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Meet the Team: Office of Mental Health Promotion (OMHP)

OMHP team photo

The OMHP team pictured from left to right:
Caroline Nestro, Jenny Hernández, Ann Marie White
(Not pictured: Amanda Lai, Mary Jo Newcomb, Amen Ptah,
Rev. Dr. John Walker)

In 2004, Dr. Ann Marie White formed OMHP to promote diversity and inclusion of community voices, previously absent from health promotion and research activities, within and beyond the Medical Center. Community health also then became a fourth core mission of the medical center alongside, and integrated with, education, research, and patient care. In 2007, Caroline Nestro joined OMHP to expand Psychiatry's diversity and inclusion, cultural competence, and patient-centered activities.

A decade later, we continue to grow and strive toward our primary goal, which is to enhance communities as sources of their own health and wellness. We respond to shared community priorities that aim to increase systems of mental wellness—to connect people and resources, initiate programs, and broaden the science and practice for collaborative action and culturally congruent education, clinical service and research.

Our Staff

Ann Marie WhiteAnn Marie White, EdD, is the Director of OMHP. She came to the Psychiatry department at URMC in 2004 after spending two years as a Science Policy Fellow of the Society for Research in Child Development in the U.S. Senate, and in the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research in the Office of the Director of the NIH. A central theme in Dr. White’s efforts in mental health promotion is to develop the research approaches, professional training and institutional as well as community climates that help close the gap between research, community, policy and public health practice around behavioral health issues affecting children, adolescents, young adults and young families.

Caroline NestroCaroline Nestro, MS, RN, is the Associate Director of OMHP. She has been with the Department of Psychiatry since 1984 and has worked across the continuum of care. Caroline was instrumental in facilitating the creation of the Department of Psychiatry Advisory Council of Consumers (DPACC) in 2006. She chairs the Department's Diversity and Cultural Awareness Leadership Team (2007-present) and facilitates a variety of departmental, university and community activities aimed at facilitating learning and dialogue regarding inequity related to difference. She is pursuing her doctorate in human development and is a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.

Jenny Hernández Rodríguez, BA, provides administrative support for all OMHP efforts. A 2015 graduate of the University of Rochester, Jenny began her work with OMHP as a student employee and assumed her full time position after graduation.

John WalkerJohn Walker, MDiv, PhD, is a veteran, head pastor of Christian Friendship Baptist Church and a PRIDE Seminar co-Director, and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. He has worked extensively around the issue of child abuse and is the founder and leader of a community-wide child abuse prevention effort, Rochester Area Child Abuse Network (RACAN), and until recently he served on the Bivona Child Advocacy Center’s Board of Directors. He is a former adjunct professor at St. John Fisher College and was a professor in the History and Political Science department at Monroe Community College for 28 years. John completed his B.A.S. at Morris College and his Master’s of Divinity at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He earned his Doctorate in Religion/Religious Studies and History from Syracuse University.

Amen PtahAmen Ptah, BS, is a Senior Health Project Coordinator at OMHP, the Digital Media Specialist and Program Coordinator for the Central Library of Rochester ImagineYOU teen digital media program, as well as a Crisis Counselor for 2-1-1/Lifeline. He is the founder of APVisuals, a local multi-media small business. Amen was an active participant in the GIVE (Gun Involvement Violence Elimination) Offender Call-in Program, and a Rochester City School District guest lecturer/volunteer.  He has won several awards including The College at Brockport’s Diversity Engagement Award, and consecutive certificates of acknowledgment for Excellence in Media Production. He is currently positioning himself to pursue a PhD in Psychology.

Amanda Lai, BA, is a Project Assistant at OMHP. As part of her role, she curates the Bridge Art Gallery, an art space located in the Department of Psychiatry that focuses on diminishing mental health stigma. She is also currently a studio assistant for University of Rochester Medical Center’s artist-in-residence, Charmaine Wheatley, as well as a research assistant at the Department of Public Health Sciences.

Mary Jo Newcomb, BSN, RN, is a Health Project Coordinator for OMHP.