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Institute for Disaster Mental Health

Mission, Leadership and Advisory Board


Working in collaboration with academic departments, the division of student affairs (College Counseling Center), and community leaders, the SUNY New Paltz Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH) offers education and training in disaster mental health for students, professionals, and paraprofessionals, including conferences and workshops that reflect recent research and best practices. The Institute comprises scholars and practitioners dedicated to teaching, research, and service to the community in the area of disaster mental health.

Leadership and Advisory Board

The Director of the Institute is Dr. James Halpern, Professor of Psychology at SUNY New Paltz. Dr. Halpern is Chair of Disaster Mental Health Services of the Ulster County Chapter of the American Red Cross and has responded to both local and large-scale national disasters. He is the co-author of Disaster Mental Health: Theory and Practice (2007, Thomson Brooks/Cole). 

The IDMH is guided by an advisory board of experienced and committed professionals and community leaders active in fields directly related to the work of the Institute. The board assists in identifying community and professional needs for disaster mental health training; identifying funding sources; and disseminating the work of the IDMH to the public.

The current Chair of the advisory board is Jacki Brownstein, retired Executive Director for Mental Health America of Dutchess County, Inc.

Board Members include:

SUNY New Paltz:

  • Gerald Benjamin, Ph.D. – Director, Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach, Associate Vice President, Regional Engagement
  • Glenn Geher, Ph.D. – Chair, Department of Psychology and Professor of Psychology
  • James Halpern, Ph.D. – Institute Director, Professor of Psychology
  • Gweneth Lloyd, D.S.W. – Director, Psychological Counseling Center

Community Representatives:

  • Gregory Brunelle, MS – Vice President - Disaster Management Services, Tetra Tech
  • Lori DuBord – Special Assistant to retired Congressman Maurice Hinchey
  • Col. (Retired) Chris Gibson, M.P.A., Ph.D. – Congressman, 19th District New York
  • Seamus Leary, MA -Federal Coordinating Officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Judith LeComb, MS – Manager, Preparedness Training and Education, Office of Health Emergency Preparedness, NYS Department of Health
  • Steven Moskowitz, LMSW - Director, Disaster Response and Emergency Preparedness, NYS Office of Mental Health
  • Kevin Mulrooney, MA, CEM, CBCP - Sergeant (Retired), New York City Police Department, Counterterrorism Division, New York City
  • Diane Ryan, LCSW – Director, Mental Health and Service Programs, Disaster Planning and Response, American Red Cross in Greater New York
  • Howard Sachar, Ph.D.- Community Member, Ret. IBM Executive
  • Mary Tramontin, Psy.D. – Clinical Psychologist, Department of Defense