Lab MembersSkip to content Skip to main navigation
Stigma, Identity, and Intersectionality
Brandon Velez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education
Dr. Brandon Velez is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education in the Counseling Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Florida in 2014. Dr. Velez's research focuses on the associations of experiences of discrimination and identity-related attitudes with psychosocial outcomes (e.g., psychological distress, well-being, job satisfaction, body image) among people with marginalized identities. He is also interested in the ways that multiple forms of oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, heterosexism) may contribute additively, interactively, or intersectionally to the psychosocial functioning of people with multiple marginalized identities, such as sexual minority people of color. In his free time, Dr. Velez enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, reading science fiction and fantasy novels, and catching up on TV.
Further details about Dr. Velez's publications, presentations, and current research projects can be found in his CV.
Dr. Velez currently teaches the following courses:
CCPJ 5062: Career Counseling and Development
CCPJ 5164: Multicultural Counseling and Psychology
CCPJ 6060: Doctoral Assessment in Counseling Psychology I
Robert Cox Jr.
Robert Cox Jr., or Bobby as he prefers, is from New Orleans, Louisiana. He graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with bachelor's degrees in English Literature and Hispanic Linguistics with minor studies in psychology. After teaching Spanish to elementary school students in New Orleans and teaching English to elementary and college-aged students in Shanghai, China, Bobby returned to school to obtain a master's degree in psychology in education within the Clinical Psychology Department at Teachers College, Columbia University. He completed dual concentrations in Serving Underrepresented Populations and in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Bobby is now a doctoral student in counseling psychology under the advisement of Dr. Brandon Velez. Bobby is broadly interested in the application of minority stress theories in understanding the experiences of individuals with multiple stigmatized identities. Additionally, he is interested in the acculturation and biculturalism of Hispanic and Latin@-identified individuals. Aside from his academic and professional responsibilities, Bobby enjoys running and biking along the Hudson river, reading postmodern literature in the sun, and sampling the diverse cuisine that New York offers.
Charles (CJ) Polihronakis
A native New Yorker and a first-generation college student, Charles Joseph (CJ) Polihronakis graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Georgetown University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English. Upon graduating from Georgetown, CJ earned his Master of Arts in School Counseling and his Master of Education in Mental Health Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2014 and 2015, respectively. CJ is currently a third-year doctoral candidate in the Counseling Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University under the advisement of Dr. Brandon Velez. By obtaining his doctorate, CJ aspires to serve as a psychologist in, and eventually the director of, a college/university counseling center; to educate/supervise future generations of counselors; and, most importantly, to conduct research regarding the psychological and physical health of marginalized populations, with a particular focus on people of multiple stigmatized statuses. CJ’s specific research curiosities encompass the overall well-being and resilience of bisexual individuals possessing intersecting marginalized identities, as well as cross-cultural bisexual identity development across the lifespan. Clinically, CJ has worked with culturally diverse clients in high school and college counseling settings, in which he is currently serving as a pre-doctoral psychology extern at CUNY Baruch College’s Counseling Center. In his spare time, CJ enjoys cooking and baking, attending Broadway musicals, and traveling. He is also an avid Harry Potter and Grey’s Anatomy fan!
Sarah is a Yemeni-American first generation graduate student from Brooklyn, NY. She received her bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College in child development and nonfiction writing. After working with survivors of domestic violence at the Arab American Family Support Center, Sarah began her master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. Sarah is now a first year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at Teachers College. Her interest in cultural diversity and identity lead her to work in multiple nonprofit organizations where she had the opportunity to interact with racial and ethnic minorities, survivors of domestic violence, and incarcerated individuals. Through these experiences, Sarah first began to develop her research interest in stigmatization, prejudice and discrimination among both racial and ethnic minority groups, as well as her interest in the influences of culture and religion on mental health stigma and help seeking behavior. Sarah is the co-founder and president of the Mental Health Awareness Conference at Teachers College, dedicated to learning about barriers to help-seeking and multicultural competencies among ethnic and racial minorities. In her free time, Sarah enjoys non-fiction writing, photography, and quality time with family over a cup of Yemeni tea.
Nina Lei is a first year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology PhD program. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English at the University of Michigan and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Queens College. Nina has worked in both research and clinical practice. Her broad research interests include women’s empowerment, Asian Americans, interracial relationships and families, and counseling/psychotherapy for these populations. In addition to her doctoral studies, Nina is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and maintains a small private practice under the LMHC license. Outside of academic and professional work, Nina enjoys running, eating, and traveling as much as she can.
Zachary is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. He is currently a master’s degree student in Counseling Psychology at Teachers College. He also studies Gestalt Therapy in a four-year clinical fellowship program at Gestalt Associates for Psychotherapy, and studies Contemplative Psychology in a two-year certificate program at Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. He studies issues of intersectionality through the Women, Sexuality and Gender certificate program at Teachers College, and through assisting research in the SII Lab. He also assists research in the Social and Relational Aspects of Addictions lab at Teachers College, where he focuses upon applications of mindfulness and compassion. Zachary currently works with homeless adolescents and emerging adults. In this setting he draws upon his studies of intersectionality, addiction, mindfulness, multicultural counseling, and Gestalt Therapy.
Anjali is a second-year master's student pursuing her Ed.M. in Counseling Psychology and a certification in Sexuality, Women, & Gender at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently interning at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Women's Mental Health shelter, where she works with homeless women who struggle with chronic and debilitating mental illnesses. She also serves as lab coordinator for the Stigma, Identity, & Intersectionality lab at TC. Anjali graduated from Marymount University with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Gender & Society. Her research interests in intersectional identities and effects on mental health inform her investment and interest in women in color, particularly women in the South Asian diaspora. She is especially interested in barriers to mental wellbeing in ethnic minority women, such as shame beliefs, body image issues, and intersectional experiences of discrimination. When she is not engaged in professional and academic work, Anjali enjoys spending time with her close friends, reading poetry and fiction, scoping out NYC for the best pastries, and petting literally any dog that comes her way.
Lenia is currently pursuing her Masters of Education in Counseling Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She graduated from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies with bachelor’s degrees in English Education with a double major in International Relations. Before making her way to New York City, Lenia taught English to elementary/middle/high school students in Seoul, South Korea. Lenia also has a number of work and volunteering experiences when she lived in San Francisco, Melbourne, and Cleveland. Inspired by all of these life experiences, Lenia’s primary research interest lies in the ways individuals perceive and process social stigmas, prejudices, microaggressions, and classism, as well as the impact of social identity issues on the psychological and physical well-being of women of color. In her spare time, Lenia loves to work out (Yoga and Swimming!), try different ethnic cuisines, and explore the globe.
Charity Walden is currently pursuing her EdM degree in the Mental Health Counseling Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Skyline Community College. She received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Mills College. During her time at Mills College, she worked in the Early Childhood and Family Research Lab under Dr. Carol George, where she assisted in research into the effects of attachment on child development. Her current research interests are focused on the intersectional effects of race and gender on child performance within the education system. In addition to her studies, Charity practices sign language and reads sociology books pertaining to race and education. She also enjoys bachata dancing and discovering new ramen houses around New York City.
Sara is a first-year master’s student pursuing her Ed.M. in Counseling Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She serves as a Research Assistant for the Stigma, Identity, & Intersectionality lab at TC. Sara graduated from Fordham University with a B.S. in Psychology. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she served as a Research Assistant and Project Coordinator at the Manhattan VA working with Dementia Caregivers and Women Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma. Her research interests now center around intersectionality and the application of minority stress theories, specifically pertaining to sexual and gender minorities. Outside of academia, Sara enjoys painting and drawing, dog-walking through Central Park, and checking out the latest art exhibitions throughout NYC.
Judy Seoud is currently pursuing an Ed.M. in Counseling Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was born and raised in Lebanon where she completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at the American University of Beirut. In the past, Judy has worked on several research projects dealing with the Syrian refugees as well as studying the psychological effects of having a hysterectomy. Her research interest includes studying trauma in the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon, eating disorders and its manifestations in the MENA region, and finally her newest fascination is studying the stigma attached to and understanding the problems that go along with being an LGBTQ woman of color. In her spare time, Judy enjoys attending Broadway musicals, spending time with her friends and family, and rating all the Lebanese restaurants in NYC that she can find!
Nancy Alfaro is currently pursing her Ed. M degree in Bilingual Mental Health Counseling at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Family Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her current research interests focus on Latinx mental health; the intersectional experiences of queer and trans people of color; and these groups’ access and use of mental health services and their familial relationships. In her spare time, Nancy enjoys dancing salsa, playing basketball, and spending time with her family.
Taylor is a first-year master's student pursuing her Ed.M. in the Counseling Psychology program, Clinical Mental Health track, at Teachers College, Columbia University. During her undergraduate work, Taylor served as a Research Assistant and Project Coordinator for The University of Bridgeport Social Psychology Lab before embarking with the Forensic Drug Diversion Clinic of Yale University as a Research Assistant researching the intersectionality of substance use, a history of trauma, and multicultural factors. Her research interests include trauma within the refugee and human trafficking populations and the intersectionality of coping mechanisms and culture/ethnicity and gender. When Taylor isn’t in class or working on research, she’s working with a nonprofit with homeless youth or with ShineGirl, a program that goes into public schools to talk about worth, value, and purpose. In her free time she enjoys volunteering, hiking, traveling, and searching for the best guacamole in the City.