Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble and The AAKOMA Team

IMG_0100-Edit-3-3280312320-ODr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble is Director of The AAKOMA (African American Knowledge Optimized for Mindfully-Healthy Adolescents) Project and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University Medical Center. She is an adolescent and child psychologist and researcher in academic medicine with a strong 10+ year track record of external and federal research funding. She is a recognized expert in adolescent depression and racial disparities in mental health as evidenced by her appointments to the American Psychological Association Treatment Guideline Development Panel for Depression Across the Lifespan (where she is the only child and adolescent disparities researcher) and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Addressing Disparities National Advisory Panel (which she was elected to from over 1200 applicants nationwide). In October 2014, she was recognized as (likely) the first psychologist to receive the Jeanne Spurlock Lecture and Award for Culture and Diversity from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). This award recognizes stellar achievements by senior scholars invested in the mental health of racially diverse youth and families.

Dr. Breland-Noble is recognized as a highly skilled clinical researcher with the unique ability to translate complex scientific concepts for lay audiences and adeptness in bridging the “town-gown” divide in the clinical research arena. Her research and clinical expertise include: reducing mental health disparities for African American and diverse adolescents; depression treatment engagement in diverse adolescents; expert clinical care for depressed and anxious African American youth and young adults, mental health stigma reduction in diverse populations, health equity in community based suicide prevention and Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) with a specific focus on Faith Based Mental Health Promotion.

In The AAKOMA Project and Lab we utilize evidence-based, culturally relevant behavioral interventions to improve psychological/psychiatric treatment engagement by African American adolescents and their families for depressive disorders. Dr. Breland-Noble is currently involved in multiple initiatives with Faith Based and other community partners in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina

Google Scholar Page                                                                      BRELAND-NOBLE CV




Camelia Harb is the Lead AAKOMA lab Research Assistant. Camelia joins us with a wealth of experience in clinical research with disparities populations.   She holds a BA and MA in Psychology from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and has extensive experience as a researcher, most recently in the field of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) in underserved communities including victims of domestic violence and homeless mothers.  Her research interests include addressing mental health issues among youth and adolescents, especially in culturally underserved populations.  She hopes to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a focus in child and adolescent practice in the near future.

We also welcomed Jessica Jackson to the lab as a research volunteer for 2016-2017.


Jessica is a 4th year Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Candidate at New Mexico State University. She holds a BA in Psychology from North Carolina A&T State University and a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from George Washington University. Jessica is a current NIH RISE to the Postdoctorate Scholar and her research interest includes race-related stress; health disparities, culturally relevant interventions and training. Jessica departed the lab in June 2017 for her pre-doctoral internship at UCLA CAPS.

We are currently interviewing RAs and volunteers for academic year 2017-2018.  See our contact page to apply for a volunteer position.


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Irene Jacobs was a summer volunteer the AAKOMA lab.  She previously earned her M.A. in Psychology from Pace University in New York. Irene’s professional background includes working on community based youth prevention and intervention programs. Her research interests are focused on adolescent risk and resilience and utilizing inherent community strengths as a protective factors for youth intervention development.



Lauren Sonnabend is our former AAKOMA Program Manager focusing on our PCORI Engagement and Pipeline Awards. She holds a BA and MA in Psychology from Wesleyan University and a MSW from Columbia University. Lauren has extensive experience as a researcher and therapist with underserved communities. Her research interests include addressing depression and trauma in youth through mindfulness-based interventions and CBPR.  She recently began a doctoral program in clinical psychology. 


Dayna LePlatte, M.D. is a native of Detroit, MI who joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Hospital and Health System in July 2014 as an assistant clinical professor of child and adolescent psychiatry. She has diverse interests but her main goal is to bring the knowledge of mental health out of textbooks to the community.   She has helped develop interventions aiming to improve health care utilization, decrease social isolation, facilitate understanding of mental health, and decrease depression/anxiety symptoms in high-risk groups.



Michele J. Wong was the Project Coordinator for AAKOMA and Program Manager for our GHUCCTS funded partnership with a Black faith community for a Practice Based Evidence study for stigma reduction for mental illness.  Michelle was instrumental in helping the AAKOMA lab transition from Durham, NC to the DMV area. She is currently a graduate student in public health at UCLA.


Sheantel Riehl – Georgetown College graduate

Jason Sotomayor – Georgetown College Graduate, pursuing physician’s assistant training

F. Antoinette Burriss – Hampton Univ. & NC State Univ. graduate, practicing Social Worker

Michelle Roley – Kent University graduate – currently pursuing doctoral degree

Joy King – Kent University graduate



Mrs. H. Kathy Williams is the lead NC community liaison/partner for The AAKOMA Project. She is an active community leader through her service as Director for the Durham County, North Carolina Yellow Ribbon Program for suicide prevention. Mrs. Williams started the affiliate chapter of “Yellow Ribbon Program” in 1996 in after the untimely and tragic suicide of her son, Torian Leondras Graves. An active partner with AAKOMA since 2007, Mrs. Williams conducts workshops on Identifying Depression/Suicide Prevention for conferences, schools, churches, youth groups, and various organizations. Mrs. Williams and Dr. Breland-Noble have presented their community psychoeducational seminar “Breaking the Silence and Stress in Teens” locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

KSCKathy Springfield-Cobb is a native of Durham, North Carolina. She has served as the secretary for the NC School Counselor Association, was a School Counselor Supervisor to university counseling interns, and mentored new counselors to the profession. She participated in numerous doctoral research projects with doctoral students at North Carolina State University and Duke University. Nationally, she has served as a conference presenter for the Association of Curriculum and Instruction. Kathy continues to serves students and families in her community in any way that she can. She believes that “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou


The AAKOMA Project Advisory Board includes African American community leaders and members who support a community and patient focused approach to research.  Our primary goal is to support the healthy growth and development of African American and racially diverse youth and we do so by integrating the skills and expertise of our advisors into all aspects of our work. The board provides feedback to AAKOMA on our research focus, and patient and stakeholder perspectives on medical researchers and African Americans.

Members:  Reverend Clarence Burke, Dr. Theresa Lewis, Mrs. Karen Sansom-Goodman, Ms. F. Antoinette Burriss


  1. Lincoln Memorial Baptist Church (Durham, NC)
  2. First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville (MD)
  3. Community United Methodist Church (DC)
  4. Orange Grove Missionary Baptist Church (Durham, NC)
  5. Mt. Zion Baptist Church (VA)
  6. Mt. Olive Baptist Church (VA)
  7. St. Johns’ Baptist Church (NC)
  8. Peace Missionary Baptist Church (NC)



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