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February 2022

Message from the Chair

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It’s Match Season, the time of the year when learn who will be joining us for our training programs in Psychology, Psychiatry, and our fellowship programs. And this year seems off to a good start because we are fortunate to recruit another group of talented individuals who will bring their enthusiasm, experience, and passions to the UW and to our department. Our success in recruitment is a testament to the quality and commitment of our faculty and staff who welcome our trainees and work tirelessly every day to share their love for what they do as clinicians, researchers, and teachers. This month, we are thrilled to announce our newest cohort of psychology residents who will join us as the 61st class of our prestigious training program.

Our department now hosts the largest psychiatry residency program and one of the most well-established psychology residency programs in the country, and we are expanding our efforts to develop a strong behavioral health workforce through partnerships to train additional health care professionals such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists. We are also well on the way to establish an innovative training program for Behavioral Health Support Specialists (BHSS), a new role in Washington State that would allow trained providers with a bachelor’s degree to deliver evidenced-based psychotherapies to individuals with mental health and addiction problems under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

As we expand our efforts in education and workforce development, we have initiated a national search for a new Director of our Psychiatry Residency Training Program to build upon the excellent work of our current Director, Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD. Our Vice Chair for Education, Heidi Combs, MD, is chairing this national search and this is an exciting opportunity to shape and lead the largest psychiatry residency program in the country. Please share the job announcement with your networks to help us get a fabulous group of candidates.

As we strive to be an equitable, diverse and inclusive community for all of our trainees, faculty and staff, I am grateful for the work of our Faculty Diversity Committee led by Mark Snowden, MD, MPH, for the work of our new Staff EDI Committee led by Jamie Adachi and Binyam Abraham, and to everyone who helps us create a welcoming, respectful, and supportive environment for new and existing colleagues. This is important work for all of us, and it is absolutely crucial if we want to continue to recruit and retain the best and brightest clinicians, researchers, and teachers in an increasingly competitive national environment.


Staff EDI Committee update
A few months ago, we announced plans to start a staff committee focused on equity, diversity and inclusion to complement our existing Faculty Diversity Committee led by Mark Snowden, MD, MPH. We have since named Jamie Adachi and Binyam Abraham as Co-Chairs of the new committee and have assembled a terrific group of staff members who work across our department. The group has been working on its mission statement, charter and organizational structure including the establishment of a communications subcommittee, EDI professional development subcommittee, EDI resources subcommittee and climate survey subcommittee. Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, MA, serves as the committee’s Executive Sponsor and Ali Iqbal, MBA, serves as its Executive Champion.

The intent of the Committee is to amplify, enhance and support EDI efforts across the department, the School of Medicine and the University rather than duplicate efforts. Through a collaborative process, the Committee developed the following living mission statement: The Staff EDI Committee works to create a safe, inclusive and diverse environment that supports department staff personally and professionally. The Committee champions organizational change and brings an EDI and anti-racism lens to the department’s work.

Thank you to all the Committee members who are laying the groundwork for this important work in our department: Semhar Abraha, Binyam Abraham, Jamie Adachi, Casey Chandler, Christina Clayton, Eliza Cohn, Laura Cooley, Alan Gojdics, Staci Guerrero, Ali Iqbal, Jennifer Magnani, Chris McCain, Suzanne Meller, Cameron Michels, Alison Newman, Jes Olson, Nichole Sams and Becky Sladek.

You can learn more about our department’s EDI efforts on our website:
Please help us welcome our new faculty and staff!
Lori Mae Yvette Calibuso Acob joined us in December 2021 as the Garvey Institute Brain Health Science Writing Intern. She was born and raised in Hawai’i and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health-Global Health. She is on the pre-med track and is interested in Family Medicine, Pediatrics, and Neuroscience. She aspires to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in her community by creating an all-inclusive, equitable culture of health. Yvette spent several months as a science writer at Concussion Alliance, an advocacy organization dedicated to helping concussion patients navigate their recovery. Outside of work, Yvette enjoys hiking, bouldering, learning French, and playing guitar. If you would like to reach out to Yvette and say hello, her email is

Tatiana Barton joined the department in November 2021 as a Mental Health Clinician with the SPIRIT lab. Tatiana previously worked in the community mental health settings. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington, followed by a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology in 2018 from The Seattle school of Theology and Psychology. Her foundational training is rooted in the traditions of relational psychodynamic psychotherapy. She has spent the past five years with Program for Assertive Community Treatment teams (PACT) in Washington state. Her interest in working with clients with severe and persistent mental illness led her to transition from a PACT mental health clinician to PACT Team Lead, involved with the start-up and organization of a new PACT team, to her current role as a Continuing Education Specialist. She will be focusing on working with team leads on various processes and interventions related to PACT. If you would like to reach out to Tatiana and say hello, her email is

Brenda Goh joined the department in January 2022 a graduate student assistant for Seven Directions, a center for indigenous public health, housed in the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors. Seven Directions is the first national public health institute in the U.S. that focuses solely on Indigenous health and wellness. As a student assistant, she is in charge of analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, building data dashboards, writing reports, conducting literature reviews, designing marketing or publicity materials, and working with community partners. Brenda is a graduate student in the Master of Public Health in Health Services program with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences at UW. She graduated from Iowa State University in May 2021 with a BA in Political Science, a double major in Psychology, and a minor in Health Promotion. Her previous research experiences as a research assistant in behavioral health research focuses on intimate partner violence, substance abuse (specifically on the opioid epidemic and harm reduction), and people with mental illnesses. As a certified peer wellness educator at Iowa State, she also developed and implemented wellness initiatives, facilitated presentations on a variety of health topics, and advocated for policies and services to promote a culture of holistic well-being on campus. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, baking, taking walks, and volunteering with local community organizations to serve Sunday dinners. If you would like to reach out to Brenda and say hello, her email is

Mel LaBelle III joined the department in January 2022 as a CBTp trainer with the SPIRIT Lab at Harborview Medical Center. Mel will work on training providers in Washington state on how to run CBTp groups. He will also be co-leading the consult group for the trainees 1-2 times per month for additional support and training as they get their groups up and running. Additionally, Mel will be co-leading CBTp groups at Harborview for inpatient clients. Mel is a licensed mental health counselor and has spent most of his career working with clients from lower economic backgrounds. He has worked closely with LGBTQA+ and BIPOC populations, as well as clients who experience psychosis. His work in CBTp has brought him to offer treatment individually, in Telehealth groups during COVID-19, and for a short time he was a mHealth Support Specialist for the FOCUS study. Outside of work Mel is an avid reader with an ever-growing home library. He is an amateur herbalist and perfume maker and loves to get outdoors with his chocolate Labrador retriever, Draco, for walks, hiking, and wildcrafting. If you would like to reach out to Mel and say hello, his email is

Kristine McKenna, PhD, joined the department in February 2022 as an Associate Professor and Pediatric Psychologist in the Heart Failure and Heart Transplant Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Prior to coming to Seattle, Dr. McKenna worked for 11 years at Boston Children’s Hospital as a Transplant Psychologist across five organ programs (heart, kidney, intestinal, liver, and lung). She worked within the Psychiatry Consult Service as well and had an appointment at Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Professor. She started her career at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a Pediatric Psychologist working in their Hematology/Oncology and Nephrology programs after completing her psychology internship and fellowship training there. Dr. McKenna received her master’s degree in Health Psychology from the University of Bath (England) and her doctorate from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Outside of work, she enjoys outside time including hiking, bird watching, attempting photography, and packrafting/kayaking. Dr. McKenna is also an avid football (as in soccer) fan. Her 15-year-old dog is her trusty sidekick in many adventures- including driving across country this winter to start their new life on the West Coast! If you would like to reach out to Dr. McKenna and say hello, her email is

John Ostrander joined the department in February 2022 as an Assistant Research Coordinator working in Debby Tsuang’s lab, helping our studies happen from performing blood draws to updating regulatory documentation and everything in between. John studied biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and after graduation participated in a year-long volunteer program call the Alumni Service Corps. His responsibilities included teaching, coaching, and living in community at my former high school. Outside of work, John enjoys hiking with friends, running, swimming, and cooking with his housemates. If you would like to reach out to John and say hello, his email is

Caitlin Renteria joined the department in February 2022 as a Research Study Assistant with the Wraparound Evaluation & Research Team (WERT). Caitlin is currently working remote but will eventually be located at the SMART Center (School Mental Health Assessment, Research, & Training) at Sandpoint. Caitlin has a MA in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Investigative Criminology from Seattle University and a BA in Criminal Justice from San Francisco State University. She previously worked as a Research Specialist at U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services conducting program evaluations. Outside of work, Caitlin loves climbing, hiking, and backpacking. Caitlin tries to spend as much time outdoors as possible. If you would like to reach out to Caitlin and say hello, her email is

Nathan Rieger, PhD, joined the department in December 2021 as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Neumaier Lab based at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Broadly, he will be studying the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie stress. Specifically, Dr. Rieger plans to use a ‘two hit’ model to study how an early life stress paired with acute stress in adulthood affects the stress response across the brain. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin where he studied the strategies used by monogamous California mice to cooperate with their pair-bonded partner to overcome challenges. Dr. Rieger did his first postdoc at Boston College where he studied how prenatal infections in mothers altered the development of the CRF system and social behavior of their offspring as adults using a rat model. Outside of work, Dr. Rieger likes spending time with his family at the beach, playing with his cats, going running and watching sports. He is very excited to be joining the department! If you would like to reach out to Dr. Rieger and say hello, his email is

JP Santos joined the department in January 2022 as a Research Coordinator working with Dr. Emily Dworkin within the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors (CSHRB). JP is helping Emily Dworkin, PhD, oversee the CARE program and will be providing a dyadic intervention to help sexual assault survivors and their support person. JP graduated with honors from the University of Chicago with a BA in Psychology. She has worked in many different areas of research including social cognitive neuroscience, health disparities, and oncology clinical trials. Outside of work, she is an avid reader and cook. JP has a robust collection of cookbooks and likes to test out recipes with friends.  If you would like to reach out to JP and say hello, her email is

Kevin Vintch joined the department in January 2022 as a Research Assistant for the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. The primary area of focus for GRECC is Alzheimer's disease and dementia with lewy bodies. As a research assistant, Kevin assists with patient interviews, filing paperwork, and helping with anything else that they need. Kevin is currently in his third year at the University of Washington studying psychology with the intention of going to medical school after undergrad. Also, he works with LiveWell as a Public Health Educator (PHE) where he gives presentations on topics that promote healthy practices. Outside of work and school, Kevin likes going to different sporting events around Seattle with his friends. Recently, he went to a UW hockey game in Northgate and had a great time. Also, he likes to drive around the Seattle area and take in the great scenery! If you would like to reach out to Kevin and say hello, his email is

New Disruptive Behavior Intensive Outpatient Program at Seattle Children’s
A new Disruptive Behavior Intensive Outpatient Program (DB-IOP) based at Seattle Children’s will provide evidence-based treatment for parents and caregivers of children who struggle with unsafe behaviors including aggression and property destruction. Launched this month, the program is focused on helping families of children ages 5 to 12 who struggle with extreme emotion and inability to regulate their behavior to where it is causing disruption at home, school and in the community. The program is only for families covered by Medicaid/Apple Health. For more information, please visit the program webpage or view the program flyer.

Psychology Internship Match
This year, the UW School of Medicine’s Psychology Internship Program successfully recruited a wonderful class of new residents who will start their training with us on July 1, 2022. We reviewed a total of 303 applications for the 16 available positions in our training program this year and we recruited an outstanding group of new residents. This new cohort will make up the 61st class of our prestigious training program. We will feature a history of the program and its impact in a future newsletter.

Our new residents will be:

General Adult Track
  • Lily Assaad, MS                            Purdue University - W. Lafayette
  • Adam Kuczynski, MS                    University of Washington
  • Andrew Rogers, MA                      University of Houston
 General Child Track
  • China Bolden, MS                         Seattle Pacific University
  • Richelle Clifton, MS                       Indiana University/Purdue-Indianapolis
  • Jessy Guler, MS                            University of Kansas
  • Paulina Lim, MS                            University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
 Autism & Developmental Disabilities Track
  • Thanh Nguyen, MA                       University of Massachusetts - Boston
  • Gabriela Sepulveda, MS               Idaho State University
 Behavioral Medicine Track
  • Heather Altier, MA                         East Tennessee State University
  • Rebecca Altschuler, MA                East Tennessee State University
  • Katherine Degenhardt, MS           Seattle Pacific University
  • Dahyeon Kang, MS                      University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Erin Mistretta, MA                         Arizona State University
  • Whitney Morean, MS                    Seattle Pacific University
 Rehabilitation Neuropsychology Track
  • Isabel Solis, MS                           University of New Mexico
A big congratulations and thank you to Ty Lostutter, Training Director of the Psychology Internship Program; Charles Bombardier, Associate Training Director of the Psychology Internship Program; Heidi Combs, Vice Chair for Education; track coordinators Drs. Eileen Twohy (Child), Ivan Molton and Jeffrey Sherman (BMed/Rehab-Neuropsych), Adam Carmel (Adult), and Jennifer Gerdts (Autism and Developmental Disabilities); Program Coordinator Cynthia Long and Educational Suite Staff including Athena Wong, Marie Carmelo and Liz Tyson; Manager of Program Operations, Kristi Kerr; and to all the faculty, fellows and residents who helped in all aspects of the application process, our second Virtual Open House and meetings with applicants. Our success is a testament to the quality of our faculty and their efforts to welcome, train, and inspire the next generation of clinical psychologists. Your efforts, collegiality, and generosity make this internship the type of program that can attract such wonderful trainees!

Behavioral Health Support Specialist (BHSS) Project 
With generous support from Ballmer Group, we continue to build academic and structural support for a new role to help expand the behavioral health workforce in Washington. The Behavioral Health Support Specialist (BHSS) role is designed to help improve access to behavioral health interventions and address the severe workforce shortage highlighted by a 30-50% vacancy rates in behavioral health organizations across the state. The initiative is directed by Bill O’Connell, EdD, managed by Juliann Salisbury, MSW, and is part of our new Behavioral Health Workforce Expansion and Lifelong Learning (BWELL) program led by Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD.

A BHSS is a bachelor level provider of evidenced-based interventions such as motivational interviewing, behavioral activation and low-intensity cognitive behavioral strategies for individuals with mild to moderate mental health or addiction problems under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. A unique aspect to the work of a BHSS will be measurement-based treatment to help the BHSS and their supervisor assess the impact of treatment and guide treatment planning. The BHSS role is part of a stepped care approach whereby relatively low intensity interventions are attempted first followed by more complex interventions from a masters or doctoral level provider when needed. A similar version of the BHSS role was enacted over a decade ago with tremendous success in the United Kingdom through the IATP (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) program.

The Behavioral Health Support Specialist project is one of three innovative projects funded by Ballmer Group to not only expand the behavioral health workforce, but also to improve the quality of preparation for persons interested in careers in behavioral health care. BHSS preparation may be integrated into an existing bachelor's degree program such as psychology, social work or human services, or it may be offered as a post baccalaureate program. In either instance, a qualified practicum experience with opportunities to utilize skills in evidence-based behavioral activation and cognitive behavioral strategies will crystallize learning for the student.

BHSS graduates will be ready to work in integrated primary care settings as well as other non-traditional settings for behavioral health and will be positioned to deliver the right care at the right dose, helping to prevent problems from worsening due to lack of access. For example, a patient worried about an upcoming surgery could be referred by their primary care provider to the BHSS who establishes rapport with the patient, listens to the patient’s health goals and employs behavioral activation to immediately help the patient consider culturally relevant and realistic ways to start making progress with their goals. If the patient was assessed as having a higher mental health burden, the stepped care model would then recommend a referral to an independently licensed behavioral health provider within the healthcare referral system. 

Open search: Psychiatry Residency Training Program Director
We are excited to announce we are currently recruiting for a new Director for our Psychiatry Residency Training Program, currently the largest psychiatry training program in the country. Our program offers well-rounded, evidence-based clinical training, a rich array of research opportunities, and attention to the development of each resident’s career interests and leadership skills. This is a terrific opportunity to lead the training of the next generation of psychiatrists in one of the most beautiful and dynamic regions in the country. Please share this opportunity with your networks! Candidates may apply at

In addition to their CV, candidates must provide a letter of interest that details their commitment to the education, success and wellbeing of residents and a statement detailing how their teaching, research and/or clinical service has supported underrepresented populations across dimensions of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, backgrounds and interests. We are especially looking for candidates who are committed to working with diverse resident and community populations. Women, underrepresented minorities, individuals with disabilities, individuals who identify as LGBTQ and Veterans are encouraged to apply.

Please reach out to Heidi Combs, MD, MS, Chair of the Search Committee, at to discuss the position or if you have ideas for recruitment.

Allana Hall receives Margaret H. O'Donnell Prize in Psychiatry
Congratulations to Allana Hall, a 4th year medical student, for receiving the Margaret H. O’Donnell Prize in Psychiatry. This prize, funded by a generous philanthropic gift to the department, is awarded to a senior medical student at the University of Washington who has been highly involved in behavior health issues and done outstanding academic work in psychiatry. Allana has engaged in a wide range of activities including forming the first Wyoming Chapter of a student group focusing on Adverse Childhood Experiences and their health impacts, serving as a Crisis Text Line counselor and engaging in research focusing on medication for opioid use disorder. In addition to being recognized for her outstanding work, Allana will receive a $600 award. She is hoping to match into psychiatry next month and we wish her well!

Thank you to Heidi Combs, MD, MS, and Paul Borghesani, MD, PhD, for reviewing applications and administering the award.
For upcoming events, please visit the UW Psychiatry calendar .
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