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Meet the Staff

Julian Pessier

Julian Pessier, Ph.D

Julian is a native Texan who migrated to New York to earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the New School for Social Research. He has worked at CAPS as counselor and mentor to Seawolves since 1999, becoming Director in 2013. At home, he enjoys gardening, playing tennis, napping and eating all kinds of fish. 

Judy Esposito

Judy Esposito, LCSW
Associate Director

Judy has been a Seawolf for over a decade.  Judy specializes in Crisis Management and Emergency/Disaster Mental Health and has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years.  Fun facts:  Judy’s first language was Italian; she was on the winning team of SBU’s Dancing with the Stars 2010; loves her fuzzy Shih Tzu; was interviewed by Barbara Walters twice; and REALLY enjoys when she sees students in costume (particularly dressed as fruit or animals with musical instruments)!

  Lisa Akel

Lisa Akel, Psy.D
Coordinator of Student Assessment and Group Therapy

Lisa is a Long Island native who received her doctorate from Yeshiva University- Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. She is the Group Coordinator here at CAPS, and is coordinating several campus outreach programs this year. Lisa is particularly interested in issues related to relationship discord, adjustment, and trauma recovery. Lisa believes in the importance of a work/life balance and makes sure to attend to her own self-care when away from the office by frequenting the gym, reading for pleasure, eating her favorite foods, and playing with her rescue dog, Austin.

Glenda Baker

Glenda Baker, MA

Glenda recently moved to New York from the San Francisco Bay Area. She joined CAPS in February 2015. She has a Masters in Counseling Psychology and over 25 years of experience working in the mental health field. Glenda enjoys traveling, reading historical fiction and eating all types of food. 

  alissa bell

Alissa Bell, Ph.D

Alissa completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at Stony Brook University after earning a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Teachers College. She truly enjoys being at work and working with students. She also likes science, art, spending time outdoors, and watching junky tv. 

Sue byrne

Susan Byrne, LMHC, LCSW
Senior Counselor

Susan is a native Long Islander and alumni of Stony Brook University, School of Social Welfare.  She has worked with many populations before coming to Stony Brook University Hospital and then to main campus working with CAPS as a Senior Counselor.  In her free time Susan enjoys kayaking, playing with her dogs and traveling. 

marissa clements

Marissa Clements, Psy.D
Coordinator for Triage and Practicum Training

Marissa graduated with her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology in Atlanta, GA. She completed her predoctoral internship at the University of Rochester's University Counseling Center, and her postdoctoral fellowship at Oglethorpe University's University Counseling Center. She loves working with the university students, including traditional and non-traditional students. She is particularly interested in women’s issues, couples concerns, and working with student veterans. Personally, she loves reading fiction and spending time outside. She has a healthy competitive streak and loves games, especially any kind of trivia and charades!


Smita Majumdar Das, Psy.D
Expert Consult- Sexual Violence and Trauma Based Counseling

Dr. Majumdar Das has been at Stony Brook University since 2006. She is a NYS licensed Clinical Psychologist and has drawn on the expertise to develop ‘victim-centered’ services for students who experience sexual violence on campus. She also provides direction and leadership to the University’s sexual violence response, education and prevention efforts across campus. She has co-authored and managed two Department of Justice grants with the Office on Violence Against Women, totaling $600,000 to develop and implement a campus-based comprehensive prevention and response strategy to combat sexual violence. She also works closely with Counseling and Psychological services providing direct clinical services to students and clinical supervision to interns and postdoctoral fellows.

Lisa defeis

Lisa DeFeis, LCSW
Senior Counselor

Lisa is a native Long Islander who earned both her B.A in Sociology and her Master's degree in Social Work at Stony Brook University.  She has practiced as a licensed clinical social worker for the past 20 years.  Lisa has worked at CAPS as a senior counselor since January of 2011, and specializes in treating students struggling with alcohol and other drug abuse.  At home, she enjoys reading mystery novels, designing jewelry and cooking delicious meals for friends and family.


Amanda Donlon, Psy.D

Amanda graduated with her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Hartford in Hartford, CT. She completed her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Stony Brook University CAPS. Amanda has worked in a variety of clinical settings throughout her career but has a strong passion for college mental health and wellness. Areas of clinical interest include identity development, trauma, relational distress, culture, and mindfulness self-compassion. Additionally, she is particularly interested in providing supervision along with group and couples therapy. When not working, Amanda enjoys spending time with family and friends, attending exercise classes, listening to a good podcast/audiobook, and karaoke.


Sandra Edwards, DNP, NPP
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


Lara Hunter, LCSW
Expert Consult- Alcohol and Other Drugs

Ms. Hunter is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years experience providing mental health and addictions counseling and prevention and outreach services. At Stony Brook, Lara is the coordinator of the Alcohol and Drug clinic and outreach services for the campus community.  She is the National Director of the nationally recognized Red Watch Band program.  Her work has been featured on a number of news channels and national professional conferences. 

julia kiely

Julia Kiely, Ph.D

Julia earned her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from The New School for Social Research in New York, NY.  She has worked at CAPS as a counselor since 2012, becoming a staff psychologist at the center in 2015.  When not at work, Julia enjoys being active, spending time on or near the water, cooking, and entertaining/hosting friends and family.


Mark Macor, Psy.D

Mark earned his Psy.D. in clinical psychology from Antioch University New England. He has experience working in a variety of mental health settings, but is particularly drawn towards the University environment.  Mark is interested in working with undergraduate and graduate students as they navigate the various personal, relational, and developmental happenings present in their lives during such educational pursuits.  When not at work, Mark enjoys playing and listening to music, running, and hiking.


Meghan Malhotra, MD

  jennifer penn

Jennifer Penn, LCSW
Mental Health Specialist

Jenn is one of our triage counselors here at CAPS. She graduated from Adelphi University’s School of Social Work, and has been at Stony Brook for over 7 years. She is particularly interested in animal assisted therapy and connecting students with appropriate care. Outside of work, Jenn enjoys playing with her cats and baking beautiful and delicious cakes!

Gwen phillips

Gwen Phillips, MPH
Case Manager and Evaluation Specialist

Gwen is the Case Manager and Evaluation Specialist here at CAPS, and works heavily with the Behavioral Assessment Committee. She is a graduate of Stony Brook’s Master of Public Health program, and feels lucky to continue working with Seawolves. Outside of work, Gwen enjoys cooking, craft projects and traveling to places near and far.

  Bethany riddle

Bethany Riddle, Ph.D
Assistant Director for Training

Bethany is from Boston, MA originally, and she has been at Stony Brook since 2005.  She earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.  She is the Training Director for the doctoral internship at CAPS, and she very much enjoys this role in addition to working directly with students.  She has a particular interest in working with students who identify as part of the LGBTQ* community.  At home, she enjoys playing the piano, cooking, and swimming. 


Alexandra Rulli, LMSW

Alexandra is a native Long Islander and an Undergraduate Alumni of Stony Brook University, School of Social Welfare. She is a Licensed Social Worker and has worked with a variety of populations before coming to CAPS as a counselor. Her professional interests include adjustment issues, attention difficulties, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. In her free time she enjoys cooking, reading, exercising, and being outdoors.

Donna thorbjornsen

Donna Thorbjornsen
Triage Assistant Counselor

Donna has worked at CAPS for 2 years as our Triage Assistant. Donna was born and raised on Long Island and will be the welcoming face you see when you enter CAPS! Donna enjoys spending time with her family and friends and loves being part of the SBU community .


2018-2019 Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellows



Chassitty Fiani, Ph.D. 

Chassitty is a Post-Doctoral fellow at CAPS. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center with specializations in forensic psychology and LGBTQ+ mental health. She has worked in a variety of settings and is excited to be at CAPS now working with Seawolves! She is particularly passionate about exploring how personal and social identities form, intersect, and impact well-being. She has worked for several years to improve the experiences of people who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming (TGNC) in mental health and criminal justice settings. In her spare time, she can be found on a meditation cushion, by the pool, cooking/baking, or teaching her parakeet how to play basketball. 


Cassandra Moon, Psy.D. 

Cassie recently moved to Long Island to work here at CAPS. She has previously lived in many states, including Massachusetts, Ohio, and Hawaii. She received her doctorate of clinical psychology from the Hawaii School of Professional Psychology of Argosy University. She really enjoys working with Stony Brook students and using a variety of psycho-therapeutic tools. At home, she enjoys playing video games, watching shows, listening to music, and meditating. 


2018-2019 Psychology Interns



Casey Culligan, M.S. 

Casey is a Psy. D. candidate in clinical psychology from Antioch University New England. She earned her M.S. in clinical psychology from her residing institution, and a B.A. in psychology from Smith College. Casey has been fortunate to work in a variety of clinical settings throughout her career thus far including college counseling, community mental health, and inpatient psychiatric hospital settings. She holds special interests in multiculturalism and intersectionality, social justice, university mental health, attachment, and the human-animal bond. When not at work Casey enjoys spending time with all types of animals big and small, surrounding herself with music, and being active outdoors.


Rachel Diamond, M.A. 

Rachel is a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology from LIU Brooklyn, from which she has also earned her Master’s degree. She also received a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in spirituality and mind body practices from Columbia University. Her clinical and research interests focus on mindfulness and mind-body pathways to wellness. She has experience working in a variety of clinical settings, with a particular interest in working with a student population. She also personally enjoys meditating, singing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.


Lauren Lavrigata, M.A., M.S. 

Lauren is a Psy.D. candidate in Clinical Psychology from University of Hartford. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from her residing institution, and her Master of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University CW Post, with a specialization in substance abuse.  Lauren has worked in a variety of clinical settings throughout her career, including inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient psychiatric rehab and vocational training centers, outpatient substance use programs, pediatric clinics, and college counseling settings.  Her clinical research interests focus on attachment, relationships, and impacts on mental health treatment. Outside of clinical practice, Lauren enjoys spending time with animals, playing music, being outdoors, volunteering at local community events, and traveling. 

  jen w

Jen Wertovich, M.S. 

Jen is a Psy.D. candidate in clinical psychology from LIU Post, from which she has also earned her Master's degree. She is a Long Island native and SBU Undergraduate alum, and is currently working towards completing her dissertation research in narrative therapy. Jen has worked in a variety of clinical settings throughout her career, including inpatient psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric emergency programs, and a previous work history here at CAPS. Jen is particularly interested in working with students in the college setting to help navigate the variety of complex issues undergraduates and graduate students face. Outside of work, Jen enjoys volunteering in the animal rescue community, reading, being outdoors, and relaxing with family and friends

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