Faculty & Staff
Jazmine Russell, B.S., NYCPS - Co-Founder, Co-Director
Jazmine is a holistic practitioner, mental health educator, certified peer specialist, and trauma survivor. She is the co-founder and co-director of The Institute for the Development of Human Arts. After receiving her degree in Applied Psychology from NYU and working in the mental health system as a crisis counselor, she became disillusioned with the system and started organizing with grassroots mental health initiatives. She later became a certified peer specialist working with those who experience extreme and altered states often labeled as ‘psychosis’. Jazmine has personal experience healing from extreme and altered states, trauma and undergoing deep spiritual awakening. Jazmine has been trained in holistic practices such as herbalism, intuitive development, energy work, totality therapy, the realization process – embodiment, and other spiritual and somatic techniques since 2011, which she uses to help others navigate the healing process. She is also on the board of directors of Samadhi Recovery Community Outreach center for mindfulness-based freedom from addiction. You can find more about her work at jazminerussell.com
Peter Stastny, MD - Co-Founder
is a New York based psychiatrist, documentary film-maker and a co-founder of the International Network toward Alternatives and Recovery. He is a Lecturer at the Global Mental Health Program of Columbia University and until recently was a consultant to the New York City Department of Mental Health in connection with the New York City Parachute Project, a federally-funded project aimed to redesign crisis responses for individuals experiencing acute psychosis and altered states. Peter has frequently collaborated with psychiatric survivors by spearheading peer specialist services and peer-run businesses, as well as in research and writing projects. Examples are a book and traveling exhibition (with Darby Penney) called “The lives they left behind: Suitcases from a state hospital attic” and the edited volume “Alternatives beyond psychiatry"(with Peter Lehmann). Peter has directed several documentary and experimental films, some dealing with the experiences of survival and recovery.
is a writer, performer, and peer from the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Emily has been an organizer with the NYC Icarus project, is trained inIntentional Peer Support, and is a co-founder and facilitator of a grassroots support group in NYC. She is also a co-creator of the surreal satirical cult webseries ZHE ZHE.
Alisha Ali, PhD.
is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University. Her research focuses on the mental health effects of oppression including violence, racism, discrimination and trauma. She has examined depression and its psychosocial correlates across a range of disadvantaged populations including trauma survivors, clients in poverty transition programs, psychiatric outpatient samples, and immigrant/refugee women. Her current projects are investigating empowerment-based and arts-based programs for domestic violence survivors, low-income high school students, and military veterans. She is the co-editor (with Dana Crowley Jack) of Silencing the Self Across Cultures: Depression and Gender in the Social World published by Oxford University Press.
Ed Altwies, Psy.D
has over ten years of experience in the NYC public mental health system in a variety of settings. He has held multiple key roles in Parachute NYC, initially working on the Early Psychosis Brooklyn team alongside peer specialists. In this capacity he participated in over 500 dialogical network meetings with more than 35 families from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds. He has also worked a consultant to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the role of co-trainer with three of the initial Parachute training cohorts and clinical consultant to the Bronx and Queens Parachute teams. He is currently the program manger for the Queens Parachute team and has recently organized and led a 16-day training in dialogical network practices at the Prevention and Recovery Early Psychosis Program (PREP) in Holyoke, MA. Beginning in 2011 he completed two years of training at the Institute for Dialogic Practice in North Hampton, MA. Before earning his Psy.D. at Rutgers University, he worked as a business consultant and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa.
Jonah Bossewitch, PhD.
is an educator, technologist and an activist who grew up in New York City. He currently works at the Mental Health Association of New York City as the Director of Software Architecture and Applications. Jonah studied Communications at Columbia University and in 2016 defended his doctoral dissertation, Dangerous Gifts: Towards a New Wave of Psychiatric Resistance, which examines significant shifts in the politics of psychiatric resistance and mental health activism. He has been organizing around radical mental health issues for over a decade, and cares deeply about the environment, social justice and privacy. He has over 15 years of experience as a professional software architect, designer, and developer. He earned a masters in Communication and Education at Teachers College (’07) and graduated from Princeton University (’97) with a BA Cum Laude in Philosophy, and certificates in Computer Science and Cognitive Studies. He blogs at alchemicalmusings.org.
is a psychiatric survivor and a prominent leader in the movement for human rights in mental health. She is the current president of MindFreedom International, a nonprofit organization uniting 100 sponsor and affiliate grassroots groups with thousands of individual members to win human rights and alternatives for people labelled mentally ill. She was instrumental in developing the Peer Specialist civil service title for the NYS Office of Mental Health. Celia also serves on the board of the National Empowerment Center and has co-chaired the planning committee for the National Alternatives Conference for the past few years. She was last year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Alternatives Conference.
Marie Brown, Ph.D
Marie Brown, PhD is a clinical psychologist. Her interests include understanding experiences commonly called “psychosis"; trauma-informed practices; peer support; and meaning-making in the context of mental health recovery. In particular, she is interested in the intersection between gender and mental health, with an emphasis on women’s experiences (such as postpartum psychosis).
Sascha Altman DuBrul, MSW
is a writer and educator that has been facilitating workshops and community dialogues at universities, conferences, community centers and activist gatherings for more than two decades. From the anarchist squatter community in New York City to the Lacandon jungle of Chiapas, Mexico, to the Earth First! road blockades of the Pacific Northwest, Sascha is a pioneer in urban farming and creative mental health advocacy. He is the co-founder of the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library, the first urban seed library in North America, and The Icarus Project, a radical community support network and media project that’s actively redefining the language and culture of mental health and illness. He is currently the Recovery Specialist and Trainer for OnTrackNY and the ACT Institute at the Center for Practice Innovations based at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Noel Hunter, Psy.D.
Noel Hunter is a clinical psychologist, specializing in a psychosocial approach to emotional distress. Her work focuses on the link between trauma and altered states, human rights, and alternative approaches to healing. She is the author of Trauma and Madness in Mental Health Services (Palgrave, 2018), and is a passionate advocate for alternatives to the current mainstream biomedical approach to human suffering. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.
is an artist, musician, writer, activist and 20 year artist-in-residence at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s Living Museum. Author of the memoir The Hospital Always Wins, published by Chicago Review Press in 2016, Issa is also an award winning filmmaker for his autobiographical musical documentary Patient’s Rites, and has been featured on German Public Television, an HBO documentary, an Edward R. Murrow and Third Coast award winning NPR audio story as well as participating in numerous art and mental health exhibitions the world over. Issa has presented at Pratt Institute, CUNY Grad Center, the New York State Psychological Association Annual Convention, Yale University, and mental health forums in Montreal and The Netherlands. Issa hopes to continue the dialogue about preconceived and prejudicial ideas in society, stigma, the realities of the mental health system and how openness can aid in respecting psychiatric sufferers and survivors who are our fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, friends, neighbors and ourselves.
Nev Jones, PhD
is a community psychologist by training and currently assistant professor in the department of mental health law and policy at the University of South Florida, affiliate faculty of the Florida Mental Health Institute, and clinical assistant professor at the Yale University Program for Recovery and Community Health. In addition to her academic work, Nev has co-founded multiple regional hearing voices networks, and has a long history facilitating groups and training providers in meaning-centered approaches to working with experiences traditionally labelled 'psychosis.'
Bradley Lewis MD, PhD
is associate professor at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and a practicing psychiatrist. He is affiliated with NYU’s Disability Studies minor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, and Department of Psychiatry. Lewis writes and teaches at the interface of humanities, cultural studies, disability studies, medicine, psychiatry, and the arts. His recent books are Narrative Psychiatry: How Stories Shape Clinical Practice and Depression: Integrating Science, Culture, and Humanities.
David Levine, JD
is a Harm Reduction Specialist working in mental health supported housing in the Bronx with lived experience as a drug user and mental health treatment recipient. He received his Juris Doctor from The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2013 focusing his studies on criminal law and bioethics. He believes that prohibition, control and stigmatization of psychoactive drug use is an unacceptable attack on cognitive liberty and seeks to work against these forces wherever possible. He understands Harm Reduction as an ethical philosophy of human services provision that promotes individual agency and autonomy in groups for whom disenfranchisement, coercion, and dehumanization have been the traditional norms.
Katrina Michelle, PhD, LCSW, ACMHP
is a holistic psychotherapist licensed in NY and CA. Katrina completed her MSW at Stony Brook University in 2004 and a certificate in Advanced Clinical Practice from NYU in 2007. Katrina worked as a clinical social worker in a variety of settings from higher education and community mental health to child welfare and inpatient psychiatry before establishing her private practice in 2008. She completed her PhD in Psychology with a Transpersonal Specialization at Sofia University in 2017. Informed by her doctoral research on “spiritual emergence” and her own ineffable experiences, Katrina founded The Curious Spirit in 2016 to build community and support people in embracing and integrating the multifaceted human experience. Katrina is a board member and current executive director for The American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE), an organization that reflects her desire to evolve mainstream systems so they acknowledge, honor, and include the spiritual component of human development. In the summer of 2018, Katrina co-founded Emergent Entertainment, a company on a mission to demystify awakening experiences through storytelling and art. Emergent Entertainment is currently producing their first film, "When Lightning Strikes." Katrina fully believes that creating a mainstream culture that reflects and supports an integrative spiritual model of development will catalyze our collective highest potential.
Cindy Peterson-Dana, LMHC
is the Vice-President for Peer and Recovery Services at MHA. She is responsible for Peer and Recovery Support Services including the Westchester Recovery Network and the Sterling Community Center. Ms. Peterson-Dana’s involvement in the mental health field includes both personal and professional experiences of recovery. A lifelong advocate for the transformation of the mental health system, she has served as a consultant for OnTrack New York, worked in state hospitals, community clinics, on an ACT team, in residential services and in her own private psychotherapy practice in Nyack, NY. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Missouri and a Master of Education in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Missouri.
is an NYC bred and based artist, educator, and organizer working with diverse materials in diverse communities. Whether teaching, painting, writing, organizing, or facilitating, her work promotes creativity, solidarity, resilience, and community. Her aim is to build possibilities for liberation and connection on individual as well as collective levels, through whatever means and materials are on hand.
Denise Ranaghan, LMHC, CPRP, NYCPS
has been working in the Mental Health System for the past 21 years. She has held numerous positions including counselor, manager, and director of programs. She has been committed to the peer model and in presently working as Director of Peer Services at NYAPRS. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Professional and a NY Certified Peer Specialist. She states that her lived experience as a person diagnosed with a mental illness and her subsequent experience receiving services in the mental health system, informs every decision she makes.
Karen Rosenthal, CPRP, NYCPS
is the Director of Training at Community Access where she has helped develop an employee training curriculum that provides awareness and skills to avoid recreating the oppression and demoralization so common in the mental health system. She also provides support and leadership for various QI initiatives at the agency, including peer-informed practice, harm reduction and health promotion. Karen has been a Certified Auricular Detoxification Specialist since 2002, a CPRP since 2003 and has her provisional NYS Peer Specialist Certification. She has lived experience with mental health and trauma concerns and infuses this expertise into her work.
is a writer, artist, and activist who passionately believes in the power of personal narrative to reform contemporary mental health care. She has been working at the intersection of storytelling and social justice for over six years, pursuits inspired by her family's experiences with the mental health system. She currently works at WITNESS, where she supports the External Relations team with fundraising strategy and grant writing. Jessie has a degree in Narrative Psychology from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, with a double minor in Mental Health Studies and Creative Writing, and pursued Masters studies at the Narrative Medicine program at Columbia University. Her writing has been published in the Intima Journal of Narrative Medicine and the Village Voice. You can find her photography and writing at www.jessie-roth.com
is a writer, performer, educator, and mental health activist. She studied physical theater in Humboldt County, CA. She has worked in the healing arts as a hospital clown, Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator, and theater teacher. Rebecca has lived experience with madness, in the mental health system, and with alternative approaches to healing, such as peer support. Rebecca is an organizer with the NYC Icarus Project and leads mental health workshops. She is honored to be a part of IDHA.
Lauren Tenney, PhD, MPhil, MPA
is a psychiatric survivor and activist first involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution at age 15 and has been involved with the liberation movements since 1992. Most recently trained as an environmental psychologist, her work aims to expose the institutional corruption which is a source of profit for organized psychiatry. Tenney works to abolish state sponsored human rights violations, such as murder, torture, and slavery that are carried out through psychiatry with state power. Tenney joins others calling attention to racism, classism, and other forms of oppression enacted through multiple systems employing psychiatry, such as the prison and education industries. Tenney has been working to end common practices of psychiatry including any court-ordered, compelled, coerced, or uniformed involvement with psychiatry; institutionalization; involuntary outpatient commitment; physical, mechanical, and chemical restraints; solitary confinement; forced, coerced, compelled, or uniformed drugging; shock treatment (ECT, electroconvulsive treatment); lobotomy (neurosurgery); and aversives. Tenney has been employed as an adjunct assistant professor in the Psychology Department at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York since 2005 and as an adjunct professor in the Psychology Department at Montclair State University since 2014. Tenney is currently enrolled in a Master's Program in History, with a concentration in Public History, at the University at Albany, State University of New York, with the intent of making public the horrors that the psychiatric system and state consistently try to bury, since antiquity. www.LaurenTenney.us