OUR CONSULTANTS

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, Ph.D., 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.

Minority Stress & its Impacts on Mental Health (2021)

A Framework for Clinical Practice with LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers (2022)

Antonia Barba, L.C.S.W. (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.

Providing Trauma-Informed Care for LGBTQ+ Children & Youth: Integrating FAP & TF-CBT (2021)

Lawrence Bryant, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.R.T. (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.

Panel Discussion: Gaps in Behavioral Health Services for Black & African American LGBTQ+ People (2022)

Embracing Culturally Responsive Programs & Practices for Black & African American LGBTQ+ People (2022)

Michael Dentato, Ph.D. (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.

The SBIRT Model: Assessing Alcohol & Substance Use among LGBTQ+ Populations (2021)

Ask Our Experts: Substance Use Disorders Impacting the LGBTQ+ Community (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.

Partnering with Families of LGBTQ+ Youth (2021)

Alyssa Fenix, M.A. (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.

Providing Inclusive, Accessible Supports for LGBTQ+ Youth & Young Adults With Disabilities (2022)

Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, Ph.D. (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.

Emerging from the Margins: Identifying the Behavioral Health Needs of LGBTQ+ Midlife & Older Adults (2021)

Finn Gratton, L.M.F.T., L.P.C.C. (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.

Providing Inclusive, Accessible Supports for LGBTQ+ Youth & Young Adults With Disabilities (2022)

Ezra Halstead, M.A. (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.

Gender Identity, Expression & Behavioral Health 101 (2021)

Ask Our Experts: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression 101 (2021)

Cecilia (Cec) Hardacker, M.S.N., R.N., C.N.L. (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.

Caring for LGBTQ+ Older Adults Using a Behavioral Health Lens (2022)

Animated Short on Providing Equitable and Affirming Care to LGBTQ+ Older Adults (2022)

Jesi Harris, M.A. (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.

Panel Discussion on Gaps in Behavioral Health Services for Black and African American LGBTQ+ People (2022)

America Islas, L.M.F.T. (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.

Providing Culturally Responsive Mental Health Services to Latinx LGBTQ+ Folx (2022)

Skylar Jackson, Ph.D. (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 Associate Research Scientist 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.

Advancing Black LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health: Contemporary Approaches to Understanding & Uprooting Intersectional Stigma to Promote Wellness (2021)

Infographic on Black LGBTQ+ Mental Health (2022)

Sarilee Kahn, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.P.H. (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.

A Framework for Clinical Practice with LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers (2022)

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. 

Partnering with Families of LGBTQ+ Youth (2021)

Vida Khavar, L.M.F.T. (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.

Partnering with Families of LGBTQ+ Youth (2021)

Justine Larson, M.D., M.P.H. (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.

Gender Dysphoria Diagnosis & Clinical Considerations for Children & Youth (2021)

Ask Our Experts: Gender Dysphoria Diagnosis & Clinical Considerations for Children, Youth & Adults (2021)

Jill Levenson, Ph.D., 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.

Translating Trauma-informed Care Principles into Practice with LGBTQ+ Clients (2021)

Ask Our Experts: Trauma-Informed Practice with LGBTQ+ Clients (2021)

Infographic on Trauma-Informed Care with LGBTQ+ Clients (2021)

Leah Love, M.S.S.A., L.S.W. (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.

Panel Discussion on Gaps in Behavioral Health Services for Black and African American LGBTQ+ People (2022)

Embracing Culturally Responsive Programs and Practices for Black and African American LGBTQ+ People (2022)

Jabari Lyles (he/him)

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.

Sexual Orientation & Behavioral Health 101 (2021)

Ask Our Experts: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression 101 (2021)

Johanna Miller, L.C.S.W. (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.

Implementing LGBTQ+ Strategies in Historically Resistant Organizations (2021)

Mills Smith-Millman, Ph.D. (they/them)

Areas of Expertise:

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

Dr. 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.

Providing Mental Health Care to LGBTQIA+ Youth in Schools (2021)

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.

Partnering with Families of LGBTQ+ Youth (2021)

John Pachankis, Ph.D. (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.

Hidden from Happiness: The Epidemic of Sexual Minority Depression & the Science of the Closet (2021)

Ryan Papciak, M.S.W., 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.

Gender Dysphoria in Adults: Moving Beyond Diagnosis & Toward Affirmative Practice (2021)

Ask Our Experts: Gender Dysphoria Diagnosis & Clinical Considerations for Children, Youth & Adults (2021)

Ask Our Experts: Supporting the Mental Health of Trans & Gender Diverse Youth Amid Anti-Trans Legislation (2021)

Panel Discussion on Disordered Eating Within Transgender Populations (2022)

Infographic on Eating Disorders in LGBTQ+ Populations (2022)

Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., 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.

Providing Trauma-Informed Care for LGBTQ+ Children & Youth: Integrating FAP & TF-CBT (2021)

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest resources and learning opportunities!