About the BFFs

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Brianna P. Lemmons, Ph.D., MSW

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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.


Marquitta S. Dorsey, Ph.D, MSW, MBA

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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.


Sherce Shavel, Ph.D., LMSW, HS-BCP

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Dr. Shavel's research is related to sensitizing the consciousness of others to the parenting challenges confronted by formerly incarcerated fathers and the need to advance their social position within the family unit and the broader community.


Ericka M. Lewis, Ph.D., LMSW

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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.


Shawnice Johnson, M.S.

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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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Melissa E. Buckley, Ph.D., LMSW

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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.

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


Latrice Rollins, Ph.D., MSW

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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.


Katrina Akande, Ph.D.

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

Felicia Murray, Ph.D., LCSW

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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.


Tasha Alston, Ph.D., MSW

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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