PPP Scholarships

REACH PPP Scholarships

Scholarships to attend our Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program are awarded to primary care providers working in under-resourced communities throughout the United States. These scholarships are funded by generous donations from corporate partners, foundations, and individual donors.

REACH 2024 National Scholarship Application (Round 2): Application opens on April 1, 2024 and closes on June 3, 2024.

Click here to apply!

 


 

About the Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program

This innovative program increases clinicians’ comfort with assessing, diagnosing, and treating common mental health concerns in children. 

PPP participants will leave the training with tools they can use immediately, such as:

  • Validated assessments to get data from patients and families
  • Clinical guidelines for differential diagnosis
  • Quick-reference medication guides
  • Sample forms for referring patients to psychotherapy

Click here to learn more about the program and read CME credit information.

 


 

2024 REACH Scholarship Recipients

2023 REACH Scholarship Recipients (Round 2)

2023 REACH Scholarship Recipients

2022 REACH Scholarship Recipients (Round 2)

2022 REACH Scholarship Recipients

2021 REACH Scholarship Recipients

2020 REACH Scholarship Recipients

2019 REACH Scholarship Recipients

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“The opportunity to learn information to help me manage psychiatric conditions in my patients in this time where demand clearly outweighs supply of services, is going to be excellent for me as a PCP in my community.”

Akilah Cook, MD
Appleton, WI

2024 REACH Scholarship Recipients

Our first cohort of 2024 scholarship recipients includes 11 inspiring pediatric primary care providers serving low-income and underserved communities. With compassion and care, these clinicians are providing critical care to children and adolescents from rural Texas to urban Louisiana to residential detention programs in Massachusetts. Their REACH training will provide them with foundational tools for diagnosing and treating mental health disorders in children and youth.


Bhakti Samant

Bhakti Samant, MD, is a pediatric resident at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Baton Rouge, LA. Prioritizing culturally competent care, she treats patients in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Hindi. With her REACH training, she plans to pursue community outreach and collaboration to enhance access to mental health care for children beyond her immediate caseload.

Clarissa Reynoso

Clarissa Reynoso, MD, is a bilingual pediatric palliative care physician in Baton Rouge, LA, where most of her patients are on Medicaid. To further improve access to care for underserved populations, she also serves as a pediatrician at a nearby Federally Qualified Health Center. With her REACH training, she intends to educate residents on how to screen for common mental health issues to increase access to treatment.

Daniela Donoso Pena

Daniela Donoso Pena, MD, is a pediatrician at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Holyoke, MA, where she treats patients in both English and Spanish. With her REACH training, she hopes to introduce standardized mental health screenings at well-child visits within her health center. She also aims to partner with the pharmacist in her health center to create pathways for more consistent management of common mental health issues.

Edith Skelly

Edith Skelly, PA-C, is a physician assistant serving adolescents in residential detention in Massachusetts. Working for the Department of Youth Services, she provides comprehensive health care for primarily low-income youth in both English and Spanish. Through her REACH training, she aims to improve mental health care for her patients and share her learnings with colleagues.

Jamie Hug

Jamie Hug, DO, is a pediatrician in Pueblo, CO, where the majority of her patients are on Medicaid. With her REACH training, she hopes to provide more comprehensive care for her patients and decrease the need for families to endure long wait times for mental health specialists. She also intends to share her learning with her colleagues and the students and residents she works with.

Jedediah Bell

Jedediah Bell, MD, is a pediatric internal medicine and primary care resident in a Federally Qualified Health Center in rural California. He also serves as Chief Resident of Community Outreach at the University of California, San Diego, where he co-leads and designs educational and volunteer programs for interns and residents. He hopes to use the skills he gains through REACH to support his diverse patients and share best practices with other providers.

Jennifer Uzzell

Jennifer Uzzell, NP, is a pediatric nurse practitioner in Houston, TX, where most of her patients are on Medicaid. She is also a local and national student liaison and conference presenter with the National Association of Nurse Practitioners. As a precept nurse practitioner for several universities, she intends to use her REACH training to improve mental health knowledge among her colleagues and students.

Katherine Chike-Harris

Katherine Chike-Harris, NP, is a nurse practitioner in rural South Carolina where most of her patients are on Medicaid. She serves pediatric patients across South Carolina through a school-based telehealth clinic, as well as volunteering at two local free clinics and consulting with multiple nursing colleges on telehealth programs. Her REACH training will enable her to treat more complex mental health cases and also educate her students.

Melissa Vasquez

Melissa Vasquez, RN, is a bilingual, pediatric registered nurse in rural Texas where most of her patients are on Medicaid. At her clinic, she often treats children who do not have health insurance coverage. She helps families find affordable and timely mental health specialists and access support to pay for medications. Her REACH training will help her better serve her patients and share resources with her colleagues.

Soledad Arroyo-Silva

Soledad Arroyo-Silva, LPC, is a trauma-informed counselor in Lebanon, PA, where she serves diverse pediatric patients in both English and Spanish. Most of her pediatric patients are Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC) and she prioritizes culturally competent care. Focusing on providing wellness one session at a time, her REACH training will help her further support her patients and their families.

Viarda Polanco

Viarda Polanco, MD, is a pediatrician in Greenwood, SC, where the majority of her patients are on Medicaid. A native Spanish speaker, she is committed to serving low-income patients with limited access to health care. In addition to better supporting pediatric patients with her REACH training, she hopes to partner with local schools to increase awareness of mental health issues and support for students.

2023 REACH Scholarship Recipients (Round 2)

Our second cohort of 2023 scholarship recipients includes 10 incredible pediatric primary care providers. These providers serve disadvantaged communities across the country, from urban Philadelphia to rural Idaho to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. After participating in our Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care program, they’ll be confident in diagnosing and treating common mental health conditions in children and youth. 


Allison Empey, MD

Allison Empey, MD, is a pediatrician in a tribal clinic run and operated by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, where she has created an accepting practice for her fellow indigenous patients. She is also an Assistant Professor in pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University and actively mentors underrepresented medical students and residents. With her teaching platform and deep community work, she will use her REACH training not only with her own patients but also to educate her students and colleagues. 

Beth Heuer, NP

Beth Heuer, NP, is a pediatric nurse practitioner and behavioral health care specialist at a pediatric clinic in Philadelphia, PA, where most patients are on Medicaid and local families have limited healthcare access. She will use her REACH training to expand mental health services for her patients. She will also educate nursing students at Temple University, where she is a nursing professor, and increase awareness among her colleagues in the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. 

Nuriva Kamran, DO

Nuriva Kamran, DO, is a pediatric resident in Baton Rouge, LA, where most patients are on Medicaid. As a first-generation, bilingual Bangladeshi American, she aspires to provide thoughtful, patient-centered, and inclusive healthcare to diverse and underserved patients. She aims to share what she learns at REACH with other pediatric providers in her hospital and community through one-to-one outreach, small group meetings, lectures, social media, and creating culturally sensitive materials. 

Priyanka Kawali, MD

Priyanka Kawali, MD, is a pediatrician in Federal Way, WA, where most patients are immigrants or from other underserved populations. Coming from an immigrant background herself, and being proficient in three languages, she works hard to create a safe space for patients and their families where they can open up about topics like mental health and gender identity. REACH training will enable her to even better serve her patients and increase awareness about children’s mental health through community outreach. 

Kristin Lucas, MD

Kristin Lucas, MD, is a pediatrician in a Federally Qualified Health Center in Harvey, IL. As part of her commitment to equity in mental health care, she conducts mental health screenings and referrals when performing school physicals as part of her urban clinic’s mobile operations. She hopes to use her new REACH training to further break down mental health stigma in communities of color and get the word out about free pediatric mental health resources for local residents. 

Manasi Madiwale, MD

Manasi Madiwale, MD, is the Director of Pediatrics for a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers in rural central California. Proficient in four languages, she is an advocate for improving healthcare access for immigrant children and families in her community. With REACH resources, she hopes to promote awareness of pediatric mental health services and trauma-informed care among those serving local immigrant communities. 

Katie Queen, MD

Katie Queen, MD, is a pediatrician in rural Covington, LA, and a faculty member for the state’s Provider-to-Provider Consultation Line, which offers providers free pediatric and perinatal mental health consultations. She is also advocating to create an integrated behavioral health pediatric clinic within her statewide health system. With her REACH training, Katie is committed to growing her behavioral health skills and mentoring providers across Louisiana. 

Aryan Sharif, DO

Aryan Sharif, DO, is a family physician resident at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Caldwell, ID. He also volunteers extensively in the local community and at pediatric medical camps. Practicing in a region where pediatric mental health providers are few and far between, he will use his REACH training to expand his own clinical services and empower his colleagues. He hopes to help more family physicians embrace, rather than shy away from, providing children’s mental health services. 

Finnian Steele, DO

Finnian Steele, DO, is a Navy veteran and pediatrician in Fresno, CA, where they are the only general pediatrician providing supportive care for transgender and gender-diverse children and youth. With REACH training, they aim to educate providers in sibling clinics to increase children’s mental health care access throughout the community. They are also working to start a dedicated gender clinic that will provide mental health care as a part of a holistic approach to gender-affirming care for children and teens.

Irene Chern, MD

Irene Chern, MD, is a pediatric resident in Philadelphia, PA, where most of her patients are on Medicaid, and is conducting research related to children’s mental health and chronic illness. Certified as a multilingual clinician in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, she is committed to mentoring the next generation of healthcare professionals. To improve access to mental health care for as many children as possible, she will apply her REACH training to her work as a practitioner and mentor. She will also use her research to illuminate pediatric mental health access and outcomes. 

2023 REACH Scholarship Recipients

Our 15 scholarship recipients work tirelessly in disadvantaged communities, where the need for mental health care is at an all-time high and access is at an all-time low. Our recipients will learn the latest evidence-based approaches to diagnosing and treating common mental health conditions in children and youth through our Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care (PPP) training at no cost.


Mahoussi Aholoukpe, MD

Mahoussi Aholoukpe, MD, is a pediatrician from Annville, PA, working in a clinic with a high population of first-generation immigrants from Latin America. An immigrant herself, Dr. Aholoukpe can relate to the experiences of her patient population and her goal is to further understand the barriers they face when seeking mental health services. She hopes to become a valuable mental health resource in her community after her REACH training.

Sabita Bhatta, MD

Sabita Bhatta, MD, is a pediatrician from Visalia, CA, who works in a rural Federally Qualified Health Center where most children have to wait more than six months to see a mental health care provider. Dr. Bhatta intends to use her REACH training to decrease the fragmentation of care and poor healthcare outcomes due to loss of follow-up.

Mikki Bouquet, MD

Mikki Bouquet, MD, is a pediatrician in Baton Rouge, LA, where more than 75% of her patients are enrolled in Medicaid. Dr. Bouquet looks to this REACH training to improve her knowledge and comfort in prescribing medications and managing mental health care independently to provide more comprehensive care to her patients. She intends to share her learnings with medical residents and colleagues alike.

Noor Hajjaj, MD

Noor Hajjaj, MD, a pediatric resident at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Baton Rouge, LA, is dedicated to improving mental health resources in her community. Dr. Hajjaj plans to use her REACH training to increase mental health education and awareness among families, daycare providers, and schoolteachers.

Naziat Hassan, LMHC, LPC

Naziat Hassan, LMHC, LPC, a mental health clinician in Queens Village, NY, works with a high proportion of LGBTQIA youth. Naziat’s REACH training objective is to expand psychoeducation initiatives focused on children’s mental health care and strengthen her ability to treat ADHD, anxiety, and depression.

Melissa Holland, DO

Melissa Holland, DO, a pediatrician in Baton Rouge, LA, works in a largely diverse community. Dr. Holland wants to use her REACH training to enhance her screening practices for depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, as well as learn more about behavior disorders.

Avis Johnson-Smith, NP

Avis Johnson-Smith, NP, is a nurse practitioner in Albany, GA. Avis grew up in South Georgia in a predominantly Black community and has already established her own clinic to improve the health and well-being of the people that live there. She is now looking to expand her service to this community by using her REACH training to increase access to mental health care for children at local preschools and churches.

Joseph Mason Kent, PA-C

Joseph Mason Kent, PA-C, is a pediatric hematology and oncology physician’s assistant in Baton Rouge, LA. In addition to looking after his patients’ medical needs, Joseph would like to use his REACH training to manage some of the mental health needs of his underserved patients, given the lack of resources in the community. He hopes to start support groups for his oncology and sickle cell patients and their families.

Lilian Mekhail, MD

Lilian Mekhail, MD, is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician from Monmouth Junction, NJ. Dr. Mekhail specializes in neurodevelopmental disabilities and hopes to increase her knowledge and confidence in treating the commonly co-occurring mental health conditions in her patients to minimize the need for families to seek additional providers.

Jurido Olukunle, MD

Jurido Olukunle, MD, a pediatric resident at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, serves a large percentage of children who are BIPOC and enrolled in Medicaid. Jurido hopes to use her REACH training to identify children in her practice that are at risk and may need additional mental health support.

Diana Pontell, MD

Diana Pontell, MD, is a bilingual pediatrician in Philadelphia, PA who speaks Spanish in over 75% of her patient encounters. Dr. Pontell wants to use her REACH training to continue to help deliver care to underserved and immigrant children and families.

Margaret Sease, PA-C

Margaret Sease, PA-C, a bilingual physician’s assistant in North Charleston, SC, works with an extremely under-resourced community. Margaret is determined to use her REACH training to provide access to mental health services for students in rural South Carolina through school-based health telemedicine.

Daphne Sharpe, NP

Daphne Sharpe, NP, is a nurse practitioner, and assistant professor of nursing in Winston-Salem, NC. Daphne also works with her local public health department and school nurses who often see children with unmet behavioral health needs. She plans to use her REACH training to provide mental health support to the vulnerable children in her area.

Omar Syed, MD

Omar Syed, MD, a first-year resident in Boise, ID, has a strong passion for integrating mental health care into the primary care setting. Dr. Syed’s goal for his REACH training is to expand coverage for his patients, who can wait months to be seen by a mental health professional.

Tanner Walsh, MD

Tanner Walsh, MD, is a pediatrician serving Chester, PA, a highly under-resourced community where over a third of the population lives in poverty. Dr. Walsh, who is fluent in Spanish, aims to use her REACH training to treat her patients dealing with anxiety, depression, and ADHD. She also intends to share this knowledge with her partners and the residents and medical students she precepts.

2022 REACH Scholarship Recipients (Round 2)

Five 2022 REACH Scholarship recipients have been designated Gephart Scholars in honor of a leader who had a profound effect on The REACH Institute and on generations of children with mental health disorders. Harlan R. Gephart, MD, was “an early and avid proponent of providing mental health services in pediatric primary care,” according to Peter S. Jensen, MD, REACH founder and board chair.

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Quynh Nguyen, DO

Quynh Nguyen, DO, works in a pediatric outpatient clinic in Newtown, PA. Herself a refugee, she knows the immigrant experience firsthand and understands why many immigrants are reluctant to accept mental health care. She wants to use her position as families’ trusted doctor to provide mental health treatment based on current guidelines.

Zahra Younes, MD (Gephart Scholar)

Zahra Younes, MD (Gephart Scholar) is chief pediatric resident in a Bronx, New York, healthcare system. Her goals for REACH training are to learn to diagnose and treat common mental health conditions and to identify community resources for mental health care. Having earned her medical degree in Bolivia, she is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Gagandeep Singh, DO (Gephart Scholar)

Gagandeep Singh, DO (Gephart Scholar) is a resident in family medicine in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They are passionate about providing mental health care for vulnerable young people, including children of Somali and Afghan immigrants. Their clinic is known as the Twin Cities’ center for transgender health; trauma-informed care is another focus of their practice.

Matthew Sall, MD (Gephart Scholar)

Matthew Sall, MD (Gephart Scholar), a pediatrician in Indianapolis, Indiana, plans to use his REACH training to treat patients with mental health conditions within his practice rather than referring them out. As a preceptor to residents, he plans to disseminate what he learns to new pediatricians and, ultimately, to other physicians in his clinic.

Shawna McCafferty, MD (Gephart Scholar)

Shawna McCafferty, MD (Gephart Scholar) is a developmental / behavioral pediatrician in Charleston, South Carolina. She intends to use her REACH training not only to support her own patients with culturally responsive care but also to improve community outreach to other pediatricians and to train pediatric residents in managing mental health medications.

Ramandeep Kaur, MD

Ramandeep Kaur, MD, a pediatrician in Fresno, California, is eager to use her ability to speak Punjabi and Hindi to provide mental health care for the growing populations of speakers of those languages. Herself the child of immigrants, she is sensitive to the barriers immigrants can face in obtaining health care.

Deepali Jain, MD

Deepali Jain, MD, is a pediatrician serving vulnerable populations in Livingston, New Jersey. She wants to provide timely assessment and culturally sensitive care to patients from diverse backgrounds who have limited access to mental and developmental health care. She speaks Urdu and Hindi as well as English.

Traci Doherty, NP (Gephart Scholar)

Traci Doherty, NP (Gephart Scholar) is a family nurse practitioner in Boston, Massachusetts, where she provides clinical services to families and adolescents who do not have permanent housing. She wants to deepen her ability to support vulnerable patients who struggle with mental health disorders, perhaps including partnership with a pediatrician to provide psychopharmacology as needed.

Venkata Sushma Chamarthi, MD

Venkata Sushma Chamarthi, MD, practices pediatrics in a rural area near Visalia, California. Though she routinely screens patients for mental health conditions and adverse childhood events, she cannot typically refer them for psychiatric treatment because the wait time is more than a year. She is eager to learn to treat ADHD, depression, and anxiety.

Caneita Bosley, MD

Caneita Bosley, MD, is a pediatrician in a community health center in Houston, Texas. Most of her patients come from low-income or immigrant urban families; one of her clinics has a large LGBTQ population and offers transgender medicine. She is interested in learning to treat patients with ADHD, depression, and anxiety.

2022 REACH Scholarship Recipients

We are pleased to welcome the first cohort of scholarship recipients for 2022. These 15 pediatric primary care providers will participate in our Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care program at no cost to themselves or their practices. All 15 practice in underserved communities where mental health needs are high but access to care is poor.


Helen Wang, MD

Helen Wang, MD, teaches pediatric medicine at a university medical school in San Diego, CA. As she uses her REACH training in her clinical practice, she intends to serve as a model to her residents of how to care for children’s mental health needs. She also plans to facilitate workshops for community and faculty physicians.

Miguel G. Sánchez Acosta, MD

Miguel G. Sánchez Acosta, MD, is a pediatric attending physician and associate director of pediatric residency at a Bronx, NY, hospital. He plans to become the “go-to” pediatrician for mental health conditions and eventually to share his REACH training with his peers so all can comfortably treat common mental health disorders.

Matthew Rivera, MD

Matthew Rivera, MD, is a family physician in Rochester, NY, with training in integrative medicine. His fluency in Spanish enables him to connect with the immigrant families in his practice. He uses his training as a lay minister to address spiritual concerns that affect and are affected by physical and mental health.

Hina Patel, MD

Hina Patel, MD, cares for patients from underserved and immigrant populations in a pediatric clinic in Baton Rouge, LA, where she also teaches residents. She wants not only to become more comfortable prescribing for mental health disorders but also to help residents care for patients with no other access to mental health services.

Payal Maniar, MD

Payal Maniar, MD, runs a private pediatric clinic in East Orange, NJ, where most patients are on Medicaid. She plans to use her REACH training to diagnose and treat ADHD, evaluate patients for depression and anxiety and begin treatment as appropriate, and work with families of children with developmental delays

Juniper Lee-Park, MD

Juniper Lee-Park, MD, is a pediatrician in Harleysville, PA. Her experience as a middle school teacher gives her a unique understanding of how to work with schools. She speaks four of the many languages of families at her rural clinic and plans to develop mental health education materials in families’ languages.

Gina Labovitz, MD

Gina Labovitz, MD, is a pediatrician in a rural area near Lexington, KY, a community with one of the highest opioid addiction rates in the country. Her goal for REACH training is to offer mental health treatment to victims of addiction–whether their own or someone else’s–and other adverse childhood events.

La Carla Holmes, NP

La Carla Holmes, NP, is a psychiatric nurse practitioner in a mental health clinic in Rochester, NY. She aims to use her REACH training to improve family education on mental health issues and to increase access to mental health care for pediatric patients.

Emily Hall, DO

Emily Hall, DO, has long served pediatric patients on or near tribal lands in rural areas of Montana and elsewhere. She plans to use her REACH training not only to serve her own patients but also to be a resource for other pediatricians and to advocate for mental health training for providers statewide.

Bess Griffin, FNP-C

Bess Griffin, FNP-C, is a family nurse practitioner in Rochester, NY. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she traveled the country as a crisis intensive care nurse. She is particularly interested in improving her ability to treat patients dealing with the physical and mental health consequences of abuse.

Courtney Campbell, MD

Courtney Campbell, MD, is an associate program director in a pediatric academic center in Baton Rouge, LA, where she cares for a diverse, largely low-income population of patients. She has detailed plans both for using her REACH knowledge and for passing it on to the students and residents in her practice.

Traci Cameron, PNP

Traci Cameron, PNP, provides pediatric care and precepts nurse practitioner students in a rural health center in Jacksonville, TX. Having worked in this clinic for 11 years, she has developed trusting relationships with families, which will help when she uses her REACH training to help patients suffering from mental health conditions.

Daniela Borecky, MD

Daniela Borecky, MD, is a resident in family medicine at in a university medical center in Murrieta, CA. As a first-generation immigrant from an economically disadvantaged background, she is sensitive to the needs of her diverse and low-income patients. She plans to share her REACH learning with her fellow residents.

Ghizlane Benchekroune, MD

Ghizlane Benchekroune, MD, is the medical director for pediatrics at a family health center in the Austin area. An immigrant herself, she feels her diverse patients and families trust her to respect their needs. She wants to develop her confidence in using the right tools to treat patients with mental health issues

Marie Akers, APRN

Marie Akers, APRN, is a pediatric nurse practitioner in Tampa, FL. Even before applying for the REACH scholarship, she was collaborating on a program to integrate mental health into pediatric primary care. She is hoping to increase the number of children with mental health needs her practice can treat, including through telehealth.

2021 REACH Scholarship Recipients

Thanks to donations from the Neuberger Berman Foundation and generous individuals, we provided “full-ride” scholarships to 20 pediatric primary care providers working in underserved communities. These 20 providers participate in virtual three-day sessions and six months of follow-up phone calls–all thanks to generous donations from people and institutions who care about children’s mental health.


Anna Jones, NP

Anna Jones, NP, serves BIPOC and immigrant families, in Chattanooga, TN. Her goal is to promote mental health by offering services during every well-child visit and by conducting family outreach. She wants low-income families have access to mental health care without having to wait months for psychiatric services—when those services are available at all. She is learning Spanish in order to communicate with families in their primary language.

Brenna Lewis, MD

Brenna Lewis, MD, wants to improve her ability differentiate among, for example, PTSD, anxiety, and depression among patients in her rural Oregon clinic who have experienced trauma. She also wants to learn how better to support patients who are not helped by initial treatments for depression and anxiety and to be able treat patients who present with both autism and aggression rather than referring them to psychiatric services.

Molly Senn-McNally, MD

As the continuity clinic director in her practice in Springfield, MA, and associate program director for the residency program at UMass Medical School-Baystate, Molly Senn-McNally, MD, is uniquely positioned to facilitate opportunities for colleagues and residents to improve their ability to diagnose and treat anxiety, depression, and ADHD. In addition, she plans to enhance her clinic’s system of referral to therapy and other community support services.

Kelli Garber, NP

Kelli Garber, NP, is a pediatric provider in a statewide school-based telehealth system in South Carolina that serves rural primarily BIPOC and low-income families. She plans to use her REACH training to provide expert mental health care for her patients; she is particularly interested in learning to differentiate ADHD from other conditions. To extend her effectiveness and reach more children, Kelli will share her knowledge with other nurse practitioners.

Diji Vaughn, MD

Diji Vaughan, MD, looks to use his REACH training not only to improve his ability to treat his own patients but also to expand access to mental health care. He plans to advocate for policy changes in mental health coverage in Arizona. Through his affiliations with a local school of medicine and with the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, he will share his training with other physicians.

Angkana Roy, MD

Angkana Roy, MD, practices in a clinic outside Chicago whose families are overwhelmingly low-income and mostly Spanish-speaking. She notes that her master’s degree in public health helps her understand systemic barriers to health. She plans to use her REACH training to improve her own diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and depression and to present her learnings on anxiety treatment to her colleagues.

Anna Jesus, MD

Anna Jesus, MD, is a pediatrician in rural Virginia where most patients are on Medicaid. Noting that her only mental health care training was during grand rounds, she wants to expand her use of mental health screening tools and to add trauma screening to her clinical history interviews. She is particularly interested in learning about second-line medications to treat ADHD, anxiety, and depression.

Kathryn Stroup, MD

Kathryn Stroup, MD, works with low-income and BIPOC families in inner-city Philadelphia. After REACH training, she wants to offer treatment to ADHD patients who currently get their medication from a community mental health agency, where the follow-up is not meeting patient needs. She also wants to improve her treatment of depression and to create a flier about talk therapy to educate parents with low English literacy.

Jannia Mendez, NP

Jannia Mendez, NP, practices in rural Florida, where her fluency in Spanish helps her communicate with families. She wants to better coordinate with community services for mental health care, particularly for patients who live in chaotic circumstances. Other goals are to learn about mental health care via telemedicine and to help patients through psychotic episodes, in which she has seen an increase during the pandemic.

Jennifer Ward, MD

Jennifer Ward, MD, has practiced pediatric medicine in rural Florida for more than 15 years. Access to psychiatric services, and even sometimes to counseling, is severely limited. Jennifer has learned over the years to treat patients with ADHD, anxiety, and depression. She plans to use her REACH training to expand her repertoire so she can help young patients to whom she has offered care for their entire lives.

Ursulina Bencosme, MD

Having moved from a system where every child saw a psychiatrist, Ursulina Bencosme, MD, now works in a health center in Providence, RI, where most patients see only their PCP. She thus feels the need to learn to treat common mental health disorders and reduce referrals to specialists. “The families I serve really appreciate that their needs can be met in their local clinic,” she wrote.

Emily Braun, MD

Emily Braun, MD, is a pediatrician in an Omaha clinic that serves a largely Spanish-speaking population, many of whom have no insurance and face multiple barriers to mental health care. Emily wants to reduce the wait time to less than one month by providing affordable mental health care in her clinic. Later she hopes to create a pediatric mental health clinic within her practice.

Kimberly Brown, MD

Kimberly Brown, MD, is a pediatrician in rural Missouri, where wait times for psychiatric services are at least six months. She is looking to improve her ability to provide medical management of mental health disorders and to share her knowledge with other providers in her practice. Kimberly helped found the Section on Minority Health Equity and Inclusion in the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mollie FitzGerald, NP

Mollie FitzGerald is a nurse practitioner in a greater Boston clinic that serves a large immigrant population. To counteract long wait times for psychiatric care, Mollie wants to develop the skills and confidence to diagnose and treat basic mental health conditions. Specifically, she wants to learn medical management of patients with ADHD who also suffer from comorbidities such as depression and anxiety.

Mary Gallagher, NP

Mary Gallagher, a nurse practitioner in Burbank, CA, uses her experience as a student in Cuba and Mexico to communicate with Spanish-speaking families. She plans to use her REACH training to improve her ability to diagnose mental health concerns, manage medications in partnership with in-house counseling services, and apply for certification as a primary care mental health specialist.

Nydia Hernandez Santana, MD

As a developmental pediatrician in Long Island, NY, Nydia Hernandez Santana, MD, serves as the medical home for children with mental health issues. Her fluency in Spanish enables her to establish easy rapport with Latinx families, with whom she works to break down taboos against mental health care. She will use her REACH training to become the go-to resource in her clinic for psychopharmacology.

Lauren Melman, MD

Lauren Melman, MD, works as a pediatrician in a clinic in rural CT. She will use her training to contribute to her practice’s efforts to incorporate mental health screening into acute care (not just wellness visits), to set aside time specifically for mental health, and to institute a follow-up system. Her experience living in China and in Ecuador taught her to consider patients’ perspectives and cultures.

Pedro Orta, MD

Pedro Orta, MD, is a pediatrician in Los Angeles who uses his own experience as the child of immigrants and a gay man in a conservative community to understand the struggles and successes of immigrant families. In an area where child psychiatric services are often out of financial reach, he wants to provide first-line mental health services and train others in his primary care practice.

Catherine Pourdavoud, MD

Catherine Pourdavoud, MD, is a pediatric resident in Oakland, CA, a city with many homeless encampments–including one across the street from her clinic. Concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of low-income patients, she wants to expand her confidence and skill in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions and to share her new knowledge with colleagues and patients.

Melissa Simkol, MD

A pediatric resident in Philadelphia, Melissa Simkol, MD, is concerned about the lack of mental health care in the urban clinics where she has worked and plans to share her REACH learning with colleagues. Among other topics, she wants to learn to distinguish conduct disorders–often diagnosed by people who are not mental health professionals–from behavior due to social circumstances affecting BIPOC patients.

2020 REACH Scholarship Recipients

We are thrilled to have doubled the number of practitioners who get a full scholarship to attend The REACH Institute’s Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program this year. All 10 of these scholarship recipients will attend virtual trainings in fall 2020.


Alicia Adams, MD

Alicia Adams, MD, describes herself as “a community-based family doc with a passion for mental health.” Her safety-net clinic in rural central Washington is three hours from the nearest mental health center, which has a long waiting list for Medicaid patients. Though she has become “reasonably comfortable” in treating adults with mental health issues, she wants to learn to help younger patients too.

Raquel Botto, MD

Raquel Botto, MD, is a family physician in a Toronto clinic where 90% of the families are refugees. Parents and children alike suffer from mental health issues resulting from trauma and displacement; income, language, and lack of access are barriers to care. Dr. Botto plans to use her ability to speak Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, languages common in the clinic’s population, to treat young patients’ mental health issues.

Moshe Kupferstein, DO

Moshe Kupferstein, DO, is a pediatrician in a clinic in Monroe, NY, most of whose patients are on Medicaid. From the beginning, his practice has included a mental health focus. He wrote, “Reassuring parents that a child’s OCD doesn’t make them a bad parent, following up on school issues — those are factors that . . . take time to do right. But that’s why we became doctors.”

Rayanne Lee-House, MD

Rayanne Lee-House, MD, is a pediatrician in New Orleans. Losing her teenage nephew to suicide spurred her interest in helping young people with mental health issues. She notes that “the wait time to see a mental health therapist can be a hindrance to care” and that she is in a good position to treat her patients because she has already established rapport with them.

Joanne Martin, NP

Joanne Martin, NP, works in a child development center in New York City and has served as adjunct faculty for several nursing programs. She wants use her REACH training to improve outcomes for her own patients, share her knowledge with colleagues, and educate parents and the public about the benefits of early mental health intervention.

Amber Pendleton, MD

Amber Pendleton, MD, is a pediatrician and clinical professor in the University of Louisville’s primary care clinic, which has been integrating a mental health focus. She says that the REACH program would “hugely impact” training for physicians, residents, and medical students; “we have struggled find a curriculum that helps us take care of the intense needs of our diverse, urban families of color.”

Andrea Ryan, NP

Andrea Ryan, NP, works in a Chicago-area hospital, where she cites “a desperate need” for pediatric mental health care. The wait is so long that many patients never are seen. NP Ryan said that her own family history of mental illness helps her understand patients’ needs. She looks forward to being able to screen for behavioral and mental health issues.

Jessica Vang, NP

Jessica Vang, NP, works in a pediatric primary care clinic in Minneapolis. She says, “My experience growing up in the Hmong community significantly contributes to my understanding of diverse mental health perspectives.” She hopes to use her knowledge from our program to “normalize conversations about mental health” and help patients who otherwise might have to wait months to see a psychiatrist.

Gita Viswam, MD

Gita Viswam, MD, is the sole pediatrician in a safety net clinic in the Dallas area. Herself the child of immigrants, Dr. Viswam understands the stresses facing her immigrant patients. But empathy is not enough. “I am compelled to educate myself on the most effective ways to support and treat them,” she wrote, in order to “contribute to improved mental health” for new Americans.

Gul-e-Shehwar Zahid, MD

Gul-e-Shehwar Zahid, MD, is a pediatrician at safety net clinic in a rural community in central California where psychiatrists are rare. As a child and young adult in Karachi, Pakistan, Dr. Zahid saw how behavioral issues often resulted from trauma, family dysfunction, or learning disabilities. She wrote, “My background helps me understand the unique needs and mental health perspectives of the patients and families I serve.”

2019 REACH Scholarship Recipients

The REACH Scholarship will enable these five clinicians to participate in the Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program this fall. Three days of intensive in-person training followed by six months of biweekly case-based phone consultations will teach them to assess, diagnose, and treat common mental health issues among their young patients–thanks to you.

These five clinicians were carefully chosen from among 22 worthy applicants. All work in urban settings, where at least 75% of their patients receive Medicaid.


Maria Arroyave, MD

Maria Arroyave, MD, is a behavioral pediatrician who has set up her own practice in Orlando, FL, in order to continue to serve her patients in the wake of Florida’s privatization of children’s medical services. Maria has years of continuing medical education and practice in behavioral health care. She hopes to learn more “so I can see a larger population of mental health patients … and learn newer techniques and state-of-the-art psychopharmacology for them.”

Lori Bennett, NP

Lori Bennett, NP, says that many of the children she sees in her clinic in Ann Arbor, MI, present with mental health issues. She also sees patients in family homeless shelters. She said, “Being able to assess and provide guidance and treatment in a health clinic that they already feel comfortable in and in a timely manner is one less barrier to getting the help they need.” Patients in the shelters can transition to her clinic so they receive seamless care.

Elaine Coldren, MD

Elaine Coldren, MD, is a newly minted pediatrician at Erie Family Health Centers in Chicago, Illinois. Most of her patients’ families speak languages other than English, which means they have trouble accessing medical care. Elaine, who speaks fluent Spanish, wants to be able to treat her Spanish-speaking patients for anxiety and depression so “they can receive treatment in a timely manner from someone who already knows them and their family.”

Sarah Hahn, MD

Sarah Hahn, MD, is a pediatrician in a federally qualified health center in Chicago. Citing the barriers to outpatient mental health care faced by low-income families, Sarah wrote, “If I could … feel competent to intervene in mental health issues on the spot, I could provide immediate services to our patients at a fragile time, with an increased likelihood of follow up because it is occurring in an environment already familiar to them. This would surely improve quality of mental health care for patients in this community.”

LeKia Parker, MSW/LCSW-E

LeKia Parker, MSW/LCSW-E, is a social worker in a specialty clinic for children with chronic illnesses in Norfolk, VA. She notes that her practice sees most patients more often than their PCP does. She expects the REACH training to help her recognize early symptoms of mental health issues and thereby decrease hospital admissions. She said the training “will provide me with an opportunity to get the latest techniques and collaborate with other professionals to see what is working and not working in our practice.”

You can provide better mental health care for thousands of low-income children and teens by donating to The REACH Institute Scholarship Fund. Thank you for your support!

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