Faculty & Staff
Jazmine Russell - Co-Founder
is a mental health advocate and trauma survivor dedicated to radical wellness. Jazmine has a degree in Applied Psychology from NYU where she focused on critical psychology and alternatives in mental health. She has worked as a home-based child and family crisis counselor practicing trauma-informed care and education advocacy. Later becoming a certified peer specialist, she worked for Parachute NYC, practicing the Open Dialogue Approach, Intentional Peer Support, and Need-Adapted Treatment. In addition, Jazmine has been mentored in herbalism, intuitive development, holistic medicine, and embodiment techniques for the last 7 years, practicing deep emotional processing in her own life while supporting others in their integration process. Jazmine dedicates her time to holistic and self-determined care, working with clients in NYC and the Hudson Valley. You can find her work and upcoming events 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.
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 has published and presented papers on the link between trauma and various anomalous states, stigma and negative attitudes towards patients, and the need for recognition of states of extreme distress as meaningful responses to overwhelming life experiences. She is on the Board of Directors for both the Hearing Voices Network - USA and the International Society for Ethical Psychiatry and Psychology, 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.