Minority Fellowship Program Advisory Committee  

Advisory Committee members assist the MFP is achieving its objectives of expanding the delivery of culturally competent mental health and substance abuse services to undeserved minority populations, and to increasing the number of doctoral level culturally competent ethnic minority Marriage and Family therapists.

They do this through the provision of programmatic and professional guidance in the growth and development of the AAMFT Minority Fellowship Program, from a variety of perspectives. Advisory Committee members provide guidance on program related policy matters. Advisory Committee members lend their experience and expertise to the establishment of criteria for application review, Fellow selection, and expansion of the MFP. If you are interested in becoming an MFP Advisory Committee member and want to learn more about the application process please visit the MFP AC Application page.

Anibal Torres-Bernal, PhD - MFP Advisory Committee Chair

Aníbal Torres Bernal is the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, Sciences and Society at SUNY Morrisville. He is also a tenured professor at SUNY Morrisville. He earned his B.A. in psychology from Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico and his M.A. and Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University. Aníbal has held academic, administrative and clinical appointments at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Drake University, Empire State College, Syracuse University, Fairfield University, Indiana University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Christian Theological Seminary, Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus and Regis University. He is a member of the American Family Therapy Academy, a Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). He also serves as a site visitor for the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), a director at large in the International Family Therapy Association’s (IFTA) Board of Directors, and has chaired the AAMFT Minority Fellowship Program Advisory Committee. Anibal's scholarship has focused exclusively on how to infuse social justice concepts into different contexts, especially as it relates to underserved and marginalized populations, and the different ways in which practice, education, academic leadership and theoretical conceptualizations can become increasingly accessible, inclusive and sustainable.

Ashley Landers, PhD

Ashley L. Landers, PhD, LMFT is an Assistant Professor in the Human Development and Family Science Program’s Couple and Family Therapy specialization in the Department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University. Ashley is an AAMFT Clinical Fellow, Approved Supervisor, and Minority Fellow. She has extensive clinical and research experience in the impact of trauma on couples and families. As a community-engaged scholar, Ashley’s research and clinical interests focuses on families in child welfare, more specifically marginalized underserved minority families such as American Indian families involved with the child welfare system. In her work, Ashley examines what happens to children and families following maltreatment (e.g., foster care, adoption, reunification) and how these children and families fare (e.g., maltreatment recurrence, mental health problems, school engagement). Ashley’s areas of clinical specialization include child welfare, complex trauma, trauma-focused treatments, family reunification, and structural family therapy. She has published over 25 articles on trauma, family separation, and reunification, as well as presented at over 25 local, national and international conferences. She was the MFP Mentor of the year in 2018. 

Candice Cooper-Lovett, PhD

Dr. Cooper-Lovett is a native of Buffalo, NY and moved to Atlanta in 2014. Dr. Cooper-Lovett has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, from the University at Buffalo a masters in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University, and a PhD in couples and family therapy from Drexel University. Dr. Cooper-Lovett currently has been in the field for over 15 years. She has a private practice; A New Creation Psychotherapy Services LLC in the south metro Atlanta area and has been there since 2015. She specializes in trauma therapy as it relates to domestic violence, sexual abuse/assault, relationship trauma, infidelity recovery, sexuality and sexual issues, and women’s self-identity and discovery. Dr. Cooper-Lovett serves a reviewer for the journal of interpersonal violence and the journal of family violence. Dr. Cooper-Lovett's expertise has contributed to peer-reviewed journals, blogs, and online magazines, and articles such as the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships, Survive, Transform, Soar online magazine, Madam Noire, Bustle, Sheen magazine, just to name a few.  Dr. Cooper-Lovett has been speaking for 15 years and has presented at many national conferences since her undergraduate career. Over the years she has also been on radio shows, podcasts, television, panels, workshops and keynotes surrounding topics around violence, marriage and relationships, sexuality and relationships/marriage, infidelity recovery, women’s self-identity and discovery, clinical implications in working with African American youth witnesses to IPV (intimate partner violence), and mental health awareness in African American communities.  Dr. Cooper-Lovett has a focus of post-traumatic growth and social justice. 
David Hegarty, PhD

David Hegarty, joined Hope For Youth in 1982 and was appointed Executive Director in 1989. At the time of his appointment, Hope For Youth operated a group home program serving adolescents. Under his leadership, Hope For Youth has grown into a diverse, regional provider of residential care, foster care, preventive and out-patient programs. With over 180 staff and an operating budget of $13,500,000, Hope For Youth has developed a reputation for providing innovative, integrated services for troubled youth and families.  Presently, Hope For Youth operates Diagnostic and Emergency residential programs serving children and youth six months of age to twenty one, Therapeutic Group Homes serving adolescent males and females, Therapeutic Foster Boarding homes serving children and youth ages seven to twenty one and Preventive Services for families involved with Child Protective Services. Hope For Youth also operates a New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services licensed Out-Patient Clinic program which provides traditional substance abuse treatment services as well as an evidence based Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy Program which provides home and community based clinical and case management services to youth involved with probation and the family court. Other specialized services for the juvenile justice system include PINS Diversion for Nassau County and Suffolk County, PINS Clinical, the Supervision & Treatment preventive program and JD Adjustment Services. The Hope For Youth Adolescent Diagnostic facility functions as the leading provider of non-hospital diagnostic assessments for the Suffolk Family Court. In 2019, HFY added a federally funded specialized Child Parent Psychotherapy program serving the Suffolk County Family Court working with substance abusing parents and children up to age 5. Dr. Hegarty holds a Ph.D. in Community Psychology and is a New York State Licensed Marital and Family Therapist. He has served as a member or officer of the boards of directors of the New York State Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies and the Long Island Health and Welfare Council and is a former member and president of the Massapequa Board of Education. Dr. Hegarty has been an invited speaker or panelist at conferences for the NYS Association of Substance Abuse Providers, Child and Family Services Association, National Community Sentencing Association, the Child Welfare League of America and Adelphi University.   

Damir Utrzan, PhD, LMFT, DAAETS

As manager of mental health services at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation headquarters, Dr. Damir S. Utrzan provides oversight of assessment and diagnosis; in addition to, treatment and clinical management. He was previously treatment director of an Intensive Residential Treatment Services facility operated by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). Dr. Utrzan is a licensed marriage and family therapist and board-approved clinical supervisor (i.e., LADC, LMFT, LPC, LPCC). He was born in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and lived in Germany for ten years with his parents before being deported and applying for asylum to the United States (U.S). Dr. Utrzan completed fellowship training on the intersection of psychological trauma and human rights in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota (UMN) Medical School. He has a doctorate in family social science; couple and family therapy specialization with a human rights minor, also from the UMN. Dr. Utrzan completed advanced doctoral training on co-occurring disorder treatment in traditionally marginalized groups through the Minority Fellowship Program in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; in addition to, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He has a master’s degree in marital and family therapy from Northwestern University. Additionally, Dr. Utrzan also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology; with double-minors in human development and philosophy, from Rockford University. He serves as a consulting scientist and grant reviewer to the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Utrzan has authored peer-refereed journal articles and book chapters while also presenting at professional organizations, such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Pennsylvania DHS. He has gained a well-earned reputation for conducting sensitive and thorough evaluations of children seeking asylum in the U.S. The Advocates for Human Rights, UMN Law School, and Children’s Law Center of California are among the organizations for whom he served as an expert witness.

Jamie West, PhD

Jamie West graduated from Virginia Tech’s PhD Marriage and Family Therapy Program in 2017. She was an AAMFT Minority Fellow from 2013 to 2015. She received an M.S. degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Colorado State University and a B.S. degree in Psychology and Family Studies from Central Michigan University. Between graduate programs, she lived abroad in Romania, South Korea, Mexico and Mongolia for over two years. She enjoys full cultural immersion. Because of her interest in trauma-informed care and working with diverse populations, she has become a member of Green Cross Academy of Traumatology and is training to become a Master Traumatologist.  
Dr. West is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Therapy at Nova Southwestern University. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (Virginia and Florida), a Certified ARISE Interventionist- Level 1, and an AAMFT Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor. Her research focus has been on substance abuse prevention and intervention, resilience and protective factors within relationships, and identity development. She has experience providing therapy services and developing parenting processing groups for those involved in the criminal justice system. She is passionate about training and mentoring new therapists.

Monique Willis, PhD

Dr. Monique Willis is an Assistant Professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, in the Marital and Family therapy department.  She is a graduate of Loma Linda University, with both an M.S. and Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy with an emphasis on medical family therapy. During her time at Loma Linda University, she was an AAMFT minority fellow. Dr. Willis is a licensed clinician and maintains an active private practice.  She retains membership with both AAMFT and CAMFT and is an AAMFT approved supervisor. Her work and research centers on supporting individuals and caregivers of persons diagnosed with chronic health conditions. Her current research, presentations, and publications bridges her clinical interest and encompasses matters of chronic diseases, health disparities, power, culture, family, caregivers, and intimate relationships.  Dr. Willis strives to ensure that marriage and family therapists and other professional counselors aid in providing culturally sensitive therapy for minority and underprivileged families.