Who We Are

Based at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, the CIMH is directed by Victoria Ngo, PhD, who is clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Social Sciences. The Center for Innovation in Mental Health builds on a wealth of scholarly and practical expertise within the university, advisory board members, and collaborators.


Victoria Ngo

Victoria Ngo, PhD, MS
Deputy Director

Victoria Ngo is an Associate Professor of Community Health and Social Sciences at the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy (CUNY SPH), Director of the Center for Innovation in Mental Health at CUNY SPH, Director for Global Mental Health in the Center for Immigrant, Refugee, and Global Health, and an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. Also a clinical psychologist, she has expertise in developing, evaluating, and implementing evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, for depression, anxiety, and trauma in diverse communities in the United States and abroad. Her research pays particular attention to understanding and promoting implementation strategies that can increase access and quality of evidence-based mental health services for ethnic minorities and underserved populations worldwide. Ngo specializes in implementation strategies, such as use of community partnerships, task-shifting evidence-based practices, and integration of mental health care into more accessible service settings, including primary care, maternal health, and HIV services.

Since 2000, she has worked to develop research and clinical training capacity and infrastructure in Vietnam, including development of the first graduate program in clinical psychology and development and evaluation of the Multicomponent Collaborative Care for Depression (MCCD) program, which was the first program to integrate mental health services into the primary care system in Vietnam. Following this, she developed LIFE-DM, an integrated depression care and microfinance program to break the cycle of depression and poverty for economically disadvantaged women, which was effective in reducing depression and improving economic outcomes. Through the support of NIMH and Grand Challenges of Canada, both the LIFE-DM and the MCCD program are being scaled up and evaluated in Vietnam currently. In Uganda, she developed depression services for HIV patients and is now leading an effort to integrate depression care into perinatal services for HIV positive pregnant women.

Ngo also has taken leadership roles in minority mental health policy efforts in the United States, including membership in the State of Tennessee Mental Health Planning Council Cultural Competence Committee (2001-2004) and chairing the State Cultural Competence Committee Service System Task Group (2004) and contributing to policy efforts to promote advancement of global mental health research and services.

Ngo earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Vanderbilt University. Her passion and commitment to working in ethnic minority and other underserved communities comes from her own experience as a Vietnamese refugee.



Eunice Kim, LCSW
Implementation Specialist

Catherine Dinh-Le, MPH
Project Manager

Ursula Whiteside, PhD
Implementation Specialist

Jinnia Nusrat
Research Associate

Hanish Kodali, MD, MPH
Graduate Assistant

Erinn Bacchus, MPH
Graduate Assistant

Kristina Phan
Project Coordinator

Tim Le, MPH
Research Assistant

Jiaqi Zhu, MA
Research Associate

Weanne Estrada, MPH
Graduate Assistant

Samantha Weckesser, MPH
Graduate Assistant

Quan Vu, LMSW
Project Coordinator

Gary Kwok, MA
Research Assistant

Advisory Board

Gillian Barclay, DDS MPH DrPH, is the founder of WIYZIP, LLC, a US-based global social enterprise that supports and promotes innovations to advance global development.  Previously she was vice president of the Aetna Foundation where she led the development and execution of the foundation’s national and international programs and initiatives, and its learning, implementation research and evaluation strategies.  Dr. Barclay currently serves as direction on boards of national non-profits in housing, tertiary education and leadership.  She is a member of expert groups at the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, including the National Academy of Medicine’s Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities, and the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement.  She currently chairs doctoral dissertation committees in public health at Walden University, and has served as faculty for the National Institutes of Health’s mHealth Training Institute.  She has taught at the Harvard School of Public Health and Hunter College of the City University of New York, has published in peer-reviewed literature and has been a frequent presenter at conferences in the U.S. and around the world.  She holds a doctorate in public health from Harvard University and a master’s of public health from the University of Michigan.  She also holds a doctorate of dental surgery from the University of Detroit Mercy and completed her residency at New York Hospital.  Her undergraduate degree was earned at the University of the West Indies.

Gary S. Belkin, MD PhD MPH, is Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after an exhaustive nationwide search. Dr. Belkin’s was previously Senior Director for Psychiatric Services at the NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation. His career has involved progressive responsibility in policy and systems development for public health and mental health services in US urban settings, including at Bellevue Hospital Center where he served as Deputy Director of the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Belkin is also is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine.

Dr. Belkin has particular experience in the historical context of medical patents, mental health theories, and ethical issues. His residency was at Massachusetts General Hospital and he has held an appointment at Harvard Medical School for many years. Dr. Belkin has been involved in several projects aimed at extending the uses of community-based mental health strategies in New York City and internationally, and exploring the degree they can be used for larger social policy and public health purposes.

Jo Ivey Boufford, MD is President of The New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Boufford is Professor Emeritus of Public Service, Health Policy and Management at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine. She is Co-Director of the National Program Office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program. She served as Dean of the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University from June 1997 to November 2002. Prior to that, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from November 1993 to January 1997, and as Acting Assistant Secretary from January 1997 to May 1997. While at HHS, she served as the U.S. representative on the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1994–1997.  In 2010, she was appointed by Governor Cuomo to serve on the New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Council and Chair of its Public Health Committee.  She also serves on the board of the United Hospital Fund and the Regional Plan Association in New York.  Dr. Boufford was awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship at the Institute of Medicine in Washington, DC for 1979–1980.  She was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2005. She has been a Fellow of The New York Academy of Medicine since 1988 and a Trustee since 2004.

Dr. Boufford attended Wellesley College for two years and received her BA (Psychology) magna cum laude from the University of Michigan, and her MD, with distinction, from the University of Michigan Medical School. She is Board Certified in pediatrics.

Ayman El-Mohandes, MD MPH is a pediatrician, epidemiologist, and academician with a deep commitment to public service; he serves an elected member of the executive board of the American Public Health Association. Prior to his appointment to CUNY in 2013, he served as Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska, where he was also professor of epidemiology at the College of Public Health, and professor of pediatrics and of obstetrics/gynecology at the College of Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. El-Mohandes currently serves as the Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy at the City University of New York. In this capacity he has dramatically expanded the school’s collaboration with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Under his leadership the New York City NHANES study was completed in 2014, and a new collaboration to pilot a community health workers’ initiative in East Harlem was launched in 2015. The CUNY School of Public Health currently is a collaborative home, along with the NYU School of Medicine, to the CDC Prevention Center in New York City.  The School has expanded significantly with 50 faculty and more than 600 graduate students, and a revitalized research portfolio. In the past year the School has established two new institutes, one addressing urban food policy and the other focused on implementation science.

Fredrik Lindencrona is a licensed psychologist, focusing on strategies for systems transformation towards a society able to promote and use mental capital & well-being. Since 2009 Fredrik leads on innovation strategy and international collaboration within Mission Mental Health, one core part within the National Strategy for Mental Health in Sweden. Mission Mental Health provides the core team to bridge policy and practice in between national, regional and local governments in Sweden. The team supports active innovation, implementation and scaling processes across the full spectrum of societal settings and sectors throughout the life span. Fredrik is passionate about how to speed up learning between countries and has developed a strong international network of colleagues in policy, services, user organizations, academia across many sectors who share the drive to promote and use mental capital & well-being. This has allowed Fredrik to work together with many colleagues across the world.  Fredrik is currently vice-chair of the sponsoring country´s leadership group within the eight country collaborative initiative, International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership.

Chad Shearer is vice president for policy at United Hospital Hund as well as a leader in UHF’s Medicaid work.  Mr. Shearer joined UHF in 2014, coming from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University, where he served as deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health Reform Assistance Network, a project coordinating technical assistance to 11 states on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion provisions. He was also a lecturer in public affairs at the university, teaching a capstone policy workshop.  Earlier, he was senior program officer at the Center for Health Care Strategies, where he helped shape its Medicaid Leadership Institute, an intensive training program for selected state Medicaid directors. Before that, he served as legislative director for Congressman Pete Stark, who was chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.  Mr. Shearer holds both a law degree and a master’s in health administration from the University of Iowa.