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.

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

Jose Florez-Arango, MD, MS, PhD

Jose Florez-Arango is a Medical Doctor (MD) trained in Medellin Colombia, with a master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, and a PhD on Health Informatics. He was a Fulbright scholar and has experience in emergency medicine, prehospital care and emergency management, tropical diseases, global health, and telemedicine. As an Informatician, his previous experience includes clinical decision support systems, development of health information systems based-on international standards, mHealth, human-computer interaction, human factors, interoperability, and controlled vocabularies. His work  in mHealth has focused in supporting community health workers in integral management of childhood illnesses, maternal-fetal health and mental health.

POST-DOCTORAL FELLOW

Marina Weiss, PhD, MA, MFA

Marina Weiss is a Postdoctoral Fellow at CIMH, where she leads training development and supports implementation of the Building Resilience in Youth, Harlem Strong and JobsPlus projects. Dr. Weiss is a clinical psychologist whose research focuses on describing and addressing mental health disparities in trauma-exposed populations, specifically through community-based, participatory research (CBPR) methods and the implementation of community-centered interventions such as mental health task-sharing. In her clinical work, she uses integrative approaches, and specializes in supporting recovery from trauma, particularly the recovery of emerging adults at the intersections of acculturative and traumatic stressors.

Dr. Weiss also has extensive experience working with survivors of intimate partner violence and sex trafficking, including coordinating clinical care, program evaluation, and expansion of a pilot psychiatric care model within the NYC Family Justice Center system from 2014-2017, as well as working on CBPR research with this population as part of the Economic and Social Empowerment project at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in 2013 and with a collaboration between the Bronx Family Justice Center, the Columbia University Presidential Scholars Program and the CUIMC Department of Narrative Medicine from 2019-2021.  

Dr. Weiss earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Adelphi University, and completed her internship at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Weiss also holds an MFA in poetry from New York University, and leads poetry workshops about trauma and recovery at Brooklyn Poets.

STAFF

Alessandra Cirillo, MPH

Project Manager

Alessandra Cirillo is the Project Manager for Jobs Plus at CIMH. She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Physiology from Boston University Sargent College and her Masters of Public Health with a certificate in Global Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. 

 

Prior to CIMH, Alessandra was a Senior Program Coordinator for the Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetics Education in Research at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She also worked on a psychosocial intervention delivered to youth and adults in Washington Heights experiencing mental distress due to COVID-19 and has conducted research on child and adolescent mental health in LMICs in São Paulo, Brazil.

Weanne Estrada-Magbanua, MPH

Project Manager

Weanne Estrada-Magbanua 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.

Andrea Isabel López, MPH

Project Manager

Andrea Isabel López is a Project Manager at the Center for Innovation in Mental Health at the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. She received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Latin American Studies from Syracuse University. She also received her MPH in Community Health from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.

Prior to joining the Center for Innovation in Mental Health, Andrea completed the Margaret E. Mahoney Fellowship with the New York Academy of Medicine where she explored barriers to care in the Latino community and the role of community health workers. Andrea has also worked as a Research Project Coordinator and Associate Researcher for multiple NIH-funded projects based at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 

Andrea was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is committed to advancing health equity for the Latino community and improving representation in the research field.

Claire Ogburn, MPH

Project Manager

Claire Ogburn is a Project Manager for the CUNY SPH Harlem Health Initiative. She completed her Masters of Public Health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. Prior to working at CIMH, 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. Her research interests include mental health and substance use disorders and housing policy. 

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 held an MSc 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 of Health Data Using SAS” is currently available at the Medical Publishing House in Vietnam since October 2020.

Vivian Le

Research Assistant

Vivian Le is a Research 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.

Victoria Sunseri

Research Assistant

Victoria Sunseri is a Research Assistant at CIMH and a master’s student at the CUNY Graduate school of Public Health and Health policy in the Health Policy and Management (MPH) track. She began her career in public health as an undergraduate at The University of Tampa, where she graduated in Spring 2018, with a dual degree in Psychology (BA) and Public Health (BS) with a concentration in behavioral health. Her involvement in developing and leading interventions as an undergrad., as well as her experiences carrying out a Fulbright research grant in Sicily, Italy (2018-2019), reinforced her passion for applying public health approaches to address mental health needs, especially within under-resourced communities.

Teresa Taggart

Administrative Assistant

Theresa Taggart is an Administrative Assistant at CIMH. She comes to the Center with the knowledge of grant management skills, along with HR experience. Theresa received her Associates Degree with a concentration on Business Management and is currently working on her Bachelor in Science with a concentration in Psychology. Prior to CIMH, Theresa worked as the Administrative Assistant/Grants at Columbia University Medical Campus in the Sociomedical Science Department.

Celia Bùi Lê

Administrative Assistant

Celia Bùi Lê is an Administrative Assistant at CIMH. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and East Asian Studies from Columbia University. Prior to CIMH, Celia was a Fellow at Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA) working to mobilize the API vote in Pennsylvania. She has also done community organizing and linguistic fieldwork in both Vietnam and the US. Celia has a background in qualitative research, language justice, visual arts, and climate mitigation/adaptation.

ALUMNI

Catherine Dinh-Le, MPH

Jonathan Block, MPH

Zhongyue Deng

Catherine Farquharson, MPH

Shaili Ghandi

Chase Holiman

Hanish Kodali, MD, MPH

Olga Kucherina

Gary Kwok, MPH

Kelly Laurent, MPH

Mina Nguyen, MSW

Samantha Weckesser, MPH

Kristina Phan, MPH

want to be part of our team?