About the Program
The American Association of Suicidology believes in financially supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) experts to mentor the next generation of BIPOC suicidologists. BIPOC experts experience an undue burden on their time and income due to historic underinvestment in BIPOC communities, the racial wage gap, and expectations that BIPOC experts will donate their time and expertise. And yet, BIPOC experts regularly give time and resources to be content and process mentors. To address this, the American Association of Suicidology is starting the BIPOC Mentor Fellowship Program to compensate BIPOC experts.
AAS acknowledges that experts exist in all aspects of suicidology. Unlike most mentor programs, which are specifically designed to fund senior researchers to mentor junior researchers, the BIPOC Mentor Fellowship Program will provide funding for experts in any domain of suicidology, including clinical, crisis, attempt survivor/lived experience, loss, prevention/public health, impacted family and friends, and research.
Five mentees will be paired with one of five mentors for a year-long fellowship. Mentees will receive mentoring, complimentary conference travel and registration to AAS22 in Chicago, and a 3-year Associate membership to AAS. Applications are due Friday April 5, 2021 at 5:00pm PST. Applicants will be notified the following week if they are selected. The 2021 – 2022 cohort will be announced on April 22 at the AAS21 conference.
Mentor & Mentee Pairs
Donna Holland Barnes, PhD, PCC
A certified Master Trainer for suicide prevention and intervention, Dr. Barnes trains faculty, staff and students as well as the community on how to recognize the signs of someone who is in a suicidal crisis. She is also the co-founder of the National Organization for People of Color against Suicide (NOPCAS) after losing her son to suicide while he was in college. Dr. Barnes teaches suicide risk management for the College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry at Howard University and has published peered reviewed articles and chapters as well as conducting presentations on the topic across the country. She is the author of the Truth About Suicide published by DWJ books in New York as part of the “truth about series…” for middle school and high school students. She has developed a campus-wide prevention program at Howard University; and through NOPCAS conducted support groups for friends and family members of suicide loss survivors.
Barnes has been featured on several radio shows and media outlets including NPR, CNN, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post. She currently serves on the CDC’s Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
She is also founder and CEO of DHB Wellness & Associates, LLC where she conducts life coaching, grief recovery, and suicide prevention training on suicide risk management.
Alicia Newberry was born in Anaheim, California, but spent her teenage years and early adulthood in Phoenix, Arizona. While not a native to Kansas, Alicia found herself relocating back to Topeka, after losing her youngest sibling to suicide. Alicia’s relocation back to Topeka led her to seek a relationship with God, become a mother, start a non-profit, enjoy and start family traditions, and meet her fiancé Lonnie Walker Jr. Alicia enjoys being outdoors, reading suspense novels, arts and crafts with her son, and spending time with her loved ones.
Ms. Newberry graduated with honors from Washburn University with a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology. While working on her bachelor’s she simultaneously obtained her license as a Physical Therapist Assistant from Washburn. Although her initial studies were anatomy related, her passion for suicide awareness has led her to pursue education in behavioral health.
Her career initially began in Topeka, Kansas at Valeo Behavioral Healthcare. For six years she educated herself on the uses and side effects of psych medications, various mental illnesses and how to cope with them, facilitated psychosocial groups, and engaged one on one with individuals struggling with mental illness. Currently Alicia is employed with Community Action, a non-profit who advocates on the behalf of poverty-stricken individuals. She also works on call in a skilled nursing facility where she assists with the physical rehabilitation of the elderly. During her free time, Alicia operates a non-profit where she is working on developing a curriculum for suicide awareness for youth. Ms. Newberry hopes to utilize her non-profit to minimize the stigma associated with suicide and empower youth to speak openly about their emotional health.
Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali
Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali is the retired Deputy Commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. She is now the Tribal Lead and a Senior Project Associate with the Zero Suicide Institute. She served on the SAMHSA/CSAT National Advisory Council for over 4 years. Ms. Ali holds faculty positions at Brown University, Temple University’s College of Health Professions and Drexel University’s School of Public Health. She has traveled the US, Canada, and Australia providing training on Two Spirit history and culture, intergenerational, historical and modern-day trauma and healing in Indigenous communities, and culturally appropriate recovery management and resilience-promoting service delivery in behavioral health.
She has published her thesis, other scholarly articles, and a textbook on culturally appropriate recovery/resilience services, the ending of health disparities through enhanced access to care, and the impact of intergenerational and historical trauma on the Indigenous peoples of North America. She is one of the co-authors of the Philadelphia Behavioral Health Transformation Practice Guidelines for Recovery and Resilience Oriented Treatment, a framework for the fields of mental health and substance use treatment services that is used worldwide. Several years ago, she published Social Healing Words-Using Language to Promote Recovery and Resilience for Individuals, Families and Communities. Most recently, she published Best and Promising Practices for the Implementation of Zero Suicide in Indian Country, a toolkit that indigenizes the Zero Suicide framework and for which she won the 2020 Innovations in Public Health Award from the National Indian Health Board.
Ms. Ali is a multiple suicide attempt survivor. She has been in recovery and the field of behavioral health services for 51 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling Psychology, a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology and is ABD in Clinical Psychology. She is Mi’kmaq First Nation from the Sturgeon Clan and the Founding Elder and Medicine Keeper of the Eastern States Two Spirit Alliance. Ms. Ali is a lifetime member of SAIGE (Society of American Indian Government Employees) for which she serves on the Board of Directors.
Iden is currently living in the Portland Metropolitan and Southern Washington area. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York and has lived in DC for his entire adult life. Iden has been a long-time professional activist, first as an advocate for those with Intellectual/Developmental disabilities and then moving to suicide prevention and mental health activism. Iden is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner/CPRP and was the first certified Peer Specialist in DC. Iden has served in an advisory capacity to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and HRSA/Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) and as a consultant for Advocates for Human Behavior/AHP.
He decided to speak out against transgender violence in 2011 when his intern LaShay McClean was murdered in Washington, DC. Iden knew that he could no longer live under the radar as a Black transgender man and not speak out against the violence surrounding Black trans women. Iden then became a national speaker around social justice for transgender people in general ensuring that the healthcare needs of trans people were heard at the myriad of tables.
In 2013 Iden was awarded the National LGBT Leadership Award at the Alternatives Conference, has been nominated by the DC Chamber of Commerce as a Small Business Champion, and was the DC Office of Human Rights first LGBT Fellow, and in 2016 Iden was awarded the Louis Mitchell Advocacy award at the Black Trans Advocacy Conference.
In 2019, Iden worked on Adi’s Act HB 52 in OR to address youth suicide. In 2020 he worked with the Justice for Nikki Task Force on Nikki’s law in WA State to prohibit the “trans panic defense.”
Sean Joe, PhD
Sean Joe is a nationally recognized authority on suicidal behavior among Black Americans, and is expanding the evidence base for effective practice with Black boys and young men. His research focuses on Black adolescents’ mental health service use patterns, the role of religion in Black suicidal behavior, salivary biomarkers for suicidal behavior, and development of father-focused, family-based interventions to prevent urban African American adolescent males from engaging in multiple forms of self-destructive behaviors.
Working within the Center for Social Development, Joe has launched the Race and Opportunity Lab, which examines race, opportunity, and social mobility in the St. Louis region, working to reduce inequality in adolescents transition into adulthood. The lab leading community science project is HomeGrown STL, which is a multi-systemic placed-based capacity building intervention to enhance upward mobility opportunities and health of Black males ages 12-29 years in the St. Louis region. Joe’s epistemological work focuses on the concept of race in medical and social sciences.
He serves on the Steering Committee of the national Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the National Advisory Council of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Forward Promise initiative.
In recognition of the impact of his work, Joe was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Society for Social Work and Research, and the New York Academy of Medicine.
Tia Tyndal (she/her) is a second-year student in The Catholic University of America Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program working with Dr. David Jobes in the Suicide Prevention Lab. She obtained her B.A. in Psychology and Women & Gender Studies from Florida International University. Her interest in suicide prevention research developed while working at the FIU Center for Children and Families. Her experiences there led her to Dr. Matthew Nock at Harvard University where she worked on research examining implicit cognition in Veterans of the U.S. Military as a McNair and Leadership Alliance Fellow. After graduating, she served as the Research Coordinator of the Duke University Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Center. During her time at Duke, she also worked on research with Dr. David Goldston at the Center for the Study of Suicide Prevention and Intervention. As a doctoral student, Tia researches the ways in which we can leverage technology to provide accessible suicide interventions, particularly for adolescent, POC, and ER populations.
Marlon Rollins, PhD
Dr. Marlon Rollins is a licensed therapist and holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from Ball State University. He has over 15 experience in behavioral health. He has worked extensively in for-profit and non-profit sectors. He has been both a CEO and COO in some of the largest psychiatric and addiction hospitals in California. He has been a member National Association of Crisis Organization Directors (NASCOD) as well as a member of the Steering Committee for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Dr. Rollins has been instrumental in developing suicide protocols and procedures in EMR platforms such as EPIC and AURA as well as providing trainings. He aided in the implementation Garrett Lee-Smith Grant with the Zero Suicide Institute in a large integrated healthcare system. He has published articles on topics related to suicide prevention and BLM. Dr. Rollins is also an ordained minister and a suicide loss survivor.
Zachary Thornhill (he/him/his) is an educator and clinical social worker in Portland, Oregon. He has worked in non-profit, government, and hospital systems in the areas of aging, behavioral health, and public health. Mr. Thornhill developed a professional interest in suicide prevention while working across civil commitment sytems in two states. He identifies as a black, mixed, gay man and is committed to advancing social, health, and economic outcomes for communities of color and LGBTQ-identified folks. In addition to working in the field, he serves as adjunct faculty at Portland State University’s School of Social Work. Outside of his professional capacities he enjoys baking, getting outdoors during the Pacific Northwest’s summer season, and traveling all over. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Seattle University and a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. He is licensed for clinical practice in Oregon and in Washington State.
Eduardo Vega is an internationally recognized thought leader in recovery-oriented programs and policy, consumer/patient rights, stigma reduction, and suicide prevention, whose work continues to drive the forefront of change for public health and mental health worldwide. He is founder and CEO of Humannovations, a consulting and training firm providing innovative solutions for mental health and suicide prevention internationally, fueled by social justice and the “lived experience” of people who have been there. Clients of Humannovations include the World Health Organization, Asana, the White House Office of Science & Technology, the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Movember Foundation, Suicide Prevention Australia, the International Bipolar Foundation, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Facebook and more.
A former Fulbright Specialist and California State Commissioner for Mental Health Services, Vega has led and served on multiple health policy bodies and as an invited expert to the Office of the White House of President Obama. He has presented and consulted on technical issues in behavioral health with stakeholder and consumer groups, private industry and government in the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, Fiji and Latin America. He serves on the the Steering Committee of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the US National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
For his transformative leadership Vega has been recognized by the United States Senate and the United States Surgeon General, the State of California, the nation of Fij. He holds an M.A. in Psychology from New School for Social Research.
Pura Delia Torres
Pura Torres is interested in suicidology and the mission to encourage the understanding of suicide; she is a Peer Support Specialist and a survivor. She has been a Peer Support Specialist at the NYC Well Crisis Call Center and has worked at The Mental Health Association of NYC for the past few years. She is also an active member of Fountain House Clubhouse, a world-renowned psycho-social clubhouse. Pura recently participated in presenting the Fountain House model for occupational therapy students at Columbia University. She plans to facilitate member groups at Fountain House on mental health stigma. Pura is a licensed practical nurse (LPN). She received a Bachelor of Art’s degree cum laude from The City College of New York with a double major in English Literature and Jewish Studies. Pura enjoys and has missed the performing arts but has used this interest creatively to perform as Frida Kahlo for senor nursing home residents via Zoom during the pandemic.