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Meet The Team

We are always looking for individuals and organizations who share our commitment to social justice and our dedication to enhancing cultural identities and promoting health and wellbeing amongst ethnic minority and immigrant individuals and communities.

Guerda Nicolas


Dr. Guerda Nicolas is a Professor in the Educational and Psychological Studies department at the University of Miami, School of Education and Human Development. She obtained her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Boston University. She completed her pre-doctoral training at Columbia University Medical Center and her postdoctoral training the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University, Department of Child Psychiatry.As a multicultural (Haitian American) and multilingual psychologist (Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole), her research is reflective of her background and interests.Her current research focus on the integration of race and culture and well-being for ethnically diverse and immigrant communities. Some of the projects that she is currently working on includes: promoting academic excellence among ethnically diverse youth, identify development of Black youths, and empowering ethnically diverse parents to be effective parents. In addition, she conducts research on social support networks of Caribbean populations with a specific focus on Haitians.She has published several articles and book chapters and delivered numerous invited presentations at the national and international conferences in the areas of women issues, depression and intervention among Haitians, social support networks of ethnic minorities, and spirituality.

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Her recent books includes:

Monique McKenny


Monique McKenny is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Miami (UM). Originally from Philadelphia, PA, she holds a Master of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from George Washington University. Monique studies cultural strengths of Black families and specifically, racial socialization practices, which refers to the messaging between youth and caregivers on race and racial incidents. She explores how racial socialization practices can be incorporated into community-based interventions to support Black families as they cope with race-related stressors like discrimination. Monique has coauthored publications in journals of psychology, public health, and family studies on racial-ethnic protective factors and community-based programs. For her research and service efforts, she was selected as a McKnight Dissertation Fellow and one of five students across UM to be inducted into the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in 2021. Additionally, Monique has received an Academic Excellence, Service, and Leadership Award from Graduate Student Association at UM and a Spouses Education Scholarship from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Her passion for wellness among youth and families extends to her clinical interests. Monique has completed advanced doctoral practica at the Mailman Center for Child Development in the Miller School of Medicine and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Currently, she is completing her predoctoral internship a Nemours A. I. duPont Hospital for Children, within the Integrative Behavioral Health Track. She has led professional development seminars and workshops on racial-ethnic protective factors and is passionate about engaging communities on topics of race, culture, and health equity.

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Melissa Gutierrez


Melissa Gutierrez is a first-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Miami. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Miami with a major in biology and minor in psychology. After diving into research on early childhood social-emotional readiness at the University of Miami psychology department, Melissa completed her Master of Science in Education at the University of Miami majoring in Mental Health Counseling.

Melissa has joined the CRECER team this year and is looking forward to participating in different projects. She is also currently serving on Dr. Mena and Dr. Santisteban’s team as a therapist in the Culturally Informed Flexible Family Based Treatment for Adolescents (CIFFTA) program and a project coordinator for Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) project in Miami Gardens. Her primary research interests focus on researching interventions that would be effective in equipping parents with skills to develop and maintain positive self-esteem for children and adolescents in high risk environments. She is particularly interested in the development of interventions to build and maintain high self-esteem for adolescents in minority groups, specifically Hispanic families.

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Gabrielle M del Rey


Gabrielle is a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Miami. She completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology with a minor in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. She then completed her master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Southern California where she practiced as a therapist at a local Los Angeles high school for under privileged, high achieving Latino adolescents. Gabrielle’s broad research interests center around Black and Latino adolescents and family systems. Most recently, Gabrielle has been working on projects focusing on self-harm and other suicidal behaviors in Black and Latino adolescents. Gabrielle is currently serving as a co-coordinator for the Strong Roots program.

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Natacha Janac


Natacha earned her master’s in Nashville TN, at Tennessee State University and is a clinician who enjoys working with children and families. Currently, she provides mental health therapy through Devereux Advance Behavioral Foster Care Agency. Natacha joined the CRECER team in Spring 2014. She serves as the Chair of the policy council of Miami-Dade County Community Action & and Human Service Head Start/Early Head Start program; aiming to fight the war on poverty by providing comprehensive child-development, nutrition, education, and social services for children and parents. She is a member of the (CAA) Community Action Agency board of directors, who over-see all the programs and services provided by the Miami-Dade Community Action and Human Services Department (CAHSD).

Natacha is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; an organization that provide services to the community and helps educated young women to understand their worth. Natacha’s research interests include working with families and communities and mental health issues in Haiti. Natacha is one of the founding Haiti Community Trust Board Members. She aims to focus her research on the strengths of marginalized individuals and their communities. She believes her work has the potential to make a transformative impact through empowerment and by promoting well-being.

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Marisol Meyer


Marisol is a third-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Miami. She completed her undergraduate studies at Dartmouth college in 2018, where majored in both Psychology and in Anthropology.

She is excited to be a part of the CRECER team and serve currently as the co-coordinator in the Strong Roots Caregiver project and previously as the co-coordinator in the Kulula Project. Currently, her primary research interest is exploringculturally responsive social and emotional learning and emotional intelligence, and exploring how these fields can be used to promote equity. Additionally, Marisol is interested in research focusing on the creation and implementation of community-based intervention programs to promote positive mental health outcomes for multicultural, ethnically diverse, and immigrant populations. She is also passionate about working towards closing the research to practice gap and works towards making information gained via research accessible to all individuals.Please visit here for more information about Marisol’s research.

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Ceewin N. Louder


Ceewinis a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Miami. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a dual-major in Psychology and Biology. After two years working as a missionary for the United Methodist Church and one year working as a bookseller, she decided to go back to school for psychology. She completed her master's degree in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University in May 2019 and began working with CRECER in August 2019. Broadly, Ceewin's research interests center around emotion, race-based traumatic stress, and community-based interventions. Specifically, she is interested in Afro-centric coping techniques utilized by Black folks, and the mental and physiological effects of various coping strategies. In CRECER, she is a co-coordinator for the Kulula Project with Alexis.

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Alexis Franklin


Alexis Franklin is a first year PhD student at the University of Miami within the School of Education and Human Development. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee in 2018. Alexis spent the last two years learning and researching as a Psychology Intern at George Washington University’s Clinical Psychology clinic and as a Psychology Research Fellow at the National Cancer Institute within the National Institute of Health.

Alexis is excited to join to the CRECER team this fall. In CRECER, she is a co-coordinator for the Kulula Project. Currently, her primary research interests are to research the negative mental health outcomes that disproportionately affect marginalized populations, the systemic and social mechanisms behind these disparities, and the kinds of interventions that can effectively address these problems. Ultimately, she is interested in researching culturally-informed interventions aimed at promoting positive mental health outcomes for marginalized populations, specifically Black individuals.

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Joelle Dorsett


Joelle Dorsett is a first year PhD student at the University of Miami within the School of Education and Human Development. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida in 2020, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Spanish. During this time, Joelle’s research experience included conducting community-based participatory research to combat racial health disparities, and research on stigma and its effect on diabetes management. After graduating, Joelle spent a year conducting research with the Program in genetics and Epidemiology of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms (PGENeS) lab at the University of Florida. Her research topic of focus was the effect of COVID-19 on the mental health of people working in a healthcare setting.Joelle’s current research interests include investigating the cultural factors (e.g., spirituality, emphasis on positivity and resilience in the face of discrimination, family structures) that cultivate or inhibit healing and mental health in Black Americans and the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.Ultimately, she is interested in developing and using community-based, culturally relevant mental health interventions to promote wellness in Black communities.

Alexis is excited to join to the CRECER team this fall. In CRECER, she is a co-coordinator for the Kulula Project. Currently, her primary research interests are to research the negative mental health outcomes that disproportionately affect marginalized populations, the systemic and social mechanisms behind these disparities, and the kinds of interventions that can effectively address these problems. Ultimately, she is interested in researching culturally-informed interventions aimed at promoting positive mental health outcomes for marginalized populations, specifically Black individuals.

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Regine Thermy Jean Baptiste


Regine Thermy Jean BaptisteRegine is a second-year master’s student in the Mental Health Counseling –Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Miami. She completed her undergraduate studies at Universitéd’Etat D’Haïti, where she majored in bothPsychology at Facultédes Sciences Humaines (FASCH) and in Public Administration at Institut National d’Administration, de Gestion et des Hautes Etudes Internationales (INAGHEI).She also earned a certificate in American Sign Language at the Institut Haitien de Langues de Signes (IHLS).As a member ofthe CRECER team, Regine will serve as the co-coordinator in the Haïti Mental Health Project. Her research interests center around family system, parenting and attachment among the Black Community. She is interested in working with families, children,and communities in Haiti topromote positive parenting, Self-esteem,and mental health outcomes.She is also interested in promoting inclusion and mental health among the deaf community in Haiti.

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Past Team Members


Esprene Liddell-Quintyn


“Maxie” Ashley Maxie-Moreman


Yasmeen HA


Kyle Self


Kimberly Ho Misiaszek



Vanessa Thomas


Amina Simmons


Anna Wheatley


Brian Malcolm


Jordan Ainsley



Darren Bernal


Billie Schwartz


Lauren Smith


Casta Guillaume


Lien Tran



Katherine Zambrana


Chrismerli Rodriguez


Dorothy Addae


Noris Rios


Community Partner/Affiliate

Dr. Sidney Coupet