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, Professor in the Educational and Psychological Studies department r at 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:

Esprene Liddell-Quintyn


Esprene Liddell-Quintyn is a doctoral student in the Community Well-Being program at the University of Miami. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Guyana and her Master’s degree at Penn State Harrisburg. Before joining, the CRECER team, Esprene provided compassionate care and assistance to women with mental health challenges and supported research and organizational development initiatives at non-governmental organizations.

Her research focuses on examining intimate partner violence (IPV) within the Caribbean and among Caribbean immigrant women.She hopes to use her research to design interventions, build community social capital and build individual efficacy to combat IPV.Esprene is also interested in examining the acculturation and mental health experiences of Caribbean immigrant women. As a member of the CRECER team, Esprene will serve as the coordinator of the Breakthrough Evaluation Project and the co-coordinator of Day of Dialogue.

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Monique McKenny


Monique McKenny is a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Miami. She completed her undergraduate studies at George Washington University (2015) and obtained a masters degree in Counseling and Mental Health Services from the University of Pennsylvania (2016). Prior to graduate study, Monique worked for multiple youth focused non-profit organizations, including Capital Partners for Education and Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia.

Her research interests are racial socialization, racial stress and trauma, self-efficacy in youth, and culturally relevant interventions. More specifically, Monique is interested in how racial socialization and familial support can be used to mitigate negative outcomes from social determinants like racism for Black families. She is interested in exploring how researchers and community members can work together to develop culturally relevant interventions to empower Black youth. Monique has been recognized by the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship with Honorable Mention and was also awarded the Spouses Education scholarship by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. At CRECER, Monique is excited to serve as coordinator for the Strong Roots Program at the Barnyard Community Center.

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Kimberly Ho Misiaszek


Kimberly Ho Misiaszek is a doctoral candidate in the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Miami. Her clinical interests include working with ethnically diverse children, adolescents, and families, particularly those who have experienced trauma, as well as behavioral, emotional, and developmental disorders. A native of Jamaica, she has a special interest in working with Caribbean immigrants and families. Providing strengths-based, multiculturally competent care to all her families is central to her counseling approach.

Kimberly's overall research goal is to improve the well-being and development of ethnically and racially diverse youth and families through culturally-sensitive intervention and prevention programs and mental health treatment approaches. She is interested in the experience of immigrants in the U.S., racial and ethnic disparities in mental health care and treatment outcomes, cultural adaptations of evidence-based treatments, and mental health prevention in ethnically diverse families (e.g. programs that address cultural differences between immigrant parents and U.S. born children).

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Dorothy Addae


Dorothy joined CRECER in 2013 and is a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Miami. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Missouri, working with Dr. Anna Bardone-Cone and Dr. Lisa Flores. Dorothy began her graduate career at the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2012 focusing on acculturation and adjustment of immigrant and refugees prior to transferring to Miami with Dr. Dina Birman. Dorothy’s work with CRECER has included assistance with the Day of Dialogue event, as well as being project coordinator of the Kulula Mentoring Project and the Strong Roots Caregiver Program.

Dorothy’s international background contributes to her passion and research focus. Her interests centre around the immigration experience, acculturation, and international policy. In addition to adjusting to the new country, Dorothy is interested in the identity development oF immigrant children and immigrant family processes.Lastly, Dorothy desires that her work and career will help in bridging the practice research gap, in disseminating and implementing research in communities.

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Vanessa Thomas M.Ed.


Vanessa Thomas is a University of Miami Alumna and recent graduate from UM’s School of Education and Human Development, Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Program. Vanessa received her B.A. in Psychology at The University of Akron in Ohio. While there, she was involved with a research project that focused on academic success amongst Black youth in the local inner city schools. Additionally, the focus of her senior research project was on personality traits and their influence on intimate relationships. Currently, Vanessa works as a therapist in a community mental health center, primarily with children and families involved in the foster care system. Her work also involves youth and adults who have experienced trauma, which she does both in individual and group therapy settings. Vanessa’s role in CRECER includes being this year’s group leader and facilitator for The Children’s Branch of the Strong Roots Program. Her research interests include culture and trauma especially child hood abuse as well as racial identity amongst Black girls. Clinically, Vanessa enjoys working with minority youth, families, and couples and has a strong interest in international work (specifically in Africa and throughout the Caribbean).

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“Maxie” Ashley Maxie-Moreman, M.Ed./M.A.


Maxie is a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Miami. She currently serves as a program co-coordinator for the Kulula Mentoring program as well as coordinator for the Annual Day of Dialogue.Maxie is co-owner of Adventures of Bray Bray LLC, a children’s picture book series, which centers Black boys and promotes racial and ethnic identity development.Maxie earned her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida and her M.Ed. and M.A. inPsychological Counseling at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Maxie’s research interest is the correlation between racial identity development and academic outcomes of Black students in public secondary schools in the US. She is also interested in intergroup dialogue around identity issues.

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Amina Simmons


Amina Simmons is currently a fourth-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Miami. She also holds a masters in Educational and Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and bachelor's in Psychology and Africana Studies from Pomona College. As an advanced doctoral student, Amina serves college populations as both a research assistant/mentor on the Challenging Racism and Empowering Communities through Ethnocultural Research team (CRECER). She also works with college students as a practicum clinician at the University of Miami Counseling Center, where she is serving her second year.

Amina’s clinical and research interests include college student development and women’s wellness with an emphasis on Black American women and student parents. She was recently named a 2017-2018 Mitchell Trauma Fellow and received full-funding to conduct her dissertation, a mixed methods phenomenological study exploring BlackAmerican women’s experience of race-based traumatic stress, health service utilization, and psychological well-being. In both research and clinical work, Amina has experience with diverse populations, across various settings (e.g. hospitals, universities, residential treatment, community centers), and operates from a strengths-based model of community partnership, utilizing therapeutic interventions that recognize and address trauma and resilience.Ultimately, Amina hopes to serve as both a practitioner and faculty member within a university setting, working closely with administrators, faculty, and staff to support and promote holistic well-being for college students.

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Noris Rios


Noris is a third year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Miami. She currently serves as program coordinators for both the Kulula Mentoring program and Evaluation for Breakthrough Miami project.

She earned her BA in Psychology at the University of Miami with a minor in Foreign Languages (French & Italian). During her undergraduate career she worked as a research assistant at the UM Mood and Anxiety Disorders lab.

With a mix of Dominican and Mexican roots, her research interests are focuses on issues of cultural diversity in the mental health profession. She wants to explore how culture influences perception about mental health service utilization, and the field in general.

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Natacha Janac, MS.


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 first-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Miami. She has just joined the CRECER team and will be involved with the Kulula Mentoring Program. Her current research interest is the creation and implementation of tools and technology to promote positive mental health outcomes for multicultural underserved populations. She is also interested in exploring ways to increase opportunities for children belonging to these populations to develop emotional literacy skills. Marisol earned her B.A. in Psychology and in Anthropology at Dartmouth College.

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Past Team Members

Anna Wheatley


Brian Malcolm


Jordan Ainsley


Darren Bernal


Billie Schwartz


Lauren Smith


Casta Guillaume


Lien Tran


Katherine Zambrana


Chrismerli Rodriguez