OUR TEAM

CENTER DIRECTOR

Victoria Ngo, PhD, MS

Victoria Ngo is an Associate Professor of Community Health and Social Sciences at the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy (CUNY SPH), Director of the Center for Innovation in Mental Health (CIMH) at CUNY SPH, Director for Global Mental Health in the Center for Immigrant, Refugee, and Global Health, and an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. 

Also a clinical psychologist, she has expertise in developing, evaluating, and implementing evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, for depression, anxiety, and trauma in diverse communities in the United States and abroad. Her research pays particular attention to understanding and promoting implementation strategies that can increase access and quality of evidence-based mental health services for ethnic minorities and underserved populations worldwide. Ngo specializes in implementation strategies, such as use of community partnerships, task-shifting evidence-based practices, and integration of mental health care into more accessible service settings, including primary care, maternal health, and HIV services. 

Ngo earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Vanderbilt University. Her passion and commitment to working in ethnic minority and other underserved communities comes from her own experience as a Vietnamese refugee.

CENTER MANAGER

Catherine Dinh-Le, MPH

Catherine Dinh-Le is the Center Manager at CIMH. She has a background in health policy, sociomedical sciences, and digital health with specific interests in addressing health disparities in immigrant communities and LMICs. Catherine received her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts from Macaulay Honors College at Lehman College and her Masters of Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. She currently supports the development of CIMH along with several of its local and global mental health interventions. 

Prior to CIMH, Catherine was a project lead at a digital innovation lab at NYU Langone Health and was a Margaret E. Mahoney Fellow at the New York Academy of Medicine, where she assessed health literacy and technology use among immigrant communities in Chinatown and Flushing, New York. She also supported the development, implementation, and evaluation of several mobile health apps launched at the City University of New York.

STAFF

Samantha Weckesser, MPH

Project Manager

Samantha Weckesser is a Project Manager at CIMH. She has a background in health policy, advocacy, and neuroscience.

Samantha received her Bachelor of Arts in Neurosciences from Drew University, Master of Public Health from the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, and is a current doctoral student in Community Health and Health Policy at CUNY School of Public Health. In addition to her work at CIMH, Samantha also works as an advocate for consumers who live with mental health and substance use disorders as well as those who require long term care services in New York State.

Weanne Myrrh Estrada, MPH

Project Manager

Weanne Myrrh Estrada is a Project Manager at CIMH. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP) and her Masters of Public Health from Loma Linda University.

Weanne was a Humanitarian Action Fellow for the Duke Global Policy Program in Geneva, interning at the World Health Organization where she was involved with the development of a risk assessment tool for 13 countries in Africa. Prior to moving to New York, Weanne worked as a faculty member and research consultant for the Public Health Department at AUP. She has done community engagement work and research in the United States, Malawi, and the Philippines. She is currently a PhD Community Health and Health Policy student at the City University of New York.

Quan Vu, LMSW

Project Manager

Quan Anh Vu is a Project Manager at CIMH. He has a background in school social work, psycho-oncology, and mental health. Prior to CIMH, Quan was a behavioral health clinician for the Mental Health Service Corps and was placed at Transitional Services of New York PROS program, where he provided individual and group counseling, psycho-education, and care coordination to people with severe and persistent mental illness in Jamaica, New York.

Quan received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Brandeis University and his Masters of Social Work from the Silberman School of Social Work at CUNY Hunter College. He is excited to support building the capacity of depression care in Vietnam.

Thinh Vu, MSC

Data Manager

Thinh Vu is currently a doctoral student at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. He held an MSs in Epidemiology from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2020. His main research focuses on understanding the determinants of community health across vulnerable populations and assessing how different interventions promote health behavior changes.

Thinh has a strong background in quantitative research and is keen on implementing patient-centered design approaches in the development of community-based interventions. He published 17 peer-reviewed papers globally and also his book on “Data Management and Analysis on Health Data Using SAS” is currently available at the Medical Publishing House in Vietnam since October 2020.

Vivian Le

Graduate Assistant

Vivian Le is a Graduate Assistant at CIMH and a masters student at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy studying Community Health. Prior to her acceptance into the program, Vivian spent the last semester of her undergraduate career completing a fieldwork internship at CIMH where she was able to discover her passions in mental health research, determined to play a role in expanding mental health care to low-income countries and communities where it is needed most. 

Vivian obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia in Spring 2020.

Mina Nguyen, MSW

Graduate Assistant

Mina Nguyen studies Social Work and Social Policy in the Ph.D. program at Fordham University School of Social Service. Mina got her Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work.

Prior to attending Columbia, Mina worked as an International Development program Officer in Vietnam’s poverty alleviation program to empower the poorest and ethnic minority women. She was a Fellow of the International Ford Foundation Fellowship Program. Mina graduated from Teachers’ College in TESOL in Hue City, Vietnam. Mina has worked in New York City as a Clinical Social Worker, Community Coordinator to help Vietnamese refugees and immigrants navigate culturally and linguistically relevant psychotherapy and health services.

Kelly Laurent, MPH

Intern

Kelly Laurent is a Master’s student at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy studying Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She has a background in nutrition, cooking, and food justice. Her research interests include addressing health disparities specifically concerning non-communicable diseases, food justice, and mental health parity. Kelly obtained her Bachelor’s degree from CUNY Brooklyn College in 2019.

Shaili Ghandi

Intern

Shaili Gandhi is a research intern at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Heath Policy. She received her Bachelor of Arts from NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study where she studied the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and movement therapy. She is passionate about the promotion of health equity, and her professional interests include sexual/reproductive health, immigrant and refugee health, and minority mental health. She is earning her MPH in community health at the City University of New York and hopes to eventually earn a PhD in clinical psychology.

Chase Holiman

Intern

Chase Holiman is a research intern at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health. He received a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Arkansas, majoring in Psychology and Philosophy. During his time at the U of A, Chase was a research assistant in a variety of psychology labs. He worked on a multi-year study examining the effects of enrichment in captive tigers and presented this research at the 2017 Comparative Cognition Society Conference. At the 2018 Association for Psychological Science Conference, Chase presented research on the correlation between anhedonia and features of borderline personality disorder. Additionally, he has worked on research involving substance use, emotional regulation, and eating disorders in student and community populations.

Chase’s  professional interests lie in the fields of substance use and mental health, specifically in adolescents and emerging adults. He is currently an MPH Health Management and Policy student at the City University of New York.

Olga Kucherina

Intern

Olga Kucherina is a second-year MPH student at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy with a Health Policy and Management concentration. Olga completed her Bachelor of the Arts Degree in 2017 from Baruch College with a Psychology major and minor in Biological Sciences. Olga is currently serving as the office manager at Interactive Discovery Psychological Services P.C., a psychology office focusing on holistic mental health treatment. While working at Interactive Discovery, Olga had continued pursuing her passion for education and research by working as a lab manager at CUNY Baruch College, focusing on anxiety disorder research. She has also served as a teacher’s assistant for several psychology courses at CUNY Baruch College.

Olga’s professional interests lie in the fields of mental health, refugee health, and maternal health and wellness. Olga is also bilingual in English/Russian and is Mental Health First Aid Certified.

Zhongyue Deng

Intern

Zhongyue (Kingsley) Deng is currently a MPH student at Johns Hopkins University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Chongqing Medical University and worked for a public hospital for five years as a registered nurse in China, four years’ clinical practice and one year’s management experience of nursing. She has published two academic articles and participated in certain clinical research projects as a research nurse.

Zhongyue’s professional interests lie in the fields of mental health, the equity and equality of healthcare service and policy effectiveness among regions. She is now working as an intern in the Center for Innovation in Mental Health, learning from and working with those extraordinary experts and colleagues to promote populational mental health.

ALUMNI

Jonathan Block, MPH

Jonathan Block competed his MPH at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, focusing on health policy and management. He is currently a freelance health and medical writer, having worked for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He has also appeared on C-SPAN and ABS-CBN, a national TV network in the Philippines.

Jonathan’s interest in mental health is to increase communication and information about treatment to reduce stigma and increase access to treatment, especially in underserved communities. He holds a BA from Tufts University in political science.

Catherine Farquharson, MPH

Catherine Farquharson completed her MPH with a concentration in healthy policy and health management at CUNY . She received a Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a minor in International Studies from St. John’s University. After completing her undergraduate studies she interned at New York City Health & Hospital working on several projects aimed to improve patient care and patient experience. She is currently employed at Health & Hospitals as a coordinating associate for the adult inpatient medical unit.

Catherine’s professional interests lies in mental health were she aims to improve mental health outcomes and mental health literacy in black and brown communities. In addition to working within public health she is also a business  owner and runs a brand that promotes personal development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. 

Hanish Kodali, MD, MPH

Hanish is a trained physician from India. Before starting his MPH, he worked as a Junior Resident at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur, India serving the underprivileged rural population there. He earned his MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the CUNY School of Public Health in 2017. Currently, Hanish is working as a Project Manager with Dr. Terry Huang on the Physical Activity and Redesigned Community Spaces (PARCS) Study, a prospective natural quasi-experiment with matched controls to evaluate the impact of park redesign and renovation on physical activity, park usage, perceived park quality, psychosocial and mental health, and community wellbeing.

Hanish is also working as a Research Assistant for Dr. Victoria Ngo on a Randomized Controlled Study of Implementation Models for Depression Care in Vietnam. He is pursuing his doctoral degree at the CUNY School of Public Health & Health Policy. As part of his Ph.D. research, Hanish aims to investigate non-traditional risk factors for chronic disease and Mental Health to help establish new guidelines and interventions for improving health outcomes at the population level.

Gary Kwok, MPH

Gary Kwok was a Research Assistant at the Center for Innovation in Mental Health (CIMH) at the CUNY School of Public Health. His research interests intersect minority mental health, program evaluation and intervention research, and HIV/AIDS disparities among at-risk communities. Gary received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from SUNY Buffalo and a Mental Health Counseling degree from CUNY City College of New York. He is also working toward his PhD in Social Work from Adelphi University and currently a T32 pre-doctoral fellow at NYU Behavioral Science Training Program. Gary currently supports Dr Victoria Ngo’s R01 research (MH112630) in providing depression care utilizing task- shifted method with primary care providers in local community health clinics in Vietnam.

Prior to CIMH, Gary was a data analyst at NYU Langone Health and research assistant for a multi-phase program evaluation on economic and relationship stability intervention project sponsored by the Department of Children and Families.

Claire Ogburn

Claire Ogburn is a Masters student at CUNY’s School of Public Health studying Community Health & Social Sciences. Prior to attending CUNY Claire worked as a Case Manager in a women’s mental health shelter and as an Entitlements Coordinator in a men’s transitional housing residence. Claire obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016.

Kristina Phan, MPH

Kristina Phan was a Research Assistant at the Center for Innovation in Mental Health (CIMH) at the CUNY School of Public Health. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Masters of Public Health in Community Health and Social Sciences at CUNY School of Public Health and Policy. Her background is primarily in community health and outreach programs as she previously worked in a Federally Qualified Health Center in a medically underserved population of Orange County, California.

With prior experience in global health and working in LMICs, Kristina is passionate about improving the health status of those without access to care and minimizing the health disparity for all. Working at an FQHC inspired her to pursue a career where she can increase mental health care and awareness in minority communities in the United States and abroad.

want to be part of our team?