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Research in HIV Intervention: Skills for the Community (RHISC)

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RHISC Fellows

Adeyinka Akinsulure-Smith, PhD, RPT-S
Assistant Professor of Psychology, City College
Senior Psychologist, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, Bellevue Hospital Center

Dr. Adeyinka Akinsulure-Smith is a licensed Psychologist who is originally from Sierra Leone. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at City College of the City University of New York. She has extensive clinical experience working with war trauma survivors, refugees, asylees and asylum seekers, survivors of sexual violence, persons afflicted with and affected by HIV/AIDS and culturally diverse populations. Dr. Akinsulure-Smith has been conducting individual and group psychotherapy as well as psychological assessments with clients in the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture since 1999. She has been involved in human rights investigations in Sierra Leone with Physicians for Human Rights and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, Human Rights Division.

Dr. Akinsulure-Smith is a proud co-founder of Nah We Yone, Inc., a non-profit organization created in 1997 to proactively respond to war victims from the various communities within the African Diaspora. To date, Nah We Yon has served over 500 African refugees and asylees and their families in New York City, offering them direct services and referrals to legal, mental health, and social services. Dr. Akinsulure-Smith and her co-founders at Nah We Yone are 2003 winners of New York City’s prestigious Union Square Awards. In 2005 Dr. Akinsulure-Smith received Teachers College, Columbia University’s “Early Career Award.”

Tamara R. Buckley, PhD
Associate Professor, Hunter College

Tamara Buckley earned a M.A. in organizational psychology and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Columbia University, Teachers College. Before returning to graduate school, Dr. Buckley worked in investment banking and consulting, having earned a B.S. in business administration from U.C. Berkeley. She is a New York State Licensed Psychologist.

Dr. Buckley teaches both clinical and didactic courses in the graduate counseling program at Hunter College. As a professor, she focuses on helping students to integrate theoretical and self- knowledge with multicultural factors. Dr. Buckley revamped the multicultural training course in which students gain knowledge, skills, and awareness necessary for providing culturally competent treatment. She translated this work in the classroom into a theoretical model that will be featured in her upcoming book entitled, “Talking about Race: A New Pedagogical Model for Cultural Competence” that presents a theoretical model for how to create contexts that are psychologically safe for learning about and developing multicultural competence (To be published by the Russell Sage Foundation). This book is interdisciplinary and has relevance for increasing multicultural competence in health settings, community agencies and other organizational settings.

Dr. Buckley’s research program focuses on reducing health disparities both by building knowledge about the complexity of racial and gender identity development among persons of color and by introducing theoretical models for increasing individual and organizational- level multicultural competence. Dr. Buckley has received numerous awards for her research including an in-residence Visiting Scholars Fellowship at the Russell Sage Foundation (2007-2008) and the Carolyn Payton Early Career Psychology Award, from APA, Division 35, Psychology of Black Women. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the City University of New York: PSC-CUNY, Faculty Fellowship Publications Program, Junior Faculty Development Award, and George N. Shuster Faculty Fellowship. Her publications include peer-reviewed articles in counseling and health psychology and management, and various chapters in edited volumes.

Jagadisa-devasri Dacus, LMSW
Senior Director of Training & Capacity Building Programs, Harm Reduction Coalition

Jagadisa-devasri Dacus, LMSW, received his Masters of Social Work degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work and is currently the Senior Director of Training & Capacity Building Programs at the Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC). At HRC, Mr. Dacus oversees the provision of technical assistance, information and technology transfer, and the skills-building activities provided to all of HRC’s clientele through the programs and
projects of The Institute at the HRC.

Mr. Dacus possesses an extensive history of working for and with community-based organizations and health departments engaged in the implementation of HIV prevention interventions for high-risk racial and ethnic populations, youth and young adults, and LGBT communities. He has served on the New York City Prevention Planning Group and is a scholar of the Institute for HIV Prevention Leadership.

Lourdes D. Follins, MSW, PhD
Assistant Professor of Social Work and Human Services, Kingsborough Community College (CUNY)

Lourdes D. Follins, MSW, PhD is an educator and organizational consultant who has been committed to working with and for the socially disenfranchised since the late 1980s. While she has extensive experience working with and for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people of color as a mental health provider, Lourdes has also worked with and advocated for urban children and adolescents in foster care, the juvenile justice system, and the mental health system. As a result of her work, Lourdes offers consultation, curricula development, and trainings in mental health and ethnic, gender and sexual identities as a way to enhance the knowledge and skills of those working with the most socially disenfranchised.

As an Assistant Professor of Social Work and Human Services at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY), she both educates and trains tomorrow’s social service professionals in areas such as counseling, diversity, and human growth and development. A New York State Licensed Social Worker, Lourdes earned her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Social Work at New York University. Her research interests are in HIV prevention and mental health, decision-making and the risk behaviors of LGBT people of color, and the role of religion and spirituality in the lives of LGBT people of color.

Sonia K. González, MPH
Public Health Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate Center; Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellow (NIMH)

Drawing from her training at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and over 15 years of HIV prevention experience working with hard-to-reach youth in Austin and New York, Sonia K. González has developed a strong interest in community and reproductive health. She has a proven track record working with adolescents in HIV prevention and is particularly interested in research concerning youth, community, family and HIV.

Among her many achievements, Ms. González co-founded the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition; served as Deputy Director for Love Heals, a non-profit organization focused on HIV prevention among teens in NYC; and served as the Co-Chair for the Adolescent Work Group of the New York City Prevention Planning Group of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She currently is a Board of Director for the Red Hook Initiative. In the fall of 2009, she returned to school at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she is earning a Doctorate of Public Health (DPH) with a focus on Community, Health & Society and an Interactive Technology Pedagogy (ITP) Certificate. In 2012, she was awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NIMH). When she is not working, she is traveling, cycling, or enjoying good food in Brooklyn.

Geetha Gopalan, BS, MS, MPhil, PhD
Faculty Fellow, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research

Dr. Geetha Gopalan received her doctoral training at the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW) in 2009. Through the doctoral program at CUSSW, Dr. Gopalan focused on mental health service program development, implementation, and dissemination for inner-city, minority youth and their families. Currently, Dr. Gopalan is a post-doctoral fellow at the New York University Silver School of Social Work. Since graduation from Columbia in 2009, she has participated in two National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded intervention research training institutes, the National Institute of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program, and has been awarded a three-year, NIMH-funded National Research Science Award Individual Post-Doctoral Fellowship (F32MH090614). Dr. Gopalan is also an investigator with the Implementation Research Institute (IRI), at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis; through an award from NIMH (R25 MH080916-01A2) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research & Development Service, Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI). Dr. Gopalan's interests focus on development and implementation of family-level interventions to improve youth mental health and reduce youth risk behavior, particularly for families with intensive service involvement and extreme psychosocial needs (such as those involved in the child welfare system).

Areas of Expertise:
Child welfare, child and adolescent mental health services, adolescent risk behavior, and implementation of evidence-based practice

Kaydian Simone Reid, MA
Adjunct Professor, The College of New Rochelle

After completing her Masters of Arts in Sociology in 2007 at St. John's University, New York, NY Ms. Reid accepted a position as adjunct Professor of Sociology at the College of New Rochelle, where she teaches about social theory, family, health, and social stratification. Her research focuses on Black single mothers, male mentors, and pre- or early-adolescent males. This research examines Black single mothers raising their sons in socially and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods with high HIV-seroprevalence. Ms. Reid is well aware of health related issues in Black families and recognizes the necessity of conducting research in this area. Prior to her current positions, Ms. Reid served as director to a community-based mentoring program that offers services to the children of both single and incarcerated parents

Ms. Reid serves on the NGO HIV/AIDS committee at the United Nations. Ms. Reid received a Robert Wood Foundation award from the University of Michigan and is currently a student at Hunter College's School of Public Health. In her spare time Ms. Reid enjoys running, and has received numerous track and field awards while competing at St. Johns University.

Nelson J. Tiburcio, PhD
Institute for Special Populations Research
National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI)

Nelson J. Tiburcio, PhD has been involved in drug treatment program planning, research, evaluation and outcome studies since the late 1980s. His professional expertise includes locating and interviewing hard to reach populations for clinical and research purposes; interviewer training; and coordinating longitudinal follow-up studies with diverse groups. His award-winning doctoral dissertation in Criminal Justice from the Graduate Center of New York (Reisenbach Foundation Award) investigated the long-term recovery process from heroin use and focused on ex-offenders who maintained abstinence for a period of five or more years. He served as an evaluator of several prison-based therapeutic communities for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and consults to various research organizations on Research Interview Design and Fidelity, Quality Control, and Interviewer Training and Administration. He is a Research Scientist member of the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse (NHSN) and is one of the founders and former Editor of the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) El Faro: La Voz de la Red. He was elected Founding Chair of the NHSN Early Career Leadership Committee (ECLC) and as Chair emeritus, serves as an active member of the ECLC.

Dr. Tiburcio served as Project Director of two federally funded and one privately funded studies in the Institute for Treatment Services Research at National Development and Research Institutes in New York City. The NIDA-funded STOP HEP C Project examined the nationwide drug treatment response to the hepatitis C virus. The second study, Project STAR, an acronym for "“Staff Training on Alcohol Reduction,"” was devoted to the development of a state-of-the-art HIV care provider training to encourage the implementation of NIAAA’'s screening and brief intervention (NIAAA'’s BI) in Designated AIDS Centers (DACs) throughout New York. In the Institute for Special Populations Research at NDRI, Dr. Tiburcio served as Co-Investigator of a NIDA grant designed to systematically study changes in illicit drug markets (including use and distribution) resulting from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The study also examines the reformulation of displaced illegal drug markets and distribution networks throughout New Orleans, and the development of similar networks in Houston, Baton Rouge and other host cities of New Orleans Evacuees (NOE’s). Presently he is Principal Investigator of an R03 NIDA study examining networking and service acquisition, and how these and other services assist HIV+ former opioid users to sustain their efforts.

If you have any questions about RHISC, please contact Brian Davis at 212-481-4075 or

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RHISC is funded by NIMH R25 training grant, Research in HIV: Skills for Underserved Communities and Families and is hosted exclusively at the Hunter College Center for Community and Urban Health, City University of New York. All materials © 2009, Hunter College Center for Community and Urban Health.