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Board Excellence Award Winners Recognized for Going Above and Beyond

Monday, June 5, 2023

The UR Medicine Quality Institute and the URMC Board last night honored the winners of the 2023 Board Excellence Awards, recognizing them for the exceptional care provided each day to our patients and the outstanding efforts of our fellow co-workers.
Winners from the Department of Psychiatry included: 

Team Excellence Awards

Adult Partial Hospitalization Program, Psychiatry is an intensive outpatient psychiatric program that provides psycho-education groups, individual therapy, psychopharmacology, and discharge planning for patients who are experiencing acute psychiatric symptoms, with the intention of rapidly stabilizing their symptoms so that they can prevent the need for psychiatric hospitalization, or to step down from psychiatric hospitalization. The Adult Partial Hospitalization Program is a resilient, dynamic team of skilled individuals, including Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatrist, Social Workers, Mental Health Counselors, Credentialed Substance Abuse Counselors, Registered Nurses, and Support Staff. This team, despite the challenges of the past several years, has significantly demonstrated the desire to improve the well-being of patients and the community through innovative, compassionate, patient- and family-centered care. As of July of 2022, the team has taken an innovative approach to delivering care to individuals in the Rochester community, as well as throughout the Finger Lakes Region, becoming the first ambulatory clinic at Strong to use technology to deliver hybrid-model group therapy to participants. This team is an exemplary model of professionalism, and it's resolve and unwavering commitment to excellence is inspiring. 

Adult Partial Hospitalization Program, Psychiatry Team Members: Colin Barnicle, Katie Blakely, Rebecca Canfield, Adam Cake, Jenny Cole, Sue DiGiovanni, Randi (Rose Mary) DeBellis, Daniel Horn, Michael Kerxhall, Michelle LaRussa-Trott, Susan Mason, Amber Oritz, Amy Pardo, Colleen Platt, Jillian Poepsel, Meaghan Quinn, Karen Schuster, Brenda Swartz, Carmela Taylor, Kelly Zodl, Ryan Walters, Christine MacDonald, Heather Burchell, Heather Kaltenbach and Gregory Truelove

Age-Friendly Health System Workgroup, UR Aging Institute, is spearheading URMC’s ongoing Age Friendly Health System (AFHS) transformation, a nationwide movement to improve the health care of older adults. AFHS focuses on what matters to older adults receiving care, improving health outcomes, and optimizing value for all.  An AFHS follows the 4 Ms Framework, ensuring that every medical encounter addresses mobility; mentation; medications; and what matters to each older person, aligning care to their specific health outcome goals & care preferences, including end-of-life care. As one of the largest health systems in Upstate New York, URMC is playing a key role in advancing the AFHS initiative and serving as a model for health systems in our region and nation. Both Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital have achieved the highest AHFS designation from the IHI, “Level 2: Committed to Care Excellence,” and several other care sites and affiliates are joining our AHFS efforts. The AFHS Workgroup is spearheading URMC’s ongoing AFHS transformation. The success of the AFHS Workgroup showcases URMC’s commitment to Geriatrics & Aging and the care of older adults. The AFHS Workgroup remains committed to promoting and disseminating the AFHS initiative to ensure all URMC health professionals of all disciplines have the skill set to provide 4Ms care to our older patients. Age-Friendly Health System Workgroup, UR Aging Institute Team: 

Representatives from medical and dental faculty, nurses, social workers, and administrative staff at Strong Memorial Hospital, Highland Hospital, Jones Memorial Hospital, Noyes Memorial Hospital, Eastman Institute of Oral Health (EIOH), and Departments of Medicine (Geriatrics & Hospital Medicine Divisions), Surgery, Anesthesiology, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Public Health Sciences.

Read more on the URMC Intranet (VPN Login)

Read More: Board Excellence Award Winners Recognized for Going Above and Beyond

Burnout: The New Pandemic

Thursday, June 1, 2023

 Michael Privitera, MD recently published a blog for the American Hospital Association discussing the new pandemic of burnout, particularly in healthcare, and steps hospital leadership can take to grow a culture in which every worker has access to ways to decrease stress. The infographics (left) are an adapted version by Elisa Arespacochaga, and team of a 2022 publication by Dr. Privitera mentioned in the article. 
View PDF 

Cancer and Your Mental Health: Tips from An Expert in Oncology and Psychiatry

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Daniel McFarland, DO associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Medicine, Hematology/Oncology, is a medical oncologist specializing in treating head, neck, and lung cancers who also has a background in psychiatry. Dr. McFarland, who leads the Psychosocial Oncology Program at Wilmot, answers a few questions about what cancer patients and their families should know when it comes to mental health. 

Read More: Cancer and Your Mental Health: Tips from An Expert in Oncology and Psychiatry

Mind Matters Podcast with Dr. George Nasra - Creating Community-Based Continuum of Care: A Primary Care Perspective

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Mind Matters: A Behavioral Health Podcast
Creating Community-Based Continuum of Care: A Primary Care Perspective

Dr. George Nasra joins Dr. Mena Mirhom to discuss the siloed nature of the U.S. healthcare system and the opportunity to achieve behavioral health integration by taking a population health perspective.

Read More: Mind Matters Podcast with Dr. George Nasra - Creating Community-Based Continuum of Care: A Primary Care Perspective

Help Support Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Through the Strong Stroll

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The 27th Annual Stroll for Strong Kids & 5k Race will take place on Sunday, June 4th at Genesee Valley Park, and our Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness has a walking team! There are many ways you can support the team in raising money for our child and adolescent outpatient services, partial hospitalization service, and inpatient service.  

  • Register for the walk and join our team here. If you wish to donate, please do so AFTER registering. This will guarantee your donation goes to support our programs. 
  • We are teaming up with Special Touch Bakery to sell pies starting May 15 through May 31 with delivery on June 16. Click here to order. 
  • We are partnering with Upstate Bottle Return for a bottle and can drive.  People can drop off their recyclables starting May 30 through June 3 throughout Rochester. Stay tuned to the Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Facebook page for a list of locations coming soon!

Confidential and convenient mental health resources for University employees

Monday, May 22, 2023

Well-U offers expert mental health support to all University employees. Virtual or in-person appointments are available at UR Medicine EAP and Behavioral Health Partners. Call (585) 276-9110 for UR Medicine EAP or (585) 276-6900 for Behavioral Health Partners if you are enrolled in the University’s health plan.

Read More: Confidential and convenient mental health resources for University employees

Why You Need to Have This Dreaded Conversation with Your Doctor

Monday, May 15, 2023

When to Start the Hospice Care Conversation

Both doctors and patients tend to avoid subjects like hospice care and palliative care, and that’s a problem says University of Rochester Medical Center researcher Marsha Wittink, MD. Wittink co-authored a recent article describing how unfounded optimism about the effectiveness of medical treatment and physicians' own emotions can delay such conversations.

Read More: Why You Need to Have This Dreaded Conversation with Your Doctor

Handling Heartache: How to Cope with Grief on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Friday, May 12, 2023

For those who experience grief, anxiety, depression, or feelings of loss on certain holidays, Serina Tetenov, Ph.D., LCSW-R, assistant professor of Psychiatry and clinical director of Adult Mental Health and Wellness at the University of Rochester Medical Center, offers advice and resources.

Read More: Handling Heartache: How to Cope with Grief on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Deanna Sams Named Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Inpatient

Thursday, May 11, 2023

It is with great enthusiasm that we share that Deanna Sams, PhD has been named to the position of Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Inpatient. This new position is part of the restructuring of our Child and Adolescent Division leadership in order to effectively manage the expanded services and address the current youth mental health crisis. Dr. Sams has been a critical leader in our programming and operations, as well as education, on 49000 in recent years, and has been the lead in developing the Rapid Stabilization Pathway which has dramatically impacted how we provide inpatient care as well as our length of stay, overall census, and impacted patients boarding in CPEP. Having Dr. Sams join our inpatient leadership team which also includes Mani Kurien, medical director, and Lara Walker, nurse manager, will help us be prepared to succeed in current and future endeavors. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Sams on this new role! 

What You Need to Know about the New Parkinson’s Biomarker

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Irene Richard, MD, a professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), was involved in the development and planning of the PPMI study in her role as senior medical advisor to MJFF, a position she held from 2008-2011.  Richard continued her work with the organization as a member of the scientific advisory committee and was the principal investigator for the Rochester site of the PPMI study, overseeing the enrollment, evaluations, and follow up the initial cohort of study participants.

Read More: What You Need to Know about the New Parkinson’s Biomarker

Sign up for the NAMI Rochester Walk and Join our Team!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

people walking together

Lace-up your sneakers and get ready to walk, run, or roll with the UR Medicine Mental Health & Wellness team!

You’re invited to join the Mental Health & Wellness team for the 11th Annual NAMI Walk 5K. The NAMI Walk brings together people of all ages to raise awareness and funds for the National Alliance for Mental Health.

Date: Saturday, May 20, 2023
Time: Pickup opens at 9am
Walk Kickoff at 10am
Location: The Village Gate in Rochester

The NAMI Walk is open to everyone, so grab your friends, family, and coworkers and join us for a day of fun and fundraising! Stay for the Community Celebration with vendors, music, food, and drink after the walk.  All funds raised at the NAMI Walk will go to supporting the local Rochester chapter of NAMI and its programs to provide support, education, and advocacy to individuals and families of all cultural backgrounds living with mental illness.

Help us to meet our goal for the NAMI walk!

You can donate to NAMI through our  UR Medicine Mental Health & Wellness Team team fundraiser! 

Read More: Sign up for the NAMI Rochester Walk and Join our Team!

Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

April 26th is Administrative Professionals’ Day! We would like to take this opportunity to thank our administrators for their hard work and support to our Department’s mission and keep the our operations running as smoothly as possible.

In our clinical areas, you build and maintain schedules; register patients, answer phones, field refill and other clinical requests, assist with arranging transportation, manage referrals, and help with completing forms and paperwork. In our Research areas, you coordinate studies, subjects enrollment, assist with logistics and manage deadlines for grant submissions, assist with ensuring our research meets rigorous standards. In our Education areas, you provide support for residency and fellowship programs, medical students, and other trainees, balance complex schedules, assist with ensuring our programs meet accreditation standards and give a helping hand wherever needed. In addition to the mission areas, we also have central administrative support staff who provide support to department leaders with scheduling meetings and coordination of various functions in the department as well across the medical center. 
The above mentions are just some of the great work you do every day to support our Educators, Researchers, Clinicians and Leaders. We are honored to work with such an amazing group of administrative professionals, and I wish our future together will be even brighter as we overcome challenges and celebrate successes together.

Thank you again for all the hard work you do everyday! 

Celebrating Our Psychologists and Psychologists-in-Training

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Did you know that psychologists work in many different locations across the URMC system? 
We have psychologists and psychology trainees across our Department of Psychiatry, which includes our child, adult, and older adult inpatient units and outpatient clinics, partial hospitalization programs, Deaf Wellness Center, HEAL, Family Therapy, and Lazos Fuertes. We also have clinicians in a variety of specialty clinics, including: Dentistry, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics (Craniofacial, Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, Endocrinology, Feeding Clinic, Gastroenterology, Hematology & Oncology, Nephrology, Pulmonology, Rheumatology, Sleep Medicine, and Transplant), Neurology (child & adult), Neurosurgery, Ob/Gyn and Women’s Health, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Surgery, Transplant, and at Wilmot Cancer Center. We also have psychology colleagues in highly competitive and productive research roles, across several primary care clinics (child and adult), embedded into a variety of school systems across the region, in our Employee Assistance Programs, at the College Counseling Center on River Campus, and in the VA system. 
We have students, interns, and postdoctoral fellows, drawing top candidates from across the US to each. In addition, we have psychologists across our UR leadership, including our President Sarah Mangelsdorf. 

April 23rd-29th marks Psychology Week, a celebration of psychologists and psychologists-in-training as well as the field's contributions to improving lives. In addition, the United Nations will be streaming their 16th Annual Psychology Day presentation on the 27th starting at 11AM. Our department will be celebrating the week prior, April 16th - 22nd. Join us in thanking a psychologist or psychologist-in-training in your life on Twitter on April 20th, 5th annual URMC Psychology Day with the hashtags #PsychologyDay2023, #PsychologyDayURMC2023, and #PsychDayUN2023.

Tanya Tran Receives Alfred Bader Fellowship

Friday, April 14, 2023

We're excited to share that Tanya Tran, PhD, postdoc in our INTERCEPT Program, has recently been awarded the Queens University Alfred Bader Fellowship award. This fellowship supports one year of study and research, or to pursue an endeavor which contributes to the advancement of knowledge, contributes to society, or allows creative expression. Dr. Tran will be researching therapy outcomes in high risk for psychosis patients, using a CBT-type intervention that she has been developing. Congratulations to Dr. Tran on this accomplishment!


The tragedy of Black youth suicide - AAMC Viewpoints by Arielle Sheftall

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Black children ages 5 to 12 are twice as likely to die by suicide as their White peers, and Black teen suicides are growing at shocking rates. What’s going on, and what can be done to help save young Black lives? 
AAMC Viewpoints by Arielle Sheftall, PhD

Read More: The tragedy of Black youth suicide - AAMC Viewpoints by Arielle Sheftall

Bridge Art Gallery Call for Art Extended Deadline

Monday, April 10, 2023

Bridge Art Gallery Call for Art: Healing Within Extended Submission Deadline April 30th, 2023

Read More: Bridge Art Gallery Call for Art Extended Deadline

Celebrating Ms. Donna and Her Years of Service

Friday, April 7, 2023

Ms. Donna and group of staff

Ms. Donna, as she is lovingly referred to by Chestnut staff, retired this month after years of service with the Department of Psychiatry. Ms. Donna worked for Eastman Kodak for over 35 years before finally joining the Department of Psychiatry as a patient access specialist in 2016.

She was initially hired by the Rapid Access team and once our Chestnut Street facility opened she moved over to help support their services. She has eagerly provided coverage at many of our outpatient sites including; Strong Ties, Older Adults and Memory Care, the Employee Assistance Program and the even Medicine Service.

"I love meeting and learning from people who work in other areas of the department," she would often say. Congratulations on your retirement Ms. Donna, your bright smile and cheerful disposition will be miss by all of us, but specially by our patients! Thank you.

Quality Institute Announces URMFG Healthcare Innovation Awards Winners

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The UR Medicine Quality Institute, in collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group (URMFG), is pleased to have selected three new projects as recipients of the URMFG Healthcare Innovation Award in the amount of $100,000 each, over a two-year period, beginning March 1. The annual awards support the development of innovative approaches to health care delivery that drive value through improved efficiency and quality and foster outcomes research. 

Congratulations to Department of Psychiatry URMFG Healthcare Innovation Awards Winners Elaine Rigney, MD & Marsha Wittink, MD, MBE, for their project below. 
Marsh WittinkElaine Rigney

Elaine Rigney, MD, senior instructor of Psychiatry and Medicine, and Marsha Wittink, MD, MBE, associate professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine: Reducing Hospital Readmissions for Patients with Severe Mental Illnesses (SMI) 
URMC’s division of Medicine in Psychiatry aims to improve the quality of care for SMI patients, thereby reducing health disparities and healthcare costs. This project aims to support this mission by incorporating a point-of-care tool to help identify patients’ priorities related to discharge and expand existing transitional care management services. The goal is to use a patient-centered approach to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions and improve engagement in primary care.

Read more on the URMC Intranet (VPN Login)

Read More: Quality Institute Announces URMFG Healthcare Innovation Awards Winners

Myra Mathis speaks to WXXI about the over-the-counter availability of Narcan

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Myra Mathis, MD, medical director for Strong Recovery, spoke to WXXI (March 30) about the FDA's decision to approve non-prescription sales of the emergency opioid overdose nasal spray Narcan. Over-the-counter availability of Narcan should be in addition to free programs currently available, Mathis said. "Let's not limit the spaces where Narcan has already been made available just because it is now available over the counter."

Read More: Myra Mathis speaks to WXXI about the over-the-counter availability of Narcan

Register Now for the 11th Annual Joseph Ryan Conference, April 28th

Friday, March 24, 2023

Strong Recovery Presents: Transformation in Substance Use Disorder Treatment: Exploring Systemic Trends
Friday April 28, 2023, 9:00am to 3:30pm  

The Department of Psychiatry Strong Recovery is thrilled to announce that our annual Joseph Ryan Conference is returning in person after four years due to challenges from the pandemic. We have an incredible lineup of speakers and invite all professionals in the field of substance use/ addiction treatment to learn about how the substance use disorder treatment field has transformed over the years. To register, please contact Stacey Ciotti

Read More: Register Now for the 11th Annual Joseph Ryan Conference, April 28th

Alzheimer’s Association finds growing caregiver burden in New York, Dr. Carol Podgorski weighs in

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

URMC Department of Psychiatry faculty Dr. Carol Podgorski, PhD weighs in on the growing burden on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in New York.

Read More: Alzheimer’s Association finds growing caregiver burden in New York, Dr. Carol Podgorski weighs in

Study: More research is needed surrounding age exposure to social media

Monday, March 13, 2023

Dr. Anthony Psani, PhD discusses a new study with WROC channel 8 on how social media affects teen mental health. 

Read More: Study: More research is needed surrounding age exposure to social media

Bridge Art Gallery Announces New Call for Art

Friday, March 10, 2023

call for art Our Bridge Art Gallery is now accepting artwork submissions for their next call for art, Healing Within. These past few years have seen significant national turmoil and a growing mental health crisis. We ask artists to respond to the theme Healing Within while considering topics such as healing, community, and togetherness.

To submit artwork, complete the online form here or send an email to the Bridge Art Gallery.  


SafeSide Prevention online workshop for service providers in rural communities

Friday, March 3, 2023

The UR Medicine Recovery Center of Excellence is partnering with SafeSide Prevention to offer a free, half-day workshop for healthcare providers in rural communities to provide them with a systematic framework for suicide prevention. The interactive training includes a special focus on youth, substance use, and Indigenous communities. 
Find the schedule of workshops and register here.

Read More: SafeSide Prevention online workshop for service providers in rural communities

11th Annual Joseph Ryan Conference

Monday, February 27, 2023

We are excited to share that our Strong Recovery Program's 11th Annual Joseph Ryan Conference is back in person on April 28th at the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/University & Medical Center!

If you are someone working in substance use/ addiction treatment, we invite you to learn about how the substance use disorder treatment field has transformed over the years. CASAC, LMHC & Social Work CEUs are available.

To register, contact Stacey Ciotti. 

A Message from Department of Psychiatry Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity

Friday, February 3, 2023

Violence in our country during the past 30 days have set off a whirlwind of emotions in all of us, but especially in the AAPI, Latino and Black communities.

Beginning on January 21 a mass shooting in Monterey Park claimed the lives of 11 victims at a dance studio on Lunar New Year. Two days later, a mass shooting in Half Moon Bay California took the lives of 7 Latino and Asian farmworkers in a senseless spree of violence that has swept through our nation. Just yesterday, 29 year-old Tyre Nichols, was laid to rest in Memphis, TN after having been senselessly beaten to death by police without evidence of a crime.

We stand together with all the victims of this past month, their family, loved ones and with all whose lives have been affected by these tragedies. 

The Department of Psychiatry and the University of Rochester stands against all forms of hatred and racism, in solidarity with those working tirelessly for a more compassionate world, and in steadfast resolve to Live Our Values Everywhere. We invite you to join the University of Rochester in the #LivetheSix initiative to embark on a sweeping movement to address racism and hate. Read more about #LivetheSix here.

If you are in need of any support please do not hesitate to reach out to the following resources:

Carol Podgorski Named Associate Chair of Faculty Affairs

Thursday, February 2, 2023

We would like to share that that Carol Podgorski, PhD, MPH, MS has been named Associate Chair of Faculty Affairs as of February 1st. In this role, she will oversee our faculty appointment, promotion and tenure processes and foster faculty career development among other responsibilities. Those who has worked with Carol would agree that It is hard to think of anyone more qualified than her for this important leadership role anywhere. 

Carol received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester (UR) followed by her MPH and, in 1990, her PhD in sociology. Initially appointed as an Associate in the Departments of Psychiatry and then Medicine, she worked with Drs. Pierre Tarriot and Anton Porsteinsson to develop the Program in Neurobehavioral Therapeutics (now the Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Education and Research [AD-CARE] Program) and with Dr. Bill Hall to design and direct the Center of Lifetime Wellness at Monroe Community Hospital. Because she also wanted to provide direct care to the patients and families these organizations served, Carol completed her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2005. She was initially named Assistant Professor of Nursing and Medicine, then joined our department for her primary appointment in 2006. She was promoted to her current rank of Professor of Psychiatry last year. 

Carol’s previous and current administrative responsibilities include as Director of URMC’s Memory Care Program, Associate Director of the URMC Office for Aging Research and Health Services (OARHS), Director of the Finger Lakes Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease (FLCEAD), Co-Director of our department’s Family Therapy Training Program, and discipline leader for Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs).
Those who has worked with Carol would agree that It is hard to think of anyone more qualified than her for this important leadership role anywhere. 

Please, join me in congratulating her new leadership in Department of Psychiatry.


Mark Nickels Named Interim Director of Inpatient Psychiatric CL Services

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

It is with great pleasure that we also share that Mark Nickels, MD has been named the interim Director of our Inpatient Psychiatric Consultation-Liaison (CL) Services

Dr. Nickels completed his residency in Psychiatry at URMC and was Chief Resident between 1985-1986. He joined URMC as faculty in 1986 as has since progressed to be appointed Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in 2013. Dr. Nickels has had multiple leadership roles over the years including serving as the Director of the Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Service at Strong Hospital from 1996-1999, Director of Transplant Psychiatry since 2006, Director of CL Psychiatry fellowship from 2017-2020, Associate Director of Psychiatry Residency from 2020-2021 and now Director of Psychiatry Residency since 2021.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Nickels on his new appointment and thanking him for all he continues to do for our department and for our patients.

Addiction Psychiatry Leadership Changes

Thursday, January 19, 2023

We are thrilled to share a few changes to the leadership of our Addiction Psychiatry and Strong Recovery services.

As of December, Itza Morales, MSB, CASAC and Julie Achtyl, MS, LMHC, CASAC have been promoted to Co-Directors of Operations for Addiction Psychiatry. They will work in collaboration with Dr. Myra Mathis to continue advancing Addiction Psychiatry’s mission. 

Itza will oversee the OTP clinic, SUD-PC program and Access services. She is also assuming the role of Program Sponsor for Opioid Treatment Programs which includes being point of contact with the State Opioid Treatment Authority and federal regulatory agencies and ensuring compliance with OTP specific licensing rules.

Julie will oversee our Adolescent/Young Adult clinic, the Adult CD clinic and CCBHC Outreach services. She is also assuming the role of CASAC Discipline Chief which includes oversight of counselor education and training programs. 

To support the new leadership structure and management of each of its services, Strong Recovery will add a Clinical Coordinator for the OTP clinic to manage day-to-day operations of that clinic. And a Clinical Coordinator for the Adult CD clinic to manage day-to-day operations of that clinic.

Please join me in welcoming and congratulating Itza and Julie to their new and exciting roles!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week

Thursday, January 12, 2023

In partnership with the URMC Department of Neurology, the URMC Department of Psychiatry presents this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week, "Past, Present and Future: Rochester’s Civil Rights Journey Towards an Equitable Future." 

This year’s Department of Psychiatry MLK Week will be dedicated to the memory of Rev. Dr. John S. Walker, a beloved member of the department and a staunch advocate of civil rights and equitable health care. This year's daily events include: 

January 16th
Please view the documentary film below, July 1964, for the discussion with the director, Carvin Eison, on July 17th.
Read About the Documentary

January 17th
Discussion of July 1964 with filmmaker and producer Carvin Eison and a preview of his new film, Redlining
12 PM - 1 PM, Hybrid Event: Room 2-6424 Auditorium & Zoom Webinar

January 18th
MLK Jr. Grand Rounds: Panel on the present and future of Rochester in our journey towards civil rights and an equitable future
12 PM - 1 PM, Hybrid Event: Room Class of '62 Auditorium & Zoom Webinar

January 19th
Tribute to Rev. Dr. John S. Walker and his words on “Black Classical Music” and mental health

12 PM - 1 PM, Zoom Webinar Only

January 20th
Rochester’s MLK Choir Performance and readings of MLK Letters from Birmingham jail
12 PM - 1 PM, Hybrid Event: Room Class of '62 Auditorium & Zoom Webinar

Read More: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week

Remembering Rev. John S. Walker

Thursday, January 5, 2023

John Walker It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of Rev. Dr. John Walker, Adjunct Associate Professor in our Department of Psychiatry as well as the leader of our Clergy Mental Health Collaborative which brought together faith leaders in Rochester to address issues critical to the community.

 Rev. Walker had been a wonderful source of wisdom and knowledge and taught countless members of our community about the importance of diversity, mental health, and equity. He had provided gentle mentorship, guidance, and intimate knowledge of the community generously and selflessly in order to make us all better. He was a strong social justice advocate whose kindness, wisdom, and mentorship will be etched in the memories of many of us in the Department. 

 Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those in our community for whom this loss weighs heavily. He was a man with incomparable qualities. While he will be sorely missed, the lessons he has taught us will not be forgotten. With his guidance, “we must keep on going.” 
Reverend John S. Walker 
Reverend John Walker was born in Columbus, Ohio. He joined the United States Army during the Korean War. After his service, he attended Morris College in South Carolina, where he graduated at the top of his class. Called to ministry, he subsequently enrolled at the Colgate Divinity School in Rochester and graduated in 1969. He went on to earn his Ph.D. at Syracuse University and became a visiting lecturer in Rochester. 
In 1973, Rev. Walker became the director of the Baden Street Settlement Counseling Center, and in 1978, became the director of the Seventh Step Foundation. He also worked with FIGHT (Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today) and the Marcus Garvey Black Solidarity Committee and wrote for Communique, a black-run Rochester newspaper. In 1989, he became the pastor of Christian Friendship Baptist Church and established several successful outreach ministries such as the one at the Henrietta Corrections Facility. Also, he founded the Adolescent Pregnancy Program, the Rochester Anti-Apartheid Program, the Palestinian Resettlement Committee, the Malawian Hunger Project, the Swaziland Hunger Project, and the Freedom and Justice Program of South Africa. In addition, he taught history and political science at Monroe Community College for many years prior to retirement. 
Dr. Walker was also an expert on Jazz, or, as he called it, “Black Classical Music.” He wrote music articles for the Ohio Sentinel between 1960 and 1963 and hosted a local radio program called “Black Classical Music” for 28 years between 1981-2009. As a jazz commentator, he used his African name, Talik Abdul Bashir, and often played full recordings of obscure jazz musicians while detailing their histories for each set. He broadened our musical knowledge and enjoyment of “Black Classical” musicians for many of us.  
In 2013, he became co-seminar director for the Rochester Program of Research and Innovation in Disparities Education (PRIDE) which brought together faculty leaders from the URMC Clinical Psychology Training Program and community leaders from faith-based and community-based organizations and health and human service agencies in Rochester, NY.  Subsequently, he became the leader of the Clergy Mental Health Collaborative (CMHC), which meets monthly as a collaborative team of clergy members from diverse faith groups in the Rochester community working together to address issues critical to the community, particularly regarding the overall health of poor communities. 
In 2019, he became an essential member of the leadership team for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Community (DICE). He had provided gentle mentorship, guidance, and intimate knowledge of the community generously and selflessly in order to make us all better. He was a strong social justice advocate whose kindness, wisdom, and mentorship will be etched in the memories of many of us in the Department.