Award –Winning Psychology Professor Wears Many
With the award of a $1million grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and
Elissa Brown, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of
St. John’s PARTNERS Program, has added yet another arrow in
the quiver of her academic achievements.
is a St. John’s program dedicated to providing free mental health
services to the Queens community. The coveted, four-year stipend
will enable PARTNERS to treat Latino and African/Caribbean American
children who are victims of violence. The program will use
therapies developed by Dr. Brown and her colleagues.
“With this federal grant,” said Dr. Brown, “PARTNERS will not
only be able to serve hundreds of children who we were not able to
reach previously, but we also will be able to gain an understanding
of which treatments are most effective in helping them.”
“Our goal is to extend the reach of our services and create a
therapeutic model that can be easily adapted to help multi-cultural
families who may be hesitant about therapy,” said Dr. Brown.
Under Dr. Brown’s leadership, PARTNERS has raised more than $4.2
million in external funding from such organizations as the National
Institutes of Health, NYS Office of Mental Health, Substance Abuse
and Mental Health Services Administration, Department of Justice
and private foundations.
Tracing the arc of her journey and the decision to join St.
John’s in 2004, Dr. Brown explained that after working as a
psychologist in well-known medical centers, she was ready to join
an academic institution. She chose St. John’s because it offered a
first-class doctoral program in
clinical psychology that emphasized student mentoring. She was
also drawn by the multi-cultural makeup of the University’s student
body as well as of the Queens community. In addition, she found St.
John’s commitment to the Vincentian mission
Dr. Brown is especially proud that several of her mentees have
taken what they learned at PARTNERS into new arenas. “I encourage
my students to use their experience to create their own
special-interest programs,” she said. Dr. Brown cited mentees who
are beginning careers linking trauma to the treatment of HIV,
eating disorders and human trafficking survivors. “I take great joy
in seeing my students apply what they learned with me to fulfill
their own social justice passions,” she stated.
“I owe my own success to good mentoring and knowing what a
difference it can make, I feel a responsibility to give back,” she
said. Consequently, she has assembled a student team at
PARTNERS that consists of ten graduate students who receive
fellowships, three Ozanam Scholars who volunteer their
services and externs from schools other than St. John’s.
Dr. Brown has found her niche at St. John’s. “I get to wear a
lot of hats here,” she noted. “I’m a full-time psychology
professor, the executive director of a non-profit organization and
member of the Vincentian Institute of Social Action (VISA) Faculty
She praises the University’s supportive environment that has
enabled her to realize all of her personal and professional
dreams. In addition, she stated, “ I also get sustenance from
collaborating with a Vincentian university. It is a blessing to be
able to work with an institution that serves the underserved, which
has always been one of my goals.”