AAAC 2024 Symposium

Breaking Barriers, Deconstructing Cultural Stigmas, and Improving Equity and Access: Black Men's Mental Health and Wellness Symposium
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Celebrate Black History Month with us at the AAAC Symposium, commemorating a longstanding tradition dedicated to exploring vital issues facing our community.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Black men have faced unique challenges when accessing mental health and wellness services. In response, this year's AAAC Symposium will address specific barriers and stigmas Black men encounter and how they can find safe spaces for discussions and engage with providers.

This symposium will explore the following five key topics through engaging discussions and workshops: 

•    Deconstructing Stigmas
•    The Intersectionality of Identity
•    Cultural Competence in Mental Health Care and Wellness
•    Creative and Innovative Approaches to Access and Engagement
•    Advocacy, Policy, and Community Resources

This event welcomes participants from all backgrounds and attendance is open to all.

Use Promotional Code AAAC2024CROWNPromo to register for free.

Agenda for the Day

Time Topic
9:00 am -  9:15 am Early Bird Check-In & Coffee
9:15 am -  9:30 am General Check-In
9:30 am - 10:00 am Welcome Remarks
10:00 am -11:00 am Keynote Address: Courtney B. Vance
11:15 am - 12:00 pm Small Group Workshops
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch and Social Networking
1:00 pm - 1:50  pm Mental Health and Wellness Community Experts Panel
1:50 pm -  2:00 pm Closing Remarks

2024 Pastora San Juan Cafferty Keynote Speaker

Courtney B. Vance

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Waldo Johnson, a male-presenting person, smiles towards the camera in a library.
Waldo E. Johnson Jr., Ph.D, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, The University of Chicago, and Professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

Providing Opening Remarks

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., MSW, Professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, is Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion leading the University's Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, supporting the Center for Identity and Inclusion; the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality; and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC), and collaborate with units across campus to help them advance their diversity and inclusion goals. Johnson also lead the Faculty Development Program and oversee chair development, dual careers, and faculty recruitment/relocation. Additionally, he oversees the Provost's Postdoctoral Fellows Program and the Neubauer Family Assistant Professors Program.

He is a member of the Ford Foundation Scholars Network on Masculinity and the Wellbeing of African American Males; ACF’s Welfare and Economic Self-Sufficiency Technical Working Group; 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys; Chair, Commission on Research and member of the Board of Directors, Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) 2010-2013; Co-Chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Research and Information Consortium, Illinois Juvenile Justice Leadership Council; sits on the board of directors of the Center for Family Policy and Practice (CFFPP); and is the editor of Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health and Social Policy (Oxford University Press, 2010).

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Eugene Robinson, Jr., AM’ 09 AAAC Co-Chair

Master of Ceremonies 

Eugene Robinson, Jr. currently holds the esteemed position of Director of Student Engagement within the Office of Student Support and Engagement (OSSE) at Chicago Public Schools (CPS). In this pioneering role, Eugene strategically oversees all aspects of student engagement activities across an extensive network of 500+ CPS schools, making a profound impact on the lives of over 100,000 CPS students. Before assuming his current role, Eugene served as the Sr. Program Manager for Mentoring and Out of School Time, where he managed a portfolio encompassing over 365 CPS schools. This role involved engaging more than 75,000 students annually in out-of-school time programming and collaborating with a catalog of 170+ OST Community Partners. Prior to rejoining CPS, Eugene served as the Interim School Director of The University of Chicago Charter School (UCCS), Woodlawn Campus. His passionate and thoughtful leadership
played a pivotal role in the overall high school and postsecondary success of students during his tenure.

In his earlier tenure at CPS, Eugene held the position of Director of Postsecondary Support and Strategy for the Office of Innovation and Incubation (I&I). In this capacity, he provided strategic postsecondary support to various CPS offices and over 50 Options (Alternative) and Charter High Schools. His focus was on ensuring that every CPS student graduated with a concrete postsecondary plan, prepared for college, career, and life.

Eugene's impact further extended to his role as Manager of Postsecondary Initiatives in the Office of School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising. Here, he spearheaded the district-wide implementation of the college and career software tool, Naviance, benefiting over 150,000 students across 500+ CPS Middle & High Schools. Eugene also played a crucial role in crafting strategies for senior seminar and other special postsecondary initiatives within the Office of
School Counseling & Postsecondary Advising. With a career spanning over 20 years, Eugene has showcased his dedication to education, social work, and non profit endeavors. His multifaceted experience includes diverse roles within the K-16 educational setting and various Chicago non-profit organizations.

Eugene earned his undergraduate degree from Chicago State University and a Master's in Social Work from the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at The University of Chicago. His diverse skill set also includes completing Culinary Arts education at Washburne Culinary Institute. As an alumnus of City Year Chicago (an AmeriCorps program) and a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Eugene remains dedicated to making a positive impact in the community.

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Janelle R. Goodwill, PhD, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor

Moderator of Keynote Speaker Discussion

Janelle R. Goodwill, PhD, is a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Before joining the University of Chicago faculty, Janelle earned her MSW, MS in psychology, and PhD in social work and psychology from the University of Michigan. She completed her undergraduate studies at Michigan State University. 

Janelle Goodwill's research centers the mental health experiences of Black Americans, with a particular focus on suicide prevention and mental health promotion. In this work Janelle explores how strengths such as experiences of hope, social support, and meaning in life protect against adverse outcomes and ultimately promote well-being. Additionally, she considers how measurement and psychological scale construction influences the detection of depression and other psychological outcomes within race groups. The overarching goal of her research is to identify the intra- and interpersonal factors that both prevent suicide and foster flourishing across the lifespan. 

Janelle founded and directs of the Positive Urban Research and Prevention of Suicide Experiences (PURPOSE) Lab. The lab aims to develop accessible materials and resources that mitigate racial disparities while also working to support the mental health needs of residents on Chicago’s South Side. You can learn more about the lab's active projects by visiting

Janelle also currently serves as the Principal Investigator for a new suicide prevention intervention designed to support the specific mental health needs of Black students in Chicago. This school-based intervention is currently in the pilot phase and will run from 2022-2025. This grant is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), while her previous work has been supported by Active Minds and the Ford Foundation.


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Keith R. Green, PhD ‘18, MSW, Executive Director, Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus

Mental Health and Wellness Community Experts Panelist

Focus Area Workshop: Intersectionality of Identity and Advocacy, Policy and Community Resources

More About the Panelist

Keith R. Green, PhD., MSW, is a native Chicagoan with strong community roots and an extensive history as an organizer, educator, scholar, and advocate. He currently serves as Executive Director for the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus – a grassroots community-based organization focused on advancing health equity for Black gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men. He is also the community co-chair for the Chicago Methamphetamine Task Force. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Dr. Green earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in social service administration from the University of Chicago.

He previously served as an associate editor for Positively Aware magazine and director of federal affairs for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Dr. Green is also an award-winning spoken word artist and was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame by former Mayor of Chicago,  Raum Emmanuel in 2012.

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Julie Burnett, Former School and District Leader, Policy Strategist and Consultant

Mental Health and Wellness Community Experts Panelist

More About the Panelist

Julie has over 25 years of experience as an educator in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and higher
education. She has a master’s degree in learning disabilities. She is a certified reading specialist who was a
teacher, reading specialist, high school literacy coach, area curriculum director, high school assistant principal,
and former Director of Literacy for Chicago Public Schools. She co-founded the Urban School Improvement
Network (now called the Urban Education Institute) at the University of Chicago. It incubated and supported
the opening and ongoing professional learning communities of 13 new elementary and high schools,
including the University of Chicago’s Woodlawn campus. She also served as a leadership coach at the
Network for College Success at the University of Chicago.

Currently, Julie is the Director of Partnership and Innovation where she guides The Chicago
Public Education Fund’s programming, strategy, and operational initiatives. Before joining The Fund, Julie
was the Senior Director of Education Policy for the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office. Julie’s professional
history demonstrates a commitment to providing coherent and connected programs to maximize
opportunities, promote just policies, and advocate for systems and resources committed to equitable
student outcomes.

Julie graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in sociology and a master’s
in education leadership and policy. She completed her administrative and leadership
training with New Leaders for New Schools, Chicago Cohort. Julie grew up near the north side of Chicago
and is a CPS graduate. She is excited to join Dr. Nia Abdullah’s team at the Inspire Impact Consulting Group
which provides strategic planning services to amplify organizational impact and maximize the social good.



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Marshall Hatch, Jr., AM/MDV ‘17, MSW, Executive Director, MAAFA Redemption Project

Mental Health and Wellness Community Experts Panelist

Focus Area Workshop: Creative and Innovative Approaches to Access and Engagement and Advocacy, Policy and Community Resources

More About the Panelist

Marshall Hatch Jr. is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the MAAFA Redemption Project, a Chicago-based workforce, social & spiritual development initiative for Black and Brown men ages 18-30. Hatch Jr. hails from the Westside of Chicago. He graduated from Lincoln Park High School in 2006 and was awarded the Gates Millennium scholarship the same year.

He attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Religion. After working for Bates as an Admission Counselor, Marshall returned to Chicago, joining Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men as the Director of College Counseling and teacher of African American History. He served in these capacities for three years while mentoring hundreds of young African American men on the South and West Side.

His passion for education, social justice, and spirituality grew substantially from these experiences, leading him to pursue dual Master's degrees in Divinity and Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago in 2014. Upon graduation, Marshall joined his father, Pastor Marshall Hatch Sr., in full-time ministry at New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, the largest congregation in Chicago’s West Garfield
Park neighborhood.

In 2017, Marshall and his father founded the MAAFA Redemption Project as a church ministry. The Project recruits and invests in emerging adult Black and Brown men with housing, job skills development, educational opportunities, and wrap-around social services. The Project supplements these supports with programming that focuses on the arts, cultural-identity development, spiritual enrichment, transformative travel, civic empowerment, and insistent Life Coaching/Mentoring.

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Leslie Amonoo, MD,Family Care Physician and Researcher, Millennial Beacon

Mental Health and Wellness Community Experts Panelist

More About the Panelist

Of Ghanaian descent, Dr. Amonoo grew up on the south side of Chicago and is a proud product of the Chicago Public Schools system. Dr. Amonoo founded Millennial Beacon Chicago and is the Health Tech Center for Inclusive Innovation Co-Founder. Dr. Amonoo is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago Medical School and is currently serving the south and west side of Chicago as a Family and Community Medicine Resident physician at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Illinois Medical District. Dr. Amonoo is committed to closing the gap in Life Science Innovation and ecosystem building in Black and African-American Communities and currently serves on the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation’s Health Brain Trust. Dr. Amonoo is an avid sports fan and enjoys working out in his spare time and spending time with friends and family.

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Kendall Straughter, Lower School Dean, The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and Student at Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice

Mental Health and Wellness Community Experts Panel- Moderator


More About the Panelist

Kendall L. Straughter is a School Administrator at The University of Chicago’s Laboratory School in the Lower School Division. In this role, he supports student engagement, culture and climate, student support services, safety and security, and daily operations for 440 students and 75 faculty members from 3rd through 5th grade. As an additional role to the school community, Kendall served as the Counseling Intern during the 2022-2024 school year, supporting student support services and diversity, equity, and inclusion work within the Lower School Division. He currently serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Intern in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, supporting the larger school community and impacting over 2200 students, men of color, faculty, and staff. Kendall has served in various leadership positions throughout Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Previously, Kendall served as the Transition Specialist in the Office of Incubation and Innovation and supported a portfolio of 106 charter schools with 60,000 students for Chicago Public Schools. In the role, he managed and drove equity practices to decrease the historic and inequitable practices of students being arbitrarily “Pushed Out” of traditional charter schools. In his time with CPS, he once served as the youngest Dean of Students at 25 years old for Kenwood Academy High School. In other roles with CPS, he has served as Director of Culture and Climate at various schools, Network Attendance Administrator, and Board Approved Vendor as a Male Mentor and
SEL Consultant.

In roles outside of CPS, Kendall founded and operated a nonprofit organization called Gifted and Talented Seven Inc. (GT7) between 2015 and 2020 and was awarded over $750,000 in private donations to provide mentor services to over 250 students within the City of Chicago. In addition, he consulted with Chicago Public Schools, City-Wide College Advisors for City Colleges of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department’s Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies program(CAPS), City Year Chicago, and other local nonprofit organizations. As Executive Director, he hosted a male summer enrichment program from 2016 through 2018, impacting 150 boys of color. As exposure opportunities, he organized career and college exploration events and funded international travel to Accra, Ghana, for five black youth males for the 400th Anniversary of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, where they spent a two-week immersion within the culture.
While residing in Houston, Texas, he served as an Assistant Principal for Yellowstone College Prep. He served as managing partner and creative director of The BlackButterfly, LLC in his leisure time. He led philanthropic efforts by creating The Black Butterfly Scholarship for Young Men of Color at Mickey Leland College Prep Academy for Young Men of Color. He raised $15,000 in scholarship aid for first-generation college students in the graduating class 2021. His efforts extended to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, by providing housing insecurity aid and academic scholarship to a black male student.

In 18 years as an educator and community servant, Kendall is a second-year Master of Social Work Administration candidate at The University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social, Policy and Practice, where he is a Dean Distinguished Scholarship Recipient. As a clinical student and mental health practitioner, he founded the Straughter Firm, LLC, an all-black-male mental health consulting firm, and serves as the Principal Consultant.


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Cynthia Treadwell, EdD, Executive Director, The Office of Social Emotional Learning, Chicago Public School

Mental Health and Wellness Community Experts Panelist

More About the Panelist

Dr. Treadwell has been an educator in Chicago Public Schools for the past 23 years and has fulfilled various roles. She is the Executive Director of the Office of Social and Emotional Learning. Before this role, she was the Principal of Ira F. Aldridge Elementary. During her principalship, she became a CAHN fellow for distinguished principals and a Chicago Public Schools distinguished principal. She has also held several other roles within the district.

In addition to being a driven educator, Dr. Treadwell has had the opportunity to teach courses as an Adjunct Instructor to help strengthen the pipeline and development of future educators. She is also the founder and lead consultant for Heart Educational Consulting LLC.

Dr. Treadwell holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from National Louis University and is the author of 30 Days of Encouragement for the Educator and a Daily Journal. She aims to create academically engaging school communities and learning experiences that foster curiosity, kindness, and a strong focus on social and emotional skills for all.


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Joseph Mapp, CP4P Program Manager- Director of Reentry, Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation

Focus Area Workshop: Creative and Innovative Approaches to Access and Engagement and Advocacy, Policy and Community Resources

More About the Panelist

Joseph Mapp is a Restorative Justice Practitioner who is passionate about ending mass incarceration and turning the “school-to-prison pipeline” on its head by engaging in “prison-to-school” work. As a returning citizen who was incarcerated for nearly 27 years, Joseph has
experienced firsthand the transformative power of education.

Following his release from prison, he continues this work as a Program Manager/Director of Reentry at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) a Restorative Justice Hub. In addition to this work, he serves on the Steering Committee for several organizations that are fighting to improve the conditions of those who are in the community and incarcerated and offer quality access to employment, education, health, and housing, such as the Illinois Coalition for Higher Education in Prison, Education Justice Project, and PBMR to name a few. Joseph received an undergraduate degree at NEIU and plans to obtain a master’s degree in business administration in Leadership and Social Impact.

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McKinley Nelson, Executive Director and Founder, Project sWish Chicago

Focus Area Workshop: Creative and Innovative Approaches to Access and Engagement

More About the Panelist

McKinley Nelson is a Chicago native, Whitney Young Magnet Alum, and attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He
He embodies the spirit of philanthropy and believes in paying it forward through his community work via his non-profit organization, Project sWish Chicago (PSC).

After the untimely death of nearly a dozen close friends due to the senseless gun violence in Chicago, McKinley suffered
from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. He felt compelled to create PSC, a foundation and movement that focuses on mental
wellness and healing and utilizes basketball as the driving force to harness the power of what happens on the court to change
and save lives off the court.

Project sWish Chicago provides free basketball leagues/open runs in underserved communities during statistically high crime times to provide a safe haven and build a sense of community. PSC also focuses on health equity and offers non-traditional therapeutic programs with licensed instructors (yoga, meditation, massage therapy, financial literacy, music therapy, and art therapy). The goal is to promote healing and provide the male and female participants a platform to have a voice and be vulnerable.

McKinley has impacted and reached more than 2,000 young people in just four years. His work has been recognized by President Obama, Nike, LeBron James, Steve Harvey, Bleacher Report/ TNT, and national and local media outlets, and he has led a Cook County Health television and print campaign.

While he faces his challenges, McKinley has reliably been able to find refuge in basketball and has now devoted his life to creating access to the game while providing a safe and supportive environment for others throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.

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Marshaun Bacon, AM ‘09, Becoming A Man (BAM) Replication Specialist, Youth Guidance

Focus Area Workshop: Creative and Innovative Approaches to Access and Engagement

More About the Panelist

Marshaun Bacon is the Becoming A Man (BAM) Replication Specialist for the Chicago nonprofit Youth Guidance, a school-based agency dedicated to supporting at-risk youth. He was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. A graduate of Morgan Park High School, he was exposed to many of the pitfalls that youths on the South Side often encounter.

Bacon has over 25 years of experience creating mentoring opportunities for young people and has made it his personal goal to motivate youth to become community leaders. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and an Ed.M. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After working as a Pre-K teacher for Chicago Public Schools, he received a master’s degree in Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Bacon first began working for Youth Guidance in 2009 as a BAM Counselor. In 2013, Bacon facilitated the Hyde Park Career Academy BAM group that met with President Obama both at their school and then at the White House.

Bacon formerly served as a Curriculum Specialist for the BAM Pilot Programs in Boston, MA, and in Seattle, WA. He is currently part of the National Team and lives in Hyde Park, Chicago, with his two young sons.

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Jacob Dancer, AM ‘04, LCSW, Clinical Program Director, Metropolitan Family Services

Focus Area Workshop: Deconstructing Stigmas and Cultural Competence in Mental Health and Wellness

More About the Panelist

Jacob Dancer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 30 years of experience working with children, families, and adults in the Chicagoland area. Jacob is the Clinical Program Director of Behavioral Health Services at Metropolitan Family Services –Calumet, located in the Roseland Community on the south side of Chicago. Before coming to Metropolitan Family Services, Jacob served as the
Residential Clinical Director of UCAN, a social service agency that serves and impacts over 21,000 at-risk children, youth, and families across Illinois. For over twenty-eight years, Jacob served as a front-line residential staff member and therapist before joining leadership, whereby he was involved in the development and coordination of many ranges of clinical, mentoring, youth leadership, mental health, and family-related services through engagement and collaboration with community organizations across the Chicagoland area as a Program Manager in the outpatient clinical director and eventually as the program manager for UCAN’s innovative Violence Intervention and Prevention Services Department. While working in violence prevention, Jacob actively worked to address levels of violence in North Lawndale, as well as supervise and administered clinicians providing a wide range of therapeutic services to participants in the community-
based outpatient counseling settings. Once Jacob joined the UCAN Residential Department, he reshaped service provision whereby several UCAN departments began providing family therapy, youth development, violence prevention, and tutoring services
within the site.

As the Clinical Program Director, Jacob actively addresses the behavioral health needs of the south side of Chicago by overseeing leadership and staff who provide therapy, counseling, case management, and peer support services. Additionally, Jacob
sets the clinical tone for the culture of the Behavioral Health Department at Metropolitan Family Services -Calumet to ensure that the department and the site demonstrate a trauma-informed care culture. Because everything that everyone does is done with a focus on maintaining and sustaining safety, Jacob utilizes safety as the anchor to leading the Behavioral Health Department in providing supportive, caring, empathic, and systemic clinical services to individuals and families to equip them to learn, to earn, to heal and to thrive.

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Daunte Henderson, AM ‘21, LCSW, Clinical Social Worker/Therapist

Focus Area Workshop: Deconstructing Stigmas and Cultural Competence in Mental Health and Wellness

More About the Panelist

Daunte Henderson is a 2021 Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice graduate. He brings eight years of experience in the mental health field to his role as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at a private practice in Hyde Park. Additionally, he offers consultation and mental health training to organizations throughout Chicago. Daunte's diverse background spans non-profit organizations, education, and the literary arts. When he's not working, you'll find him valiantly resisting the allure of sneaker purchases and steadfastly avoiding indulgence in Crumbl Cookies.

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Cortney VanHook, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work

Focus Area Workshop: Deconstructing Stigmas and Cultural Competence in Mental Health and Wellness

More About the Panelist

As a mental health interventionist, my work centers on the development, management, and evaluation of interventions to treat
mental illness with specific attention to young Black males in the adolescent and young adult cohorts. My secondary interest is the prevention and intervention of intra-community gun violence, a social problem that impacts young Black men more than any group in this country. Understanding and treating the conditions that lead to gun violence among young men – adverse childhood events, socio-economic immobility, community disorganization, harmful gender norms, policy disinvestment, and systemic racism – are all areas that I address in my work.

Cortney obtained a BS in Psychology from Georgia State University, a Master of Public Health and a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, both from Mercer University, followed by a Master of Social Work and PhD in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh.

All attendees will receive a signed copy of The Invisible Ache: Black Men Identifying Their Pain and Reclaiming Their Power by Courtney B. Vance and Dr. Robin L. Smith.

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This event welcomes participants from all backgrounds and attendance is open to all.

If you have any questions about access or to request a reasonable accommodation that will facilitate your full participation in this event such as ASL interpreting, captioned videos, Braille or electronic text, food options for individuals with dietary restrictions, etc. please contact the event organizer.