Mental Health Symposium
Gabrielle Fidis, RDT, LCAT (she/her/hers) has been involved in Girl Scouting since she was a young Daisy.

Over the years, she has participated in the Girl Scout Chorus, Camp Blue Bay summer sessions, troop camping at Blue Bay, and completed both her Bronze Award and Silver Award. In 2012 and 2013, she worked as a Unit Counselor and Assistant Unit Leader at Camp Blue Bay. As an adult Lifetime Member, Gabrielle has been involved as a Delegate for the West Hempstead/Franklin Square (WHFS) service unit, as well as most recently elected to be a National Delegate representing Girl Scouts of Nassau County in Florida. In the fall, she joined GSNC’s Strategic Planning Committee.

Gabrielle attributes what she learned about leadership, community engagement, and the importance of female role models in this world to her time as a Girl Scout. She hopes to find places in her life where she can apply these qualities, and continue to abide by the Girl Scout Law to “make the world a better place.”

Gabrielle is putting this philosophy into practice in her career as a Drama Therapist. In September 2021, she received her Master of Arts in Drama Therapy from New York University. In her program, she interned in environments providing services to people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, women/families experiencing domestic violence, and patients in inpatient psychiatry units in a hospital setting.

She is currently working as a Creative Arts Therapist at Bellevue Hospital in adult acute inpatient psychiatry on a dual-diagnosis unit for substance use disorders and psychosis.  

Raised in a Caribbean American household of Guyanese, Jamaican, Chinese and Cuban ancestry, Taylor M. John was influenced at an early age by a variety of cultures that inspired her passion for travel and languages. Taylor has visited more than 25 countries—studying in China, Italy and Cuba during high school—and speaks Mandarin.

At Syracuse University, Taylor M. John'22 has focused her education on global health, majoring in international relations and citizenship and civic engagement, with a minor in Chinese. “I hope to be a doctor and work with an organization like the United Nations or Doctors Without Borders,” she says. “I want to travel to more neglected places of the world to experience radically different cultures and perspectives from mine, providing healthcare where it’s not readily available.” After completing her undergraduate degree, Taylor moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she is currently studying at Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health obtaining her Masters Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Sexual and Reproductive Health as well as in Global Health. Taylor is a Trauma Informed Full-Spectrum Doula and has her own wellness and advocacy brand  and online business called 'TAYTALKS' of which she is a podcast host of.

In her free time, she loves to travel, attend events for her Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated with her mom, fight the good fight for equality and justice for young girls and women, go on long walks with her dog and little brother KJ.

Beth Ann Balalaos is the Access and Inclusion Program Director at the Long Island Children’s Museum (LICM). She began managing LICM’s accessibility program, LICM4all, in 2016. In her current role Beth Ann oversees all areas of diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and social justice. She earned a B.A. in Psychology and Gender Studies and an M.A. in Education with an Advanced Certification in Elementary & Special Education from Adelphi University. Beth Ann has presented at numerous museum conferences across the United States, such as, AAM, LEAD, ACM, MANY, and NYCMER. She has been the recipient of the Diversity Fellowship Programs of the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Children’s Museums. Additionally, Beth Ann was an active participant in the Community Fellows Program with the Institute for Non-Profit Practice. Currently, Beth Ann is on the Board of Directors for the Museum Association of New York.

I was born and raised in New York, a childhood spanning the boroughs of Queens and Manhattan, and ultimately, Harlem, New York. I attended public school through High School and grew up an avid reader, developing a love of books and the stately buildings that contained them at an early age. I was in awe of the fact that I could visit the library within walking distance of my apartment and depart a short while later with a stack of books usually too heavy for me to transport independently without significant strain. My incentive to sustain the heavy weight for my walk home was the excitement and expectation of the many places I would be transported to, through the pages of the books.

Fantasy fiction and mysteries were my favorite genres as a child and my penchant for writing began with my father requiring me to read the more advanced literary selections of his choosing, and then write comprehensive essays about the content. While often mundane, this exercise fostered my appreciation for rich vocabulary words and descriptive text and also led to my reading at a very high level, at a young age. This practice also revealed that I could temporarily escape my truth through the pages of a book, and also create a new reality through the pen on the page.

I participated in a community theater group as an elementary school student and a Columbia University School of Law mock trial program in Junior High School. These extra-curricular activities inspired career exploration for me and by age 14, I aspired to be an attorney which spoke to my affinity for words and public speaking. To that end, I have practiced Employment Discrimination law for two decades, working in the media & entertainment industry for the last 13 years until 2021, where I provided advice and counsel to corporate leadership. However, writing and mentoring have remained what ignited and fueled my spirit.

My life mission is to encourage, inspire, and deliver truth that positively impacts and/or resonates change in at least one person, every single day.

Finally, I am a devoted wife of 28 years and mother to three amazing children ages 25, 19, and 16…and infinitely passionate about my family!

Adrian S. Goodwin is a Law Enforcement Practitioner, Author, Entrepreneur and Speaker. She’s a 18-year veteran of the New York City Police Department and presently serves as a Detective Investigator and a Hostage Negotiator. As a passionate educator, she serves as an adjunct faculty member at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the Law/Police Science Department where she educates and mentors hundreds of students looking to explore careers in Criminal Justice and the legal field. While acknowledging that her role with the NYPD can be difficult at times, Adrian says that “the greatest reward is being sworn to protect and serve our community.”

Mrs. Goodwin recently received a tremendous honor as she was awarded with the 2022 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from the 46th President of the United States of America, Joseph R. Biden, which is the highest tier awarded for volunteer service throughout one’s lifetime.

Mrs. Goodwin’s steadfast commitment to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community has led her to be acknowledged as an International World Civility Ambassador for her cross-cultural readiness to stand for justice and peace through civil dialogue. She was awarded with the HOPE Award, by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, for her unwavering dedication to deploying conflict-resolution skills. She’s been featured in the National Criminal Justice Month by John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She recently chaired and led a thought provoking forum for the youth on S.A.F.E Encounters (Sound Advice for Effective Encounters), “Building Community Relationships” with law enforcement, which included Rodney K. Harrison, Police Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department.

Her mission is to change the perception of law enforcement and develop cross-cultural communication skills, in order to build stronger relationships and promote diversity, equity and inclusion within police departments around the world. Through her workshops she has been afforded many opportunities to impact students at local schools within Nassau County and New York City. She recently presented at the Unapologetically Fearless Since 1912 event, hosted by the Nassau County Girl Scouts Association. As a Board member of the Nassau County Police Activity League she has helped to develop the first mentoring program for young men and women in Uniondale. The program covers resume writing, interviewing skills, etiquette, career skills, professional attire and more. The goal is to equip our youth with the tools they need to succeed.

Mrs. Goodwin is a sought after youth empowerment and business speaker. She was recently the keynote speaker for “Entrepreneur Night” at Excelling Church, a panelist for Women in Business during this year’s Essence Music Festival, and a guest on “His Will For Your Life” Podcast. She has spoken at Turtle Hook Middle School, Maxwell High School, Bell Academy, and has been a panelist on “Youth Table Talk” at Grace Gospel Tabernacle just to name a few.

Mrs. Goodwin’s passion is to motivate, inspire and change the lives of those around her. She was selected as one of the lead trainers for the Grow with Google initiative of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, which was designed to help train 100,000 Black women in digital skills by 2022 to grow their business and professional careers.

Mrs. Goodwin is the Vice President of the Central Nassau Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc. and a Board Member of Nasssau County Girl Scout, and Grace Lutheran Church and School in Malverne, NY. She also serves as the Fundraising co-chair of the Nassau Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

She has been the recipient of numerous community awards and citations in her lifetime and featured in multiple publications. Her most recent award was the “Women of Distinction” from New York State Assemblywoman Taylor Darling; the 21st Annual Red and Gold Scholarship Gala by The National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., Beta Omicron Chapter for her contribution to the youth and community. She also received the 2022 “Spirit of Service Award'' for her extraordinary professional and civic contributions from Adelphic Union Lodge #14 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, Free & Accepted Masons.

She’s a devoted mother of four children and a loving wife to her husband  Christopher T. Goodwin. She is rooted in faith, family and community.

Adrian earned her Master of Education degree from Cambridge College and has received an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Leadership letters.

Lisa Halstead currently serves as a Student Psychological Counselor in the counseling Department at Queensborough Community College, CUNY, while managing her private practice, LH Consulting.  She has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 25 years.

Ms Halstead is a graduate of York College, CUNY where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Social Work from Adelphi University.  Ms Halstead will start a DSW Program at Long Island University Fall 2024..  Ms Halstead has worked with adolescents in Foster Care teaching independent living skills.  She has served as a SEEK Program counselor/coordinator/acting Director at York College where she worked with a diverse group of students who were deemed academically and economically underprepared for college.  She also worked as a Medical Social Worker providing end of life care with Hospice of New York and in the Advanced Illness Program at Northwell Health.  These experiences have helped her to be well versed in areas of anxiety, depression, grief, behavioral issues, life conflicts, relationship issues, racial identity, trauma and PTSD.
As a mother of two adult children, Ms Halstead finds that raising her children was one of her most challenging and rewarding jobs.  She feels that her children taught her as much as she taught them.  That same philosophy is applied to the students and clients that she has worked with over the years.  Every day provides a learning experience.  She prides herself with being open and welcoming in her practice to make sure that everyone feels a sense of belonging.  Ms Halstead has provided many workshops on Black Mental Health with the focus of reducing stigma and making access more accessible through a systems perspective.

Amanda Jesser-Peña is the Director of Prevention and Development at the Crime Victims Center where she oversees a department of educators and staff working within Nassau and Suffolk County schools, libraries, colleges, and community organizations to prevent, detect, and report sexual abuse, domestic violence, stalking etc.  Through evidence informed prevention education programs. Amanda has been with the Crime Victims Center for four years and received an M.A. from the University at Albany.


Chanel Jessica Lopez is a Dominican Afro-Latina born and raised in Spanish Harlem, she is an advocate & activist for the Transgender / TGNC communities for the past 15+ years, she is a plus size model and has done some acting as well. In addition, to her activism for the community she is known through her many years of hosting special events in the entertainment industry.

She has been featured in several documentaries, one of them being “The Death & Life of Marsha P. Johnson” documentary, had her own documentary highlighted on the VICE Channel and also has done public speaking telling her story as a survivor of Domestic and Sexual Violence. She has also received numerous awards, two “Certificate of Merits” by the former Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, “New York State Health Department Humberto Cruz Award”, “Dominican Association Trail Blazer Award”, Department of Civil Services Marsha P. Johnson award” & “The 2022 Heritage Image Award”. Chanel J. Lopez also has been recognized by “City & State as one of the top 100 most influential people in government. Her hobbies include working out, visiting museums, attending concerts and plays, listening to various types of music and enjoys the company of those she holds close to her heart.

Chanel J. Lopez is the former Transgender Community Liaison for the NYC Commission on Human Rights, she is currently the First Transwoman to be an Appointee for the NY State Governor as the NYS Deputy Director of LGBTQ Affairs.  Chanel’s aspirations are to some day run for office and have her own talk show in the future.

David Nemiroff has been the President and CEO of Harmony Healthcare Long Island. since April 2014.  Harmony Healthcare Long Island currently provides over 154,000 medical and support visits to more than 46,000 patients per year in multiple locations, including 3 school based health centers across Nassau County. The mission of Harmony Healthcare Long Island is to provide access to equitable, optimal healthcare by improving the overall wellness of all individuals in our communities and delivering high quality comprehensive patient centered care.  Our Vision is to continue as an eminent healthcare provider on Long Island, dedicating ourselves to providing exceptional healthcare for all our patients and to transform both the lives of the individual, and the community, for the better, one person at a time.  In adition to health care service Harmony Healthcare LI operates a Women Infant and Children’s Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) serving over 7000 families which is co-located in 3 of our Heatlh Centers.  The organization also offers Health Home Care Management to over 1100 chronically ill children and adults.

During the pandemic Harmony Healthcare LI tested and treated many individuals for COVID-19, through “tent testing” outside many of the health centers, treating and vaxinating over 42,000 inidividuals.  Mass vacination events and added telehelath to provide care to those individuals who could not access a health center.

Mr. Nemiroffs’ professional career includes the leadership of the Nassau Queens Performing Providers System working with over 8,000 partners to transform the health care of almost half a million Long Islanders, as well as leading the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, Inc. as its Executive Director.  He was instrumental in the efforts to shape public policy to support people with mental illness and autism in the ever changing world of health and human services delivery.

Mr. Nemiroff began his career in the Health and Human Services field at Catholic Charities and Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE) supervising case management programs for individuals with traumatic brain injury and intellectual disabilities, Mr. Nemiroff’s 14 year career with FREE concluded with him holding the position as its Chief Support Services Officer.

His early career path has had him working as a staff psychotherapist for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Suffolk County, Inc. and a Certified Field Instructor for both Social Work and Mental Health Counselor students.    

Mr. Nemiroff is the Immediate past Board Chairperson of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, a board member of the following organizations Community Healthcare Association of New York State, Treasurer,  Community Advocates and Homes Anew I & II.  Mr. Nemiroff is a member of the Board of Managers for Community Health Centers IPA. Mr. Nemiroff is on the advisory Board for the MPH Program at Hofstra University and a member of the Energia Partnership.

Mr. Nemiroff lives in Huntington Station, NY with his wife and two children. He is a graduate of State University of New York in Oneonta and holds a Masters in Social Welfare from SUNY Stony Brook. 

Dr. Bernadine Waller is an award-winning National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Translational Epidemiology and Mental Health Equity with a dual appointment at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute. She is an implementation scientist who partners with community- and faith-based organizations to tailor and implement evidence-based mental health interventions for underserved survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Dr. Waller’s ground-breaking research is transforming the country’s domestic violence service provision system. She developed the first US theories that identify multilevel barriers that preclude Black women survivors’ help-seeking: The Theory of Help-Seeking Behavior, Sarah Waller’s Help-Seeking Model, and Constructed Agency, which is currently being utilized in the UK. Dr. Waller has received three national awards for her cutting-edge research: the 2022 Elizabeth Young New Investigator Award, the 2022 Violence Against Women and Children’s Manuscript Award, and the 2022 Outstanding Social Work Dissertation Award. Her work has also been recognized by NYS: 2023 NYS Women of Distinction Award and at Columbia University: 2023 Excellence in Postdoctoral Research.

Dr. Waller is the principal investigator of the DIVAA Lab. The lab partners with faith-and community-based organizations to deliver culturally responsive mental health care to underserved IPV survivors. She is a rare talent who was able to obtain funding from the NIMH to complete her doctoral research and remains funded by the Institute. This is a feat that few Black women scholars have been able to accomplish. At a time when the NIMH was not funding violence-related research, she secured an R36 to examine Black women’s IPV help-seeking process. Her NIMH-funded dissertation research has been used to help shape the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and is currently being used to reshape domestic violence service provision system in New York City. Dr. Waller is a sought-after expert, informing domestic violence policies and protocols for the entities inclusive of the US Department of Defense. Notably, her most recent book chapter is informing the White House’s inaugural national agenda on domestic violence.

Dr. Waller’s research interest stems from more than a decade of practice and ministerial experience. She has provided trauma-informed services to IPV survivors, court-mandated offenders, and emerging adults. Dr. Waller is a member of the ministerial team at Zion Cathedral Church, where she serves as a Deaconess, Assistant Sunday School teacher and member of the intercessory prayer team. Dr. Waller also leads the Restorer of Broken Walls ministry, which provides crisis counseling and supports to IPV survivors.

At Columbia Psychiatry, Dr. Waller serves as the Director of Community Engagement for the Mental Health Equity Center. The Center works in partnership with the NYS Office of Mental Health and community-based mental health agencies to implement culturally salient models of care in underserved communities in New York. The goal of the Center is to decrease inequities in mental health care delivery among communities of color that were further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Waller is a sought-after speaker who regularly shares her cutting-edge work with national and international audiences. Most recently, she was the invited keynote speaker for the Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity, the Safe and Just Summit with Hon. Hakeem Jeffries, and a twice-invited speaker for the Consulate General of India. Her TEDx Talk, Hindered Help, illuminates the barriers that prevent Black women from securing crisis assistance during their IPV help seeking process and is part of the required curriculum at several universities, including the University of Michigan, the University of Central Florida, and Rutgers University. She has been a subject matter expert in the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution and has written OpEd articles for Newsday and the Huffington Post.

A scholar-clinician, Dr. Waller has taught in academia for more than 15 years. A testament to her investment in the next generation of scholar activists was winning the 2020 GADE Award for Teaching in Social Work. She is as a member of the Women’s Council, a sub-committee of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) which accredits US schools of social work, and a member of the Research Capacity and Development Committee for the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR). She additionally serves on the Board of Trustees for the Long Island Children's Museum.

Dr. Waller is a NYS-licensed mental health counselor who earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Adelphi University; as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, with a concentration in Legal Studies from Temple University.