Challenges and Opportunities Supporting Youth of Color

Presented by

All Speakers

More updates forthcoming.

Keynote Speaker

Susan L. Taylor, best-selling author of four books, and editor of eight others, is a fourth-generation entrepreneur, who grew up in Harlem working in her father’s clothing store. At 24, she founded her own cosmetics company, which led to the beauty editor’s position at Essence, the publication she would go on to shape into a world-renown brand with more than 8 million readers. It was that enterprising spirit wedded to a deep love for her community that led to the founding of the National CARES Mentoring Movement in 2005 as Essence CARES. With local affiliates in 58 cities, National CARES has recruited, trained and deployed more than 150,000 mentors to schools and youth-support and mentoring organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, as well as to its own culturally rooted, academic- and social-transformational initiatives. A community-mobilization movement, National CARES is the only organization dedicated to providing mentoring, healing and wellness services on a national scale for Black children.


Ms. Taylor is a recipient of more than a dozen honorary doctorates and hundreds of awards, including the Phoenix Award, which is the highest honor given by Congressional Black Caucus. A lifelong activist who has worked to ensure people across the globe, from South Africa to those who struggled in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Susan Taylor says that securing our vulnerable children is her highest calling and the big business of our nation and Black America today.

All Speakers (Listed Alphabetically, Not by Session)

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 2019 the eleventh conference was held in Tempe, Arizona. In addition, she launched a Global Muslim Mental Health Conference in Malaysia, Jordan and the United Kingdom. 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. She was an Honoree, National Alliance of Mentally Ill, 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 currently serves on many boards and committees and recently nominated to serve on the Council on Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities American Psychiatric Association

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.

Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh. Born in Kingston, Jamaica Stacey moved to the United States in 1992 as an international student to attend college. She completed a Bachelors in Degree in Psychology from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and went on to complete her Psy.D. from the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology. Stacey has spent her entire career working with teenagers and young adults starting with her pre-doctoral internship at Howard University.  Following graduation in 2000 she worked as a school psychologist for Baltimore City Public Schools while also doing contract assessments in the juvenile justice system. She has been an adjunct professor since August 2000 and transitioned to teaching full-time in Fall 2007. She is now an Associate Professor of Psychology at Trinity University in Washington, DC. Stacey is the mother of 2 teenagers, a daughter who is 17 and a 14 year old son.

Josh Cocker is from the Kiowa, or Ka’igwu people in Oklahoma, and the kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. He is a certified outdoor instructor and facilitator, with an associate’s degree from Whitireia Polytechnic in Wellington, New Zealand. He has travelled extensively in the South Pacific for work and service including: Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Australia. Most recently he has worked in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona as a trail walker, coordinator, and trainer for an outdoor behavioral healthcare foundation. From the age of 14, Josh was given a position in a military society of his tribe, and trained as a youth leader to preserve and share traditional knowledge with his generation. He seeks to honor and share that knowledge with everyone. He is a wellness and healing facilitator with the Native Wellness Institute and is assisting to launch the new Indigenous 20-Something Project.  “My hope is that I can help reintroduce people from all walks of life to our First Mother in all her wisdom and beauty. I hope to inspire healing, harmony, and connection through the use and passing of traditional skills in the outdoors.”

Karen T. Craddock is an applied psychologist, personal/executive coach and group facilitator concentrating on the socio-cultural context and relational frameworks of human development that center on issues of equity & wellness, leadership & partnership, and capacity building across sectors. Explorations of psycho-social functioning, culture, and creativity include race/gender intersectionality, models of optimal resistance and resilience, social-emotional learning, emotional intelligence, and the neuroscience of inclusion. Craddock is a visiting scholar at the Wellesley College Centers for Women and currently collaborates on research and practice to advance mental health and wellbeing in multiple settings. As co-founder of The Wellness Collaborative, Inc. she is co-leading innovative initiatives to re-imagine healthcare and wellness models alongside additional projects to inform complementary learning platforms that engage providers, parents, and community. Among her writing and editing works include Black Motherhoods: Contours, Contexts and Considerations,  Transforming Community: Stories of Connection through the Lens of Relational-Cultural Theory and ‘It’s Not in Our Head, Yet Pain is in Our Brain: Why Racialized Exclusion Hurts and How We Can Remain Resilient. She is a tribal member and chair of the Wampanoag Women’s Center of Aquinnah, and steering member/chair of the equity & inclusion committee for the Social-Emotional Learning Alliance for Massachusetts, as well National Advisor for Social-Emotional Learning for United States. (Ed.M. Harvard University; Ph.D. Tufts University)

Rev. Adam Lawrence Dyer is the Lead Minister at First Parish in Cambridge Unitarian Universalist, Cambridge, MA, the Unitarian Universalist Chaplain at Harvard University and a member of the Cambridge Black Pastor’s Alliance.  He is the author of Love Beyond God a collection of poetry and reflections focused on black identity and liberal religion and recently contributed to the new collection of essays, Body Battlegrounds: Transgressions, Tensions, and Transformations (Chris Bobel, Samantha Kwan, eds.) Rev. Dyer maintains his own blog, Spirituwellness.org, which explores the relationship between bodies, faith and politics.  Previously, Rev. Dyer worked with PolicyLink, the PICO Networks and the UU Justice Ministry of California advocating for racial, economic, gender and health equity as well as speaking about equity and LGBTQ inclusion. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Pacific School of Religion.

Shelter Dziya, M.A. is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the Human Services Psychology Program, Clinical Psychology Track, a Meyerhoff Graduate Fellow and a Psychology Teaching Fellow. She teaches undergraduate Introduction to Psychology, Psychology & Culture, Relationships & Intimacy, and Aggression & Violence. Ms. Dziya is also a clinician who specializes in mental health services for diverse populations suffering from a range of psychological difficulties. Her current research focuses on the social and mental health impact of racial/ethnic and gender discrimination among Black women. Specifically, she examines the psychosocial factors Black women utilize to cope with experiences of discrimination using Intersectionality Theory to Empower Black women. Post education goals include the development and implementation of prevention and treatment programs that serve Black women. The broader impact is aimed at educating, liberating, uplifting and empowering Black women through culturally sensitive programs for prevention and treatment of mental health disorders.

Ms. Dziya’s thesis focused on the use of spirituality and internal locus of control to cope with experiences of racial and ethnic discrimination. 

Ms. Dziya works with individuals across the lifespan but has a special interest in youth between the ages of 16 and 26.

Dr. Janeé Avent Harris received her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Doctorate of Philosophy in Counseling and Counselor Education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  She is a National Certified Counselor, Approved Clinical Supervisor, and Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate with clinical experience in a variety of settings including a college counseling center, level 1 trauma center, and a child/adolescent inpatient behavioral health center. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the Counselor Education program at East Carolina University. She is an active researcher, publishing and presenting on subject matters including diversity and cultural issues, examining the role of religion/spirituality in African American mental health help-seeking behaviors, counselor training and clinical supervision, and multicultural considerations in counselor education/academia. Her work is motivated by her passion to see people from all backgrounds and life experiences have access to quality and culturally sensitive mental health services.  

Dr. Eindra Khin Khin is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She received her medical degree from University of Virginia School of Medicine. Dr. Khin Khin completed her internship and residency in general psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center, where she served as Chief Resident. She then completed a fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry at Georgetown University Hospital. She is board certified in general and forensic psychiatry.

Dr. Khin Khin currently serves as the Director of Psychiatry Residency Training Program, the Director of Forensic Psychiatry Services, and the Director of the Human Rights Clinic at GWU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She also has previously served as the Director of Medical Education in Psychiatry. Her professional interests are in medical education, public policy and advocacy, cross cultural psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. She has held many clinical and didactic teaching responsibilities for all levels of medical trainees and has developed innovative projects focused on the advancement of the medical education curriculum. In addition, she has served as the President of Washington Psychiatric Society, which is a district branch of the American Psychiatric Association.

Dr. Belinda S. Miles has served as president of Westchester Community College, the State University of New York’s (SUNY) first Hispanic Serving Institution serving more than 25,000 students in one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, since 2015.

Dr. Miles serves on regional and national boards focused on student success, institutional effectiveness, workforce development, and the impact of technology on the future of work: American Association of Community Colleges; American Association of Colleges and University President’s Trust; Block Center for Technology and Society at Carnegie Mellon University; COMBASE; Hudson Valley Education Consortium; and the Business Council of Westchester.

Dr. Miles speaks regularly on a range of topics including leadership development, and community colleges as a disruptive innovation in academia that fosters an equitable and inclusive democracy. A first generation college student, Dr. Miles holds degrees in Higher Education (Ed.D.) and Educational Psychology (M.A.) from Columbia University Teachers College and Political Science (B.A.) from York College CUNY

Sherry Davis Molock is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Dr. Molock teaches undergraduate and doctoral courses in the field of clinical psychology and conducts research on the prevention of suicide and HIV in African American adolescents and young adults. She was recently awarded a pilot grant from the DC Center for AIDS Research (DC-CFAR) to develop a HIV/AIDS testing and mental health intervention for youth in African American churches. Dr. Molock’s work has appeared in a number of professional journals, has served on a number of local and national boards, and currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and on the editorial board of the American Journal of Community Psychology. She also serves as a grant reviewer for NIMH, NIDA, CDC, and SAMHSA. In addition to her work in psychology, Dr. Molock and her husband, Guy Molock, Jr., are the founding pastors of the Beloved Community Church in Accokeek, Maryland. Their ministry focuses on “family healing” that is designed to bring spiritual, physical and emotional healing to the community

Ometha Lewis-Jack, Ph.D, is currently an Assistant Professor at Bowie State University. From 1996-2005 she was an assistant professor and director of the Clinical Psychology Program at Howard University.  She teaches both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Lewis-Jack is also a licensed clinical psychologist. Her specialty includes assessment of neurological disorders and diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders.   She has adjunct faculty status at Howard University and is known for her work in the area of neuropsychology as it relates to assessment and treatment of brain-damaged African Americans. Dr. Lewis-Jack is also a trained and graduated priest/healer in the Akan Tradition where she has been able to incorporate traditional African principles and healing into her psychology work. In 2016, Dr. Lewis-Jack was enstooled as Ankobeahema of the Nana Asuo Gyebi Shrine, Larteh, Ghana, West Africa and given the name Nana Amoabaa Atei Gymfua Asiedu. She continues to conduct research in the area of spirituality and mental health as it relates to persons from the Diaspora.

Dr. Hans Momplaisir is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Trinity Washington University. He conducts research on race, racial/ethnic identities, and mental health. Most of his researchdraws particular attention to how social statuses such as race, ethnicity, immigrant status, and gender impact psychological well-being. His published works include an investigation into the relationships among racial identity, racial discrimination, and depressive symptoms for African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. Recently, he has investigated whether religious involvement reduces the negative impact of stressors on well-being for U.S. blacks. He is also enthusiastic about teaching. As an educator his focus is on student success and providing opportunities for students to achieve their goals.  

Shawna Murray-Browne, LCSW-C is an award-winning community healer, national speaker, and Liberation-Focused, Mind-Body Medicine Practitioner. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Kindred Community Healing and the Principal Consultant at Kindred Wellness LLC. Trained as an integrative psychotherapist, Shawna has created life-changing, community-based sacred spaces, honoring culture, to equip Black women, youth, and change-makers with the tools to heal themselves.


A fierce advocate for racial equity in mental health care, Shawna guides professionals and organizations in nourishing a culture of mindfulness, anti-racism and impact. Intuitive, authentic and high energy, she is committed to helping community reclaim collective wisdom to triumph the effects of historic and present day trauma. Shawna was named by The Huffington Post as one of the “Ten Black Female Therapists You Should Know,” featured on a segment of Good Morning Washington and was a two-time guest on the popular, Therapy for Black Girls podcast.

Shawna is currently pursuing her PhD in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore where she earned her Masters in Social Work. She gained her Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Family Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dedicated to continued growth, her practice in QiGong, African spiritual traditions and sitting at the feet of elders maintain. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and her two year old daughter.

Dr. Narcisa A. Polonio, Serves an an independent consultant to college and universities throughout the country. She was the former Executive Vice President of Education, Research & Board Leadership Services at the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). Serving ACCT for 18 years, Narcisa is recognized for having a long and distinguished history of providing outstanding services to boards of governance, presidents, chancellors, State systems throughout the country. Dr. Polonio is recognized as one of the leading authorities on governance and presidential leadership. She has facilitated over 600 retreats, governance institutes, and presidential searches. She provided direction for the ACCT’s annual leadership Congress, publications, research projects and leadership services including Retreat Service; Presidential Search Service; the Governance Leadership Institute; and New & Experienced Trustees Institutes. She is currently associated with the Greenwood/Asher & Associate, Inc. a nationally recognized university executive recruitment firm.

Dr. Polonio directed The Trustees for Student Success national initiative, which seeks to increase the engagement of community college trustees and governing boards in the student success movement. This initiative includes the nationally acclaimed Governance Institute for Student Success (GISS.  She provided leadership to several different initiatives, including: the Trustee Education Webinar Series, Governance Recognition Program, and Completion Symposia; supported by grants from the Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Strada Network, William & Melinda Gates Foundation, and corporate contributions.

Dr. Polonio previously served as Executive Vice President, Association of Community College Trustees, president of Harcum College (PA) and Hudson County Community

College (NJ). Other previous positions include Director of the Office of Community Colleges, New Jersey Department of Higher Education. Dr. Polonio served for seven years as a faculty member for the Institute for Educational Management, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University. 

Dr. Annelle Primm is Senior Medical Director of the Steve Fund, an organization focused on the mental health of young people of color including college students.  As convener of the All Healers Mental Health Alliance, she mobilizes collaborations to provide healing services for disaster-affected marginalized communities.  Dr. Primm was Deputy Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association from 2004-2015.  She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard, medical degree from Howard and psychiatry and public health training at Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Primm is an adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, New York University, and Howard University Schools of Medicine.

Dr. Karriem L. Salaam was raised in “Brick City” Newark, NJ, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in 1993. Dr. Salaam has been a practicing Muslim his entire life.

Dr. Salaam earned his medical degree from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 2000, he completed a residency in General Psychiatry at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he served as Chief Resident in 2004. Dr. Salaam completed a fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Thomas Jefferson University also in Philadelphia in 2006. Dr. Salaam currently serves as the Medical Director of Adolescent Services at Friends Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia and as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, from 2006 to present. Dr. Salaam has been a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association since 2017. He is Board Certified in Adult and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry since 2007. He is a founding member (10% owner) of Global Health Psychiatry, LLC. A company focused on  decreasing the stigma of mental illness in communities of color, through education and community action, established in 2017.

Todd D. Sevig is the Director for the University of Michigan’s Counseling and Psychological Services. Todd Sevig earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from The Ohio State University and is the recipient of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD), and the 2004 Mid Career Achievement Award given by the Commission of Counseling and Psychological Services within the American College Personnel Association. He has authored and co-authored numerous articles and book chapters on student mental health, multiculturalism, spirituality, and student peer approaches to helping. On campus, he is active in many committees and standing groups, including co-chair of the yearly Depression on College Campuses conference, and is the chair of the Mental Health Work Group, a campus wide body of administrators from the campus offices concerned with student mental health issues. He is also a member of the institutional review board for Health and Behavioral Sciences at U-M.

Dr. Shepherd is an award-winning mental health professional. Named “Top Doctor” in the field of psychiatry, his holistic approach to wellness has made him a highly sought after and well-respected motivational speaker.

Renowned for his caring and nurturing bedside manner, Dr. Shepherd has served and provided treatment for clients in a variety of areas including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive- Compulsive Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders, plus many more. His mission is to help everyone have access to quality mental health services.

A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School and Adult Psychiatry Program and the Johns Hopkins University Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship, Dr. Shepherd blends professionalism and compassion to create healthier communities

The Reverend Ciara S. Simonson, is the Senior Minister of Springfield Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Springfield, VA. Indicative of her compassion for humanity and commitment to helping others heal and grow, Rev. Simonson established herself as dynamic speaker and pastoral counselor integrating her theological and clinical background.

Leaving her hometown in New York City to pursue God’s purpose for her life, Reverend Ciara Simonson answered the call to Christian ministry in 2004. Her life is a living testimony of God’s word at work, which is reflected in her forthcoming memoir “Discovering Grace”, that reads like an epic adventure revealing her faith journey. On a path toward wholeness and holistic living, Rev. Simonson identifies herself as the “wounded healer” who shares her passion for healing by educating, encouraging, and empowering others to honor their life’s story and be their best self.

Reverend Simonson received her Master of Divinity Degree from Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C., and her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Loyola University of Maryland. Reverend Simonson has served as Chaplain at George Washington University Hospital, and completed her Clinical Pastoral Education residency at Georgetown University Hospital. In 2014, Reverend Simonson began her clinical practice in Pastoral Counseling for individuals and couples at the Pastoral Counseling Consultation Center and IMAGO Center in Washington D.C.

Reverend Simonson is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated and Co-Founder of Love Works, Incorporated, a non-profit organization that provides healing and support for families and professionals that experience early pregnancy and infant loss.

Reverend Simonson’s pride and greatest joy is engaging the fullness of life with her loving husband, Victor Simonson while sharing the honor of parenting her daughter Victoria Grace, son Immanuel Justice, and carrying the memory of her angel baby Trinity.

Aaron Slater is a member of the Navajo Nation and belongs to the kiiya’áánii, nayiizii diné’e, tsinajinii, and só diné’e clans. For his undergraduate degree Aaron attended Middlebury College where he studied Philosophy, Sociology, and Classics. While at Middlebury Aaron received a grant to study new approaches to combatting sexual and domestic violence in Navajo communities. Over the course of three summers Aaron interned at the Navajo Nation Washington Office where he worked on policy research and analysis. While in high school Aaron worked with his family to organize and lead an annual summer service learning trip to the Southwest. The core tenants of the trip emphasized creating lasting relationships with community partners while simultaneously building strong allies in the non – Native community. Educating Americans and American Indians on indigenous cultures and issues is a principle passion of Aaron’s. He believes that harnessing the power of indigenous youth to ensure their future well being is crucial to change dominant–often inaccurate and bleak–discourses surrounding American Indians.

While working at the Aspen Institute Aaron managed the policy portfolio for the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY.) At CNAY Aaron worked directly with Native youth leaders across the country on a broad range of priority issues, including mental health awareness and cultural revitalization efforts. Additionally, he worked with social workers, traditional healers, elders and youth to better represent their needs and the needs of their communities on Capitol Hill. Most recently Aaron worked as a Campaign Advisor to Carl Slater, newly elected Delegate to the Navajo Nation’s legislative branch.

Dr. Michael Torres obtained his undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Rochester in 1984.  He graduated from Hahnemann University Medical School in 1990 with distinction in Psychiatry.  In the same year he was ordained within the Church of God in Christ by Bishop Ozro Thurston Jones, Jr.  He completed specialty training in Psychiatry at the University of Maryland in June of 1994. Dr. Torres achieved certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1998.  He has gained clinical and administrative experience in academic settings, public and private outpatient agencies, and faith-based programs.

 Dr. Torres’ primary area of interest is the interface between mental health and spirituality.  Through educational, research and clinical activities he has attempted to build bridges between the faith community and the mental health system.  He has stirred the faith community to be more aware of mental health issues, and the mental health system to better understand and address spiritual issues.  His hope is that these efforts will eliminate barriers to mental health services in underserved communities.

Dr. Torres previously served as the President of the Center for the Integration of Spirituality and Mental Health. He is currently in private practice in Baltimore.

Dr. Jeffrey Volkmann, PhD is a Board Certified, Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Dr. Volkmann is currently the Executive Director at the Counseling Center. He completed his doctorate in Clinical Psychology at George Mason University in 2009. Prior to this Dr. Volkmann was the Internship Training Director and a Staff Psychologist at the Catholic University of America. As a clinician, Dr. Volkmann uses integrative techniques, drawing primarily from the Humanistic, Interpersonal, Positive Psychology and Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) orientations, in order to effectively meet the needs of individuals he works with. He believes that the client-therapist relationship is an essential aspect of therapeutic change