FIRST National Advisory Board

    Michael Southam-Gerow, Ph.D. (Chair)

    Virginia Commonwealth University, PracticeWise

    Dr. Southam-Gerow is a professor and chair of the psychology department at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He also serves as President of the Society for Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. His research focuses on the dissemination and implementation of psychological treatments for mental health problems in children, adolescents, and their families. Dr. Southam-Gerow also studies emotion processes (e.g., emotion regulation) in children and adolescents and treatment integrity. He is the recipient of multiple NIH research grants, the author of scores of scholarly papers. He also serves as the Associate Editor for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and Implementation Research and Practice. Finally, he is the author of two books published by Guilford Press: Practitioner’s guide to emotion regulation in children and adolescents, now available in paperback (as well as translated into Dutch and Korean) and Exposure therapy for children and adolescents. More about Dr. Southam-Gerow >>

    Kimberly Becker, Ph.D.

    University of South Carolina, PracticeWise

    Dr. Kimberly Becker is an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina. She is a clinical psychologist who received her Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology from the University of Arizona, and a Clinical Respecialization Certificate from the University of Hawaii. She completed her clinical internship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Her work focuses on extending the reach of effective psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents. To this end, her research to date reflects four interrelated pursuits: (1) enhancing provider training, using strategies such as coaching and tailored training opportunities, (2) expanding the mental health workforce to include care extenders (e.g., teachers, school nurses, paraprofessionals) to meet the growing demand for effective interventions, (3) exploring the unique considerations as psychosocial interventions move into new contexts such as primary care, child welfare, and education settings, and (4) improving treatment engagement to help youth and families connect with and stay in treatment. More about Dr. Becker >>

    Jason Burrow-Sanchez, Ph.D.

    University of Utah

    Dr. Jason Burrow-Sánchez is a Professor of Counseling Psychology and the Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Utah. He is also the Director of the Mountain Plains Region 8 Prevention Technology Transfer Center (PTTC) funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the University of Utah. His research interests include the prevention and treatment of substance use for adolescents in school and community settings. His research has been funded at the local, state, and national levels and has published numerous articles, chapters and books. He is also licensed psychologist in the State of Utah. More about Dr. Burrow-Sanchez >>

    J Douglas Coatsworth, Ph.D.

    University of Tennessee

    J. Douglas Coatsworth, Ph.D. is the Betsey R. Bush Endowed Professor in Behavioral Health and Associate Dean of Research in the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Previously, he was professor of human development and family studies and the founding director of the Colorado State University Prevention Research Center (PRC). His training is in clinical psychology and prevention science and his research expertise focuses primarily on community-based interventions with special attention to family-based interventions to promote health and resilience for children and adolescents. He is a co-author of the Mindfulness-enhanced Strengthening Families Program (MSFP 10-14) that is designed to teach parents and youth strategies for brining mindfulness into their relationship. His work also centers around building collaborative partnerships with community agencies to develop and/or evaluate programs and practices that support healthy development across the lifespan. He has conducted both treatment and preventive intervention trials funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute on Food and Agriculture, and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Dr. Coatsworth's full bio >>

    Gary Diamond, Ph.D.

    Ben Gurion University

    Gary M. Diamond, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel, and Director and Chief Psychologist of the department’s community clinic. He is a licensed and supervising clinical psychologist and family therapist. He received his doctorate from Temple University in Counseling Psychology from Temple University in 1997, and completed a post-doctorate in clinical psychology at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, in 1998. His is one of the primary developers of attachment-based family therapy for depressed and suicidal adolescents, and has adapted the model for working with sexual and gender minority adolescents and young adults. His research interests include developing and testing the efficacy of ABFT, as well as examining change mechanisms such as alliance-building, emotional processing, parental reflectivity and parental responsiveness. More about Dr. Diamond >>

    Nivea Jackson, M.S.

    Youth Peer Advocate Coordinator

    Nivea Yvonne Jackson, M.S is currently the Youth Peer Advocacy Coordinator at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. As the Youth Peer Advocacy Coordinator, Nivea strategically develops ways to expand the Youth Peer Advocacy workforce while supporting and advancing the Youth Peer Advocates in the Bureau of Children, Youth, and Families. Being a former foster youth for 21 years, Nivea grew a passion to help youth and young adults involved in multiple child-serving systems utilizing her lived experience.

    In addition to Ms. Jackson’s lived experience, she is a proud graduate of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. Throughout her four years at SUNY Old Westbury, she received six scholarships, multiple awards and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Immediately after graduating from Old Westbury, Nivea continued her education and graduated with her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University Brooklyn Campus. Presently, Ms. Jackson is pursuing her PhD in Human Services Leadership and Organizational Management.

    Nivea has extensive experience both professionally and personally working with youth and families in the child welfare system. Nivea is one of the founding members of the Youth Leadership Council for Children Services. Nivea is trained in instrumental aspects of working with vulnerable populations such as Trauma-Informed Care, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Suicide Prevention, and Motivational Interviewing. To show a proven track record of Ms. Jacksons' advocacy success in changing policy to improve child-serving systems she was awarded the 2019 'What's Great in our State' Youth/Young Adult Award from the New York State Office of Mental Health. Additionally, her dedication to the foster care system and youth was acknowledge by receiving the “Outstanding Foster Care Alumni Award” in 2017 at the Achievement Gala at ACS. Despite Nivea’s adversities in foster care, she remains positive, determined, and dedicated to helping youth and young adults in cross-systems by giving them the tools they need to succeed and thrive.

    Danica Knight, Ph.D.

    Texas Christian University

    Danica Kalling Knight, Ph.D. is the Associate Director of Research at Texas Christian University’s (TCU’s) Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPICD), Associate Professor of Psychology, and Senior Research Scientist at TCU’s Institute of Behavioral Research (IBR). Her research projects are designed to improve adolescent health and reduce substance use by strengthening relationships, including caregivers and family members, as well as probation officers and others in their networks. Her publications focus on identifying factors affecting adolescent recovery from substance use; improving substance use screening, assessment, and treatment services for justice-involved youth; understanding organizational factors associated with the adoption, implementation, and use of best practices; and testing strategies for improving identification and linkage to substance use treatment and other health services. Dr. Knight currently serves as PI on four NIH/NIDA-funded grants, two of which are cooperative agreements under the nation’s Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative. One of those, the Leveraging Safe Adults (LeSA) project, tests the effectiveness of Trust-based Relational Intervention (TBRI) in preventing substance use among justice-involved youth as they transition home after secure residential care). More about Dr. Knight >>

    David Langer, Ph.D.

    Suffolk University

    David A. Langer, Ph.D., ABPP, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Suffolk University, where he serves as the Director of Clinical Training for the clinical doctoral program and the Director of the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Lab. He is a clinical psychologist who received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2009 and completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Dr. Langer’s research explores the efficacy and effectiveness of psychosocial treatments for youth psychopathology and the processes through which psychosocial treatments work. He is currently working on developing novel approaches to personalize psychosocial treatments for youth by supporting active collaboration between clinicians and families throughout the treatment planning process (i.e., shared decision-making) and has recently completed 5-year project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health to study how families make decisions about mental health treatment. More about Dr. Langer >>

    Denise Mariano

    Partnership to End Addiction

    Denise Mariano is the Director of Family Support and Advocacy for the Partnership to End Addiction. Motivated by the belief that families can be part of the solution, she has dedicated her personal and professional life to helping families impacted by substance use disorder. She has been a strong voice for families at the national and state level since, 2011. Denise was selected and honored at the White House in 2015 as an ‘Advocate for Action’ where she was recognized as one of the leaders across the country making a difference. She was also selected as a NCADD Advocacy leader for her efforts in New Jersey. More about Ms. Mariano >>

    Bryce McLeod, Ph.D.

    Virginia Commonwealth University

    Bryce D. McLeod, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004. He is the author or co-author of over 90 scientific articles, book chapters, and books. He has served on local, national, and international committees focused on evidence-based practice for children and adolescents with social, emotional, and behavioral problems. The recipient of NIMH, NIDA, and IES grant awards, his research interests include distilling core elements of evidence-based programs to facilitate the implementation and sustainment of evidence-based practices in community settings, youth diagnostic and behavioral assessment, treatment integrity research, and provider training and supervision. More about Dr. McLeod >>

    Maria Morris-Groves, M.S.Ed.

    NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports

    Maria Morris-Groves serves as the Director of Adolescent, Women and Children’s Services for the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports. She holds a B.A. in Social Work from Siena College and an M.S. in Education from the College of Saint Rose. Maria has over 25 years of experience in the field of prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, as prevention educator, a clinician and in program and policy development. She champions the development and enhancement of prevention, treatment and recovery services to Women and their families and Youth and their families. Maria has been engaged in the development of Clinical Practice Standards for both Women and their Children as well as Adolescents and Young Adults with Substance Use Disorders, at both the state and federal level. She has served as Project Director for two CSAT funded Grants, focused on developing and enhancing treatment and recovery services for youth with substance disorders and/or co-occurring mental health disorders and their families. She has been integral to the development of the new Children and Family Treatment and Support Services that are being implemented as part of the implementation of Medicaid Managed Care for individuals under 21 years of age. She serves a NYS Women’s Services Coordinator and Youth Coordinator. Maria has a strong interest in family services and is currently, assisting in bringing the Community Reinforcement Family Training (CRAFT) approach to scale in NYS. She has interest in services to vulnerable populations, cross system collaboration and treatment and recovery supports for youth and their families.

    Fred Muench, Ph.D.

    Partnership to End Addiction

    Fred is a clinical psychologist and the President of The Partnership to End Addiction (www.drugfree.org), which is the merger of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and The Partnership for Drug-free Kids, where he served as the President and CEO. His focus is on building, testing, and implementing digital interventions to prevent problem substance use and treat addiction in real-world and clinical settings for both individuals and families. Fred has been the PI on multiple behavioral health grants from NIAAA, NIDA, FDA, RWJF Pioneer, Upswing, Twilio, and many other foundations and is an author on numerous articles to improve health outcomes using technology. More about Dr. Muench >>

    Mindy Nass, M.S.W.

    NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene

    Mindy is a dedicated service professional with over 10 years of experience improving access to quality health and behavioral health products and services. She has expertise in teaching and institutionalizing quality improvement methodologies, patient-focused and based on data and measurement, to improve care and services. Mindy’s specialties include quality improvement/quality management, project management, peer learning collaboratives (IHI Breakthrough Series Model); participant involvement and creating responsive service delivery systems; non-profit organizational development and management; program development; and grant writing and revenue management.

    Ijeoma Opara, Ph.D.

    Yale School of Public Health

    Dr. Ijeoma Opara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences at Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Opara is also the founding director of The Substance Abuse and Sexual Health (SASH) Lab (www.oparalab.org). Dr. Opara defines herself as a community-based participatory researcher with experience in working with youth and community organizations dedicated to reducing substance use in urban communities. Dr. Opara’s prior experience involves working as a doctoral fellow for a SAMHSA/Drug Free Communities grant that was based in Paterson, New Jersey. Dr. Opara has received training and funding to conduct her work from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Most recently, Dr. Opara received the 2020 NIH Director’s Early Independence Award which will fund a five-year youth substance use prevention and mental health community-based study in Paterson, NJ. Dr. Opara received her Ph.D. in Family Science & Human Development from Montclair State University, a Master of Social Work from New York University, a Master of Public Health from New York Medical College and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from New Jersey City University.

    Benjamin Riker

    Friends of Recovery New York

    Ben is the Director of Policy at Friends of Recovery - New York where he formerly served as the Statewide Youth Recovery Program Coordinator. He is a father of two, a person in long-term recovery and a passionate advocate for progressive, person-centered, data-driven Substance Use Disorder care and correlating policy across the Prevention, Treatment, Recovery and Harm Reduction continuum. Ben’s professional background includes all aspects of community-based peer services integration and programming including coaching and supervision best practices, service delivery framework for unconventional settings, peer professional training & curriculum development and community outreach and education. Ben is a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate, a member of the ASAP-NYCB Trainer Registry and a FOR-NY Best Practice Trainer.