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Executive Members

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Holly Shaw, Ph.D., RN


International Council of Nurses (ICN), Nightingale Initiative for Global Health

Holly K Shaw, Ph.D., RN, is an expert in health and healing with a focus on crisis, trauma, and bereavement. Dr. Shaw, a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric/mental health nursing, is a graduate of the Harvard Medical School Masters Certificate Program in Global Mental Health and earned degrees at Boston University and Adelphi University, College of Nursing and Public Health where she is an Adjunct Professor. She earned a Ph.D. in 1998 focusing on the extended impact of the death of a peer during adolescence and served as Senior Consultant to the Chancellor's Office of the City of New York in developing the initial city-wide Board of Education Crisis Response System. In that capacity, she developed an award-winning program on adolescent bereavement and worked with many communities throughout the US including the community of Concord, New Hampshire recovering from the Death of Teacher in Space, Christa McAuliffe.

Dr. Shaw is active in the United Nations NGO community where she facilitated the affiliation between the UN and Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing. She currently represents the International Council of Nurses (ICN), a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations, representing the more than 16 million nurses worldwide and the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health. Dr. Shaw contributes to the American Journal of Nursing and is the author of peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters. She is an invited lecturer at universities, medical centers, and community-based organizations in the US, and many global settings, including the People’s Republic of China, Uganda, Israel, Jordan, India, and Cambodia, where she is consulting on several projects with the Ministry of Health and Education.

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Maria Victoria Espada, MA


Representative to the UN and OAS, Dianova International

María Victoria Espada is a Master´s Degree Economist with vast professional experience in different countries and institutions including more than twelve years working for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of the United Nations. Her areas of expertise include public policy, public finance, and development cooperation. Ms. Espada has extensive experience in managing region-wide development projects as well as capacity-building and peer-learning programs. After working independently as a project manager in New York, she is currently representing Dianova International at the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Ms. Espada is a proud advocate of the promotion, protection, and strengthening of civic society space particularly in international organizations.

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Nina Urban, MD

Recording Secretary

American Psychiatric Association, Global Bioethics Initiative

Dr. Urban is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University, working in neuroimaging and treatment research in psychosis and substance abuse, with emphasis on exploring alterations in the dopamine system potentially leading to new treatment developments for schizophrenia, alcoholism, and cocaine dependence. Additionally, Dr. Urban provides clinical care for underserved and vulnerable psychiatric populations in Upper Manhattan.

Dr. Urban has more than 15 years of international experience volunteering in medical projects such as Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta/India and free rural and inner city family clinics in Peru and the US. She currently works as a mental health consultant for Healthright International Human Rights Clinic, providing pro bono support to asylum seeking victims of torture and persecution, and is also a member of ‘Disaster Psychiatry Outreach’ and the NYC Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). Dr. Urban is fluent in German, English, French and conversational Spanish.

Elaine Congress, MSSW, MA, DSW


International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)

Dr. Elaine Congress is Professor and Associate Dean for Continuing Education and Special Programs. She directs the dual MSW/MPH program with Mt. Sinai. She also has served as Director of the Doctoral Program.

At the United Nations, Dr. Congress represents NGOs the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the Institute for Multicultural Counseling and Education Services (IMCES). She has served as the North American Representative to the International Ethics Committee of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) She currently is on the national NASW Pioneer Board and previously was on the National Board of Directors of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and a past President of the New York City Chapter of NASW.

Dr. Congress has written extensively in the areas of social work values and ethics, cultural diversity, social work education, non-profit management, and public health including eleven books and over sixty professional journal articles and book chapters. 

Her recent book Behavioral Science in the Global Arena: Addressing Timely Issues at the United Nations and Beyond provides clear, comprehensive information about the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals. The book adopts an interprofessional approach as it is co-authored with a psychologist and has contributions from social workers, psychologists, leaders of NGOs, UN officials, and a medical doctor. Dr. Congress is committed to promoting the professional development of students and several of the book chapters are co-authored by social work students who are now professionals. A second recent book is the fourth edition of Multicultural Perspectives in Working with Families. This book is interprofessional as psychologists, as well as social workers, have contributed chapters. 

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Felix Torres, MD, MBA, DFAPA, CCHP-MH

Corresponding Secretary

Dr. Felix Torres is a clinical, forensic, and administrative psychiatrist. Double boarded in Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry by The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Dr. Torres is the Chief of Forensic Medicine for the Texas State Hospital System. A Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), he also sits on the APA Board of Trustees as the Minority/Underrepresented Representative, is the Co-Chair of the APA Board of Trustees Structural Racism Accountability Committee and is a Special Advisor to the APA on the United Nations, ensuring the inclusion of mental health in UN development goals and agendas. Dr. Torres received a bachelor’s degree in psychology/behavioral neurosciences from Yale University, graduated magna cum laude from Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine in Puerto Rico and completed his psychiatry residency and forensic psychiatry fellowship in New York City. He also holds an MBA degree from Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School with a double concentration in Healthcare Management and Leading Organizations. Recognized as a psychiatric expert by several courts throughout the United States, Dr. Torres has consulted and testified in hundreds of cases on mental health issues. Committed to the fight against the stigma towards mental illness and to the education of underserved populations, Dr. Torres has extensive media experience, serving as a mental health contributor to local, national, and international media outlets. He is the host of the weekly Facebook Live show, “Sin Salud Mental No Hay Salud” (No Health Without Mental Health). He speaks English, Spanish, French, and Italian.

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Vivian B. Pender, M.D.

Immediate Past Chair

International Psychoanalytical Association

A Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College and a Training Psychoanalyst at Columbia University. At the United Nations, she represents the International Psychoanalytical Association and the American Psychiatric Association. She serves as a Trustee of the American Psychiatric Association. She has honors and awards for her excellence in teaching medical students, residents, and fellows. Until 2011, she chaired the NGO Committee on the Status of Women and chaired the NGO Committee on Mental Health from 2015-2019, coalitions of non-government organizations in consultative status with the UN. She participated in the establishment of UN Women. She is a volunteer Asylum Evaluator for Physicians for Human Rights. In 2015, she founded Healthcare Against Trafficking, Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education and advocacy in the healthcare sector. She is a co-investigator on a Weill Cornell Department of Internal Medicine innovative grant to study “Experiences of Sex Trafficking Victims in Healthcare Settings.” She produced four documentaries of conferences at the United Nations on mental health, human rights, human trafficking, and violence. She has published journal articles and book chapters on effect, pregnancy, violence, sex trafficking, and leadership. In 2016 her edited book The Status of Women: Violence, Identity and Activism was published. She is currently working on a book entitled The Female Perspective. One of her current projects is to standardize a global psychiatry fellowship for graduate trainees.



Karen Hopenwasser, M.D.

International Society for Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD)

A Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical and a psychiatrist in private practice treating adults with complex PTSD and dissociative disorders. Her publications address the neurobiology and neurophysics of dissociative states in the therapeutic process and the development of innovative and integrative techniques for trauma-informed mental health care. Along with clinical practice, she represents the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation as a member of the Executive Committee of the NGO Committee on Mental Health and is co-convener of the NGO Committee on Mental Health’s Trauma working group. Since 2015 she has been a voluntary faculty member at the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights, where she participates regularly in psychological evaluations of individuals applying for asylum in the United States.

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Siva Mathiyazhagan, Ph.D.

Trust for Youth and Child Leadership

Dr. Siva’s research focuses on youth mental health and suicidal expressions on social media using a hybrid version of qualitative indigenous research methodologies and Contextual Analysis of Social Media (CASM) to understand youth expressions on social media in native/regional languages to prevent emotional extremisms.  Dr. Siva Mathiyazhagan is the Founder-Director of the youth-led non-profit Trust for Youth and Child Leadership (TYCL) International, based in India and the USA. He serves as a TYCL representative to the United Nations. He is an independent global social work researcher and development consultant. 


He has a Masters in Social Work (MSW) and a PhD. in Social Work, specialized in child-centered community development from Pondicherry Central University, India. He strategies and facilitates local-global partnerships to scale SAFELab innovations and research projects to accelerate the impact with local communities and transnational tech-social work researchers.


Rachel Ravich, Ph.D.

SPSSI- UN Representative

Rachel Ravich, Ph.D. is the UN/NGO Representative for the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. She is a social and licensed clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics. A former UN staff member, organizational consultant, and community mediator, she has taught courses at Columbia University’s International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution and at Hofstra University. At the UN, she was the co-coordinator for the Third Annual Psychology Day at the UN, with the theme “Psychology and Diplomacy, Negotiating for Peace and Human Rights.” She has served as a board member of the NGO Health Committee and has chaired a number of Side Events for the UN Commission of Sustainable Development and the UN Commission for Social Development. Subjects included Sustainable Development Goal Indicators for Health and Wellbeing, Climate Change and Children’s Health, Protecting Health and Promoting Resilience across the Lifespan.

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