The Steve Fund, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to promoting the mental health of young people of color, formed a multi-sector task force of thought leaders to develop recommendations for mitigating the mental health risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Steve Fund Crisis Response Task Force has outlined ways that higher education, along with a range of stake-holders including nonprofit organizations, mental health experts, students, philanthropy, the private sector and policymakers can and should step up to help students of color. Download the executive summary and/or the full report.
President & Task Force Chair, Board of Directors, The Steve Fund
Evan Rose is co-founder and president of The Steve Fund, the nation’s only organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of college students of color. Evan came up with the idea of starting the Fund days after the passing of his brother and best friend, Steve, who died from mental illness in 2014. Steve had received a masters in psychology and was deeply supportive of the well-being of others. The Steve Fund is the legacy of a gifted, loving, and compassionate young man who felt called to help others.
The Fund works with colleges and universities, outstanding non-profits, researchers, students, emerging adults, mental health practitioners and experts, and with groups serving diverse populations to stimulate dialogue and promote effective programs and strategies that build understanding and assistance for the mental and emotional health of the nation’s students of color as they enter, matriculate in, and transition from higher education. Its core pillars are knowledge building, programs and partnerships, youth engagement, and tech innovations. The Steve Fund’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Diverse Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post and The Harvard Crimson.
Evan graduated from Harvard College in 2009 and lives in New York with his wife and the world’s most adorable little girl. He is the founder of Rose Digital, NYC.
Interim Executive Director, The Steve Fund
Sandra E. Timmons joined the Steve Fund as its Interim Executive Director in March 2020. The Steve Fund is the nation’s only organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color. The Steve Fund works with colleges and universities, nonprofits, researchers, mental health experts, families and young people to promote programs and strategies that build understanding and assistance for the mental and emotional health of the nation’s young people of color.
Sandra’s experience and interests are closely aligned with the Steve Fund’s mission and values. She has spent most of her career helping young people, many in underserved communities, gain access to opportunities that increase their educational achievement and success. She joins the Steve Fund following a 16-year tenure as President of A Better Chance, a national nonprofit organization that places talented young people of color into the leadership pipeline through increased access to academically rigorous secondary schools. Under her leadership, A Better Chance significantly expanded its national footprint and improved student outcomes.
Prior to joining A Better Chance, Sandra was Chief Operating Officer of Girls Inc., a national nonprofit organization focused on the empowerment of girls and young women. Before joining Girls Inc., Sandra was Chief of Staff at the College Board and also held management positions at Honeywell.
Sandra earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business/economics with a concentration in accounting from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Science degree in public policy analysis and management with a concentration in finance from Carnegie Mellon University.
Sandra’s professional background has been enriched through a broad range of volunteer work with community, professional, and religious organizations. She currently serves on the board of the Enrollment Management Association.
Dr. Farha Abbasi
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Michigan State University
Dr. Farha Abbasi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Michigan State University and core faculty member of the Muslim Studies Program. She is from Pakistan and settled in the United States in the year 2000 with her three daughters. In January of 2009, Dr. Abbasi received the American Psychiatric association SAMSHA Minority fellowship. She used the grant money to create awareness about cultural competency, to redefine it as not just tolerance but acceptance. Her areas of interest are cultural psychiatry and teaching medical students how to provide culturally appropriate care to Muslim patients. She works directly with Muslim American community to encourage integration rather than isolation from mainstream society. In addition to her efforts to build bridges between the two cultures, Dr. Abbasi work as a psychiatrist has led her to address the barriers that stigmatize and silence mental health. She is the founding director of the Annual Muslim Mental Health Conference. In 2018 the tenth conference was held at the United State Institute Of Peace in Washington, DC. In addition, she launched a Global Muslim Mental Health Conference in Malaysia and Jordan. She is also the managing editor of the Journal of Muslim Mental Health and Director of the Muslim Mental Health Consortium, Michigan State University. Dr. Abbasi has received numerous awards for her service to the community and promoting mental health. Dr. Abbasi was an Honoree, National Alliance of Mentally Ill, and American Psychiatric Foundation Award for Promoting Minority Mental Health and Globie award winner, Office of International Students Services, Community Service Award by All Pakistanis Physician of North America and Community Service Award by Pakistan Women Association of Michigan. She has served on many boards and committees including Council on Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities American Psychiatric Association. She currently chairs the Mental Health Task Force for the Mayor of Lansing, Michigan. She works relentlessly and tirelessly towards one goal: Learning to coexist and go beyond our differences to reach the common point of peace and prosperity.
President & CEO, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP)
Linda Akutagawa is President and CEO of LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics). A passionate social entrepreneur for over 25 years, Ms. Akutagawa is an advocate for diversity and believer in the value and urgent need for diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership. Through LEAP, she has dedicated herself to leadership development and inspiring Asian and Pacific Islanders to step up to leadership roles. She’s a nationally recognized speaker and facilitator on leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion, nonprofits, and board governance. Linda received her B.S. in International Business with a minor in Economics from California State University at Los Angeles.
Dr. Byron D. Clift Breland
Chancellor, San Jose – Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD)
Dr. Byron D. Clift Breland serves as Chancellor of San Jose – Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD). Prior to being appointed Chancellor, he served as President of San Jose City College and held various positions at the University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Southern California. As a leader working in the field of education, Dr. Clift Breland has always known the importance of being engaged in the broader community, having served on a number of boards to promote equity in housing and economic opportunities, as well as gains in educational outcomes for traditionally underrepresented groups. Dr. Clift Breland holds a Bachelor of Science degree in consumer economics and a Master of Science degree in family studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. He also has a Master of Science degree in education and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in counseling psychology, both from the University of Southern California.
Dr. Ronald L. Copeland, MD, FACS
Senior Vice President of National Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Policy, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals
Ronald L. Copeland, MD, FACS, is senior vice president of National Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity strategy and policy and chief equity, inclusion, and diversity officer for Kaiser Permanente.
Through multiple collaborations, he leads Kaiser Permanente’s program-wide efforts to ensure our strategic vision for equity, inclusion, and diversity is successfully implemented to drive strategic business and mission outcomes, empower communities we serve, and result in all Kaiser Permanente members achieving health and health care outcomes that are high quality, equitable, and increasingly more affordable.
Dr. Copeland is a member of Kaiser Permanente’s Executive Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Council, a group composed of the Chairman/CEO and other C-level leaders who oversee executive accountability for embedding the equity, inclusion, and diversity strategy throughout the organization. Additionally, he is chair of the Kaiser Permanente National Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Council, which advises, advocates for, and monitors the successful implementation of the equity, inclusion, and diversity strategy and policy recommendations.
A recently retired board-certified general surgeon, Dr. Copeland joined Kaiser Permanente in 1988 after a six-year honorable tour of duty in the United States Air Force Medical Corps. Dr. Copeland served as president and executive medical director of the Ohio Permanente Medical Group prior to assuming his current role in 2012.
The Rochester, N.Y., native earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his medical degree from University of Cincinnati Medical College. He completed his residency in general surgery at State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. He also attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
Dr. Copeland is a board member of Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, the National Organization on Disability and the Center for Healthcare Innovation; an advisory board member for the Centre for Global Inclusion; a member of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Equity Advisory Group; and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Lorelle L. Espinosa
Vice President, Research, American Council on Education
Lorelle L. Espinosa is the vice president for research at the American Council on Education (ACE). In this role, she is responsible for developing the organization’s thought leadership and research agenda and for ensuring a consistent evidence base across ACE’s array of programs and services. With more than 20 years of experience in higher education practice, policy, and research, Espinosa is a national voice on issues pertaining to college access and success for diverse populations and on the role of equity-minded leadership in postsecondary settings.
Her current research includes a three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to examine race and ethnicity in higher education, and multiple collaborations with scholars from around the country to translate important academic research for policy and practitioner audiences. During her time at ACE, Espinosa’s work also includes leading and publishing a seminal study examining how legal challenges to race-conscious policies influence contemporary admissions practices at selective colleges around the country. Subsequent work examined the role of leadership in campus racial climate and on the tension between campus inclusion and freedom of expression.
Forest T. Harper Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer, INROADS
Forest T. Harper Jr. is an accomplished Senior Healthcare Executive with a consistent track record of sales achievement, product support, and innovative business model development. Led a National Sales force that delivered sustainable commercial performance in excess of $19 Billion. Uniquely qualified in Public Policy Grassroots Advocacy and Civic Engagement, which led to the creation of a 25,000-member Community-Based Organization and External Stakeholder Relations model. A proven Senior Executive in Governance and Leadership for top tier Non-Profit Organizations. Memberships include Morgan State University Foundation Board, Executive Leadership Council (ELC) Community Impact Committee, Forbes Non-Profit Council and the Atlanta CEO Non-Profit Roundtable. Specialties: Start-Up Commercial Models Building High Performing Teams Leadership Development Grassroots Civic Engagement Non-Profit Board Leadership Healthcare Disparity Strategies Diversity and Inclusion Strategist
Chief Diversity Officer, Zoom
Damien Hooper-Campbell is the first Chief Diversity Officer at Zoom. Prior to joining Zoom, Damien was a Vice President at eBay where he served as the company’s first Chief Diversity Officer. In this role, he led the design and implementation of eBay’s global strategy for embedding diversity and inclusion across its workforce, workplace, and marketplace. He also led eBay’s University Recruiting & Programs team and was a member of the eBay Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Prior to eBay, Damien served as Uber’s first Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, where he drove the company’s foundational Diversity & Inclusion strategy and led its community engagement efforts with the City of Oakland, CA. Before Uber, he advised Google’s senior leaders and built partnerships across communities as a Diversity Strategist. Prior to Google, Damien was a Vice President in Goldman Sachs’ Pine Street Leadership Development Group, where he coached the company’s most senior leaders. Previously, he led underrepresented minority outreach for Harvard Business School’s Admissions Board and empowered Harlem’s non-profit community as an Associate Program Manager at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ). Prior to UMEZ, Damien was an Investment Banking Analyst in Morgan Stanley’s Consumer Products and Retail Group.
Damien has served on the Board of New Jersey Needs You and as a mentor in Morehouse College’s Executive Mentorship Program. Damien graduated with a BA in Economics from Morehouse College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was both a Bert King and Morgan Stanley Fellow.
College Junior, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Ryan Houston-Dial is an upcoming senior psychology major and anthropology minor student at UTSA. Ryan likes to spend his time writing, watching sports and trying new foods. Through his love of writing, Ryan is motivated to communicate the importance of mental health to minority groups. Furthermore, he works to diminish stereotypes about mental health that have resided in the African American community for decades. Ryan plans to pursue a master’s degree and PhD in the field of neuropsychology.
Dr. Paula A. Johnson
President, Wellesley College
Paula A. Johnson is the 14th President of Wellesley College. She is globally recognized for her role in advancing women’s health and well-being through innovation in medical research, clinical care, health policy, and education. A cardiologist, President Johnson was the Grayce A. Young Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She founded the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where she led in the field of women’s health, focusing on the discovery of sex and gender differences in health and disease across organ systems. In her four years as president of Wellesley, President Johnson has advanced women’s higher education, championing cross-campus efforts to integrate the ideals of inclusive excellence into every aspect of academic and residential life.
President Johnson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine and has received numerous awards and honorary degrees for her contributions to science, medicine, and public health. She has been recognized as a national leader in medicine by the National Library of Medicine.
President Johnson attended Harvard and Radcliffe colleges, received her M.D. and M.P.H. degrees from Harvard, and trained in internal medicine and cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
President, PACE University
Marvin Krislov has been president of Pace University since August 2017. He is committed to Pace’s mission of Opportunitas—providing all students, regardless of background, access to the transformative power of education. He is working to bolster Pace’s status as the nation’s leading four-year, private college for driving upward economic mobility. He previously spent 10 years as president of Oberlin College and before that was vice president and general counsel at the University of Michigan, where he led the defense of the University’s admission policies that resulted in the 2003 Supreme Court decision recognizing the importance of student body diversity.
Dr. Meeta Kumar
Director of Student Counseling Service, University of Chicago
Dr. Meeta Kumar is a psychologist and serves as the Director of Student Counseling at University of Chicago. She provides administrative oversight for comprehensive delivery of mental health services and is also a member of the student wellness leadership at the university. She is a key spokesperson for mental health related concerns and works closely with all campus constituencies including faculty, staff, student groups and families. For almost 20 years, Dr. Kumar was at the Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Pennsylvania and served as the deputy executive director and associate director for outreach and prevention as well as was an adjunct faculty in the Asian American Studies department. Her areas of interest are impact of culture, identity and marginalization on mental health in clinical and higher education settings; and strategies for community interventions that support mental health and wellbeing of marginalized and underserved students. Dr. Kumar is a national presenter on array of college mental health topics and presents regularly to higher education administrators, faculty, student affairs personnel, mental health professionals and parents. National and local media outlets like The New York Times, NPR Marketplace, and Chronicle of Higher Education among others, have interviewed her. She has collaborated on several initiatives with The Steve Fund, a national non-profit committed to the mental health and well-being of students of color. She received her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Carlota Ocampo
Provost, Trinity Washington University
Carlota Ocampo is Provost at Trinity Washington University, overseeing academic affairs, assessment, and planning. An alumna of the American Psychological Association (APA) Leadership Institute for Women (LIWP) and the American Council on Education’s Chief Academic Officers’ Institute, she holds a PhD in Neuropsychology from Howard University. Currently, she chairs the LIWP advisory council evaluation committee and is an accreditation evaluator for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Her interests encompass inequality, health, and education; she publishes on pedagogical reform, racist-incident based trauma, ethnicity, gender, and disease, and more. She directs grant programs to support underrepresented women in STEM education.
Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D.
Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice, The Education Trust
Wil Del Pilar vice president of higher education at the Education Trust where he works to advance Ed Trust’s higher education advocacy agenda by developing and implementing strategies to leverage research, policy, and practice to improve accountability, affordability and student success for low-income students and students of color. Wil has experience at both federal, state and institutional levels. Most recently, he served as deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, where he implemented the strategic vision for higher education in the commonwealth. Prior to that, he led development activities at the University of Florida and Pennsylvania State University. Del Pilar has also served in admissions roles at Chapman University in Orange, California, and the University of California Santa Cruz, as a financial aid counselor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and as a research assistant at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Del Pilar’s work in higher education has shaped his research interest which focuses on postsecondary access and success. Specifically, his interest centers upon the intersection between policy, social capital and school factors on the postsecondary enrollment of underserved student populations. Del Pilar earned a Ph.D. in higher education/higher education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.
Dr. Annelle Primm
Senior Medical Director, The Steve Fund
Dr. Primm is a psychiatrist who has lectured and written widely on community psychiatry and cultural psychiatry, including two books she co-edited, Disparities in Psychiatric Care, published in 2010 and the 2012 book, Women in Psychiatry: Personal Perspectives. Well-known for her leadership in educating the public about mental illness, Dr. Primm produced the culturally-tailored DVD, Black and Blue: Depression in the African American Community. Dr. Primm was a physician executive at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) from 2004-2015 a period during which she led APA’s Division of Diversity and Health Equity and served as Deputy Medical Director. Prior to her service at the APA, Dr. Primm was Medical Director of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Community Psychiatry Program where she oversaw a variety of mental health services for adults. Dr. Primm is currently an adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Howard University, Johns Hopkins and New York University Schools of Medicine, and is Senior Medical Adviser for the Steve Fund. A Distinguished Fellow of the APA and a member of the American College of Psychiatrists, Dr. Primm has received numerous awards and honors including the Alexandra Symonds Award from the American Psychiatric Association Foundation in 2016. A graduate of Harvard for undergraduate studies, Dr. Primm received her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine and psychiatry residency training at Johns Hopkins. She completed, also from Johns Hopkins, a master’s degree in public health and a fellowship in Social and Community Psychiatry.
Dr. David Rivera
Associate Professor, Queens College, CUNY
Dr. David P. Rivera is an associate professor of counselor education at Queens College-City University of New York (CUNY) and founding director of CUNY’s LGBTQI+ Student Leadership Program. He received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. He also holds degrees in psychology and counseling from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Wyoming. A counseling psychologist by training, his professional experience includes college counseling and higher education administration. His practical work also includes consultations on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Dr. Rivera has worked at a variety of institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, the New School University, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and the Addiction Institute of New York. Dr. Rivera’s research focuses on cultural competency development and issues impacting the marginalization and wellbeing of people of color and oppressed sexual orientation and gender identity groups, with a focus on microaggressions. He has published journal articles and book chapters in various areas of multicultural psychology and social justice, and his co-edited book, Microaggression Theory: Influence and Implications, was released 2019. Dr. Rivera is adviser to The Steve Fund, faculty with the Council for Opportunity in Education, board member of CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies, and holds leadership roles in the American Psychological Association. He has received multiple recognitions for his work from the American Psychological Association, the American College Counseling Association, and the American College Personnel Association.
Dr. Mary Hasbah Roessel, MD
Mary Hasbah Roessel is a Navajo board-certified psychiatrist practicing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her medical degree at the University of Minnesota and returned to the southwest to complete her residency in psychiatry at the University of New Mexico. She received an APA/ NIMH Fellowship during her residency and has since worked for twenty-five years with Indigenous peoples of the southwest, Alaska, and British Columbia. She has a special expertise in cultural psychiatry. She grew up on the Navajo reservation with her parents and grandparents. Her grandfather was a revered Navajo medicine man. She worked with Navajo medicine men and women to provide cultural orientation for behavioral health staff. She was the lead facilitator to the Indigenous Cultural competency course for the APA. She presented on a panel discussing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2016. She has provided presentations on Indigenous knowledge and climate change and wrote a chapter in the book: Groundswell-Indigenous knowledge and a call to action for climate change, edited by her husband, Joe Neidhardt, and daughter/artist, Nicole Neidhardt. Her chapter is on Essential Elements of Change, focused on living within two worlds—Indigenous and Western cultures in this climate crisis.
President, Morgan Stanley Foundation
Joan Steinberg is Global Head of Philanthropy, President of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and chair of the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health Advisory Board.
Joan joined Morgan Stanley in 1997 and oversees Morgan Stanley’s global philanthropic programs, including strategic planning and execution, employee engagement, and corporate and Foundation grantmaking totaling more than $100 million annually. More than 90% of the firm’s 60,000+ employees are active in these programs.
Joan serves as member of the board of the Hispanic Federation, the SIFMA Foundation and the Friends of Elysian Charter School and as a member of the Children’s Advisory Council of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Joan earned her undergraduate degree in English and Communications and her masters in Public Administration from Rutgers University.
President & Chief Executive Officer, Hispanic Foundation Scholarship
Fidel A. Vargas is President and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF). Mr. Vargas sets HSF’s overall direction; develops and oversees the execution of strategy; leads the senior management team; plays an active, leadership role in development and outreach activities for all constituencies, and advocates for HSF, throughout the country.
Prior to joining HSF, Mr. Vargas was a Founding Partner of Centinela Capital Partners, an alternative asset management firm that invested nearly $1 billion in and alongside leading emerging private equity and venture capital funds.
At the age of twenty-three, Mr. Vargas became the country’s youngest elected Mayor of a major city: Baldwin Park, California, with a population of 85,000, twenty miles northeast of Los Angeles.
Mr. Vargas has served on a number of public and private sector boards and commissions, including: President Clinton’s Advisory Council on Social Security; President Bush’s Commission on Strengthening Social Security; and Presidents Bush and Obama’s Commission on Presidential Scholars. He currently serves on the boards of the California Community Foundation, The Broad Center, the Charter School Growth Fund, the Latino Donor Collaborative, and the Latino Theatre Company.
Mr. Vargas has been recognized for his accomplishments by numerous organizations and media outlets, throughout his career. Time Magazine named him as one of the Top 50 Young Leaders in the United States, Hispanic Magazine named him one of the Top 30 Young Hispanics in the United States, he was named one of the country’s 100 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine and one of the 101 Most Influential Latinos by Latino Leaders magazine.
Mr. Vargas graduated with honors from Harvard University with an A.B. in Social Studies. He received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and General Management.
He has a deep commitment to HSF, having been a six-time, HSF scholarship recipient.
Medical Student, Quinnipiac University
Chevaughn Wellington is a rising 4th year medical student who plans to pursue a career in Psychiatry. She has seen numerous inequities including those related to mental health further affect the wellbeing of communities of color and aspires to address these challenges through her role as a Psychiatrist. Chevaughn has been a member of The Steve Fund’s Youth Advisory Board since January 2020 and currently volunteers as a Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line. The current COVID-19 pandemic has had a direct impact on her education and the lives of her friends and colleagues.