About the BFFs

Dena Barnwell, M.S., CHES, CHW
Discipline: Health Sciences/Health Education & Promotion
State: Maryland

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Brianna P. Lemmons, Ph.D., MSW
Discipline: Social Work
State: Texas

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Dr. Lemmons' research broadly investigates the structure and functioning of black families and more specifically predictors of non-resident black father involvement.

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Marquitta S. Dorsey, Ph.D, MSW, MBA
Discipline: Social Work
State: Illinois

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Dr. Dorsey's research aims to understand factors related to the sexual and reproductive health of Black adolescent females who live in and navigate urban communities. The role of fathers in the lives of girls is central to her research agenda.

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Dena works to increase the availability of the resources and services for fathers. She also brings awareness to the unique needs of dads and promotes the positive effects of father engagement on the health of children and families.

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Ericka M. Lewis, Ph.D., LMSW
Discipline: Social Work
State: Maryland

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Dr. Lewis' research examines the risk and protective factors that influence family functioning and child well-being. As an extension of this work, she also investigates the impact of positive father involvement on child development.

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Shawnice Johnson, M.S.
Discipline: Child & Family Studies
State: Virginia

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Ms. Johnson’s research explores ways in which African American fathers socialize their daughters to address gendered racial microaggressions. 

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Dr. Buckley's research investigates the impact of fatherlessness on Black women and their ability to form attachments. Her research is an acknowledgment of the essential role black fathers play in the lives of their black daughters.

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Maretta McDonald, M.S.
Discipline: Sociology
State: Louisiana

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Ms. McDonald's research examines the influence of child support enforcement policies on low income Black fathers in rural areas

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Latrice Rollins, Ph.D., MSW
Discipline: Social Work & Public Health
State: Georgia

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Dr. Rollins is a Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader whose research is focused on health equity among African American fathers. She is also currently the principal investigator for a research project assessing father-friendliness of maternal and child health agencies in the state of Georgia.

Melissa E. Buckley, Ph.D., LMSW
Discipline: Social Work
State: Maryland

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Katrina Akande, Ph.D.
Discipline: Human Development & Family Science
State: Alabama

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Dr. Akande's research focuses on father-child engagement and father involvement.

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Felicia Murray, Ph.D., LCSW
Discipline: Social Work
State: Texas

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Dr. Murray's research examines the intergenerational transmission of Black fathering practices and the impact of paternal wellness on the Black family structure.

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Tasha Alston, Ph.D., MSW
Discipline: Social Work & Educational Psychology
State: Pennsylvania

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Dr. Alston's research focuses on African American fathers involvement in the education of their children.

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Cassandra Bolar, Ph.D.
Discipline: Marriage & Family Therapy/Psychology
State: Georgia

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Dr. Bolar's research examines the impact of paternal mental health and intimate relationship quality on paternal engagement and child outcomes.

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Sade Cole
Discipline: Child & Family Studies
State: Virginia

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Sade Cole's research examines the impact of father involvement on children's social and emotional well being, including their attachment styles and ability to form intimate relationships across the lifespan. 

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Nijaah Howard
Discipline: Mental Health Counseling
State: New York

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Nijaah Howard is a new release author, mental health counselor, philanthropist, relational speaker, empowerment coach, mother, and CEO of Young Men Strong, LLC, an umbrella company that embodies her brand of empowering, educating, engaging African American boys and men through media, consulting, and mentoring. She believes that “when we strengthen our boys and men, we stabilize our girls and women®”

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Azaliah Baht Israel, Ph.D.
Discipline: Public & Family Policy
State: Oklahoma

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Dr. Israel's research focuses on shifting the cultural and institutional narratives surrounding Black fatherhood in family policy domains, including TANF, child support policies, and healthy marriage/responsible fatherhood programs. 

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Avis Files
Discipline: Human Services
State: Ohio

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Avis Files is a Fatherhood Practitioner and the COO of JustUS Files, LLC, whose goal is to empower urban communities to succeed in life. Avis' work focuses primarily on urban Fathers, though her most recent work has examined infant mortality among young fathers. She has also served as lead on a Randomized Control Trial project that targeted urban fathers ages 20-24.

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Wykinia Culbreth, MPH, CHES
Discipline: Public Health/Health Education
State: Georgia

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Wykinia Culbreth is a Fatherhood Practitioner within a state government Maternal and Child Health section, whose goal is to intentionally engage fathers through existing programs and services and serve as a resource and linkage to fathers, families, and practitioners. Wykinia’s work is accomplished using three core strategies:  capacity building, collaboration, and coordination across traditional and non-traditional partners. She serves as lead and co-lead on multiple cross-sector projects that seek to create a culture of inclusion for fathers in research, policy, and practice across the state.

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Jariah Strozier, MPH, CHES
Discipline: Public Health/Health Education
State: Virginia

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Jariah Strozier's research utilizes Black Feminisms and medical sociology to examine the intersections of gender, race, and weight among Black women. As an extension of this work, her research also focuses on public health interventions and Black families. 

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Dara Lewis, Ph.D.
Discipline: Sociology
State: Illinois

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Dr. Lewis' research focuses on the impact of mass incarceration on fatherhood and father identity. 

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Brittany D. Minor, M.A.
Discipline: Organizational Leadership & Higher Education
State: Texas

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Brittany's research examines Black female doctoral graduates and students who had present Black fathers who raised them. The aim of her research is to shed positive light on Black present fathers and to find out what influence they had on their daughter’s academic journey and accomplishments.

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Paula Marie Powe, MD
Psychiatry
State: Pennsylvania

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Dr. Powe is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who focuses on infant mental health. Her research aims to increase support and engagement of black fathers in home-visiting programs that decrease risk factors for early childhood adversity and toxic stress. 

Gelissa Gibson Adams, MSW, BSc.
Social Work
Country: Jamaica

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Gelissa Gibson Adams' research aims to understand the consequences of father migration on adolescent males. 

 Francesca Austin-Campbell
Public Health/Health Education
State: Texas

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Francesca Austin Campbell is an experienced health educator and reproductive health advocate within local government maternal and child health programs with a focus on health and racial equity.  She is a trained sexual health educator to empower parents and caregivers to be the primary source of sex ed information for their children.  She co-leads a community coalition with the focus of improving birth outcomes and believes the inclusion of fathers in groundwork in the community can lead to impactful change.  

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