The mission of the MOMS Partnership® is to reduce depressive symptoms and increase social and economic mobility among over-burdened, under-resourced mothers, thereby strengthening generations of families to flourish and succeed.
The MOMS Partnership imagines a world where every mother receives optimal mental health care, where her basic needs are met, and where the community is responsive to her needs.
Guiding Values and Beliefs
- We believe that family wellness first begins with mothers.
- We believe that quality care is culturally responsive and gender specific.
- We believe that a mother includes all women who are either pregnant and/or parenting.
- We believe family social and economic mobility is integral to family wellness.
- We believe that systems transformation is essential to maternal and child emotional wellness.
How We Fulfill Our Mission
- Conduct mental health treatments specific to mothers
- Develop a maternal mental health-literate, community-based workforce
- Provide leadership for and conduct research on family mental health and its connection to social and economic mobility
- Provide centralized family economic success and job readiness supports
Most of those who work on the MOMS Partnership® contribute to MOMS part-time, as part of their larger portfolio of responsibilities. The names of those whose full-time focus is MOMS are marked with an asterisk.
Megan V. Smith, MPH, DrPH, Founder, Principal Investigator (PI) and Executive Director, MOMS Partnership®; PI, Elevate
Megan V. Smith, MPH, DrPH, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Child Study and Public Health at the Yale University School of Medicine; the Founder, Principal Investigator (PI), and Executive Director of the MOMS Partnership; and the PI of Elevate. Dr. Smith conducts clinical and community-partnered research in the area of maternal and child mental health and racial, ethnic and gender-based disparities in mental health and illness and teaches in the Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Smith serves on the Mood Disorders Literature Review Subgroup, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) of the Gender/Cross Cultural Study Group, the State of Connecticut Maternal and Child Health Advisory Committee and founded and leads the MOMS Partnership, a community-academic collaboration to create citywide systems for low-income mothers and their children in New Haven, Connecticut. Megan also serves as PI for Elevate, which houses the scaling of the MOMS Partnership among other efforts to elevate mental health and disrupt poverty. She is a current recipient of a Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) career award from the National Institute of Health, Office of Research on Women’s Health and Young Investigator Awards from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression and the North American Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics & Gynecology. Dr. Smith also serves as a board member of the National Diaper Bank Network and co-chairs the Yale School of Medicine Program on the Psychobiology of Parenting and Partnerships.
Nafeesa Abuwala, Women's Health Research at Yale (WHRY) Fellow, New Haven MOMS
Nafeesa Abuwala, BA/MPH candidate, is a WHRY undergraduate fellow working with MOMS to implement interventions for monolingual Spanish speaking mothers. Nafeesa is an undergraduate at Yale University, majoring in anthropology with a concentration in medical anthropology and is in the Global Health Scholars program. She is also a candidate for a Master of Public Health with a concentration in chronic disease epidemiology in the five-year BA-MPH program. On campus, Nafeesa is on the student executive committee of Dwight Hall—Yale’s Center for Community Service and Social Justice— and volunteers as a Community Health Educator. Through Dwight Hall, she participates in Students for Autism Awareness at Yale, which partners with New Haven high schools to provide additional programming for students with autism spectrum disorder. Last summer, Nafeesa conducted a ten-week mixed methods study in San Pedro, Ecuador, with a fellow undergraduate, focusing on the nutritional and physical development of children. Under the umbrella of women's health, she is primarily interested in maternal and neonatal health and the impact of chronic, non-communicable diseases, such as mental illness, on these populations.
Ruth Arnold, Project Manager, MoMba® Live Long
Ruth Arnold, PhD, is the project manager of MoMba® Live Long, the mobile application of MOMS. She is a sociologist who has been conducting research in New Haven for the past 15 years, most recently on projects that use smartphone technology to improve the lives of women and their families. Ruth is the mother of two and enjoys long walks, reading, and volunteering in the community. She is also a master four leaf clover finder.
Laura Callinan, Statistician, New Haven MOMS
Laura Callinan, MPH, supports the MOMS Partnership through data collection, organization, management and analysis. Inspired by her mother’s work in public health, Laura earned a Master of Public Health at Emory University. Her love of numbers and strength in statistical analysis led her to a career as a statistician. She enjoys cooking and spending time outside with her husband and active little boys.
Orysia Capasso, Research Aide, New Haven MOMS
Orysia Capasso, BA, is a Research Aide/Babysitter for the New Haven MOMS Partnership. She has a BA in Psychology from Western Connecticut State University. She has a great passion for helping those in need. When she isn’t working she enjoys camping with her husband, young daughter and their very hyper border collie.
Kari Cifarelli, Clinical Research Manager, New Haven MOMS
Kari Cifarelli, MPH, is Clinical Research Manager for the New Haven MOMS Partnership. Kari has worked in the clinical research field for the past 8 years focusing on women’s mental health. Kari currently works on supporting the research mission of the MOMS Partnership, and to provide the utmost of quality service to study staff and participants.
Ashley Clayton, Director of Evaluation, Center on Wellbeing of Women and Mothers
Ashley Clayton, MA, is the Director of Evaluation of the Center on Wellbeing of Women and Mothers, where she works to evaluate programs connected to the MOMS Partnership at Yale School of Medicine. Trained in community psychology, she works closely with community partners and government agencies to implement and evaluate mental health services in both clinical and community settings. Ashley works to transform service delivery systems to be more responsive to the needs of low-income families and individuals who face mental health challenges. Recognizing the importance of using data to drive decisions and solutions, she analyzes real-time data to monitor, assess, and refine mental health programming and service-delivery for various programs. She has extensive training in both qualitative and quantitative research, with particular expertise in community-based participatory research, questionnaire development, and stigma. Ashley has published numerous research papers on the social inclusion of low-income individuals living with a mental illness, recovery-oriented and person-centered care, as well as healthcare narratives and essays about her first-hand experience with mental illness.
Ann Close, Clinical Director, New Haven MOMS
Ann Close, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Yale Child Study Center and the Clinical Director of the MOMS Partnership and the Yale Parent and Family Development Program. She is also Director of Clinical Services for Minding the Baby, a home visiting program that has been designated as evidenced based by the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Close is a clinician and an educator. She specializes in infant mental health, parenting and the assessment and treatment of children under age five. She teaches Yale College students and fellows in psychiatry, psychology and social work in training at the Child Study Center. Dr. Close has twice received the Samual Ritvo Teacher of the Year award at the Child Study Center and has been honored by the Connecticut Infant Mental Health Association. The topics of her courses include: child development, child psychopathology, developmental assessment and clinical evaluation, mental health consultation and early childhood education. She conducts developmental assessments of young children, dynamically oriented psychotherapy with children and child parent psychotherapy She provides mental health consultation to early childhood education programs in the community. She is the author of the book, "Listening to Children: Talking With Children About Difficult Issues."
Cerella Craig, Community Mental Health Ambassador, New Haven MOMS
Cerella Craig, BS, is a Community Mental Health Ambassador for the New Haven MOMS Partnership and a graduate of the University of Connecticut. Cerella holds a BS in Health and Social Inequalities, and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree. As a Community Mental Health Ambassador, she has the dual role of assessing the needs of mothers in New Haven, and linking them to the resources that can help meet those needs, thus creating a pipeline to improving mental health and reducing health disparities in the city.
Andrea Diaz Stransky, Clinical and Research Fellow, New Haven MOMS
Andrea Diaz Stransky, MD, is working with MOMS in her capacity as a clinical and research fellow in the Integrated Adult and Child Psychiatry Training program out of the Yale Child Study Center. Her research has focused on childhood mental health spanning from genetics to neuroimaging and clinical trials. Her main interest is developing interventions to overcome barriers to care among vulnerable populations, to improve the mental health of children and their families. She developed a culturally-informed intervention for Hispanic immigrant mothers and their children to be offered through the MOMS Partnership. Her education includes a Bachelor in Health Sciences from McMaster University in Canada, a Medical Degree from Tec de Monterrey in Mexico, and a Research Fellowship in Behavioral Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University/Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Rachel Ebling, Director of Research and Evaluation, Yale Parenting & Family Development Program
Rachel Ebling, PhD,is the Director of Research and Evaluation of the Yale Parent and Family Development Program, which houses both clinical services and research studies, including studies of new interventions developed and implemented by MOMS Partnership. As R&E Director, Rachel leads research efforts for the PFDP toward goals of supporting and understanding the intersection between adult mental health/wellness and the parenting role. Rachel is a licensed clinical psychologist with over ten years of experience in the development and evaluation of clinical/community programs that focus on family relationships and mental health. She has worked with the MOMS Partnership since 2013.
Dana Hoffman, Clinician, New Haven MOMS
Dana Hoffman, MSW, is a licensed clinical social worker for the New Haven MOMS Partnership. Dana received her Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and has over 15 years of clinical experience. She specializes in maternal, infant and early-child mental health and brings to the New Haven MOMS Partnership her passion for working with individuals and families in collaborative, dynamic and community-based environments. Having trained as a doula and childbirth educator, Dana believes motherhood presents an opportunity for positive transformation and growth. She loves practicing yoga with her daughters, cooking and hearing live music around New Haven.
Samantha C. Holmes, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, New Haven MOMS
Samantha C. Holmes, PhD, is a first year T32 postdoctoral fellow at The Division of Prevention and Community Research, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine and is contributing both as a researcher and clinician to the MOMS Partnership. Sam is trained in counseling psychology. Her program of research is focused on the ways in which interpersonal trauma and oppression impact women’s mental health (i.e., PTSD, disordered eating, depression, anxiety) with the ultimate goal of developing empirically-supported prevention and intervention programs.
Heather B. Howell, Clinician, New Haven MOMS
Heather B. Howell, MSW, is a clinical social worker for the New Haven MOMS Partnership who has worked personally and professionally on behalf of the New Haven community for over 20 years. She enjoys collaborating with local families, problem-solving day to day needs, and building the hopes and dreams of the future. With a strong foundation of physical and emotional health, we can all grow to our full potential, and as a community, we have a unique opportunity to support each other through this growth and change. She is continually motivated by the spirit and determination of friends and neighbors, as we jointly strive to improve the well-being of our neighborhood, our city and our families. When not practicing social work in the community, she can be found exploring local parks, growing flowers and vegetables in her garden, and creating recipes in her kitchen.
Leila Jackson, Supervised Waiter, New Haven MOMS
Leila Jackson is a first-year undergraduate at Yale University assisting MOMS with child-directed activities. Leila is interested in the fields of Psychology and Political Science, hopefully turning these interests into a double-major. On campus, Leila is a member of the Yale Debate Team and is interested in becoming a regular writer for the Yale Daily News. She hopes to move on to law school after receiving her undergraduate degree. Moreover, she hopes her work with MOMS will provide her with the skills she needs to communicate and identify with all types of individuals and their varying circumstances. In her free time, Leila enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with family.
Katherine Klem Gaztambide, Executive Director, Elevate
Katherine Klem Gaztambide, MPP, engages with MOMS as Executive Director of Elevate, which houses the scaling of the MOMS Partnership among other efforts to elevate mental health and disrupt poverty. Katherine is a former Senior Policy Advisor in the Obama White House, specifically in the Office of Social Innovation and Office of National Drug Control Policy. There, she focused on Pay for Success models and the broader transition to an outcomes and evidence mindset across government. Katherine has previously worked for then-Mayor Bloomberg in NYC and Governor Hickenlooper in Colorado and has worked to advance health care reform, organized labor, education reform, and tobacco control, the latter of which held her passion in Kentucky where she grew up. Katherine earned an MPP at the Harvard Kennedy School as well as a BA with High Distinction from the University of Virginia, and she has been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar.
Caroline Posner, Special Assistant, Elevate
Caroline Posner, BA, is a postgraduate associate and the Special Assistant at Elevate, contributing to research and communications for the MOMS Partnership among other elements of her work. Caroline earned her undergraduate degree in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience at Yale, where she engaged in activism for campus mental healthcare reform and published about her own experiences with mental illness and healthcare. Her research experience includes laboratory work in the neuroscience of decision-making as well as adolescent cognitive development, in addition to work on the comparative history of the brain sciences in the United States and Soviet Union. Caroline is interested in the interrelationships of government, culture, and the research and practice of psychology and psychiatry, and how critical examination of these relationships can strengthen scientific investigation and health policy.
Emily Samuel, Clinician, MoMba®, New Haven MOMS
Emily Samuel, MA, is a clinician for the New Haven MOMS Partnership. Emily has a master’s degree in Integrative Child Psychotherapy from IATE in London and has been practicing clinically for the past five years. She is particularly interested in the impact of maternal mental health on infant development. Emily loves the fact that she gets to play with Play-Doh and blow bubbles as part of her job.
Diana Sanchez, Elevate Fellow (Summer/Fall 2019)
Diana Sanchez, BA, MPH candidate,is an Elevate Fellow for the Summer and Fall of 2019. She is a Master of Public Health student at the Yale School of Public Health, concentrating in health policy. Diana is passionate about the support and improvement of community-based programs that promote the health and wellbeing of individuals, especially those belonging to populations that are neglected or otherwise marginalized. In addition to supporting Elevate’s work as a Fellow, Diana assists public health workforce training development efforts at the Yale Office of Public Health Practice and explores her interests in the effects of policy on community-level health and program implementation through her coursework. Prior to coming to the Yale School of Public Health, Diana served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Tucson, Arizona, and received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Meha Semwal, Research Intern, New Haven MOMS
Meha Semwal, BS, MD/MPH candidate, is working with MOMS on data pertaining to maternal mental health policy and medical-legal interventions to support the wellbeing of families. Meha completed her undergraduate studies in Neuroscience and English at the College of William & Mary and then taught English for a year in Japan. She is currently a rising fourth year medical student at the Colorado University School of Medicine and working on her MPH degree at the Yale School of Public Health, intending to match into psychiatry. She completed her third year rotations at Denver Health, an urban underserved safety net hospital, taking care of patients longitudinally in the school-based mental healthcare system as well as acute inpatient care, and has an interest in continuing to work with the psychiatric needs of vulnerable populations experiencing healthcare disparities such as racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees, low SES patients, those with Medicare/Medicaid or who are uninsured, LGBT* patients, and children/adolescents. She is interested in advocacy work, and working with policy and the law to help patients overcome barriers to health. She is also a published poet and an avid reader and writer of fiction.
Caroline Simmons, Senior Specialist for Policy Innovation and Impact, Elevate
Caroline Simmons, MA, is the Senior Specialist for Policy Innovation and Impact at Elevate, where she leads Elevate's policy portfolio to create a supportive policy environment to enhance the goals of the MOMS Partnership. Caroline is also currently serving in her third term in the Connecticut General Assembly as a State Representative from Stamford, CT. Caroline previously worked at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Counterterrorism Coordinator, and at the Women's Business Development Council in Stamford, CT as a Program Specialist supporting entrepreneurial training programs for women across CT. She has also served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Wesleyan University, where she taught State and Local Government. Caroline holds a BA in Government from Harvard University and an MA in Middle East Studies from George Washington University.
Sydney Steans-Gail, Supervised Waiter, New Haven MOMS
Sydney Steans-Gail is an undergraduate at Yale University assisting MOMS with child-directed activities. Sydney is working towards a degree in Sociology with a likely focus on Gender and Child Development. On campus, she works at the Yale Center for British Art in the Education Department to facilitate community outreach and volunteers as a tutor with New Haven Reads to foster literacy in elementary school children. Off campus, she has worked with young children in childcare centers across her hometown of Chicago. Most recently, she interned at the Thirty Million Words Center at the University of Chicago, helping to engage families in their children's language development. She also enjoys reading, coffee shops, and Lake Michigan.
Kimberly Streater, Community Mental Health Ambassador, New Haven MOMS
Kimberly Streater is a Community Mental Health Ambassador in the New Haven MOMS Partnership. As a survivor of domestic violence, she sought out employment in a position where she could work helping to rebuild the community by engaging and supporting moms in need. She is a mom of six children who understands the stressors single moms face on a daily basis. She has watched her children persevere through so many transitions in life, and each has a different personality which keeps her very balanced. She is a basketball mom so her evenings consist of either practices or games.
*Sonia Taneja, MOMS Partnership® Fellow: New York City and Bridgeport, Elevate
Sonia Taneja, MSc, MD candidate, is a current student at the Yale School of Medicine and the MOMS Partnership Fellow for New York City MOMS and Bridgeport MOMS (Connecticut) through Elevate. She received her BA in Psychology from Yale College and her MSc in Public Health (Health Services Research) from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. As a Yale Parker Huang Fellow to India, she studied the social determinants of mental health in women engaged in intergenerational, coercive sex work. Her other significant prior experiences include studying the mental health of gynecologic cancer patients in India, working with South Asian community-based domestic violence organizations in New York City, and incorporating health justice in medical education at Yale. She plans to pursue a career that combines clinical practice and community-based participatory research at the nexus of reproductive and mental health for women and adolescents.
Elizabeth Yeh, Research and Evaluation Fellow, Elevate
Elizabeth Yeh, PhD, is the Research and Evaluation Fellow at Elevate, where she helps drive the research and evaluation work of scaling MOMS outside of New Haven. She is a developmental psychologist with deep experience in research, assessment and program evaluation. During her career, Elizabeth has evaluated publicly funded programs for low-income populations in both the academic and private sectors. She earned a Ph.D. in Child Psychology at the Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She has co-authored several articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Child Development and Social Development. Elizabeth has a passion for using data to better the lives of parents and children in underserved populations.
Kimberly A. Yonkers, Collaborator, New Haven MOMS
Kimberly A. Yonkers, MD, is a Professor of Psychiatry, of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases) and of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; and Director, Center for Wellbeing of Women and Mothers at Yale School of Medicine and works to advise MOMS on research and psychiatric interventions. She has conducted several large-scale cohort and treatment studies of women with mood and addictive disorders, in primary care, reproductive health settings.
DC MOMS Staff
Anthea Seymour, DC MOMS Manager
Anthea Seymour, MSW,is the Administrator for Economic Security Administration, within the Department of Human Services in the District of Columbia. She is responsible for ensuring the delivery of SNAP, TANF, Medical Assistance and other local public assistance services, to over 250,000 residents in the District, and providing improved case management services for families and individuals. She has overseen the redesign of the eligibility business process for customers receiving benefits and has utilized system-wide strategies to develop a new Two Generational TANF policy.
Anthea has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park; a Master of Social Work from Howard University; Certified Public Manager (CPM) Certificate from George Washington University; and a Chief Information Officer (CIO) Certificate from Carnegie Mellon University.
With over 20 years of public sector experience, Anthea is a transformational leader who has demonstrated results in multiple change management, continuous quality improvement, and business process re-engineering efforts.
Agnes Venson, DC MOMS Clinical Supervisor
Agnes Venson Venson is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 15 years of experience in management and over 25 years in providing therapy and treatment for sex offenders as well as persons with substance use disorders and behavioral health issues. She is currently the Program Manager for the Office of Work Opportunity Employment Training Unit with the Department of Human Services. Agnes also serves in the capacity of the Clinical Supervisor for the DC MOMS Program.
Ashley T. White, DC MOMS Clinician
Ashley T. White, LGSW, MSW, is a licensed mental health practitioner with the DC Department of Human Services. She has over 12 years of experience in social service programming and has pioneered several policy changing initiatives to strengthen service delivery in government and community sectors. Ashley is a multiagency teaming expert invested in streamlining supports to the District’s most vulnerable families. As a passionate and empathic liaison between the government and the public, Ashley utilizes the solutions-focused approach to assist families in achieving better life outcomes. Ashley currently serves as the Clinician for the DC MOMS Program.
Sabrina Tate, DC MOMS Community Mental Health Ambassador
Sabrina Tate is a Vocational Development Specialist with more than 8 years of successful experience in the social work field. Sabrina specializes in providing direct services which is her concentration in the field of social work. A strong believer in the power of positive thinking in the workplace, Sabrina regularly encourages internal wellness concepts to assist customers with effective mental health techniques. Sabrina is an artist with the hope to mentor women through art as a health healing component of their lives.
Ashlee Burks, DC MOMS Data Specialist
Ashlee Burks, a native of Middletown, CT, has been a DC resident for 15 years. For the past three years, she has been an Analyst for DC’s Department of Human Services overseeing large subsets of public benefit data. Ashlee is excited to connect her passion for helping families and larger communities in DC to this collaborative effort with Yale University in New Haven, CT by overseeing the front-end data of the MOMS Program.
Raihan Ahmed, DC MOMS Data Specialist
Raihan Ahmed, MSW, is the Strategic Planning Officer for the Division of Data Analytics, Reporting and Evaluation (DARE) under the Economic Security Administration of the DC DHS. He loves data analysis and explores ways to improve service delivery through enhanced data driven practices. His experiences and expertise include but are not limited to data analysis, contract monitoring, program evaluation and quality assurance. Prior to joining DHS, he worked for the District’s Child Welfare and Behavioral Health Services. He enjoys his leisure time by exploring state and national parks and historic landmarks.
Vermont MOMS Staff
Erin Oalican, VT MOMS Manager
Erin Oalican, BA, currently serves as the Director of Reach Up, Vermont’s TANF program. Ms. Oalican is especially interested in designing programs that work for participants, keeping in mind concepts of behavioral science and an understanding of trauma-informed care. Ms. Oalican is committed promoting social and economic justice by providing opportunities within Reach Up to help participants develop skills and resources beyond the short term that support long term financial stability for families. The Reach Up program engages community partners, program participants and staff to innovate and improve. Throughout the last year and a half, the program has been working with Mathematica Policy Research to develop a mission and vision, a strategic plan, and a new assessment process focusing on goal achievement and building executive functioning skills. Ms. Oalican holds a BA in Sociology from Kenyon College and a Public Manager Certification. She lives in Essex, VT with her three children and very fluffy cat, Mango. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the mountains and lakes of Vermont with her kids.
Nicole Dubuque, VT MOMS Program Coordinator
Nicole Dubuque, BA, serves as the Program Manager of Reach Up, Vermont’s TANF program, as well as the Program Coordinator of Vermont MOMS. Nicole holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Vermont and has worked in a variety of human service roles over the last 10 years. Nicole currently leads the Substance Use and Mental Health program, oversees the Reach Up Housing agreements and coordinates Reach Up’s annual training day, bringing in experts from around the country to enlighten, empower and promote best practices within the Reach Up program. She is a staunch advocate for housing equality and has a particular interest in parental health and its impact on child well-being. Nicole prides herself on being part of a passionate team that is committed to trauma-informed practice and continuous improvement.
Dana Marchitelli, VT MOMS Data Specialist
Dana Marchiterlli, MPA, serves as the Process and Performance Analysis of Vermont’s Economic Services Division. Dana holds a BA in Public Policy and Administration from Wagner College in Staten Island, New York, and was a member of the women’s lacrosse team. She earned her master’s degree in public Administration from Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. Dana has worked in a variety of roles within the Department of Children and Families including assistant director of the Youth Development Program and a member of the Grants and Contracts Unit. She is currently a member of the Economic Services Trauma, Brain Science, and Self-Care workgroup exploring ways to improve services, strengthen communities and better serve Vermonters. Dana is a Continuous Quality Improvement coach and a certified LEAN Green Belt. She lives in the Mad River Valley and enjoys skiing, sailing, and disc golf. She is the varsity lacrosse coach at Harwood Union High School.
The MOMS Partnership® would not be possible without the collaboration and support of many organizations, including the following partners for which we are grateful.