Our consult pool provides the expertise of leaders from organizations implementing best and evidence-based practices in LGBTQ+ behavioral health and individuals with lived experience.

Edward Alessi, PhD, LCSW (he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Trauma and PTSD
  • LGBTQ+ migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees
  • Affirmative psychotherapy
  • Population health approaches to clinical practice

Edward J. Alessi is Associate Professor of Social Work and Chancellor’s Scholar of LGBTQ+ Mental Health, Trauma, and Resilience at Rutgers University. HIs research aims to improve (a) understanding of stress and trauma among sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations, and (b) enhance clinical practice with SGM and other marginalized populations.

Lynsay Ayer, PhD (she/her)

Lynsay Ayer is a senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation. The overarching goals of her research are (a) to prevent violence and trauma (e.g., child maltreatment, suicide, disasters) and (b) prevent and treat behavioral health problems caused by stressful/traumatic events (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse). She is particularly interested in identifying ways to improve access to trauma and mental health services for youth and marginalized and underserved populations. For example, she has studied the role of fathers in the child welfare system, and tested interventions to improve access to mental health services in low-income communities. Ayer’s work aims to explore and test new models of service delivery, particularly in non-traditional mental health settings (e.g., task shifting models, using digital technologies). She has led or co-led studies utilizing longitudinal survey designs, randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental designs, and mixed methods. Ayer received her B.A. in psychology from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Vermont. She completed her clinical internship at the Medical University of South Carolina/Department of Veterans Affairs Consortium.

Antonia Barba, LCSW (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Family acceptance
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Supporting LGBTQ+ youth in care

Antonia Barba is a social worker, educator, and counselor with 15 years of experience in the field. As the director of the Bridging The Gap program at The Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services in New York City, Antonia works to create inclusive spaces where providers, youth, and partner programs can safely try new things, provide mutual support, and grow as individuals. She also works with advocates and mental healthcare providers at The Jewish Board and across the country to create resources and best practices for supporting LGBTQ+ youth in care, transition-age youth, and survivors of child abuse and trauma. She is passionate about transforming the way we think about and provide mental health services, and is excited to be part of a program that honors and is informed by the lived experiences of youth and families we serve.

Lawrence Bryant, PhD, MPH, RRT (he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Public health
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Statewide strategic planning

Dr. Bryant has many years of experience dealing with substance use disorders through clinical practice, policy, and research. He has been successful in developing and implementing a statewide strategic plan for the state of Georgia in response to the opioid and prescription drug overdose epidemic. His interests focus on working with medical teams, state and federal government leadership and organizations to develop and execute actionable strategies that include, data gathering, program evaluation, and linkage to stakeholder vision.

Katharine Dalke, MD, MBE (she/they)

Katharine Dalke is a psychiatrist who specializes in LGBTQI+ mental health. She provides integrated and affirming behavioral health care to adolescent and adult patients at the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute and in the Gender Health Program at Hershey Children’s Hospital. Dr. Dalke is an assistant professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health and Humanities at the Penn State College of Medicine, where she also serves as the Director of the Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education and the department of psychiatry’s Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Her educational, clinical, and scholarly work has been recognized with appointments to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs; the NIH Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office Working Group; two consensus committees for reports on LGBTQI+ health research at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and several teaching and advocacy awards. One of the first openly intersex physicians in the United States, Dr. Dalke has been involved in intersex support and advocacy communities for nearly 20 years. Dr. Dalke is a graduate of Haverford College and the University of Pennsylvania, where she completed medical school, a masters in bioethics, and psychiatry residency. She currently lives near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with her spouse, two young children, and an aging goldendoodle.

Michael Dentato, PhD (he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Assessment of health and health disparities
  • Affirming Social Work practice
  • Macro practice, interprofessional education, effective non-profit leadership, and service provision with vulnerable communities

Michael Dentato is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago where he also serves as co-Director of C-FIRST and vice chair of LUC Faculty Council. In addition to his teaching, research and scholarship interests, Dr. Dentato has over twenty years of community-based and consultant experience including clinical, administrative, and policy work throughout his tenure in New York City, Miami and Chicago. He is the editor of Social Work Practice with the LGBTQ Community: The Intersection of History, Health, Mental Health and Policy Factors, published by Oxford University Press, with a second edition forthcoming in 2021.

Toni Donnelly (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Training and coaching the Peer Parent Support workforce
  • Family engagement, involvement, and leadership
  • Building effective Wraparound teams

Toni Donnelly is a Training Specialist at The Institute for Innovation and Implementation. She supports workforce development in navigating systems, building effective wraparound teams, training and certification of the peer parent support workforce, family engagement, involvement and leadership, parent – professional partnerships, identification of underlying needs and resources for families and youth experiencing complex challenges. Toni’s approach to training, coaching and technical assistance is informed by her most important role of raising three sons with emotional and behavioral health needs. She and her children have had experience in both the public and private sectors of behavioral health. Toni also served as a consultant to The National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability, and Permanency for LGBTQ2S Children and Youth in Foster Care implementation sites in an effort to support families in accepting their child’s gender identity and expression.

Alyssa Fenix, MA (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Neurodiversity-affirming mental health care
  • Transition-age youth
  • LGBTQ+-inclusive education

Alyssa Fenix is a Transition Coordinator, photographer, and founder of the “If I Knew Then Letters Project.” She is the Chair of the LGBTQ Taskforce for Sheppard Pratt Schools and played an active role in qualifying Sheppard Pratt as a high ranking system based on the Healthcare Equality Index. She also serves as a freelance Diversity Consultant specializing in topics pertaining to LGBTQ+ Inclusive practices in Education and Community settings. As a Certified educator in Maryland, she provides professional development and trainings to health systems, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations about how to create Safe and Supportive spaces and practices for diverse communities, covering topics such as microaggressions, implicit bias, intersectionality, and inclusion.

Darquita Fletcher, LCSW-C (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Child Welfare
  • Children and families
  • Juvenile Justice
  • LGBTQ+ services for young adults

Darquita Fletcher is the Project Director for the Quality Improvement Center for Family-Centered Reunification (QIC-R). Before working with the QIC-R, Darquita was the Deputy Assistant Director for Child, Adult, and Family Services with the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services in Maryland and the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) Program Director with Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. She holds a master’s degree from Fordham University, where she majored in Social Work Administration.  In addition, Darquita has two certificates from Executive Leadership programs at New York University and Columbia School of Business.  She is a licensed Clinical Social Worker with over fifteen years of senior management and clinical experience and has dedicated her career to helping children and families.  She also provides mental health services for Prince George’s County community residents through her private practice.  Darquita started in the field as a Teacher’s Assistant and Supervisor at the Children’s Village, which is a Residential Treatment Center for youth.   She was employed with this organization for several years as the Deputy Director for Community Based Services and Director for the Detention and Alternatives to Detention programs.  She later became the Director of Part of the Solution, an NYC-based homelessness prevention agency, which provides an array of services to the community.   Darquita has served on several local community boards in New York City, where she is originally from, and was on the Board of Directors for the first LGBTQ Community Center in the Bronx.  Darquita has developed and managed many programs for foster care youth, LGBTQ youth, homeless youth, families, and youth involved in the Juvenile Justice systems.  She has a niche for improving services and strongly believes in providing the best quality of care, equal opportunity, and service delivery to children, youth, and families.

Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, PhD (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Addressing health and aging inequities in underserved populations
  • Trajectories in well-being across the life course
  • Intervention design and evaluation to promote the mental and physical health of sexual and gender diverse communities

Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, PhD, is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar addressing equity and the intersections of health disparities, aging, and well-being in resilient at-risk communities. Characterized as an international leader in aging and longevity research, she is Principal Investigator of multiple federally funded landmark studies, including the National Health, Aging and Sexuality/Gender Study: Aging with Pride and IDEA (Innovations in Dementia Empowerment and Action). Dr. Karen Fredriksen Goldsen is the author of seven books and special issues and more than 100 publications in leading journals, such as the American Journal for Public Health, The Gerontologist, and Social Work. She has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and her research has been cited by leading news sources such as CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, NBC News, and Forbes, as well as more than 50 international news outlets.

Judith Glassgold, PsyD (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • LGBTQ+-affirmative psychotherapy
  • LGBTQ+ behavioral health policies 
  • Behavioral health policies 

Judith Glassgold has over 30 years experience as clinical psychologist and consultant on LGBTQ+ mental health. She is a Lecturer at Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. She served as a subject matter expert to the federal government and national civil rights organizations and led scientific association and federal reports on appropriate therapeutic efforts with LGBTQ+ children, adolescents, and individuals. Previously, she served as Director of Profes-sional Affairs at the New Jersey Psychological Association, Research Fellow at the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University, and Associate Executive Director for Public Interest at the American Psychological Association, and as a health policy advisor in Congress. Glassgold has published over 60 articles and chapters on LGBTQ+ mental health and presented extensively on LGBTQ+ mental health. She holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University and a BA with honors in government from Harvard-Radcliffe College. 

Finn Gratton, LMFT, LPCC (they/them)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Neurodiversity-affirming mental health care
  • Somatic Psychotherapy
  • Transgender health

Finn Gratton is a somatic psychotherapist and consultant working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Finn’s work is focused on the intersections of trauma, neurodiversity, and sexual and gender minorities. They are the author of Supporting Transgender Autistic Youth and Adults: A Guide for Professionals and Families. In addition to their private practice work with adults and teens, Finn provides neurodiversity affirming consultation and trainings to groups and individuals in the U.S. and internationally. Finn identifies as autistic/neuroqueer and genderqueer.

Ezra Halstead, MA (they/them, he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Community relations and strategic partnerships
  • Facilitation and educational content creation
  • Advocacy and outreach

Ezra Halstead is the Director of Education and Outreach at FreeState Justice. In their position, they work to build connections and resources through client advocacy, community organizing, education, and outreach to achieve equity for vulnerable LGBTQ+ Marylanders. Ezra moved to the Baltimore area in 2017 after graduating from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies with a master’s degree in International Policy and Development and a dual concentration in Human Rights and Advocacy and Gender, Power, and Identity.

Cecilia (Cec) Hardacker, MSN, RN, CNL (she/ella)

Areas of Expertise:

  • LGBTQ+ best practices in culturally humble care
  • LGBTQ+ health and ageing
  • Sexual health education for primary care providers
  • Inclusivity in sexual and gender minority (SGM) research

Cec Hardacker is the Director of Education at Howard Brown’s Center for Education, Research and Advocacy.  In her role Cec is responsible for disseminating LGBTQ+ best practices to multi-disciplinary teams across the U.S., her favorite is nursing education. In the 10 years Cec has been at Howard Brown, she has contributed to national consortia in LGBTQ+ cultural competency education, conducted bladder health research on bladder health in SGM populations, publishes frequently and has co-edited and co-authored a book on TGD elders.  Cec and her team provide numerous diverse curricula, including the Health Education About LGBT Elders, or HEALE curriculum, the CORE Four curriculum, and this year, partnered with Oak Point University to develop an LGBTQ Health “micro-credential” a 16 week course for Nurse Practitioners, chiropractors and acupuncturists. She identifies as a Chicana dyke artist, has been married for 27 years, has 2 pit bulls and a cat.

Audrey Harkness, PhD (she/her)

Audrey Harkness is a psychologist and Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Dr. Harkness received her PhD in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. She then completed a clinical health psychology postdoctoral fellowship in the Psychology Department at the University of Miami. Most recently, she was a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences. Dr. Harkness has training and research experience in LGBTQ mental health, HIV, public health, and implementation science.

Jesi Harris, MA (any pronouns)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Homelessness
  • Affordable housing
  • Advocacy and organizing

Jesi Harris is an Urban Planner with many years of experience working to shift regulatory and material conditions that directly impact vulnerable and underserved community members. She began her career as a Direct Support Professional working to forge independent, actualized lives for disabled adults after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in her home state. Upon moving to Los Angeles in 2013, she continued her work with vulnerable populations through the LA LGBT Center. From there, she transitioned into the mobility justice realm, working for two years as the Organizing Director of the LA County Bicycle Coalition and then as the Growth Manager of People for Mobility Justice. She’s worked in multiple research capacities in labs focusing on behavioral health and the environmental impacts of economic policies. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a Masters in Urban Planning and a Certificate in Real Estate Development in May 2021 and currently works as a Planning and Development Consultant for affordable housing developers.

America Islas, LMFT (she/ella)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Culturally responsive mental health care
  • Clinical practice with youth and families

America Islas, is a lesbian, Latinx leader who believes everyone deserves to be their authentic self. America is an activist for the LGBTQ+ community who is passionate about providing accessible and culturally appropriate mental health services through a social justice lens. America earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in LGBT Studies from San Diego State University. She also earned her MS in Counseling (MFT) from San Francisco State University. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who had the opportunity to work with a variety of folx and cultures, but her passion always brought her to give back to her own community. America loves to spend quality time out in nature with her wife and two daughters.

Skyler Jackson, PhD (he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Stigma, intersectionality, and health
  • Resilience among LGBTQ+ people of color
  • Border identity stress
  • Stigma coping interventions

Skyler Jackson is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Yale School of Public Health and an affiliate of the Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS. His research focuses on understanding the psychosocial mechanisms through which experiences of stigma (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia) shape health outcomes—and intervening upon them to improve the health and resilience of marginalized populations. Relying on a broad range of methodological approaches (e.g., microlongitudinal, qualitative, mixed methods), Dr. Jackson’s current projects explore how experiences of stigma-related stress—if not adequately coped with—interfere with psychological functioning and contribute to health disparities.

Sarilee Kahn, PhD, MSW, MPH (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Culturally responsive mental health care
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Inclusive research

Sarilee Kahn is an independent researcher and Adjunct Professor at McGill University School of Social Work, in Montréal, Canada. For the past decade, Dr. Kahn has been conducting qualitative research focused on the experiences and needs of multiply-marginalized individuals affected by individual, familial, communal, intergenerational, and systemic trauma. As one of the first researchers, with Dr. Edward J. Alessi, to highlight the mental health and psychosocial needs of sexual and gender minority migrants, she has conducted research with this population in Canada, the US, Austria, the Netherlands, and South Africa. Additionally, Dr. Kahn has conducted research with survivors of the genocide in Rwanda, including youth born of genocidal rape. Dr. Kahn’s research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and edited books. Because of her pioneering research, she was chosen as a panelist for the Canadian Government’s 2020 Best Brains Exchange, advising federal health authorities on the psychosocial needs of sexual and gender minority migrants. She has also consulted with Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board on how to interview asylum seekers using a trauma-informed perspective. She is a licensed clinical social worker, and holds Masters degrees in Social Work and Public Health from Columbia University, and a PhD in Social Work from New York University. She has over 25 years of clinical experience with trauma survivors, serving as expert witness for asylum seekers from around the globe.

Kevin Keegan (he/him)

  • Leadership, managing change
  • Employee engagement
  • Building partnerships to impact change
  • Moving towards a family-focused, community-based system of care

Kevin Keegan has more than 35 years of experience with both private and public agencies in Maryland, currently with Catholic Charities of Baltimore serving as Director of its Family Services Division; responsible for the oversight of a full continuum of services, from residential through outpatient, day-programming and school, for youth and adults needing support with behavioral health, substance use or developmental issues. Previously, Mr. Keegan served as President and CEO for the Family League of Baltimore City, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 quasi-governmental entity, where he partnered with Local, State, Federal, Corporate and Foundation funders and served as a Cabinet Member for the Mayor of Baltimore City. Mr. Keegan is committed to developing partnerships and collaborations with state agencies, universities, foundations and community organizations for the transformation, development and implementation of innovative financing strategies and community based support systems to support families in the community setting. Mr. Keegan holds a bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology from Loyola University of MD; and a master’s degree in Health Services Administration from Central Michigan University. 

Vida Khavar, LMFT (she/her)

  • Areas of Expertise:

    • Permanency and family acceptance
    • LGBTQ+ policies and practices
    • Child welfare

    Vida Khavar is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience in child welfare. She is currently the project director for getREAL California and the Youth Acceptance Project at Family Builders. Through getREAL CA, Vida collaborates with and guides the California Department of Social Services in developing and implementing new affirming policies and practices for LGBTQ+ children in foster care. Vida also provides her clinical expertise, training, and technical assistance for the Youth Acceptance Project to several jurisdictions throughout the country.

Laura Kuper, PhD, ABPP (they/them)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Multidisciplinary approaches to the provision of gender affirming care
  • Gender identity development
  • Supporting parents of gender diverse youth 
  • Transition of gender affirming care from pediatric to adult settings  

Laura Kuper is a psychologist with a multidisciplinary gender affirming care program at Children’s Health in Dallas, TX and is an assistant professor in Psychiatry at University of Texas Southwestern. They are board certified in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Dr. Kuper provides assessment, consultation, and therapy to transgender and gender diverse youth and their families. They also provide clinical and research supervision and lead a research team focused on understanding the health and development of youth receiving gender affirming care. Dr. Kuper recently served as a co-author on the nonbinary chapter of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care Version 8 and is currently serving on the task force to update the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Diverse People.  

Justine Larson, MD, MPH (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Systems of Care
  • School-based psychiatry
  • Developmental disorders

Justine Larson is the medical director of schools and residential treatment centers for Sheppard Pratt, the largest provider of nonpublic special education programming in Maryland. Prior to joining Sheppard Pratt, Dr. Larson served as the Senior Medical Advisor to Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She earned her MD at Harvard Medical School, her MPH in Family and Community Health at Harvard School of Public Arts, and her Master of Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.Dr. Larson serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is double board certified in general adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Scott Leibowitz, MD (he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Transgender and gender diverse youth care
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Multidisciplinary collaboration
  • LGBTQ+ issues in education and training 

Scott Leibowitz is a child & adolescent psychiatrist, Medical Director of Behavioral Health Services for the THRIVE Gender Development Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. He completed his fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He is the co-lead for the Adolescent chapter for the World Professional Association of Transgender Health’s Standard of Care 8th version. He is also the lead child and adolescent faculty trainer, and curriculum co-chair for the WPATH Global Education Institute, where he has led trainings both nationally and internationally including in Israel, Japan, and Vietnam. He led the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Issues Committee for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry as co-chairperson from 2013-2021 and was lead author for its conversion therapy policy statement. He also served as an expert witness in 2016 for the United States Department of Justice in its legal action against the State of North Carolina for its anti-transgender HB2 bill, among other federal cases that ruled in favor of transgender youths’ rights. 

Jill Levenson, PhD, LCSW (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Trauma-informed care
  • Vicarious trauma and self care
  • Sexual abuse victimization and perpetration
  • Clinical supervision

Jill Levenson is a Professor of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL. She is a SAMHSA-trained trauma-informed care instructor, and has published 5 books and over 100 articles, many about adverse childhood experiences and trauma-informed care. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Justice, the CDC, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Dr. Levenson is a licensed clinical social worker in South Florida. In 2020 she was NASW-FL Miami-Dade Social Worker of the Year. She has provided TIC trainings in more than 20 states, Canada, Australia, Mexico, and New Zealand.

Leah Love, MSSA, LSW (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Family acceptance and permanency
  • Serving LGBTQ+ youth and families in systems
  • Culturally competent mental health care

Leah Love is the youth acceptance clinician and advocate with the Chosen Affirming Family Program at Kinnect. She works closely with youth and families, navigating the youth’s identity journey to increase understanding and build affirming relationships. Leah also provides psychoeducation, family finding, and network building services for LGBTQ+ youth who enter foster care. She is a dynamic presenter and provides trainings centered on enhancing service providers’ affirmative support and interventions with LGBTQ+ youth and their families, with a focus on intersectional identities at the local, state, and national levels. Leah has an undergraduate degree in Applied Science and a Master of Science in Social Administration, with her license in Social Work. Her professional career includes experience in juvenile justice, alcohol and drug treatment, working with individuals experiencing homelessness, adult corrections, and mental health treatment.

Jabari Lyles (they/them)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Supporting LGBTQ+ youth in systems
  • Developing strong allyship to the Trans community
  • LGBTQ+ history, culture, and language

Jabari is an educator, community leader, and consultant with over 15 years of experience leading LGBTQ+ initiatives in Maryland. He is the former executive director at The Pride Center of Maryland and GLSEN Maryland, former chairperson of Baltimore Pride, and currently serves as Director of LGBTQ Affairs for the Office of Mayor Brandon M. Scott in the City of Baltimore. Jabari is a former elementary and middle school teacher and focuses much of his work on LGBTQ+ youth, gender, race, and public service.

Matthew Malouf, PhD (he/him)

Matthew Malouf is a counseling psychologist with a background in LGBTQI counseling, training, research, and supervision.  Having served previously as clinical faculty in Pediatrics at UCONN and as the training manager for an LGBTQI-focused federally qualified health center in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Malouf now operates a group practice specializing in issues related to sexuality and gender. He is the author of multiple journal articles and book chapters on intersexuality and provides training and consultation to a range of audiences.  For nearly a decade, he was a member of SAMHSA’s “National Workgroup to Address the Needs of Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQI2-S and Their Families.”  He has also served on the medical advisory board for the AIS-DSD Support Group (now InterConnect) and is currently a member of WPATH’s Standards of Care revision committee as well as Psychosocial Studies Intersex International’s steering committee.

Johanna Miller, LCSW (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Organizational LGBTQ+ competency
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Programmatic change

Johanna Miller is a licensed clinical social worker with experience providing individual, group, and family
therapy, supervising mental health clinicians, and supporting staff and consumers through training and
programmatic change. She has extensive experience working with trauma survivors and is certified in
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Johanna spent 13 years volunteering with GLSEN
Baltimore, where she provided workshops to youth and K-12 staff with the goal of increasing LGBTQ+
inclusivity in schools. In addition to offering therapy, consulting and training through her private
practice, Johanna works at Catholic Charities of Baltimore, where she has used her knowledge to
support the development of a more trauma-informed, LGBTQ+ responsive agency.

Linda Mitchell (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Family acceptance and permanency
  • Parent Peer Support
  • Child welfare

Linda Mitchell started out as a Family Support Partner in 2008 in the Joint Planning Team Program. She was Credentialed in the High-Fidelity Wraparound Process, through the Youth and Family Training Institute in 2010. In 2017 Linda continued her role in the Foster Family Support Program. She utilized her experience as a foster/adoptive mom to help families understand the process and what it takes to foster/adopt a child. Then in 2018, she had the opportunity to utilize her skills and experience in the program of the Steps 2 Connect in partnership with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. In Steps 2 Connect, she is the Family Engagement Specialist. She works with families that have children in the LGBTQ+ Community that are struggling to understand their child. She utilizes her experiences to offer families and caregivers support in helping to build and knowledge to support their youth. She has certifications in PSP, CPSP, HFW, and SOGIE. Linda works in partnership to train on SOGIE.

John Pachankis, PhD (he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • LGBTQ+-affirmative mental health interventions
  • Identity development
  • Evidence-based practices

John Pachankis is the Susan Dwight Bliss Associate Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at Yale and Director of Yale’s LGBTQ Mental Health Initiative. His research examines the mental health of LGBTQ+ populations in the US and globally and the efficacy of LGBTQ+-affirmative mental health interventions. He has published over 100 scientific papers on LGBTQ+ mental health and stigma and recently co-edited the Handbook of Evidence-Based Mental Health Practice with Sexual and Gender Minorities, published by Oxford University Press.

Ryan Papciak, MSW, LCSW (he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Transgender health
  • Gender dysphoria and euphoria
  • Gender-affirming interventions

Ryan Papciak is a trans man and doctoral student at Barry University’s School of Social Work. He is currently a graduate research assistant to Dr. Ashley Austin, with whom he is conducting research on the experiences of gender dysphoria for transgender and gender non-conforming adults in the U.S. In addition to this, his research focuses on the relationship between trauma and gender dysphoria for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

Rajeev Ramchand, PhD (he/him)

Rajeev Ramchand is codirector of the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute and a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. He studies the prevalence, prevention, and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders in service members and veterans, adolescents, and minority populations. He has specific expertise in suicide and suicide prevention including environmental scans of suicide prevention programs, epidemiologic studies on risk factors for suicide, and evaluations of suicide prevention programs, and has developed tools to help organizations evaluate their own programs. He has testified on suicide prevention twice before the United States Congress and also before the California State Senate. He has also conducted extensive research on sexual minority populations, including research on suicide risk in lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults and the role of intentions and normative beliefs about drug use and sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men attending circuit parties. Other current areas of research include military and veteran caregivers (he has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on military caregivers); the role of firearm availability, storage, and policies on suicide; the impact of disasters on community health; and public health approaches to confronting violent extremism. He received his Ph.D. in psychiatric epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and his B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago.

Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW (she/her)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Family acceptance
  • Training professionals across settings on helping diverse families to support their LGBTQ+ children
  • Clinical case consultation

Caitlin Ryan is a clinical social worker, researcher and Director of the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) who has worked on LGBTQ+ health and mental health for more than 40 years. Dr. Ryan developed the first evidence-based family support model to reduce risk and promote well-being for LGBTQ+ young people – in the context of their families, cultures and faith communities, including multilingual resources to increase family acceptance and support. She trains across the U.S. and in other countries and works with agencies, providers and faith communities to integrate FAP’s family support model into systems of care to build healthy futures for LGBTQ+ children and youth.

Mills Smith-Millman, PhD (they/them)

Areas of Expertise:

  • School mental health
  • Adolescent health
  • Evidence-based practices

Mills Smith-Millman is a staff psychologist at the McLean School Consultation Service in Cambridge, MA and also has their own private practice. Dr. Smith-Millman completed their graduate training in clinical psychology at Miami University, with a focus on child and adolescent psychology and school mental health. They have a strong passion for working with LGBTQIA+ youth and working with schools to increase the use of evidence-based therapeutic practices.

Michael Vigorito, LMFT, CGP, CST-S (he/him)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Psychotherapist and trainer
  • Sexual health
  • Problematic and out of control sexual behavior

Michael Vigorito is a sex therapist, author and trainer. As a psychotherapist, he provides individual, couples and group psychotherapy for a range of sexual and behavioral health concerns: problematic and out of control sexual behavior, relationship and sexual dissatisfaction, sexual disorders, sexual and erotic identity development, substance use disorders, and sex-drug linked behaviors. Mr. Vigorito facilitates two sexual health men’s psychotherapy groups: one for out-of-control sexual behavior and the other for gay and bisexual men in meth recovery.  Along with providing psychotherapy, he co-developed a sexual health assessment and treatment protocol with Douglas Braun-Harvey, LMFT that was published in Treating Out of Control Sexual Behavior – Rethinking Sex Addiction (SSTAR 2018 Health Professional Book Award Winner). Mr. Vigorito designed and implemented SAMHSA and CDC-funded capacity-building trainings on LGBTQ+ affirmative care and sexual health services for behavioral health care providers. He is currently affiliated with University of Maryland – Prevention Research Center where he is implementing the Sexual and Gender Diversity Learning Community – a CDC-funded, LGBTQ+ affirmative care training program for mental health providers and organizations co-developed with Sean Lare, LCSW-C. Mr. Vigorito is licensed in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and California as a Marriage & Family Therapist [DC LMFT000153; VA 0717001280; CA MFC41512] and Maryland as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor [LC5169]. Mr. Vigorito is also a Certified Group Psychotherapist through the American Group Psychotherapy Association and a Certified Sex Therapist and Supervisor through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. 

A headshot of Lauren Wethers Coggins smiling

Lauren Wethers Coggins, MA (she/her)

Lauren Wethers Coggins is a Training Specialist for the Center for Excellence in Resource Family Development.  She holds a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and has over 8 years of experience working in child- and family-serving systems.  As the former Youth and Family Specialist for the AFFIRM Unit of Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, Lauren provided Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for LGBTQ+ youth and their families (AFFIRM), as well as training, and technical assistance around LGBTQ+ topics, advocacy and inclusion.

Elliott Hinkle (they/them)

Areas of Expertise:
  • Supporting and affirming LGBTQ+ youth and young adults impacted by systems 
  • Transgender, nonbinary, and gender expansive
    populations foundations, best practices, and cultural competencies
  • Rural LGBTQ+ people and communities
  • Lived experience empowerment and integration

Elliott Orrin Hinkle, BS, PSS (they/them), Principal and Founder of Unicorn Solutions LLC, is a skilled speaker, facilitator, trainer, advisor, national expert focused on elevating lived expertise in systems that serve children, youth, and families, particularly focused on LGBTQIA2S+ community members. They bring 12+ years lived and professional experience on topics such as child welfare, youth mental health, and the LGBTQIA2S+ community.  Elliott graduated from Portland State University Elliott graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelors of Science in Women, Gender, Sexuality, and Queer studies. Elliott has lived experience in the Wyoming Foster Care System as a young person but calls Oregon home. They have served for 2 years as a Federal Lived Experience Expert Partner for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – Equity Technical Assistance Center (ETAC). Elliott has worked on the Children’s Bureau Capacity Building Center for States Project and Division X TA Project at ICF, the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) Reviews via JBS International, and Oregon Healthy Transitions Project at Portland State University, a SAMHSA grant. Elliott has worked with the Human Rights Campaign to craft a tool and training on Transgender and Nonbinary youth in Congregate Care Settings and often partners with Lambda Legal’s Youth in Out of Home Care team. To learn more about and reach Elliott visit www.unicornsolutions.org.

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