Roundtable: We Are Each Other's Medicine: Community Health, Healing, and Hope

Annelle Primm, Jan Berger, Afiya Rice, Dior Lindsey, Willard Ashley, Nicole Wood, Donell BarnettConstitution Hall Room 3

Abstract: In the days following the shooting at Buffalo’s Tops Supermarket in May 2022, members of Black communities around the nation were devastated by this horrific act of racially motivated mass violence.  All Healers Mental Health Alliance (AHMHA) and its partners responded with a sense of urgency.  AHMHA, a non-profit formed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is a national network of professionals in mental health, social work, nursing, academia, law, first responders, and the faith community that facilitates culturally affirming responses to the mental health needs of Black and other historically marginalized communities in the aftermath of natural and human caused disasters.

Immediately following the shooting, AHMHA partners, with the help of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and other federal agencies, identified Buffalo community members, pastors, and concerned residents and organized and convened ongoing communication based on built trust in community.  This rapid response led to the establishment of in-person healing circles and a virtual healing circle initiative including training and delivery of circles funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health.  In addition, this collaboration sharpened focus on the impact of racism and historical inequities on the Black community in Buffalo, NY which was also disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an outcome of these new relationships formed as a result of this tragedy, valuable collaborations emerged and have been sustained between and among the White House, federal agencies, mental health professionals, and faith and community groups.


Dr. Annelle Primm

  • Pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Title: Chair and Convener, All Healers Mental Health Alliance
  • Bio: Dr. Annelle Primm is a community psychiatrist and chair and convener of All Healers Mental Health Alliance (AHMHA). This national multidisciplinary group of mental health professionals, health advocates, first responders, and faith community leaders facilitates culturally aligned responses to the mental health needs of historically marginalized communities affected by disasters, both natural and human-caused. Since 2005, AHMHA has spawned collaborative action and delivered resources to help communities thrive following disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the Flint, Michigan water crisis, Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Florence, COVID-19, the Tops Friendly Markets mass shooting in Buffalo, NY in 2022, Hurricane Ian and many more. AHMHA has organized numerous convenings and educational programs including the June 2019 National Conference on Culturally Competent Disaster Response in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Primm currently serves as Senior Medical Director of the Steve Fund, a non-profit which promotes the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color. Previous leadership roles include Deputy Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association and Medical Director of the Johns Hopkins Community Psychiatry Program. Dr. Primm is an adjunct/part-time, volunteer Associate Professor of Psychiatry on the medical school faculties of Howard University, New York University, and Johns Hopkins.


Jan Berger, MA

  • Pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Community Manager, Community Healing Network
  • Bio: Jan Berger, MA., is the Community Manager at Community Healing Network (CHN), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. CHN is the only organization focused exclusively on building the global grassroots movement for emotional emancipation—mobilizing Black people across Global Africa to heal from, and extinguish, the lie of white superiority and black inferiority--the root cause of the dehumanization of Black people and the devaluing of Black lives. Jan hosts CHN's weekly virtual Emotional Lunch Break, sixty minutes of rest and resilience in a Black-owned space; and Rapid Response Ubuntu Healing Circles, in times of acute crises in the Black community. She also co-facilitates quarterly Emotional Emancipation Circle (EEC) 101 4-Week Intensives.

Afiya Rice, MS

  • Pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Title: Community Servant, R Healing Center, Inc
  • Bio: Afiya J. Rice is a committed, hardworking mom and a loyal community servant dedicated to community healing and empowerment. She is a school counselor with 20+ years of experience addressing barriers to students’ academic performance and supporting students’ personal, social, emotional, and career development through a comprehensive school program that includes holistic, relevant, and wellness counseling techniques. In her 30+ years as a community facilitator, family advocate, and cultural healer, she has worked on various projects and committees to enhance the well-being and resiliency of residents on the Eastside of Buffalo. She is a business leader and commercial developer with a strong focus on building wealth through property renovations and establishing solid collaborations to create a walkable and safe community for children and families to live and thrive in. She earned an M.S. degree in Counselor Education and a B.S. in Health & Wellness, concentrating in aging studies with a minor in safety studies. She is certified in Kemetic Yoga, Kemetic Reiki, hypnosis, yoga as a peace practice, and worker cooperatives. As an AmeriCorps volunteer in the Athletes in Service to America program, she taught Buffalo Public School students media literacy, men's violence prevention, and cultural diversity. She enjoys many traditional and holistic healing practices.

Dior Lindsey, MSW

  • Pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Title: President, Buffalo Association of Black Social Workers
  • Bio: Dior Lindsey is a born-and-raised resident of Buffalo, NY. With continued support from her family and loved ones, Dior has been able to achieve recognition at an early age. In 2004, Dior received the YMCA’s Exemplary Youth Award for her engagement and positivity. In 2006, Dior earned a Proclamation by Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra which declared Tuesday, June 20, 2006 to be “Dior LeNay Lindsey” Day. She graduated from Leonardo da Vinci High School and received both the President Barack Obama’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and also the President Barack Obama’s Award for Citizenship in 2010. In the same year, Dior was accepted as a McGowan/Urban Leadership Learning Community (ULLC) Program Scholar at Canisius College, which included a scholarship for four years. As a ULLC Scholar, Dior was provided with opportunities to utilize team-learning while maintaining the Jesuit tradition of being “men and women for and with others.” Upon graduating with a B.A. in Anthropology and Criminal Justice in 2014, she was accepted into the University at Buffalo’s School of Social Work to pursue her Master of Social Work degree. This program includes a trauma-informed care and human rights perspective into all aspects of its program, which has thoroughly informed her social work experiences. Upon graduation in 2016, Dior was awarded the Archie W. Swanson Honorary Award for her demonstration of creativity, integrity, warmth, respect for the dignity of others, and keen sensitivity. She soon gained her New York State Social Work License within the same year. Throughout her emerging career, Dior has served in roles such as a conflict-resolution/peace education group facilitator, substance abuse counselor, volunteer, board member, and recently became a trained Social Emotional Arts Facilitator through UCLArts & Healing. She currently serves as the President of the Buffalo Association of Black Social Workers and also works as the Program Coordinator of FamilyWorks Buffalo, which is a program of The Osborne Association. In her Coordinator role, Dior and her staff work to support children and families affected by a loved one’s incarceration in Western New York. FamilyWorks Buffalo offers free video-visiting services that allow children and families to maintain healthy relationships during a period of incarceration in eleven NYS Correctional Facilities. In addition, Dior is currently serving as one of the police trainers for the “Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents” project in the Western NY area. Dior truly believes in the Maya Angelou quote that “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

Nicole Wood, MPH

  • Pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Title: Deputy Director, DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
  • Bio: Nicole C. Wood, MPH, MA serves as the deputy director for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a center of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She brings expertise in responding to communities impacted by violence, neglect and exploitation, human-caused and natural disasters, disparities in health and in response to the safety and security of places of worship and community spaces.

Donell Barnett, PhD

  • Pronouns: he/him/his
  • Title: President, Association of Black Psychologists
  • Dr. Donell Barnett is a counseling psychologist with a personal mission of improving communities. Some of his previous work roles include Director of HIV Prevention Programs, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Behavioral Health Clinic Director, and Chief of Field Investigations and Program Evaluation for the US Army Public Health Center. He now serves as the Deputy Director for Mental Health Clinical Operations at the Illinois Dept. of Human Services. His expertise and interests include trauma, the role of faith in wellness, and programs to improve the health and well-being of communities left out of economic and social growth. Donell is an alumnus of Langston University (B.A.), the University of North Texas (M.Ed), Oklahoma State University (Ph.D), and the Harvard University Strategic Management program. He has scholarly and popular press articles, technical reports, and policy papers to his credit. He is the proud recipient of several awards, with the most prestigious being the U.S. Army Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, and the President’s Award from the Association of Black Psychologists. Dr. Barnett has the esteemed honor of serving as the current President of the Association of Black Psychologists. Along with his wife and son, the Barnett family calls Chicago’s southside their home.

Willard Ashley, Sr., DMin, SCP, NCPsyA, CGP

  • Pronouns: he/him/his
  • Title: President & CEO, Dr. Willard Ashley, Sr.
  • Bio: Willard Walden Christopher Ashley, Sr. is a retired professor of pastoral theology. July 2012 Ashley was granted tenure and appointed by President Gregg Mast as the first African American Dean of the Seminary at New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS). Ashley is the CEO of Dr. Willard Ashley, Sr., LLC, Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Under this umbrella, Dr. Ashley conducts webinars, consults, counseling, and coaching. Willard Ashley is a vocational coach with the Center for Career Development and Ministry.
    Ashley is the founder and senior pastor of the Abundant Joy Community Church, Jersey City, New Jersey. Reverend Ashley has served for 41 years as the pastor at various congregations. He is on the Advisory Board of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School, Vice Chair, Bergen County Human Relations Commission, New Jersey State Certified, and a Nationally Certified Psychoanalyst. Rules for 21st Century Radicals is Ashley's fourth book. Memberships include the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, the American Association of Marriage Family Therapists, and the American Group Psychotherapy Association. Find Ashley listed in Marquis Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. He is married to Tanya Pagan Riggio Ashley, MD FAAP. Willard Ashley is the proud father of one adult son, Chris. Serafina, an 11-pound Shih Tzu, brings them great joy.
Sun 12:00 am - 12:00 am
100 max
AHMA, day two, federal collaboration, roundtable