Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center
Meet the team
Heidi Ellis, PhD
Dr. Ellis is the Director of the Children’s Hospital Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience (CHCRTR) and Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston/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.
Dr. Benson is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Children’s Hospital Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience (CHCRTR) and an instructor at Harvard Medical School with expertise in research and clinical intervention for child and adolescent refugees. Her research background includes the study of coping with post-war related stressors in Bosnian youth. Dr. Benson is also a Staff Psychologist in the Outpatient Department of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston where she provides psychological treatment and consultation to children and families, some of whom are refugees. In addition, she provides training and supervision in evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents.
Saida Abdi, MSW, LCSW
Saida Abdi is the Director of Community Relations and a social worker at the CHCRTR. Ms. Abdi has a Masters in Communication from Carleton University in Canada and a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. Ms. Abdi has more than 12 years experience working with refugee children and families. Ms. Abdi’s life long interest has been in narrowing the divide between immigrant and refugee communities’ cultural values and the mental health systems which seek to serve them.
Colleen Barrett, MPH
Ms. Barrett 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. Barrett 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.
Beverly Herr, BS
Beverly Herr is the Research Assistant at the Children’s Hospital Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience (CHCRTR). Before coming to Children’s Hospital she worked at the Psychiatric Research Center of the Dartmouth Medical School where she was involved in a study focusing on increasing mental health treatment engagement among U.S. Veterans with PTSD.
Vanja Lazarevic, Ph.D.
Dr. Lazarevic received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on immigrant and refugee youth. More specifically, she examines the ways in which immigration and acculturation experiences affect the relationships in immigrant and refugee families, as well as the effects of immigration on the well-being of immigrant and refugee youth.