Meet Our Panelists

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  • Nilanga Abeysinghe

    Nilanga Abeysinghe is currently an Australia Awards Scholar enrolled in the Master of Counselling programme at Victoria University, Melbourne. Also, he is in the process of completing his PhD focusing on the common factors in counselling and therapist-competence in Sri Lanka at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo. He was awarded a Commonwealth shared scholarship for master’s level studies in psychology at the University of Worcester, UK (2008-2009) and he has been working in the fields of psychology and mental health as a counselling practitioner, teacher/trainer and researcher attached to several state and private higher educational institutes. He has been working with Gameela Samarasinghe and Evan Ekanayake, contributing to the postgraduate diploma and master’s in counselling and psychosocial support at the faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo, since 2010. 

  • Khawla Abu Baker

    Dr Khawla Abu Baker is the first doctor of family therapy among Palestinians in Israel (in 1997); the first Palestinian licensed family therapist (in 1997); and the first Palestinian licensed supervisor in family therapy (in 1998) in Israel. She gained her Ph.D  in Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University (FL, USA) in 1997 and became a Professor of  Behavioral Sciences in 2008. She has a private practice in her hometown Akko, Israel. Dr Abu Baker was a Board member of the International Association of Family Therapy during two terms, is a Board member of Satir Institute of the Pacific (third term), is a member of AFTA (American Family Therapy Academia), and of the Israel Association for Couple and Family Therapy & the Israeli Sociology Association. In 2017 she was awarded the "Innovative Contribution to the Field of Family Therapy" by AFTA. In 2018 she founded "The Society for the Palestinian Couple and Family Therapists in Israel" and serves as its president. Professor Abu Baker has published numerous articles, several books and book chapters, and writes in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Among the subjects she writes about: Family Therapy among Arab families; Sexual Abuse in Arab societies; Trauma therapy among Palestinians; Gender in Arab families; and Relations between Palestinian Society and the state of Israel.

  • Adelina Ahmeti

    Dr Adelina Ahmeti Pronaj is a Child Psychiatrist who works at the University Clinical Center in Prishtina, Kosova. She is an assistant at the University Clinical Center of Prishtina-Department of Neuropsychiatry. She has provided supervision to SOS-Kinderdorf educators & been a lecturer at the Dardania College in the field of social welfare, and as an assistant and lecturer in the Master’s in Family Counseling Program. She has participated in the Kosova Systemic Family Therapy Training Program, implemented by Kosovo Health Foundation, where she was trained by multiple International Family Therapy Trainers. She has earned a DIRFloortime Certificate of Proficiency and is working on further doctoral studies at Ss.Cyril and Methodius University Faculty of Medicine, Skopje.

  • Saliha Bava

    Dr. Saliha Bava, a Couples and Family Therapist, is an Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Mercy College, New York. For 20+ years, she has consulted and implemented performative/play-based and collaborative-dialogic change processes within organizational, community, family, learning, and research systems. She is an advisory board member & Associate at the Taos Institute. She is a co-founding board member of the International Certificate Program in Collaborative-Dialogic Practices and has served on the American Family Therapy Academy Board. She is also the Director of Research at the International Trauma Studies Program. Currently, she is co-founding the Resilience Collective in response to COVID-19. She has also worked in the developmental sector, community engagement and disaster response in India & US, specifically, in Houston to Hurricane Katrina & Ike, for which she received a leadership award from the City of Houston. Her current research is focused on inclusion and cultivating relational practices for engaging emergence through play/improvisation. Dr. Bava is the co-author of The Relational Book for Parenting and numerous chapters and articles. She also maintains a small consulting practice in NYC. Follow her on Twitter @ThinkPlay

  • Evan Ekanayake

    Evangeline Ekanayake is a psychologist by training, having graduated with a first degree from Sri Lanka, and a Masters degree from Kings College London. She has been enjoying life and work as a psychologist active in the development sector, and also in academia as a visiting lecturer. As a clinician, she has been busy providing services to populations across various settings and geographic locations, as a technical advisor of MHPSS services in international organizations, and in leadership positions supporting mental health teams and supervision in Sri Lanka. Her  passion is working with communities affected by conflict, which she has done for a number of years as an MHPSS consultant for children affected by armed conflict in Sri Lanka. Evan currently works with a bilateral supporting psychosocial service delivery in Sri Lanka.

  • Gizem Erdem

    Dr Gizem Erdem is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Koç University and a licensed marriage and family therapist. She obtained her Ph.D  in Couple and Family Therapy from the Ohio State University in 2014.  She was a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Illinois at Chicago from 2014–2015, and held summer visiting positions at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and ISCTE University Institute of Lisbon. She serves as the National Council on Family Relations Family Therapy Section secretary/treasurer, and is an executive board member of the Turkish Association of Couple and Family Therapy. She teaches clinical area courses and Introduction to Couple and Family Therapy for senior undergraduate students at Koç University, supervises master’s students in clinical psychology and couple and family therapy programs from various Turkish universities, and trains probation officers in systemic family therapy. Dr Erdem has published scientific articles on substance abuse, juvenile delinquency and probation, and efficacy of family therapy and youth mentoring to intervene with at-risk youth and their families. She received numerous research and service awards, including the 2019 Science Academy Turkey Young Scientist Award, 2018 NCFR President-for-a-day award, and 2013 NCFR Student Award.

  • Lirie Lokaj

    Lirie Lokaj is a psychologist by profession. She completed her bachelor studies in Psychology and her Master studies in Clinical Psychology and Health at the University of Prishtina. Currently she is a PhD candidate in the field of Education, provided by the Faculty of Education University of Prishtina. Lirie finished the five years training program on Systemic Family Therapy Training. Liria is also certified as an Online Counselor by the UK-based Institute for Online Therapy and is licensed as a clinical psychologist by the Ministry of Health of Kosovo. In addition, Liria has attended many other trainings in the field of mental health. For more than 12 years, Liria has worked in various local and international organizations in projects that contribute to the field of education and social welfare and well-being. Since 2013, she has offered psychotherapy in a private Ambulance for Clinical Psychology "UNI"; she is also co-founder of this institution.

  • Manjushree Palit

    Dr Manjushree Palit holds a Ph.D. in Human Development with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from Virgina Tech. She is mental health professional with 15 years of experience in counseling people: individuals, couples and families, and clinical, teaching, and research experience in diverse work settings: non-profit organizations and academic institutions in both India and United States. She has worked in India as a counselor and social worker in two

    non-profit organizations [Populations Services International (PSI) and Indian Association for Promotion of Adoption & Child Welfare (IAPA)] and with children, adolescents, and adults at school, hospital and university settings from both lower and higher income families. At present, apart from my teaching, research and administrative role at the University, she also sees clients at the university (students, faculty, staff) and from the nearby community, supervises and trains counselors at the University as well as from the community, and volunteers as a therapist with an organization called Navjyoti that provides educational opportunities to underprivileged Children.

  • Mimoza Shahini

    Dr Mimoza Shahini was educated in Cambridge, Tirana, and Vienna. She is a medical doctor, specialized in adult psychiatry with a sub-specialty in child and adolescent psychiatry and family therapy. She is a lecturer at the University of Prishtina and at several private universities in the region. Dr. Shahini is an expert in combat-related disorders, and has published several papers on the subject. She works as a lecturer and consultant for the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), NATO and other international organizations. But first and foremost she is an expert by experience, having contributed to the care of refugee children after the Kosovo war (1995-1998). Dr Shahini holds a treasure of knowledge and experience, and perhaps some important lessons to learn for European child psychiatrists who are facing the same challenge now, dealing with the mental health issues of the current entrance of refugee families in Europe.

  • Simone Young

    Simone G. Young, from Trinidad and Tobago, has been a career diplomat since 1999. She has served at her country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office at Geneva and as the Deputy Consul General in Toronto from June 2005 to February 2008. 

    At the Permanent Mission,  her assignments included being the Mission’s Desk Officer assigned to key UN specialized agencies, including the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 

    A Fellow of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of the Foreign Service Foreign Policy Leadership Course, and an Alumnus of the Aspen Institute, Ms. Young was the 2016-2017 Fulbright Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow for Trinidad and Tobago and focused on Gender and Foreign Policy in International Affairs during her tenure as a Fellow at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. From April to June 2017, she was a Visiting Fellow in Foreign Policy at The Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. An International Affairs graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, she also holds a Master of Science in Marine Resource and Environmental Management and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Government from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill and St. Augustine campuses respectively.

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