Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center | Meet our Team

Heidi Ellis, PhD

Heidi Ellis, PhD

Dr. Ellis is the Director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience (CHCRTR) and Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ellis’ research and clinical work focus on how the social context—trauma, discrimination, culture, and social environmental stressors—effects the health and development of refugee youth. Dr. Ellis co-developed Trauma Systems Therapy with Dr. Saxe, and is the co-author of the TST book.


Saida Abdi, PhD, LICSW, MSW, MA

Saida Abdi, PhD, LICSW, MSW, MA

Saida Abdi, PhD, LICSW, MSW, MA., is the Director of Community Relations, a clinical social worker, and expert in refugee trauma and resilience. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University and another Master’s degree in Communications from Carleton University and is currently pursuing her PhD at Boston University. She is a native of Somalia and a former refugee herself. Ms. Abdi has worked for more than 20 years in the area of refugee youth and families, developing school-based programs to support adjustment of refugee youth in resettlement and community-based research and intervention. For the past 8 years, she has worked at the Boston Children’s Hospital Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center as a part of SAMHSA funded project to develop and implement refugee mental health interventions. She has organized trainings on the issue of promoting resilience and reducing risk behaviors among refugee youth for educators, policy-makers, clinicians and community leaders. She is trained in Trauma System’s Therapy and is an expert in building culturally responsive interventions.


Colleen Barrett

Colleen Barrett Bixby, MPH

Mrs. Bixby is the Program Coordinator at the CHCRTR. She has a background in cultural anthropology, as well as a master's degree in public health with a concentration in international health. Bixby first came to the CHCRTR in 2009 as a public health intern to support the evaluation of Project SHIFA. She is interested in health disparities among refugee populations and how psychosocial research can be integrated with community-based work as part of the approach towards reducing them.


Emma Cardeli, PhD

Emma Cardeli, Ph.D.

Emma Cardeli, Ph.D. is a Research Associate at the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center (RTRC) at Boston Children's Hospital, an Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and a licensed clinical psychologist with years of experience working with traumatized children and families from culturally diverse backgrounds. Her research interests include understanding factors that influence the expression of violence in addition to examining cross-cultural aspects of trauma exposure, PTSD, resettlement, and identity development.


Sarah GillespieSarah Gillespie

Sarah Gillespie is a Research Assistant at the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center. She graduated from Harvard University in 2017 with B.A. in Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology. Sarah is interested in promoting resilience in the face of trauma by researching risk and protective factors for the development of mental illness and disseminating programs that can reduce disparities in mental health outcomes among under served communities.

Emily Hahn

Emily Hahn

Emily Hahn is a Research Assistant at the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center. She graduated from Tufts University in 2016 with B.A. in Community Health and Spanish, and has previously worked in Public Health research and education. Her interests include community-based participatory research, cross-cultural mental health, and eliminating health inequities. She is particularly interested in using community-based research to improve health outcomes in refugee populations.

Osob Issa, MSWOsob Issa, MSW

Osob Issa, MSW, is a clinical social worker and program coordinator at the RTRC. Ms. Issa has a master’s degree in social work from Boston University, and an under-graduate degree in psychology with a minor in women’s studies. She has first joined the team as a social work intern in 2008, and has since become increasingly involved in the research and clinical aspect of the work. Her passion is to make a difference in the mental health, and well-being of immigrant and refugee families.


Alisa Miller, PhD

Alisa Miller, PhD

Dr. Miller is a Research Associate at the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center and Assistant in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Her research interests are trauma exposure, PTSD, identity development, family cohesion/conflict and the effects these have on refugee and immigrant family and community functioning. She is interested in reducing mental health disparities among refugee and immigrant groups and the healthy adjustment of youth during and after resettlement.

Luna Mulder, PsyD

Luna Mulder, Psy.D.

Dr. Luna Acharya Mulder has more than a decade of experience working with children and families with severe social, emotional, and learning disabilities. She has provided individual and family therapy and conducted psychological assessments to children suffering from mental illness. Dr. Mulder is Bhutanese and, in addition to training and experience in working with traumatized children, brings intimate knowledge of Bhutanese culture, language, and the refugee experience. She joined the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center (RTRC) at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2012 as a consultant and is now a part-time psychologist helping implement Trauma Systems Therapy for Refugees (TST-R).


Jeffrey Winer, PhD

Jeffrey P. Winer, PhD

Jeffrey P. Winer, PhD, is an Attending Psychologist within the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center at Boston Children's Hospital and an Instructor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Winer received his BA from Grinnell College and his MS and PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. During his graduate training he completed a two-year externship at the University of Vermont focused on refugee mental health. He completed his clinical internship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical school. His primary research and clinical interests are in developmental psychopathology of emotion and behavior dysregulation (including depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress) and culturally-responsive evidence-based psychological interventions (e.g., prevention and treatment) for youth, young adults, and families.


Saynab Yusuf

Saynab Yusuf moved to the United States 13 years ago and has been living in Boston ever since, where she is currently a college student studying Human Services. Saynab hopes to work in the field of Public Health, and is excited to be interning here in the Boston Children's Hospital Psychiatry Department. She enjoys volunteering and getting involved in the community as much as possible to gain knowledge and experience.