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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)!


Lara Hunter, LCSW
Assistant Director for Clinical Services

Ms.Hunter is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years experience providing mental health and substance abuse counseling. She is nationally known for her work on substance abuse prevention in colleges and universities.  Her work has been featured on a number of news channels and national professional conferences. She is a clinical  instructor  at the school of Social Welfare teaching clinical skills to Masters level students.  

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. 

  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. 

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!

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


Kevin Lee, LCSW
Counselor, Diversity and Inclusion Focus

Kevin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a native New Yorker. He graduated with his Bachelor's in Psychology from SBU and  later earned his Master's degree in Social Work from New York University. Kevin has experience working in a variety of community mental health settings as well as in higher education. He thoroughly enjoys working with university students while they navigate their diverse college experiences. Outside of work, Kevin enjoys playing video games, watching sports, spending time with family and friends, and being his cat's favorite person. 


Dorothy Lilly, LCSW-R
Clinical Case Manager

Dorothy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for over 20 years. Dorothy graduated with her Masters degree in Social Work from Adelphi University.  Over the past 20 years she has worked in a local community hospital providing psychiatric clinical assessment, treatment and case management services.  As a Clinical Case Manager at CAPS Dorothy will assist students connection to services to promote a healthy lifestyle.  Dorothy loves her work and looks forward to being part of the team to help students succeed and reach their goals. In her free time Dorothy enjoys yoga, the beach and spending time with family and friends. 


Meghan Malhotra, MD


Susanne Meyers, NPP
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

  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 CARE Team. 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.

picture of kanthi

Kanthi Raja, MA
Counselor, Diversity and Inclusion Focus 

Kanthi C. Raja, MA, is a Doctoral Candidate in the School of Clinical Psychology at Fielding Graduate University. She enjoys working with people who identify as women around issues of identity, trauma, family of origin conflicts, and mood disorders. She has a special interest in working with underserved and minority individuals, as well as International Students. She received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991, and her Masters  Degree in Social Service Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 1998. For fun, Kanthi enjoys spending time outdoors and creative activities, especially writing.



Kacie Rocco, LMHC

Kacie is one of our counselors here at CAPS. A Long Island native, she graduated from Long Island University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.  She began her journey in college mental health as an intern at CAPS and has enjoyed working at Stony Brook University as part of the CAPS team.  She has an interest in working with students who experience anxiety, depression, adjustment issues and relational distress.  Additionally, she is particularly interested in providing a safe space for students to work towards their personal goals. In her free time she enjoys photography, spending time with her family and being outdoors.


Alexandra Rulli, LCSW

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

Donna has worked at CAPS for many 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 .


Expert Consults


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.

2021-2022 Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellows


Lara Dicarlo

Lara DiCarlo, Psy.D. 

Lara earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Lara has experience working in a variety of settings including community mental health, inpatient and outpatient substance use programs, residential and school settings, and college counseling.  She holds special interests in social justice, identity, relationships, and mindfulness.  Outside of her office, Lara enjoys spending time practicing yoga, exploring nature, and cuddling her cats.

image of peiyi

Peiyi He, MA

Peiyi He, MA, is a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, from which she also earned her Master’s degree. Peiyi has worked with children, young adults and older adults in a variety of settings including community mental health, school clinic and hospital outpatient. Her clinical and research interests include but are not limited to international students, cross-cultural adjustment, anxiety, depression, trauma recovery, identity formation, spirituality and existential issues. Peiyi can provide services in both English and Mandarin. Outside of clinical practice, Peiyi enjoys exploring nature, playing the violin, listening to podcasts, petting and taking pictures of her cat.


picture of Kara

Kara Norlander, MS 

Kara has always been interested in peoples’ stories. Her undergraduate degree was in Film/Video, where she produced documentaries about individual experiences as a lens into larger social themes. She was a community organizer in Chicago for several years before entering the mental health field. She now has eight years of clinical experience and enjoys helping students to become more understanding of and compassionate toward themselves, and to become more empowered in their lives. She believes culture and relationships are central to human experience, and these tend to be areas of focus in her therapy work. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Psychology at Long Island University – Brooklyn, where her dissertation is focused on relationships and power dynamics in clinical supervision.

2021-2022 Psychology Interns


Brandon Creech, MS

Brandon is a Psy.D. candidate in clinical psychology from Eastern Kentucky University. He previously completed externships within university psychology clinic and counseling center settings. Brandon has a special interest in working with college students, especially those who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community; other areas of clinical interest include sexual orientation and gender identity development, issues of religion/spirituality, and substance misuse. In his free time, he enjoys reading, watching documentaries, and traveling. 

Allie D.

Allie Dashow, MA

Allie Dashow, MA, is a Psy.D. candidate from LIU-Post. She has worked with children, adolescents, college students, and adults in a variety of settings, including community mental health, partial hospitalization, and inpatient units. Allie has a particular interest in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and the Health at Every Size Movement. Her clinical interests include college students, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, playing settlers of catan, watching documentaries, and being with family and friends

Natalie Natalie L éger MS
Natalie is a Psy.D. candidate in counseling psychology from Springfield College. She enjoys working with college students of various backgrounds in pursuing greater awareness and empathy for oneself as a means of improving their mental health. She has previously worked in university counseling, a brain injury rehabilitation clinic and elementary school. Her most recent position was as a sport psychology doctoral trainee where she served as the liaison between the university athletic department and counseling center while providing therapy and consultation to athletes, coaches, and administrators. Natalie is a native Long Islander and has a Master's degree in sport, exercise, and performance psychology from Barry University. She has special interest in working with students with concerns related to, but not limited to, identity development, anxiety, and social justice. 
Jordan Jordan Meisel (she/her), MA, is a Psy.D. candidate from Ferkauf School of Professional Psychology at Yeshiva University. She has worked with adults, college students, and older adult populations in a variety of settings, including community mental health, outpatient settings, and inpatient units. Jordan has a particular interest in psychodynamic and narrative-based therapies. She believes each client has a unique story to tell and that, in telling this story, they may find new meaning and healing. Her clinical interests include college students, depression, traumatic histories, and personality disorders. In her spare time, she enjoys being active, watching documentaries, horseback riding, walking around New York City,  and being with family and friends. 

2020-2021 Psychology Externs

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Joanna Durso, MA

Joanna is pursuing a Psy.D. in clinical psychology at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology (Yeshiva University). Previously, she obtained a master's degree in higher education administration right here at Stony Brook University, where she worked in the Career Center for many years; she also holds a bachelor's degree in English. Her research and clinical areas of interest are still coming into focus, though she especially enjoys working with university students! Outside of work and school, Joanna loves music in all forms, walks outdoors, and the New York Mets.


 Ryan Sliwak