Who We Are

Center for the Promotion of Mental Health in Juvenile Justice

Who We Are

Gail Wasserman
Center Director
Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry)

Dr. Wasserman has been investigating the psychopathology of child and adolescent conduct problems for over 30 years. Since 1998, she has served as the Director for Columbia University’s Center for the Promotion of Mental Health in Juvenile Justice. The center’s collaborations with juvenile justice and other state and county agencies have systematically documented the range, severity and correlates of substance use and mental health problems in youths in contact with the juvenile justice system. Under her direction, our team developed and piloted a systems-level SAMHSA-supported multilayered intervention (Project Connect) aimed at enhancing identification of suicide risk and correlated mental health and substance use concerns in probation settings, and increasing probation officer linkage practices to more effectively connect juvenile probationers to community providers. She is currently PI for a NIDA-funded collaborative (JJ-TRIALS) investigating the impact of a cross-system intervention on service utilization for juvenile probationers with substance use and co-occurring disorders, and examining the roles and factors that enhance or impede program uptake and service use.

See a complete list of Dr. Wasserman’s publications here.

Larkin McReynolds, Ph.D.
Center Research Director
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Assistant Professor, Epidemiology & Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research

Dr. McReynolds received her MPH from the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston (Health Promotion/Health Education) and her PhD from Columba University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She has extensive experience in intervention evaluation methods, and collecting and working with service utilization data. Dr. McReynolds has carried out investigations examining the relation between psychiatric disorder and juvenile recidivism, gender differences in psychiatric risk factors for delinquency, non-suicidal self-injury, and the development of audio computer assisted self-interview assessments. She has co-authored over 30 publications on the epidemiology of mental health in juvenile justice settings, coordinated data collection efforts from over 88 sites, and conducted analyses relying on advanced level modeling of youth outcomes, including mental health service use. Her experience managing data collected from multisite studies and supervising a team responsible for training and technical assistance has contributed to the center’s accumulation of a rich data archive of close to 10,000 justice-involved youths’ diagnostic, demographic, and offense information.

See a complete list of Dr. McReynold’s publications here

Katherine Elkington, Ph.D.

Katherine Elkington, PhD

Center Director of Clinical Research
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology (in Psychiatry)

Dr. Elkington received her PhD in clinical psychology from Northwestern University and completed her postdoctorate education at Columbia University, studying sexual risk and HIV prevention. Her research has focused on examining multi-systemic correlates and prevalence of HIV risk behavior, psychiatric and substance use disorders, and understanding service access and developing HIV/STI prevention interventions for high-risk adolescents, including youth involved in the juvenile justice system. She has collaborated with other key stakeholders in the development and testing of interventions to reduce sexual risk, promote health, and increase access to psychiatric and substance use services. In addition to her work with the Center for the Promotion of Mental Health in Juvenile Justice, Dr. Elkington holds several positions at Columbia University Medical Center. She is a research scientist and training director for the T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, within the Division of Gender, Sexuality, and Health. She is also an investigator with the HIV Center's Intervention Science Core. Dr. Elkington has received numerous honors and awards, including the New York State Office of Mental Health Policy Scholars Award, the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies Publication Award, and the Pisetsky Young Investigator Award, and has co-authored over 30 publications.

See a complete list of  Dr. Elkington’s publications here.

Felicia Hardi

Felicia Hardi, LMSW

Research Assistant

Felicia Hardi earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and MSW from NYU. As a licensed social worker, she practiced individual and family therapy with children and adults at mental health and substance-abuse outpatient clinics around New York City. Additionally, she worked with multiple clinical neuroscience and developmental research labs since 2014 to investigate underlying processes leading to mental health disorders. Most recently, she completed a post-baccalaureate program and worked as a research assistant at Columbia University. Her research interest focuses on the effect of stress on child and adolescent development.

Sofia Huang

Sofia Huang, BA

Research Assistant

Sofia Huang received her BA in psychology from the University of Chicago in 2016, and completed honors-thesis research investigating the influence of language on preschool children’s deceptive capabilities at the Development of Social Cognition Laboratory at the University of Chicago. She has also worked on clinical research projects aimed at streamlining primary care for at-risk patients in primary care and inpatient settings at University of Chicago Hospitals.  As someone with an interest in mixed-methods research, as well as creative-arts practice, her research interests include the promotion of qualitative and expressive arts methodology in mental health research and treatment.