Trauma-Free NYC is composed of trauma-informed professionals and Columbia faculty members from different schools including Neuroscience, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health, Teachers College, and Journalism.
Trauma-Free NYC Co-Director
Professor of Population and Family Health
Columbia University Medical Center
Director of Child, Adolescent and Family Health Certificate
Virginia Rauh, ScD, has been a member of Columbia's faculty since 1984 and is Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. Her postdoctoral work in psychiatric epidemiology was supported by NIMH and a career development award from NICHD. Her work focuses on the adverse impact of exposure to air pollutants, including second hand smoke and pesticides on pregnancy and child health, and the susceptibility of individuals and disadvantaged populations to environmental hazards. Dr. Rauh is a perinatal epidemiologist by training, whose expertise is in the area of low birth weight and preterm delivery, particularly with respect to socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority populations. She has been principal investigator on numerous major research projects, including studies of the impact of organophosphorus insecticides and secondhand smoke on child neurodevelopment and brain abnormalities (MRI, fMRI), a randomized intervention trial for low birth weight infants, a multi-site study of lifestyles in pregnancy, a study of developmental outcomes of children born to inner-city adolescent mothers, a multi-level analysis of the impact of Head Start on New York City school children, a study of the effects of ambient air pollutants on pregnant women and their children, and a study of links between race, stressors, and preterm birth. She has worked with other Columbia faculty to study the effects of the World Trade Center disaster on pregnant women and newborns. Dr. Rauh serves on numerous national committees, including advisory groups at NIEHS, NICHD, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the Environmental Protection Agency.Virginia Rauh, ScD, has been a member of Columbia's faculty since 1984 and is Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. Her postdoctoral work in psychiatric epidemiology was supported by NIMH and a career development award from NICHD. Her work focuses on the adverse impact of exposure to air pollutants, including second hand smoke and pesticides on pregnancy and child health, and the susceptibility of individuals and disadvantaged populations to environmental hazards. Dr. Rauh is a perinatal epidemiologist by training, whose expertise is in the area of low birth weight and preterm delivery, particularly with respect to socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority populations. She has been principal investigator on numerous major research projects, including studies of the impact of organophosphorus insecticides and secondhand smoke on child neurodevelopment and brain abnormalities (MRI, fMRI), a randomized intervention trial for low birth weight infants, a multi-site study of lifestyles in pregnancy, a study of developmental outcomes of children born to inner-city adolescent mothers, a multi-level analysis of the impact of Head Start on New York City school children, a study of the effects of ambient air pollutants on pregnant women and their children, and a study of links between race, stressors, and preterm birth. She has worked with other Columbia faculty to study the effects of the World Trade Center disaster on pregnant women and newborns. Dr. Rauh serves on numerous national committees, including advisory groups at NIEHS, NICHD, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Dr. Sonali Rajan’s research is focused on identifying patterns of risk behaviors among adolescent youth; implementing and evaluating school-based health education programs; and identifying environmental-level characteristics that influence health behaviors among urban youth and communities. In line with the approach of the “whole child”, her research embraces a comprehensive definition of “health”, recognizing that the synergy between multiple health issues and the surrounding environments together inform long-term outcomes. For the past several years, Dr. Rajan has worked on the implementation and evaluation of health education and behavioral health initiatives aimed to mitigate youth engagement in high-risk behaviors and promote positive youth development. She has an emerging line of research in the area of aggression and violence prevention in schools and is focused on supporting efforts aimed at reducing the presence of firearms in K-12 school settings.
Ms. Yanosy has been a keynote and featured speaker on trauma and organizational culture at both domestic and international conferences and has published extensively on the implementation and impact of trauma responsive practice. Ms. Yanosy’s career has integrated clinical social work, education and administration, which developed her expertise in trauma treatment, program and curriculum development as well as program evaluation and replication.
She currently serves as Director of Consulting and co-founder of Creating PRESENCE, a trauma responsive training and organizational intervention program. She also teaches at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, provides coaching through service-learning projects for students at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, consults with nonprofit human service organizations and practices psychotherapy in her home state of NY.
Ms. Yanosy has developed nationally available collegiate leadership programming, and previously served as the founding Director of the Sanctuary Institute. In her role as Director, Ms. Yanosy oversaw the development, training and implementation of a system-wide, holistic, trauma informed organizational model. The resulting social movement built around this practice grew to over 350 organizations, including residential care, addiction treatment, domestic violence, supportive housing, juvenile justice, hospital, community based and school settings across the United States and seven other countries.
Ms. Yanosy received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Cornell University and Smith College respectively, and has completed post graduate programs at New York University, Fordham University and Columbia Business School.
Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology
Nim examines brain development underlying emotional behavior in humans. Her research has highlighted fundamental changes in brain circuitry across development and the powerful role that early experiences, such as caregiving and stress, have on the construction of these circuits. She has authored over 80 journal articles and book chapters. She is a frequent lecturer both nationally and internationally on human brain and emotional development.
Dr. Allwood is a Clinical Psychologist. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at John Jay College, City University of New York (CUNY) and doctoral faculty of CUNY’s Graduate Center. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Since 2015, Dr. Allwood has also served as an elected Board member for the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). ISTSS is an international interdisciplinary professional organization that promotes advancement and exchange of knowledge about traumatic stress.
Dr. Allwood’s research and clinical interests focus on the developmental effects of childhood trauma and violence exposure, particularly for youth living in high-stress urban settings. Dr. Allwood is interested in how multiple factors and systems (e.g., cognitive, emotional, physiological) interact to predict negative outcomes, such as school failure, delinquency, substance use, poor mental health, poor physical health, and suicide among trauma-exposed youth. Her work also focuses on the impact of trauma exposure on vulnerable communities and accessibility of effective treatment services, with emphasizes on the needs of minority, immigrant, and refugee populations.
Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
As a neuroscientist and board-certified pediatrician, Kim Noble directs the Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development (NEED) lab, where she and her team study how socioeconomic inequality relates to in children's cognitive and brain development. Her work examines socioeconomic disparities in cognitive development, as well as brain structure and function, across infancy, childhood and adolescence. She is particularly interested in understanding how early in infancy or toddlerhood such disparities develop; the modifiable environmental differences that account for these disparities; and the ways we might harness this research to inform the design of interventions. Along with a multidisciplinary team from around the country, with funding from NIH and a consortium of foundations, she is currently planning the first clinical trial of poverty reduction to assess the causal impact of income on children’s cognitive, emotional and brain development in the first three years of life. Dr. Noble received her undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, completed postdoctoral training at the Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology of Weill Cornell Medical College, and completed her residency in pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center / Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York - Presbyterian. She was awarded a 2017 Association for Psychological Science Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions. Her work linking family income to brain structure across childhood and adolescence has received worldwide attention in the popular press.
Sackler Institute Professor of Developmental Psychology (in Psychiatry)
Columbia University Medical Center
Dr. Gingrich and his group use a systems approach to better understand normal and abnormal brain function; in particular, the mechanisms that underlie neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders. Their goal is to understand how genetic and epigenetic factors affect behavior and intervening systems such as circuitry, anatomy, and physiology. The lab exploits the ability to genetically modify mice–either to mimic known human susceptibility factors or to use conditional gene modifications–to further investigate our hypotheses regarding circuitry and physiology. Towards that end, Dr. Gingrich is pursuing several lines of research related to the role of serotonin-signaling in the cortex. These studies have demonstrated an important role for cortical influence on behaviors related to schizophrenia and anxiety. His lab also has an active program examining the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin on the development of brain circuits that modulate affective and anxiety states. Additionally, the group has developed a mouse model of epigenetic effects of paternal age on behavior and brain function.
Senior Program Officer
Trauma-Free NYC, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Dr. Kassow is a research scientist and leader in the early childhood/early learning field, with extensive experience on both the east and west coasts. She began her career as a special education public high school teacher in a rural and high-risk community in upstate New York. The challenges her students faced during the years leading to adulthood inspired her to think deeply about the criticalness of early childhood and the key factors children need to thrive and succeed across the lifespan. Dr. Kassow went on to obtain a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology & Methodology and has devoted her career to the well-being of children, families, and communities. She has been a called upon as an early childhood and parenting expert by many media outlets, and her publications on parent-child attachment and early literacy remain popular. Dr. Kassow previously served as the Executive Director of Strategy & Policy for the Division of Early Childhood Education at the New York City Department and launched her own consulting firm in 2010. In 2016, her consulting services were retained by the Mailman School of Public Health to launch a new initiative, Trauma-Free NYC, a university-based program focused on identifying and promoting trauma-informed practices and policies in New York City. She was later asked to join the team full-time in 2019. Dr. Kassow is also a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, a form of somatic education. Dr. Kassow aims to bridge her extensive knowledge of early childhood and adverse childhood experiences with health, healing practices, and lifelong wellbeing.
Anna Cheskis Gelman and Murray Charles Gelman Professor of Epidemiology
Chair, Department of Epidemiology
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
Dr. Branas has conducted research that extends from urban and rural areas in the US to communities across the globe, incorporating place-based interventions and human geography. He has led win-win science that generates new knowledge while simultaneously creating positive, real-world changes and providing health-enhancing resources for local communities. His pioneering work on geographic access to medical care has changed the healthcare landscape, leading to the designation of new hospitals and a series of national scientific replications in the US and other countries for many conditions: trauma, cancer, stroke, etc. His research on the geography and factors underpinning gun violence has been cited by landmark Supreme Court decisions, Congress, and the NIH Director. Dr. Branas has also led large-scale scientific work to transform thousands of vacant lots, abandoned buildings and other blighted spaces in improving the health and safety of entire communities. These are the first citywide randomized controlled trials of urban blight remediation and have shown this intervention to be a highly cost-effective solution to persistent urban health problems like gun violence. He has worked internationally on four continents and led multi-national efforts, producing extensive cohorts of developing nation scientists, national health metrics, and worldwide press coverage.
Bruce Shapiro is Executive Director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism encouraging innovative reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy worldwide. Shapiro is recipient of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies for "outstanding and fundamental contributions to the social understanding of trauma."
An award-winning reporter on human rights, criminal justice and politics, Shapiro is a contributing editor at The Nation and U.S. correspondent for Late Night Live on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National. He is also teaches ethics at Columbia Journalism School, where he is adjunct associate professor and Senior Advisor for Academic Affairs. His books include Shaking the Foundations: 200 Years of Investigative Journalism in America and Legal Lynching: The Death Penalty and America's Future.
Dr. Alwyn Cohall is a Professor of Public Health and Pediatrics at the Columbia University Medical Center and the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Cohall's main areas of research interest include adolescent health; sexual and reproductive health; access to healthcare, particularly for young men of color; using media/technology to enhance health communication/health promotion; and, integrating trauma-informed care into clinical practice. In addition to his research interests, Dr. Cohall is board-certified in both pediatrics and adolescent medicine and has a private practice in adolescent and young adult health. Dr. Cohall serves as the director of the Harlem Health Promotion Center which is devoted to reducing health disparities in communities of color. He is also the director of Project Stay (Services to Assist Youth), which is a New York State Department of Health funded program that provides confidential health services to young people affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS. With support from the NYCDOHMH, he is leading an initiative to educate and link youth to care for PEP and PrEP services. Further, he is the Principal Investigator of the NYC CDC STD Prevention Training Center which focuses on enhancing the skills of primary care providers to manage patients with sexually transmitted diseases.
Additionally, in his role as Co-Principal Investigator at the New York Presbyterian site, he is involved with an NIH funded research project called “Link2Care” which designed to improve screening for STIs/HIV and substance use and subsequent linkages to health care services for Justice Involved Youth at high-risk for HIV. Dr. Cohall is Co-Director of the Washington Heights/Inwood Youth Opportunity HUB – a program funded by the NYC District Attorney’s office to reduce youth involvement in the justice system. Finally, he is a medical consultant for the Primary Care Development Corporation on projects related to HIV care.
He is a member of several professional organizations including: the American Public Health Association, the Society for Adolescent Health in Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In recognition of his tireless efforts to improve the health of adolescents and their families, Dr. Cohall has been honored by: the New York Urban League, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Public Health Association of New York City, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Health in Medicine.