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About Us

Our Mission

The Office of Mental Health Promotion in the Department of Psychiatry contributes to measurable improvements in community mental health and well-being by fostering diverse community, consumer and collegial partnerships to build upon their collective strengths in education, service and research towards reducing mental illness risk factors, developing protective factors, enhancing determinants of mental well-being and improving access to care.


In 2004, Dr. Ann Marie White formed OMHP and systematically began to promote diversity and inclusion of community voices previously absent from health promotion and research activities within and beyond the Medical Center. In 2007, OMHP institutionalized a "diversity mission synergy" by expanding to include Caroline Nestro, a senior nurse manager in Strong Behavioral Health. Ms. Nestro's charge has been to lead Psychiatry's diversity and inclusion, cultural competence and patient-centered activities, focusing in particular on Psychiatry's faculty, staff, and clinical trainees.

Our Goal

Respond to shared community priorities by informing, advising, connecting resources, initiating programs and broadening the science and practice for collaborative action and culturally congruent education, clinical service and research.

What We Do

Community Counts is a year-round faculty forum to support academic partnerships with communities and social institutions. The Spring Institutes on Community-Partnered Suicide Prevention Research, fostered community-integrated research projects on the prevention of suicide, attempted suicide, and risk factors such as youth violence, drug use, family turmoil, intimate partner violence, psychological and personal distress, and adverse life experiences. 

Provide Community Education and Psychoeducation at health fairs and other community gatherings.

Community Partnership Development Award promotes new collaborative, interdisciplinary projects that aim to improve the mental health of community populations through research, education or service-based efforts co-led by community members and faculty

Diversity Training integrates awareness of our community’s history and diversity to increase the cultural sensitivity, knowledge base and skills of our mental health providers. Enroll in the Blackboard Cultural Diversity Course

Facilitates "DPACC" the Department of Psychiatry Consumer Advisory Council and families concentrating on patient and family centered care within clinical services at Strong Behavioral Health.

Raising 100,000 Voices is a community education project where emerging adults learn videography and produce a short video on the strengths and challenges of adulthood in partnership with WXXI and youth serving community agencies.

Bridge Art Gallery aims to provide a space for local artists to display their artwork while at the same time creating a lovely and therapeutic environment for the patients, families and employees of Strong Behavioral Health. The aim is to address stigma associated with mental health services.

OMHP helps lead Community-Partnered Research trainings to foster community-intergrated and community-led research programs that focus on the prevention of suicide, attempted suicide and risk factors such as youth violence, drug use, family turmoil, initimate partner violence, psychological and personal distress, and adverse lift experiences.

The Department of Psychiatry’s Diversity & Cultural Awareness Leadership Team
The Diversity and Cultural Awareness Leadership Team (DCALT) was formed to provide direction, leadership, and guidance for the implementation of the Department of Psychiatry’s multicultural objectives. The DCALT is made up of representatives from across disciplines, programs and job functions (including program leadership) to provide oversight as well as direction and assistance in the implementation and evaluation of effective diversity and cultural awareness efforts. Diversity trainings implemented are designed to integrate awareness of our community’s history and diversity to increase the cultural sensitivity, knowledge base and skills of our mental health providers. At the department level the DCALT provides oversight to assure that all mission areas are addressing cultural issues and health disparities in our community.

Monthly Meeting Times & Location:
3rd Tuesdays of every month
Thaler Conference Room (1-9041)
Contact: Caroline Nestro, RN, MS, DCALT Chair

Who We Are

Ann Marie White, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor, is the Director of the Office of Mental Health Promotion. She has been with the department since 2004. She came 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. She earned her doctorate in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University in 2002. A central theme in Dr. White’s efforts in mental health promotion is to develop the research approaches, professional training and institutional 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. Recently, she received the Got Dreams Award, Community Leadership Award, Monroe County Office of Mental Health in 2012.

Caroline Nestro, M.S., R.N.

is the Associate Director of the Office of Mental Health Promotion and a Senior Clinical Nurse Specialist for Psychiatric Nursing. Her nursing career began in 1980 when she worked in medical, surgical and intensive care settings. She has been with the Department of Psychiatry since 1984 and has worked in various clinical settings. She has been the recipient of the Excellence in Clinical Care Award, the Excellence in Psychiatric Nursing Award and has received a Distinguished Community Service Award from East House Corporation for her work with the chronically and persistently mentally ill. She has worked in a leadership capacity since 1998 and was instrumental in facilitating the creation of the Department of Psychiatry Consumer Advisory Council in 2006. She chairs the Department’s Diversity and Cultural Awareness Leadership Team and actively facilitates community partnerships to promote mental health.

Catherine Thomas, MSW

joined the University of Rochester in 2008 as the Director of Volunteers in the Wimot Cancer Center. She continues in that role along with sharing in the role as Interim Associate Director in OMHP. Catherine comes to this role with a very diverse background of leadership in non-profit organizations and community services. She received a Master's Degree in Social Work from Syracuse University and is a candidate for graduation in May 2015, with a Master's degree in Teaching Health Professions. Catherine served as Chair of the University of Rochester African American Affinity group for three years, she is a member of the University of Rochester's Diversity and Inclusion committee She is a University partner to the Finger Lakes Health Association, Community Advisory Committee for the Women's Initiative Supporting Health (WISH) program at URMC. She volunteers on a number of community organizations in different capacities. She serves on the Development Committee for the Young Women's College Prep Charter School, The School Teacher at Elim Christian Fellowship. She is an alumni of the United Way African American Leadership. She is a volunteer for the City of Rochester Pillars of Hope program. Catherine is also a Certified Trainer for the Effective Black Parenting and the Wyman Teen Outreach Program (TOP). Catherine is also certified in Human Subjects Review. Catherine enjoys reading, learning, and spending time with her grandchildren.