ATOP Meaningfulworld Executive Team 2019-2020
Board of Directors:
Founder and President: Dr Ani Kalayjian
Senior Adviser: Johnanne Winchester
Adviser: Loren Toussaint, PhD, and Stace Wills, PhD
Treasurer: Upuli Ranaweera, BA
Secretary: Carla Hisatugo, PhD
United Nations Coordinator: Sowmya Kshtriya, MA
Humanitarian & Educational Workshop Co-Coordinators: Amna Khan, MS, and Justina Medina, PsyD
Intern Coordinator: Meredith Carbonell, MS
Newsletter Editor: Carla Hisatugo, PhD
Website & Research: Cheryl Rodrigues, MS
Social Media: Nanar Nakashian, BA
ATOP Meaningfulworld Fellows:
Kathy Blount, LMSW
Justina Medina, PsyD
Palak Shah, MA, LLM
Bao-Tran Nguyan, PsyD
Kinda Zongo, BA
United Nations’ Interns:
Nanar Nakashian, BA
ATOP Meaningfulworld Volunteers:
Gloria Cole-Smith, Lorraine Simmons, David Daud
ATOP Meaningfulworld Visionaries:
Art Jaffe, Ali Libowitz, Christina Nunez Gomez, Mark Ackerman, Cristina Como, Kathleen Booker, Ron Friedman, & Lata Chettri-Kennedy
Dr. Kalayjian, Founder & President of the Association for Trauma Outreach & Prevention, Meaningfulworld, is a graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University with Masters and Doctoral Degrees, and Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from LIU. Currently, she is a Graduate Adj. Psychology faculty in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College Mind-Body- Spirit Dept., and in Private Integrative Healing Practice. She has been consulting at UN since 1988 as representative of a variety of organizations, currently representing ATOP Meaningfulworld, and ACRPC. She has been the Vice President of UN NGO DPI Executive Committee, Treasurer of the Human Rights Committee, Corresponding Secretary, & Currently Vice Chair of the Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, Chair of Annual DPI NGO Conf. and organized 4-6 annual conferences at the UN on Prevention of Genocide, Mind-body-eco- spirit health, engendering inner peace and forgiveness, & dignity for all. She is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, Fellow of several Divisions at APA, Chair, Health, Transformation & Spirituality, Working Group of UN CSVGC, President, Armenian American Society for Studies on Stress & Genocide, Chair of APA International Division’s Disaster Mitigation and Violence Prevention Committee, and Women’s Committee. She has received Alumni of the Year Award from TC Columbia University, ANA Human Rights Award, APA Div 52 Mentoring Award, and Humanitarian Award from the University of Missouri. She is the author of an internationally acclaimed book on Disaster & Mass Trauma, Chief Editor of an international book on Forgiveness & Reconciliation: Psychological pathways to conflict transformation and peace building (Springer Publishing), Chief Editor of II Volumes on Emotional Healing around the World: Rituals and practices for resilience and meaning-making (Greenwood, ABC-CLIO, 2010), meditation CD on Ancestral Healing and Transforming Generational Trauma, as well as 7 films on Humanitarian Outreach Programs to Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, RD Congo, Sierra Leone, Armenia, and Haiti.
Johnanne Winchester is a former Vice President of International Alliances for the Communications Coordination Committee for the United Nations. In her professional capacity as a media producer and communications consultant, she develops communications applications and technical solutions for International Organizational Development. As a systems architect, she collaborates with professional colleagues and artists, designing model strategies for branding, public relations, education, training, and inter-active mass participation in media based communications platforms in all formats. Her primary Global and Planetary focus is International Alliances of Networks, and co-operative joint venture systems in: Education, Financing and Training for Sustainable Development; Peace and Multi-Cultural Education; and Innovation Management Training. She has worked in the UN Community since 1979, consulting in the founding of the UN ICT (Information Communication Technology) Task Force and other UN Media outreach programs. Since 2003, she has been based part-time in China and the Asia-Pacific region, developing programs with UNDP, UNESCO, various International Chambers of Commerce, and affiliated organizations. Currently serving on the Boards of the Tri-State Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions, and the Lawfare Project, she is also on the Development Committee, and a special adviser to the Executive Director, of the former UN International Year of Planet Earth, now the Earth Science Matters Foundation. As a program of the Planet Earth Roundtable, she is currently developing a Resilient Communities Program to synthesize the range of issues including Earth Changes, Financial and Economic Systems Transformation, and training programs directed at Mayors and local governing councils and activist/advocates for disaster prediction, remediation, and adaptation. Ms. Winchester has been appointed as the Senior Advisor and United Nations Representative to ATOP Meaningfulworld.
Dr. Loren Toussaint is an associate professor in the department of psychology at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He has served as a visiting scientist at Mayo Clinic and is currently associate director of the Sierra Leone Forgiveness Project. The main objective of Dr. Toussaint’s research is to broadly understand religious and spiritual factors, especially forgiveness, and how they are related to mental and physical health and well-being. He has published a number of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and scientific book chapters, and authored dozens of conference presentations and invited talks in Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Greece, and the United States. Dr. Toussaint has been involved in forgiveness research in Australia, Chile, Germany, India, Korea, Lithuania, Spain, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Switzerland. Dr. Toussaint has worked with colleagues at Mayo Clinic and the University of Michigan Medical Center to understand the role of forgiveness in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, spinal cord injury, and substance use. He continues to seek new avenues in which to better understand and incorporate forgiveness in medicine. Another central piece of his work has been ongoing since 2007 when he began a Peace Through Forgiveness initiative in collaboration with colleagues at Stanford University and the Dele-Peddle International school in Sierra Leone. Dr. Toussaint directs the Laboratory for the Investigation of Mind, Body, and Spirit at Luther College, and has mentored over 50 students studying in this laboratory. Several of these students have been co-authors on peer-reviewed research papers and presentations. Recently the lab was awarded funding from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest for a project titled, A Collaborative Scholarship Model for Liberal Arts Colleges: Applications for the Psychology of Forgiveness. This work involves the collaboration of laboratories at Luther and Grinnell Colleges to investigate psycho-spiritual approaches to promoting forgiveness. Dr. Toussaint’s research has been highlighted in a number of print, online, and radio media outlets such as: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Des Moines Register, Greater Good, Miller-McCune, Ladies Home Journal, Scotland on Sunday, Men’s Health, Psychology Today, and the Associated Press.
Stace is a social entrepreneur with a life-long passion for international development, language and culture, and technology. Prior to launching TSO, Stace served as co-founder and Global Director of Fire and Ice – an award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility program of one of the world’s leading educational technology firms, Elluminate Inc. (now Blackboard Inc.). Under Fire and Ice, Stace successfully managed over 30 social development projects in collaborative education, poverty reduction, and climate change, involving over 5000 participants from 25+ countries. He has also pioneered several online training programs targeting nurses and teachers in remote regions, as well as facilitated thousands of dollars in donations of computer technology and internet connectivity to economically-challenged communities in Colombia, Brazil, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, and Kenya. Stace’s projects have been recognized with several awards, including finalist for the Stockholm Challenge Awards in 2008, and 2007 Laureate for the Tech Museum Award (Microsoft Education Category). His Fire and Ice initiative helped Elluminate be named as one of the Top Ten Best Corporations in Global Development by InterAction in 2008. In 2009-10, Stace co-launched a distance training initiative for remote nurses in West Africa, a project in which Stace’s partner, Jules Ouedraogo, was recently awarded the AGFUND International 2010 Prize. Stace has been featured by international media including CNN.com, The Financial Post, Education Week, CBC, CTV and others. He speaks French, as well as some Spanish and Polish, and is learning Kinyarwanda. Stace received his Canadian Investment Management (CIM) designation in 1998, and a Bachelor of Commerce degree (International Marketing specialization) from the University of Calgary in 1991, where he was named to the Beta Gamma Sigma honor.
Ms.Ranaweera has completed her studies in Marketing with an MBA in Sri Lanka and professional qualification in UK. She has worked for many top organizations in Sri Lanka. She was actively involved in social service through the Lions Club of Sri Lanka, a prominent social service organization in her country. She volunteered for ATOP during their Post Tsunami Humanitarian Mission for Sri Lanka in 2005. She is the Treasurer for ATOP.
Irene Tananyan received Master of Science degree in Mathematics from Moscow Pedagogical University, and a BA in Economics from Queens College. Currently, she is completing her fourth and final year at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing with the degree in Brennan Energy-Healing Practitioner. Over the years, she has been a secondary school teacher, an accountant, a personal finance adviser, and a fulltime mom. Irene has now found her passion and is studying in the Meaningfulworld Ambassador for Humanitarian Relief and Peace Building Program, and will be graduating in June 2016.
Sowmya Kshtriya has recently graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University with a Masters in Clinical Psychology (Class of 2017). She loves to create a positive impact in people’s lives and is very dedicated to her mission of helping people realize that we are all fundamentally connected, and thereby hold the inherent responsibility to help each other in times of need. She identifies herself as a Global Citizen, and is very passionate about Mental Health and its intersection with Global Humanitarian Issues. She joined MeaningfulWorld because she zealously believes in Dr. Ani’s mission and purpose, “To prepare a generation of conscientious individuals who are guided by love, peace, passion, and meaning,” and avers that this is the first big step towards fulfilling our aspirations towards a one-world community, to creating a more meaningful and impactful future. She aspires to advance research and clinical initiatives in helping ameliorate mental health issues for disadvantaged individuals across the globe, who are victims of trauma induced by natural or human-made adversities; and feels very grateful to be a part of the ATOP Meaningfulworld Team.
Meredith Carbonell has a Masters in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University and a Bachelors from New York University in Human Rights and Genocide Studies. She is a trained mediator, negotiator and researcher. She has conducted research on peace building in Uganda, Israel and Jordan. Prior to becoming the intern coordinator, she was a United Nations intern for Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP) Meaningfulworld. Her academic interests consist of human rights, genocide, conflict resolution, trauma, and peace building. She completed Humanitarian Relief and Peace Building Program and will be graduating in June as a Meaningfulworld Ambassador for Humanitarian Relief.
Kathy Blount is a Licensed NYS Social Worker and CEO of Sports & Entertainment Consultation Services, LLC. She retired from the NYC Administration for Children’s Services in 2018 after 35 years of working with children and families. She holds an MSSW from Columbia and a MA in Communication Arts from the NY Institute of Technology. She is a DTM with the Toastmasters Organization. She has been recognized by Monroe College with the Martin Luther King Jr. Award and honored by NYC Technical College as a trainer. Currently she is a volunteer with the NYC Medical Reserve Corp. Her current projects include writing a series of children’s book to encourage healing and supporting the ATOP MeaningfulWorld Humanitarian programs. Kathy lives in NYC and enjoys the theater and serving her community with her Gamma Phi Delta Sorority sisters.
Carla Hisatugo is a Brazilian researcher and a psychologist with 20 years of experience on the field of personality assessment, developmental psychology, psychopathology, children at risk and mental health. She has Educational Equivalency credited by the World Educational Service, WES, with a GPA = 4. She graduated in Psychology at Pontificia Universidade Católica de Sao Paulo; master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Universidade Católica de Rio Grande, and PhD in Medical Psychology at Federal University of Sao Paulo. Carla was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Psychology Department at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She holds a researcher position at National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, CNPq, since 2014, and works as an External Evaluator at University of Zululand, UNIZULU, South Africa since 2015, providing important peer review for doctoral thesis and dissertations for the Psychology department. Last two years, she coordinated the Psychology Course at Methodist University of Sao Paulo, UMESP, Brazil, also a distinguished Post-Doc professor. She had provided Technical Support for Brazilian Government such as: 1. Brazilian Federal Council of Psychology and 2. Regional Council of medicine of the state of Sao Paulo. Carla is very inspired about volunteering and she had done many voluntary services such as at the Hospital of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has been granted awards from the following: SPA – Society of Personality Assessment, USA; Fundação De Apoio e Amparo a Pesquisa Do Estado De Sao Paulo, FAPESP; Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, CAPES; and Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, CNPQ.
Amna Khan is currently a Master’s student at Teachers College Columbia University in Clinical Psychology (Class of 2019). She completed her undergraduate studies at Hunter College, receiving a Bachelors degree with a major in Psychology and minor in Linguistics. Her past experiences include being a tutor and TA for an undergraduate level class as well as volunteering at hospitals. She has also conducted research with depressed and suicidal individuals in a suicide research lab at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She is currently working in a lab with a professor at Teachers College using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to code expressions of bereaved individuals and has recently completed a masters level thesis on Ethnic Identity in Adolescence under the guidance of Dr. Kalayjian. Her academic and research interests include developmental psychology, child psychopathology, social and cross-cultural psychology. She hopes to continue serving her community through her work with children and adolescents from various cultural backgrounds. Amna is looking forward to a meaningful internship!
Skylar Abraham is currently an undergraduate student at University at Albany, SUNY (Class of 2021). She is currently studying Political Science with a concentration in American Politics with a double minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Environmental Sustainability. Her past experiences include working directly with the Max Rose for Congress Campaign for congressional candidate Max Rose, who is currently serving as a representative for New Yorks 11th congressional district. She also worked in the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office under district attorney Michael E. McMahon in the SI HOPE program. The programs focus is to provide resources and support for those struggling with drug addiction. Her academic and research interests include public policy, political philosophy, human rights, and environmental sustainability. She hopes to continue her work and eventually study law to carry out her passion for transforming inequalities through policy and advocacy.
Nanar Nakashian holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Information Technology and Social Responsibility from Baruch College, City University of New York. She is a Research Assistant at the Perception Lab at Baruch College, and interns at the Rebecca School, which specializes in teaching students that have neurodevelopmental disorders. Along with directing summer camps in Jerusalem, she has volunteered at the Happy Child Center for children with special needs in Ramallah. Having been born to an Armenian family in Jerusalem, where she was also raised, Nanar has been exposed to various cultures from a young age. Prior to coming to New York, she spent two years in California, where she attended college. She speaks four languages, including Armenian, English, Arabic and Hebrew, and often uses her intercultural skills to enrich her service to others. She is excited to join Meaningfulworld at the United Nations.
Justina Medina PsyD, is an Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP) Meaningful World International Fellow at the United Nations as well as Co-Coordinator of Clinical and Educational Workshops. Ms Medina is receiving her doctorate in Applied Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She has also been trained in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and received a certificate from the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies. In addition, she holds a Masters in Mental Health Counseling from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. She has received her bachelor’s degree from New York University. In the last few years, she has become increasingly affected by the many international crises occurring around the world and has desired to play an active part in helping heal the trauma incurred through psychological interventions. She is very interested in examining the intersectionality between the trauma incurred by migrants and their mental health. Ms Medina is looking to build upon her experience and education with an international population with a focus on mental health and humanitarian rights. She is joining Meaningfulworld14th Humanitarian Relief Mission to Haiti 2019.
Palak Shah graduated from Columbia University earning her Master’s in Political Science, Class of 2019. She is also a lawyer who specialized in Commercial and Shipping Laws, earning her LLM degree from University College of London (2016). During her Master’s program at Columbia University she volunteered with Sakhi, an organization addressing issues of victims with domestic violence and provided emotional and interpretation support to various clients. She has a keen interest in identifying various human rights violations and hence took up various courses on human rights, especially pertaining to women. She hopes to learn more in the same area through the platform MeaningfulWorld has extended and go deeper in studying policy and law.
Dr. Nguyen is currently a clinical psychologist who works in private practice and at a high school in New York. She is passionate about improving the delivery of behavioral health services in underserved and immigrant communities. She is particularly interested in understanding intergenerational trauma, and hopes to use her knowledge to bring assistance and restorative justice to impacted communities globally. Dr Nguyen has worked extensively with disadvantaged populations throughout the country. She also helped create a sustainable model for behavioral change in rural villages in Vietnam.Dr. Nguyen is currently a candidate at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and received her doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.
Rosie O’Connor has recently graduated with a Masters in Social Work from the Graduate School of Social Work and a Masters in International Human Rights from Josef Korbel School of International Studies at University of Denver. She is a certified Sustained Dialogue facilitator, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapist and is working towards her LCSW in New York State. In the past she has worked in mental health and trauma prevention research and implementation with the international population both domestically with migrants and internationally in Sierra Leone, Thailand, Northern India and Nigeria. She is passionate about intersectional social justice issues, building inclusive and culturally relevant interventions, and challenging oppressive systems that perpetuate harm. She is very interested in furthering this work with ATOP MeaningfulWorld Fellowship at the United Nations and learning all she can from Dr. Ani and this wonderfully dynamic team!
Past officers and interns:
Patricia Mura Desert is a Master’s degree Candidate at the Columbia University School of Social Work graduating in May of 2019. Her degree concentration is in Social Enterprise Administration with a special focus on mental health, and health and disabilities. She has ten years of experience in the field of human services working with diverse vulnerable populations. Patricia is the founder of Vision League, an organization aiming to assist Caribbean students in the United States who are survivors of sexual trauma. She has authored a non-fiction novel based on her childhood in Haiti called “In Beautiful Shadow: The Sunrise.” Patricia has also contributed to an academic publication on screening women for Intimate Partner Violence in the Emergency room. She joined ATOP MeaningfulWorld, in 2018.
Dr. Leslie Popoff began her career as a school psychologist in rural Pennsylvania during the time that the Education for All Children with Disabilities Law was first enacted. She developed a specialization with the visually and hearing impaired, working in the Scranton State School for the Deaf, followed by NYC’s first evaluation unit for the visually and hearing impaired, and then serving for ten years as the psychologist for the Helen Keller National Center. Dr. Popoff worked for 15 years as a Supervisor of Psychologists for the New York City Department of Education. She received her BS in Human Ecology from Cornell University, a Master’s in Educational Psychology from NYU, and a Ph.D. from Fordham University. Trained in divorce mediation and dispute resolution, Dr. Popoff also holds a Postdoctoral Certificate in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy from Adelphi University. She enjoys skiing, biking, playing the banjo, and singing in a community chorus. She maintains a private Practice in Great Neck, NY, and serves as the UN Coordinator for Meaningfulworld.
Adetutu Ajibose is a 2ndyear doctoral student in the Clinical PSYD program at William James College. Her major area of concentration is in African and Caribbean Mental Health and Children and Families of Adversity and Resilience (CFAR). Ms. Ajibose is the student representative for the American Psychological Association (APA) international psychology, Division 52. She is also a United Nation (UN) Fellow for the Association for Trauma and Outreach & Prevention (ATOP) Meaningfulworld for year 2018-2019. Ms. Ajibose’s long term professional goal is to develop a foundation committed to eliminating the stigma associated with the mental health profession in African countries. She hopes to establish mental health clinics in Nigeria that will address trauma and educate the public about the impact of mental health on well-being. She currently works with patients of diverse ethnic backgrounds at Arbour Fuller Hospital’s Partial Hospitalization Unit and In-Home Therapy Unit. Her clinical areas of work for practicum has focused on psychotherapy with children and their family, and group therapy with adults suffering with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders. Adetutu has participated in international service learning programs to Kenya in 2016 and Haiti in 2017. She is a leading member of a research team that developed a strength-based pilot curriculum that has been retained and modified for use in Kenya. Adetutu hopes to continue to collect international data for cross-cultural comparisons and studies. Summer of 2018, she will be returning to Kenya to participate in the Always Project, an initiative responsible for the distribution of sanitary napkins to thousands of school-age girls in Nairobi.
Lorraine Simmons is Vice President for Clinical and Educational Programs for ATOP Meaningfulworld. Lorraine became a Meaningfulworld HumanitarianOutreach Ambassador and completed a successful mission to Haiti in June 2015. She received a BFA in Fine Arts and a BS in education from the University of Southern Maine in 1982 and is certified in Art therapy. She has worked in the New York City school system as a teacher and a parent coordinator. Lorraine volunteers at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as a licensed Lay Eucharistic Minister, Altar Server, Altar guild and Vestry member, she is also an acting member of the Order of Urban Missioners. She has experience assisting with choreography and organizing the volunteers at the Cathedral for major services. Lorraine has experience with fundraising in both schools and in the church. Her latest creation are Meaningfulworld-Heart-Hug-
Erin is a Masters student in the Clinical Psychology program at Teachers College at Columbia University. She has extensive experience in research and clinical work with those affected by trauma and a focus on culturally-informed treatment for trauma. Erin has her Bachelors of Science degree in psychology with a minor in Spanish from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has over seven years of experience in psychological research and clinical treatment. She has worked on research in Child Sexual Abuse trauma, an interest she has maintained in graduate school. Erin was a research assistant with project SAFE (Sexual Abuse Family Education) with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, assisting in data collection and input. On this project, Erin also was a Spanish-English interpreter for therapy sessions. Along with trauma research, Erin plans to continue her research in Eating Disorders and had an internship with Children’s Hospital of Omaha’s Eating Disorder Program. This internship turned into a Psychiatric Technician position for her second year with the program and Erin also worked with anxiety and ADHD in children and adolescents. In addition, before attending Teachers College, Erin held a research assistant position at St. Lukes-Roosevelt, researching trauma-informed interactions with those in juvenile detention programs in New York City. After attaining her Master’s degree, Erin hopes to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology.
E. Christabel “Belle” Unobe, is a development practitioner with a Masters in International Development & Social Change from Clark University, Worcester, MA. She has extensive experience working with marginalized populations and communities in sub-Saharan Africa, the United States, and Internationally. She possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience advocating for inclusion of youth in decision-making processes. She has researched and written on women and girls rights and health. Belle intends to pursue research around transitional and transnational justice especially as it is influenced by gender and religion. Presently, Belle is undertaking a research in understanding the challenges of resettlement of Syrian Refugees in the Tri-State area.
Bryant Zuniga graduated from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a Masters in International Affairs (Class of 2016). He concentrated on International Security Policy and specialized in International Conflict Resolution. He believes strongly in being a positive force in the lives of those he meets, pushing them to improve, and realize their potential. Mr. Zuniga currently works as the Coordinator for a non-profit organization and has planned a career in service to the public since we he was a small child. His long-term professional goal is to develop and guide foreign policy in the U.S., to improve foreign relations with other nations. Mr. Zuniga has a deep commitment to human rights, conflict resolution, social justice, and global solidarity. He is eager and grateful to be working with the ATOP Meaningfulworld team and looks forward to the knowledge, and experiences that will come from his time as a Fellow.
Nina Vorster, BSc(Hons), Summer Intern at the United Nation
Nina is a recent graduate from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa where she studied Genetics. During her undergraduate studies she was involved with the University’s community outreach programs and in her final year was the coordinator for two after school reading and art programs. She hopes to one day be able to help and council people with rare genetic disorders and as such wants to spend her time at Meaningfulworld learning as much about factors influencing and impacting people’s mental health and well-being. Additionally, she is very excited about learning how the United Nations impacts the world through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); and the role that NGO’s play in helping civil societies to achieve these goals.
Itunu Ademoyo, Website Intern
Itunu Ademoyo is a student at Rose Hill Campus of Fordham University. She is a junior currently majoring in Psychology and minoring in Marketing. She is currently working with a professor at Fordham University concerning diversity, disparities, and development among adolescents. She has conducted research on Urban ecology with Wildlife Conservative Society. Itunu is currently an intern with the Association for Trauma Outreach and Presentation (ATOP) Meaningful World, an international organization educating on healing, preventing, and researching natural and human-made traumas. Her academic interests include Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Developmental Psychology. Meaningfulworld welcomes Itunu on our Website Committee.
Rambabu Talluri, BA, MSW, LLB and LLM, Graduate Fellow at the United Nations
Rambabu Talluri is recent graduate from Widener Law School, in Delaware State, USA. Mr. Talluri’s volunteer activities demonstrate his dedication to protecting rights, creating peace, and contributing to social justice. He has derived much satisfaction from helping others, and that service has cemented his passionate belief that everyone has a right to (1) receive an education, (2) have adequate shelter for children, and (3) be treated with dignity as a person. He passionately believes that society’s leaders must be socially responsible. Mr. Talluri conducts research in legal and social issues (qualitative and quantitative), he is a Human Rights defender and fundraiser for a range of nonprofit organizations. He is an authorized facilitator for the Stewards of Children Training program by Darkness to Light for Beau Biden Foundation. He is also a research fellow for the Environmental Constitutionalism for Asian Pacific. Mr. Talluri is so glad that he found a path towards his dream with ATOP MeaningfulWorld and he hopes to successfully complete the International Graduate Fellowship at United Nations and nurture his dream of helping people who are going through life challenges. Meaningfulworld welcomes Rambubu as a Graduate Fellow at the United Nations.
Dr. Elizabeth Zick is a clinical psychologist, who has been working with children and families involved in the New York City foster care system for the past 10 years, providing individual, group, and family psychotherapy, conducting psychological assessments, and supervising doctoral level psychology interns and externs. She is a clinical supervisor at the doctoral programs of Long Island University and the City College of New York, and has taught undergraduate psychology courses at City College and Brooklyn College. She also conducts forensic psychological evaluations for Health Right International with refugees applying for asylum status in the United States and maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Brooklyn. Dr. Zick received her Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Child and Family Institute of St. Luke’s – Roosevelt Hospital. She received an additional year of postdoctoral training in family therapy at the Ackerman Institute of the Family.
Remila Jasharllari, United Nations Intern
Remila Jasharllari was born and raised in Albania. She is currently an undergraduate student at Bergen Community College, New Jersey, majoring in Business Administration. She has a strong passion for international relations and diplomacy studies, which she will follow up upon graduating from Bergen Community College and transferring to Columbia University, NYC. Remila aspires to serve humanity at large and embraces globalization as a necessary tool for human connection. Besides being involved with Model United Nations in BCC, which served as a stepping stone for her career with UN, she has a keen interest in transforming human trafficking, forced servitude, and other human rights issues. She is the student leader of the International Justice Mission Chapter in BCC, and also a chapter officer of Phi Theta Kappa, a community college society that fosters academic excellence and community service. She has also closely worked with the Office of Specialized Services in BCC, serving as a peer mentor for students with specialized services. She finds herself aligned with ATOP Meaningfulworld as she looks forward to enriching her career. Meaningfulworld welcomes Remila as a United Nations Intern. from Bergen Community College and transferring to Columbia University, NYC. Remila aspires to serve humanity at large and embraces globalization as a necessary tool for human connection. Besides being involved with Model United Nations in BCC, which served as a stepping stone for her career with UN, she has a keen interest in transforming human trafficking, forced servitude, and other human rights issues. She is the student leader of the International Justice Mission Chapter in BCC, and also a chapter officer of Phi Theta Kappa, a community college society that fosters academic excellence and community service. She has also closely worked with the Office of Specialized Services in BCC, serving as a peer mentor for students with specialized services. She finds herself aligned with ATOP Meaningfulworld as she looks forward to enriching her career. Meaningfulworld welcomes Remila as a United Nations Intern.
Michelle Aslanyan, BA, International Fellow at the United Nations
Michelle received Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, CA in Global Studies. Currently, she is a Master’s student in Global Thought at Columbia University, NYC. She has worked with unaccompanied minors from the Northern Triangle in assisting them with acclimating to American culture and English language and achieving social academic goals. In New York City, she works with underserved students in Harlem to provide comprehensive support to encourage student engagement and academic achievement. Michelle finds trends and commonalities among students’ responses and accordingly coordinates further assistance in Global History. Michelle worked on a cross-disciplinary study, called The UCLA High School Diversity Project, which studied the effects of ethnic diversity in public schools in California. She worked as a Research Assistant for six months and was later chosen to be one of the Project Managers. She worked directly with high schools to coordinate data collection and managed the data after the acquisition.
Agwe Walter, Newsletter Editor & Research Intern
Agwe Walter was born and raised in the beautiful town of Mbengwi, North West region, Cameroon-west Africa. After graduating from the University of Yaounde I with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal anatomy and physiology-education, Walter was certified to teach High School Science/Biology Walter moved to the state of South Carolina, USA in 2014 through a foreign academic and cultural exchange program. He is currently a High School Biology teacher at Blackville-Hilda High school in SC. He has nine (9) years of full-time teaching experience. Walter is currently pursuing a certificate program in Radiation safety and protection at Aiken technical college and a Newsletter Editor & Research Intern at meaningfulworld.
Adiaat Islam, Outreach & Research
Adiaat Islam is a student at Queens college, currently pursuing a baccalaureate degree in biochemistry. She aspires to continue her education and acquire a master’s and PhD in public health. Adiaat was born in Bangladesh and moved to New York with her family at the age of Thirteen. She is an outstanding student who wants to help heal herself and the world. In Bangladesh, Adiaat has been engaged in many community services and has been involved with non-profit organizations such as: “1 Cent Meal,” and “Education for All,” where she helped underprivileged children get food and education, in exchange for just 1 cent. She is ambitious, passionate and hard working. She believes that migrating to the United States of America was a great opportunity for her, and she plans to take this amazing opportunity to become a contributing and conscientious citizen. Adiaat firmly believes that kindness and hard work can transform communities in distress. She intends to stay bold, confident, kind, and empathic while spreading positivity in this world.
Lemba Priscille Ngana, BS, MPH, International Fellow at the United Nations
Lemba Priscille Ngana is a graduate student of Public Health at the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Priscille left her country at the tender age of 8 years and has lived in 7 countries both in Europe and Africa in the past sixteen years. Given the exposure, Priscille quickly discovered a passion for helping others, particularly in the health sector as well as helping make long-term positive changes within the new communities she found herself. She has volunteered in organizations such as the Domestic Violence Intervention Project (London), which focuses on reducing harm caused to families and stopping domestic violence across London. Moreover, whilst completing her Bachelor’s degree, she was elected the Vice President of the African/Caribbean society of her university, focusing on empowering Afro/Caribbean students with resources both inside and outside of her university. She enjoyed working alongside other university committees to drive positive change and partner for development. Priscille would like to start building her career in the humanitarian sector and is excited to join ATOP Meaningfulworld.
Melissa Bougdanos is currently an undergraduate senior at State University of New York Binghamton. She is graduating with a bachelor of arts in psychology in May 2016. She was born in the US but has lived abroad in Germany and Finland. She has also recently returned from a study abroad program in Thailand, where she was able to volunteer teaching English to elementary Thai students. During her time in Binghamton, Melissa was a mentor at Johnson City Middle school providing guidance and support to a student with learning disability, and she worked at the Institute for child development providing a warm, nurturing and supportive educational setting to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other related disorders. Melissa is excited to join an inspiring organization such as Meaningfulworld as secretary and UN intern and getting involved with humanitarian outreach programs while designing her graduate program.
Peter Battista, PsyD, ABPP – Research Coordinator
Dr. Battista is an Associate Director of Clinical Training and core faculty at Adler University in Chicago, IL. He earned Master of Arts and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and psychology from Canisius College. He is board certified in clinical psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and has a postdoctoral certificate in psychoanalytic psychotherapy from the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis. His clinical interests include psychodynamic theory and practice, international psychology, trauma, diversity, social justice, and clinical supervision and training. He is a member of American Psychological Association, it’s International Division as well as the Division for Psychoanalysis. His current research involves working with Meaningfulworld to better understand the relationship between forgiveness, meaning-making, and one’s experience of traumatic events.
Zuhal was born in Istanbul Turkey and worked in copy-righting at the Music Commentators Professional Association. She moved to the United States with plans to expand her intellectual horizon and benefit from great opportunities here. She is currently studying psychology and business at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. Her goal is to work in diplomacy to improve people’s lives. Zuhal is overjoyed to have joined the Meaningfulworld team. She will be working with the Outreach and Research Committees. Zuhal is proud to work for Meaningfulworld because she admires the multiple humanitarian projects such as the ones in Haiti, Japan, and Turkey. Her dream is to transform suffering not only in her country of origin but also around the world. Zuhal believes that through her work with Meaningfulworld, she can make a substantial difference in people’s lives. Zuhal says, “I know this experience will not only bring meaning to my life, and better prepare me to help others, while also preparing me for the life of service that I dream of.”
Olatunde Deborrah Mojirayo was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and currently resides in Ottawa, Canada. She is an international undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa, Canada majoring in International Development and Globalization. Deborrah aspires to be a tool of change and to help the lives of individuals in distress. She has been a member of the World University Service of Canada in her local university campus. She has helped and formed long lasting relationships with refugee students at her university being an immigrant herself. She worked as a research analyst and was on the board for can have children organization to assist children left orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. She has a keen interest in environmental sustainability, forced labor, environmental divestment and other human rights based issues. She had the opportunity of volunteering as a hospitality agent during the Annual Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences that was held at her university. Deborrah is passionate to serve humanity at large starting with herself and her local community. She is looking forward for her internship as she finds herself aligned with ATOP Meaningfulworld.
Mariam Ayvazyan is currently a Masters student at New York University studying Mental Health Counseling and Wellness. She is a graduate student of Adelphi University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. In her past, she has worked with children with developmental disabilities and severe Autism. After acquiring a Master’s degree from NYU, Mariam aspires to work with traumatized populations, specifically individuals who have suffered domestic abuse or are victims of sexual harassment. Mariam’s passions are aligned with Meaningfulworld’s mission, and she is looking forward to gain more knowledge about how people cope with their challenges and she will incorporate integrative healing modalities in her future practice as a licensed clinician.
Milac Hassan was born in Florida and raised in New Jersey. She is of Palestinian descent. Milac is currently a freshman at Montclair State University, striving to achieve her masters is Psychology. She is passionate about helping others and creating a world in which we love each other. She, just like Meaningfulworld, believes that once we help each other, we can both begin to grow. Milac has volunteered for organizations called Walk for Water and Ray of Sunshine, which aid in humanitarian efforts both locally and globally. She also took part in clubs at her school such as the Big Sister program, where she would serve as a helpful friend to the younger classmates. In addition, Milac was part of the Environmental Club, where she would raise money and help clean up the community. She is working on integrating her culture, and her passion, into humanitarian relief work. Milac is passionate to join Meaningfulworld, and to assist in research, as well as assist in the monthly educational and empowerment programs.
Basak Yanar, PhD, Chair of Canada Branch
Ms. Yanar holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management from the University of Toronto; specializing in the areas of training and development, and career transitions. Her dissertation study examined the effects of carrier barriers on the professional identity and career related experiences of immigrant professionals in the host country. She has also managed projects that have helped international professionals gain cross-cultural skills, provided unemployed Turkish women with strengths-based employability skills, and trained emerging leaders and young job seekers. Basak is a researcher, sessional lecturer, workshop facilitator, coach and a project consultant. Combining her academic passion with a keen interest in practice, Basak works with individuals, communities, and organizations to facilitate learning and growth. She believes in the power of compassion, mindfulness, and forgiveness as a platform to building trust in communities and cultivating individual and collective well-being.
Ms. Tumbling holds a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology at Tennessee State University. She has many research interests, including the effects of intergenerational trauma. She plans to integrate her interests in women’s issues and international travel into her life’s work of therapeutic healing and education. Shayla is a member of APA International Division 52. She plans to participate in many upcoming Humanitarian Missions with ATOP Meaningful Word. Shayla is a Graduate Mentor for ATOP of Meaningfulworld.
Karin Polak Soweid, Ph.D., Graduate Mentor
Ms. Soweid possesses significant global experience, is skilled in analyzing organizational and workforce challenges and proposing effective and appropriate solutions based on reliable data, feedback, and research. Based in the Middle East for over six years, Karin’s work has involved extensive travel, programmatic review and project implementation in locations throughout Eastern Africa, the Middle East, the Gulf, Europe and the United States. Over the span of those six years, Karin has worked for two diverse and emerging international organizations where she has led large-scale international human capital projects in over twenty countries throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Karin is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, having earned her Bachelor’s degree in the dual degree major of International Affairs and French. Karin is also a graduate of the University of Denver’s prestigious Josef Korbel School of International Studies graduate school program, having earned her Master’s degree in International Administration. She aims to bring an interdisciplinary approach as an emerging I/O psychologist, bringing a blend of culturally appropriate and contextualized solutions to her future clients.
Ms. Sofletea has graduated with advanced Masters of Arts and Masters of Education in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College – Columbia University. Her volunteer work with immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of torture led her to ATOP/Meaningfulworld. A native of Romania, Georgiana cemented her interest in Trauma Psychology and Global Humanitarian Outreach working with healing ancestral trauma and working with orphans during ATOP’s Mental Health Outreach Program to Romania in October of 2011. Ms. Sofletea is currently applying for doctoral program in Counseling Psychology with a special focus on trauma and survivors of torture. She is a strong believer in the beauty of human resilience and combining compassion, spirituality and the wellness model of psychology to aid in the healing and well-being of individuals. Aside from her professional pursuits Georgiana enjoys traveling, dancing and literature, especially nonfiction biographies of immigrants. Ms. Sofletea has graduated and is a Meaningfulworld Ambassador. She is ATOP student Advisor.
Andre’ Der-Artinian is currently attending Archbishop Molloy High School. He is President of the Political Science Club and contributing member of the Model United Nations Club. He volunteered for his local Council Member Paul Vallone during his successful campaign for office. He attended Harvard University’s Precollege Program. He was nominated by his school to join the National Students Leadership Conference for Law and Politics held at Yale University, he completed it in 2015 successfully. He is passionate to make the world a better place. We welcome Andre to Meaningfulworld as a Webmaster and Fundraising associate.
Jacintha Jackson is an international undergraduate student at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire, studying history and political science (pre-law), with a minor in international relations. Originally from Sierra Leone, Jacintha now resides in the UK. Jacintha intends to specialize in international human rights law, but would like to pursue other areas of law including immigration, estate, and criminal law. Her interest in global issues includes gender equality, terrorism, and sexual violence against girls and women. She is currently a summer UN intern working with ATOP Meaningfulworld and is doing research on these global matters. In the past, Jacintha has worked with Amnesty International to raise awareness of terrorism and campaign for worldwide peace. She has volunteered with the humanitarian organizations, The Navigators, and Girl Guiding, organizing recreational programs for children and youth to build their self-esteem and help them realize their full potential. Jacintha looks forward to continuing her humanitarian work with ATOP/Meaningfulworld when she returns to college in the Fall.
Fadia AbuHaltam, MBA, MS, Graduate Intern
Fadia AbuHaltam has an MS degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and MBA degree in International Business, from New York Institute of Technology. Currently, she is a graduate student at Walden University. She has spent the last three years in Jordan, working with diverse adult populations. Utilizing Brief-Psychodynamic therapy and CBT, she helped empower clients with trauma, OCD, depression, anxiety, and many other emotional issues. Currently, she lives in New York and is supporting clients and their families coping with social, emotional, and environmental challenges. Fadia utilizes behavior modification techniques, conducts psychosocial assessments, provides clinical assessments, diagnostics, and treatment services under supervision. Fadia participated in a research study (2013-2015) in Jordan that aimed for creating a continuum model of psycho-pathology that would complement the categorical nature of DSM-V. The research study explored Narcissism with its relation to Bipolar and ADHD and validating a scale that places Narcissism in a continuum, which could assist with testing and assessment tools.
Caroline is a Senior student at Seton Hall University. She is a double major of International Relations and Modern Languages. The two main critical languages that she currently studies are Russian and Chinese. Caroline began studying Chinese upon entrance to high school and received a scholarship to study abroad in Beijing, China in 2010. Going into her last year of Undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University Caroline is excited to narrow down her area of interest and start applying to graduate studies programs in the Diplomacy/International Relations area. As an intern with Meaningfulworld Caroline is working on Fundraising and Research.
Katrina is a Masters student at the University of Pennsylvania studying Social Work. She is a graduate of Fordham University with a BA in Communications and Media Studies and a concentration in Film. She has held various positions in the communication and production fields, including work for ESPN in New York City and for Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Katrina has volunteered in the mental health services field as well and is currently placed at an internship in Philadelphia working with health services and drug addiction. She plans to continue her education, focusing on intergenerational trauma as it relates to the Ottoman Turkish Genocide of Armenians. Meaningfulworld welcomes Katrina as an intern in Research and Public Relations.
Natasha H. Saini, MSW Candidate, Social Media Coordinator
Natasha was born and raised in New York and is currently a Masters in Social Work graduate student at Adelphi University. She is a graduate of CUNY Queens College with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Psychology and English, and a minor in Philosophy. Natasha has volunteered with New York Public Interest Research Group to advocate for the environment and against social justice inequities. She has also been asked to represent the School of Social Work at the Graduate Student Council, co-facilitate and be on the panel for the Voter Empowerment event sponsored by Adelphi Votes, and take part of a mentoring program to model for an undergraduate student. Natasha also interns with Sheltering Arms NY, working with children in a highly traumatized area utilizing TF-CBT, CBITS, Bounce Back, and Motivational Interviewing. She is passionate about integrating trauma and social justice work by researching and providing social justice equity to marginalized groups through transformative justice. Natasha is thrilled to be given the opportunity to join Meaningful World where she can assist in research and grow as a practitioner.
Nicole is currently working on Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Development and Health & Wellness from State University of New York Binghamton. She is an international student from South Korea and is planning to finish her degree in May 2016. She has interned at two top South Korean Children’s hospitals, Adolescent Literacy and Learning and Children’s World, to improve motor and speech skills for children with learning disabilities. She was also a mentor at Johnson City Middle School, helping students to cope with their personal issues. Along with her interest to become an occupational therapist, she is passionate about Humanitarian Outreach projects for global mental health. She has been an active participant in global movement for health by volunteering for medical mission trips to Libya, India, and Vietnam with Korea University Hospital and Sarang Community Institution. She is grateful for the internship opportunity and is looking forward to working as a secretary at Meaningful World.
Lyla received her Masters in clinical psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has extensive experience in research, in the following areas, but not limited to, developmental, cognitive and experimental psychology. She has served as a researcher at various universities such as her home university of Columbia University as well as Harvard and the University of Oxford. She has certification in Autism Spectrum Disorders and has worked previously with personality and behavioral disturbances. Presently, she is the assistant clinical coordinator for Meaningfulworld and is working on emotion recognition/empathy testing in Rwanda at the Mailman School of Public Health.
Natalia Irvine, obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from West Virginia University in May 2014, currently enrolled to begin classes for Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology degree beginning in August 2016. Currently, work at the Hospital for Special Surgery on the Upper East Side. I’m a member of the outreach committee at ATOP! Meaningfulworld welcomes Natalia on the Outreach Committee.
Mr. Shigemoto received his BA in Social Work in 2007 from Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan, and MA in clinical psychology from Penn State Harrisburg. After working as an outpatient therapist at a private counseling center in Pennslyvania, he is studying counseling psychology in a doctoral program at Texas Tech University. His research interest includes resiliency after disaster/trauma, posttraumatic growth, and a process of personal growth. He was an intern of APA at the UN, and he has received a certificate in Post Disaster Humanitarian Outreach from ATOP. In 2013, with Dr. Senel Poyrazli at Penn State Harrisburg, he published a paper entitled, “Factors related to posttraumatic growth in U.S. and Japanese college students.”
Huizhuoran Ma, aka Sophia, was born in Hangzhou, China and has made her passion to pursue her college education in New York. She is now a sophomore student at Fordham University. She currently majors in psychology and also interested in social work. In China, Sophia has volunteered in several places, including building a library for a primary school in the countryside. She hoped to take her passion to serve and help people in their healing journey, especially those with psychological distress, may that be for natural causes or human-made ones.
Brianda Quinones was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and is currently living in Astoria, Queens. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado with a BS in Political Science. She has worked simultaneously at the Colorado Organization for Victim’s Assistance and the Denver City Attorney’s Office.She worked as victims advocate, specifically, as a domestic violence advocate. She helped counsel victims and helped the city attorney’s come up with plausible plea bargains. This past year, Brianda worked at the state capitol in Colorado as constituent services advocate for Governor Hickenlooper. She describes the moment she helped young women find an organization who would help her pay for her grandmother’s chemotherapy sessions as her most memorable experience as a constituent advocate. Social Media is Brianda’s focus as an intern with Meaningfulworld.
Jennifer Doran, Publications Coordinator
Ms. Doran is finishing up her M.A. degree in clinical psychology at The New School for Social Research in New York City. She works for the federally-funded BI-SLR HEARTS Program at Beth Israel Medical Center and holds an internship position as the Publication Coordinator for the Association of Trauma Outreach and Prevention. She is an inaugural Member of the Science Committee of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students, and the Co-Chair of APA’s Division 52 Student Committee. She conducts research on the impact of trauma in international populations affected by disaster, traumatic stress in children and adolescents, negotiating the therapeutic alliance, psychometrics, and student excellence and development. Finally, she is in her second term as Co-Editor for the New School Psychology Bulletin, a peer-reviewed graduate student journal designed to serve as a training model for participating students.
Rachel Townzen is pursuing a Master of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania with a certificate in Global Human Rights. She is actively involved in multiple human rights focused student organizations, participates in the Greater Philadelphia United Nations Association, is a digital advocate for the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, and volunteers as a copy writer and social media contributor for TEDx Yerevan. In addition to her role as a research and global humanitarian awareness intern with ATOP/ Meaningfulworld, Rachel has a field placement at an immigration legal service agency as an asylum case manager. In the past, she has worked with humanitarian immigrants in Denver, Colorado, and served as a cultural mentor for a newly arrived refugee family. She has also interned in the UK and The Republic of Armenia and worked extensively with children with special needs. Rachel grew up outside Boston, MA, and graduated summa cum laude from Boston College in 2014 with a major in applied psychology & human development and minor in sociology. After graduation, Rachel plans to continue working with refugees and pursue a career in an international humanitarian NGO. Meaningfulworld welcomes Rachel Townzen as Research and Global Humanitarian Awareness Intern.
Alessia is in New York for the summer from Italy. She graduated this year with a Master’s of Science Degree in Linguistic Sciences for International Relations from Cattolicia University in Milan. Her Bachelor’s Degree was in Foreign Languages and Literature, specifically English, Spanish, French, and Arabic. Her dream is to work with other cultures around the world and to be part of an international team that brings assistance to families and communities affected by violence and poverty. Back in her hometown of Verona, she was a Leo Club member. With the Leo Club, she has been involved in various fundraising efforts helping people and organizations within her community. She has also spent some time volunteering in a municipality program in Verona teaching immigrants the Italian language. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Alessia as a United Nations, Research, and Grants Summer Intern until 30 Sept 2014.
Julia Fox Julia is pursuing a BA in Psychology and Perspectives on Religion and Spirituality at the University of Michigan and will be graduating in 2015. This combination focuses on a number of areas which she is passionate about: individual spiritual development, peaceful and productive conflict resolution, intergroup relations between people of different perspectives and contexts and alternative methods of healing and therapy. Julia has contributed to research focused on the presence of mindfulness and compassion in the corporate world, as well as recently conducting a research project in Cape Town, South Africa that explored the effects of mindfulness meditation on cognition and anxiety. In addition to her internship with Meaningfulworld Julia is also currently working with The Horticultural Society for NY in a horticultural therapy program for detainees and sentenced inmates on Rikers Island. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Julia as a Grants and Research intern.
Sherene is in New York for the summer from Minnesota. She is currently a student of the University of Minnesota majoring in Political Science with minor concentrations in Social Justice and Leadership. Sherene has volunteered in numerous capacities over the years. She had a wonderful experience traveling across America with Students Today Leaders Forever helping out in local projects in underprivileged neighborhoods. In Minnesota she donates her time in a social justice theatre program helping young adults voice their thoughts and fears through theatre. She also volunteers in a local hospital. Her ultimate goal is to enter into the field of human rights and assist people in achieving their civil liberties in the United States and around the world. She is especially passionate about women’s and children’s rights in countries of political and economic turmoil. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Sherene as a United Nations (till 2 August 2014) and continuing as a Research and Grants intern.
Courtney is currently pursuing her Undergraduate Degree in Political Science and International Studies at Ramapo College, New Jersey. She is very involved at her school through Student Government and Peer Mentoring. She was born and raised in Freehold, New Jersey. She has always taken an active role in her community volunteering her time at the food pantry and fundraising for Breast Cancer awareness events. In college, she has become involved in a program to clean up Ramapo’s campus and also with Peer Facilitation. Her ultimate goal is to work for the UN in helping others around the world who are less fortunate than her. She enjoys traveling and meeting new people and cultures. She looks forward to focusing on human rights once she graduates college. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Courtney as a Research and Grants Intern, and Conference Coordinator.
Currently, Donna is in the technology industry working as a mobility application consultant. She started her career in business after graduating from Salve Regina College. However, after several years in business, Donna trained and graduated from Peter Kump Culinary School and followed a career path in the culinary arts. Working in various businesses in the food industry, she ultimately opened her own restaurant. Through life’s challenges, she became very involved working with cancer patients from a nutritional and wellbeing perspective offering cooking, menu planning, meditation techniques etc. Her work led her to study Sound and Vibration Therapy and Holistic Health Consulting; she became certified in the healing arts. Donna combined these modalities and worked as a private yacht chef in New England. Her desire to share her expertise and make a difference on a global scale, led her back to New York City to pursue opportunities around wellness and well-being for the mind, body, and soul. Donna is also proficient in mobility applications and wireless technologies. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Donna Vestuti as a United Nations Representative.
Liya Zhu is a graduate student of Stony Brook University. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Literature and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. She believes that her education together with her social service experience has provided her with professional insights in performing tasks associated with policy analysis, education, language and social work. From a very young age Liya has been involved in voluntary work with International not-for-profit organizations such as the Red Cross and Vitality Community Fund. She has also taught English in New Oriental, Chinas largest English education services provider in China. Liya’s worldwide life experiences have prepared her to become a social worker and an educator. She is dedicated to serving and empowering disadvantaged individuals and groups throughout the world through education and communication. Meaningfulworld Team welcomes Liya as Grants and Research Intern.
Gilberte Bastien, MA, PhD, Coordinator, Grant Committee
A clinical psychologist and Haiti native, Dr. Gilberte (“Gigi”) Bastien completed her Bachelors in Science in psychology at Xavier University in Louisiana and her doctoral studies at University of Mississippi. She completed a predoctoral internship with the Bay Pines VA Healthcare system and a postdoctoral psychology residency with the San Diego VA Healthcare System. Her research and clinical interests focus on the intersection of culture and mental health with the aim of improving accessibility, acceptability, and efficacy of mental health services for underserved populations. Dr. Bastien’s complimentary interests in disaster mental health and global mental health capacity building were largely influenced by her involvement in the mental health response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. During her stint as a health policy Fellow of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI), Dr. Bastien gained invaluable training in health leadership and the use of effective strategies for advancing policy solutions to mental health and broader health disparities both domestically and globally. This training was brought to bear in completing an NIH Fogarty Global Health Fellowship project focusing on mental health and resilience in Ebola affected communities in Liberia. Dr. Bastien’s experiences during the Fogarty fellowship further strengthened her interest in leveraging large-scale emergencies as a pathway to addressing mental health disparities in LMICs and other resource-constrained settings. Currently, Dr. Bastien serves as the Associate Director for Global Health for SHLI and is working towards a faculty appointment within Morehouse School of Medicine’s department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Meaningfulworld welcomes Dr. Bastien as the Coordinator of our Grants Committee.
Christine Overton PhD Board of Directors
British by birth and a US citizen, Overton is the first woman President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce in New Jersey, USA and brings to the ATOP Board of Directors at the UN, 28 years of international business expertise. She served as a mediator to the 585 federally recognized Native American Indian Nations for several years and works closely with the Asian Indian community in NJ and India. Her projects have been recognized with 6 letters from U.S. Congress for business development and over 45 business, film making and humanitarian awards throughout Europe, America and India – including a Scroll of Honor from 4 Rotary International clubs in Pune, India, for her excellence in business acumen, global humanitarian work in the field of avoidable blindness and cornea donation and for the Indo-American relationship formed.
Overton has worked with key global humanitarian outreach programs following major catastrophes, and actively campaigns to stop elderly abuse, premature birth, genocide, the discarding of important organs for donation and unnecessary cruelty to animals. With her unique gift for wildlife rehabilitation, Overton is particularly passionate about the care of all domestic and wildlife victims of war. She advises Government and community leaders to show compassion and understanding to animals and birds who contribute positively to the overall ecology and rehabilitation of the country, its people and for the world’s ecological balance. Overton’s Degrees and Diplomas are in theology, music, business administration and leadership. She is a 2009 graduate of the Gillette Area Citizen’s Police Academy and a graduate of the Gillette Area Leadership Institute in Wyoming, USA. As a certified Abider in dignified hospice care- Overton is trained to sit with people in their last few hours of life so they do not die alone. Following significant time in solitary retreat and study with leaders from all religious backgrounds and cultures, Overton is a respected meditation instructor and mentor to young adults. As a trusted mediator and strategic negotiator, Overton has successfully gathered substantial funding for global projects, which continue to evolve through community cooperation and Governmental support.
Dr. Ozichi Joel Alimole, ATOP Main Representative to the United Nations
Dr. Alimole is a retired career diplomat, professional Mediator, and Consultant. A first class honors graduate of the University of Nigeria, Dr. Alimole possesses M.A. and Ph.D. from the universities of Saskatchewan and Ottawa respectively. He holds diploma/certificates in International Development Cooperation, Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Conflict Analysis. Dr.Alimole has a passion for Conflict Management. He has participated in several workshops/training programs on African Conflict Resolution and the Enhancement of African Peacekeeping Capabilities. He was involved in mediation efforts in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Darfur. Dr.Alimole is the author of three books including Diplomacy: the Written Art. We welcome Dr. Alimole to our UN Team as the Main UN Representative.
Latoya C. Conner, New Chair of Grant Committee
Dr. Latoya C. Conner is a licensed psychologist in New York, Maryland, and Washington, DC. She completed her B.S. degree in psychology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; her M.A., M.Ed., M.Phil. and Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Columbia University, Teachers College; and an APA-accredited clinical/ community psychology internship at Yale University School of Medicine, The Consultation Center. Following a research post-doctoral fellowship at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC, Dr. Conner completed a Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery Certification Program sponsored by Harvard University Medical School, Program on Refugee Trauma and the Ministry of Health of Italy. Dr Conner has clinical and research expertise in the areas of grief and bereavement, health disparities, HIV/AIDS, sexual health, drug abuse among adolescents, youth activism and social justice, empowerment focused-psychotherapy, indigenous forms of coping, and resilience.
Janet Kearney, Coordinator for Training and Educational Programs
Ms. Kearney, originally from Ireland, has a keen interest in practicing Human Rights Law within the European Union. She is currently transitioning from corporate accounting to law as she is studying the Common Law System and European Union Law at the College of Law in the United Kingdom. Janet has worked with many charitable humanitarian organizations that aid countries struck by natural and human-made disasters and is an active member of the United Nations Association, Human Rights Campaigns, and various European Human Rights Organizations.
George Kalpaxis, Graduate Research Intern
Kalpaxis was born and raised in Kalamata, Greece and immigrated to upstate New York with his family in his early teens. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Siena College, an Ms.ED in counseling children and adolescents from the College of Saint Rose, and is currently in his third year of Doctoral Studies at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago where he is pursuing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, concentrating in Diversity and International Studies. His current dissertation focus is on the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma with Cambodian refugees who survived Khmer Rouge. He is heavily involved at the Cambodian Association of Illinois where he is working on his current research and has taught English and Computer Skills to Cambodian Adults. He also volunteers at Heartland Alliance teaching English to refugees from various parts of the world. As Vice President of the International Cross-Cultural Awareness support group at his school, he strives to promote diversity amongst students and faculty and create a sense of camaraderie and cultural sensitivity in the community.
Kelsi Kimball, BS, Research and Grant Writing Graduate Intern
Ms.Kimball is currently completing her Master’s degree at Columbia University in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. In addition to her academic pursuits, she is also training to become a certified Health Coach and Yoga Teacher. Ms.Kimball is passionate about applying an integrative approach to healing and trauma recovery and has a specific research focus in families, couples, and other intimate interpersonal relationships. Ms.Kimball is a trained Mediator and has lead and participated in a number of conflict resolution training and seminars. She has spent time volunteering at the Christmas Box House, a facility for abused or neglected children, as well as danced in over 75 charity events for organizations such as The Make a Wish Foundation of America, Schriners Children’s Hospital, Art With Heart, Huntsman Cancer Institute and much more. Ms. Kimball is grateful to be interning at ATOP Meaningfulworld where she gets the privilege to take part in advocating for the integrative healing of others, a pursuit extremely close to her heart. ATOP Meaningfulworld family welcomes Kelsi Kimball.
Marla Casamassa MCA, NYIT, BFA, Vice President for Development
Ms. Casamassa is a graduate of CWPost, LIU, Magna Cum Lande. She has 26 years of experience with SRACCT Sales executive-multimillion dollar organization. Owner of gourmet deli (11 years) licensed Health +Life Insurance sales executive for 21 states. Currently, she is pursuing psychic phenomena and energy field science. Marla is serving as the Vice President for Development, specifically working on securing grants for ATOP/Meaningfulworld.
Julie Lira, United Nations Main Representative & Coordinator, UN Reps & Interns
Reverend Lira spent a majority of her life performing, appearing on Broadway, and with many dance companies across the US and abroad. She is also a highly regarded teacher, specializing in working with children in the arts. Recently she turned her attention to her work as an Interfaith Minister. Currently, she is the Dean of the second year students at the New Seminary. Reverend Lira was honored with the “Anna Festa” Award given in recognition for willingness to bring concepts of Interfaith to the world, specifically to Sierra Leone in Africa. She is a graduate of ATOP Humanitarian Service Program and Meaningfulworld Ambassador.
Dana L Mark, MSW, Membership Coordinator
Dana L Mark is licensed in NY & NJ and a graduate of Fordham University Graduate School of Social Work. Ms. Mark is an Interfaith Minister working with various populations including geriatrics, domestic violence, the prison system & the psychiatric population. She was awarded” Ambassador of Peace” on two occasions. She is graduate of ATOP training; a bioenergetics practitioner (since 2006); & Reiki practitioner (since 1998). Ms. Mark was on ATOP Humanitarian Mission for Sierra Leone, W Africa.
Alexandra Nagy, Research Intern
Ms. Nagy has lived and traveled the world for several years. After returning to the US, she decided to pursue a career in the wellness and holistic industry by becoming an esthetician. She’s currently working at a Wellness Day Spa in Jersey City and working towards her Masters in Social Work.
Pınar Özbek, M.A., Ed.M. Curriculum Coordinator Ms. Özbek is a Fulbright scholar from Istanbul, Turkey. She received a Master’s degree in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. Currently, she is a vocational counselor at Vida Family Services where she works with individuals recovering from substance-related disorders. She also volunteers in a psychiatric rehabilitation program under F.E.G.S. Health and Human Services System. Pinar is the Humanitarian Outreach Coordinator/Conference Coordinator for ATOP.
Jennifer De Mucci, Research Committee, PsyD Ms. De Mucci holds a Master’s degree in Psychology. Her main areas of interests focus upon: international and cross-cultural psychology and the impact of generational transmission of trauma, particularly on young children. Her current research through Meaningfulworld has focused upon the psychological impact of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols and the benefits of empowerment and forgiveness training within the Republic of Armenia. She is working on Research Committee.
Tochi Anueayiagu, International Intern, UN intern
Ms. Anueayiagu is a 20-year-old Fordham student from Nigeria currently studying Political Science. She is a UN intern at Meaningful World and looks forward to future endeavors with the organization.
Danielle Caminneci, Events/Correspondence Coordinator
Ms.Caminneci is an undergraduate student at St. Johns University. Her major is psychology and her minor is international relations. Danielle plans on obtaining her doctorate degree in psychology and plans to conduct research around the world to connect global citizens and help guide communities lead a healthy life. Danielle is an enthusiastic intern for ATOP of Meaningfulworld. She is the Events Coordinator and Correspondence Coordinator. She loves working with people and is looking forward to connecting other people with this organization. Danielle is currently volunteering in Cusco, Peru. Harvey Newman, Volunteer/Alternate UN Representative.