is the author of numerous journal articles and three books: Expansions of Feminist Theory Through DiversityTransformations in Gender and Race: Family and Developmental Perspectives, and co-author of Transformative Family Therapy: Just Families in a Just Society.

Andraé L. Brown, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, co-director of Affinity Counseling Group (New Jersey), and a research fellow for the Council on Contemporary Families. Dr. Brown’s research agenda focuses on the development of treatment models that use the supportive structures of families, schools and communities to address trauma, violence and substance abuse. His research and clinical interests also include resilience in street-life-oriented Black men, the psychosocial development of adolescents living in the urban context, liberation psychology and cultural equity in service provision. Dr. Brown holds several grants to develop and implement re-entry and restorative justice services for youth and families involved in the justice system. In addition to teaching and training, Dr. Brown’s work includes engaging community members and advocates, mental health providers and various institutions to utilize the resilience that exist within individuals, families and communities to bolster their mental health and wellness. Such efforts include community talks, lectures, organizational trainings, and Participatory Action Research. 

Rebecca Chaisson, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at Tulane University School of Social Work. Dr. Chaisson has extensive experience as an educator, supervisor and administrator in both the private and public sectors. She has taught courses in social work practice, diversity, oppression and social justice, and has conducted psychoeducational and other community seminars and workshops. She has experience as a clinician with individuals, families, and groups. Her current interests include social justice from the micro to macro levels of practice, diversity, health and mental health, and social work education. Recently, she developed a course using the “Cultural Context Model” (CCM) in an undergraduate social work service-learning course and is demonstrating the use of an adapted CCM to engage social work students in activism. Further, she is integrating aspects of the CCM in graduate level social work courses.

Jose A. Cruz, MBA, LCSW, holds a LCSW and M.B.A.  He currently is pursuing a PhD in Public Health, is an Addictions Consultant, and a presenter at the 5 day Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist Training at UMDNJ.  Jose is also a faculty member at the Institute for Family Services (IFS) and Progresando En Comunidad, a program under IFS that provides comprehensive services to Hispanic families.  He has a wide range of experience in providing access to health and mental health services for populations dealing with issues such as HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, immigration issues, and tobacco dependence. With a cross-over in business and public health education, Jose is deeply engaged in replicating models of healing that are sustainable and just.

Lisa Dressner, LCSW founded Affinity Counseling Group, a private community-based mental health center, in March 2000, and replicated the Cultural Context Model to work with families impacted by incarceration. She has developed clinical programs for professionals and institutions in the areas of liberation based healing and community organizing, including the Zakee Bowser Foundation and the Raritan Bay YMCA. She has joined Dr. Almeida in presenting nationally and internationally on domestic and community violence, creating therapeutic healing communities, juvenile justice clinical practice and reform, and a presenter at the national White Privilege Conference. She is committed to training students and professionals in the mental health field in the areas of cultural equity, white privilege and integrating social justice in clinical practice. She is Assistant Director at the Institute for Family Services and her publications are in the area of white privilege and interrupting the discourse of cultural competence.

Pilar Hernandez-Wolfe, Ph.D. earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is an associate professor, and director of the Marriage, Couple and Family Therapy program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. She is a faculty member at the Institute for Family Services, where she provides training and supervision, and directs research projects on liberation-based healing. She is also a guest faculty member at the Centro de Terapia Familiar y de Pareja in Puebla, México, and at the Universidad Javeriana, Cali, and Universidad Nacional, Bogotá, in Colombia. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) approved supervisor. Her research examines applications of contextually responsive models to clinical practice and clinical supervision with a focus on domestic violence, resilience, vicarious resilience, post-traumatic stress, and human rights. She pioneered the concept of vicarious resilience in the context of torture-survivor treatment in the U.S. with Drs. David Gangsei and David Engstrom she has worked in Columbian health services to address politically-based violence in that country. She is the author of numerous peer reviewed articles and chapters. Her upcoming book “Latinos, Latin Americans and Decolonization, a Borderlands perspective” will be published in 2013 by Jason Aronson. 

Ohlaysha Hicks, M.S. is a Spanish language educator in the South Brunswick School District, and has a Master’s Degree from Capella University in Human Services with a specialization in Couple and Family Therapy. She is currently completing her post graduate training at the Institute for Family Services and on the faculty of Progresso en Comunidad.  Her combined knowledge in progressive education as well as therapeutic practices informs her ideas to promote healthy development in families through the collective engagement of larger systems and community-based therapy.  

Judith Lewis, LCSW-BACS, M.S.W., Ph.D. is Associate Professor at Tulane University School of Social Work in New Orleans, LA. She received her Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Maryland and her M.S.W. from Syracuse University. She has been Director of Field Education, and Student Affairs at Tulane School of Social Work and was Project Director and PI of the Leanne Knot Violence Prevention Project, a DOJ Education and Training grant in consortium with Southern University and the University of New Orleans. She is a founder and current faculty coordinator of the Diversity Coalition at the School of Social Work, a student driven group that provides support and regular programming on a wide range of diversity issues at Tulane. Her publications reflect her research interests in resilience in older adults, advocacy and organizing, natural helping networks, and social work field education as it relates to cultural diversity. She is a licensed clinician in the state of Louisiana and has provided pro bono service in the community as a group work specialist. For the past 3 years she has co-taught a service learning course with Dr. Rebecca Chaisson that utilizes concepts from Cultural Context Model to help prepare undergraduates with the knowledge and skill to enter highly diverse community systems for collaborative engagement on projects related to race, class, gender and sexual orientation. 

José Miguel Paez, M.S.W., LCSW, is currently a full time lecturer at California State University, Northridge in the Department of Social Work. He has been a member of the faculty for 4 years. He has taught courses in policy analysis, advocacy, clinical and macro practice, human behavior, trauma, and social justice. He teaches with a social justice lens incorporating critical race theory, postcolonial analysis, and liberation based healing interventions. He was awarded ‘Social Worker of the Year’ in 2013 by the San Fernando Valley Chapter of NASW. He began his social work career working interning with the labor and worker’s rights organization Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). After earning his MSW in 2001, he practiced as a bilingual outpatient clinician for a community mental health agency in Pacoima that served predominately low income families of color stressed by multi-generational trauma, severe and chronic mental illness, discrimination and stigma. Following this he went on to work with the University of Southern California School of Social Work in developing a collaborative first-year field placement with the Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI).  He served as the director of the social work services provided at NAI for 3 years, including community engagement through socio-education, field instruction, supervision, and family and group therapy. He has a background in improv theatre, spoken word, and was also a basketball coach at grade school to high school levels for over 10 years.

Teresa McDowell, Ed.D. is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology in the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. Teresa has spent much of her career working to revise marriage and family therapy education in ways that better support social equity and cultural democracy. Her scholarship has focused on race/racism in family therapy practice and education, critical multicultural family research, research on social class, and internationalizing family therapy programs. Recently her research agenda has included expanding critical multiculturalism in family therapy to include an international, decolonizing focus that addresses disparity and promotes global citizenship.

Diana Meléndez, M.S.W. is supervisor of emergency psychiatric services at a large Northeast Hospital. Diana is a graduate of the MSW program at the Silver School of Social Work at NYU, following her dual degree in Social Work and Psychology from Seton Hall University. Diana has served on the Board and committees of her professional organization and has experience working within the education system, child welfare system, and juvenile justice system. She is also a member and organizer with the Women of Color Collective in NYC and the Anti-Racist Alliance of northern New Jersey as a graduate of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond “Undoing Racism- Community Organizing” Workshop. She is currently completing her post-graduate training at the Institute for Family Services where she is faculty on the Progresando en Comunidad program through liberation-based therapy with families. Her interests focus on the authentic incorporation of social justice and equity theories and strategies into social work practice, with an emphasis on examining the dynamics of power, privilege and oppression through an intersectionality lens.

Mabel Quinones, Ph.D. is a staff psychologist at the Veterans hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico where she coordinates the Psychology Fellowship Program specialized in Women’s Psychology. Dr. Quiñones has presented at numerous conferences on the topic of gender intersectionality and has authored papers on this topic. Dr. Quiñones has been faculty of graduate psychology programs in the U. S including The New School for Social Research in New York City, New York University, Albert Einstein School of Medicine and John Hopkins University. She also directed the Multicultural Child and Family Training program at the psychiatric outpatient services at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Quiñones’ areas of expertise include psychology of women, contextual psychotherapy and family therapy, and she maintains a private practice in San Juan, Puerto Rico.