Research Projects

Immigrant Well-Being Project (IWP)

“The Immigrant Well-Being Project” aims to reduce mental health disparities among immigrants through community based advocacy, learning, and social support interventions in partnership with existing community partners and immigrant based organizations.   We are using a mixed methods longitudinal design to illuminate the processes and outcomes of the collaborative, community-based intervention efforts, including the impact of the quality of the community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnerships on individual, organizational, and community-level outcomes.


Aim 1. Conduct an in-depth study of the mental health needs, stressors, current political/economic/social context, and local solutions as experienced by 24 Mexican recent and non-recent immigrants and their families (Bern Co).

Aim 2. Build on the data from Aim 1, use a CBPR approach to adapt the intervention model (IWP).

Aim 3. Use a mixed methods longitudinal design, investigate the feasibility and acceptability of the adapted community-based mental health intervention, and test the quality of the CBPR partnership and impact of the intervention on mental health problems.

Leadership, Researchers and Partners

Jessica Goodkind Dr. Goodkind is PI of the TREE Center Immigrant Well-being Project. Dr. Goodkind is a Community Psychologist and Associate Professor of Sociology, UNM. She is Associate Vice Chancellor of Diversity Education, UNM Health Sciences Center. Her transdisciplinary, multi-level intervention research is focused on understanding and reducing social inequities and mental health disparities.

Her collaborative efforts with refugee, immigrant and indigenous communities to understand and address the mental health consequences of exposure to highly stressful social environments and to develop and assess processes that promote healing, well-being, and social justice.

Dr. Goodkind has expertise in qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research. Her trajectory of NIH-funded research, includes F31 (NIMH), K01 (NIMH), R01 (NIMHD), and a core research project of a U54 Health Disparities Center (NIMHD). Her research builds evidence of the necessity of reducing social inequities related to race, gender, immigration status, and nationality to improve mental health and reduce mental health disparities.

Her research engages with the core question of how to most effectively address social determinants of mental health. Dr. Goodkind’s research focuses on community-based participatory approaches that connect resources of universities to their broader communities and that emphasize mutual learning and social change.
Contact Dr. Goodkind:

Estela GuzmanDr. Guzman is a Research Faculty in the Department of Sociology. She is a Co-Investigator on TREE Center, Immigrant Well-being Project. She is a Post-Doc Fellow at Oregon Health Science University, Department of Family Medicine, and sociologist trained in medical sociology, health policy, & race and ethnicity.

She is engaged in research concerning immigrants, SDOH, medical education, mental health and  wellbeing, as well as cultural/structural competency, and humanities in medicine. Her background includes mixed methods, participatory research approach, and utilizes a range of qualitative methodologies including interviews, focus groups, and case study data. As a community-engaged researcher, she works at multiple levels of the social ecology, with Inter-disciplinary teams.

She collaborated with former Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Sate Policy Fellow at NM Voices for Children, Satcher Health Leadership Institute Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy fellow at UNM. Her broader research agenda is concerned with inequities in medicine, health, and health delivery among populations of color, particularly immigrant communities, and bridging the gap between theory and practice from an equity and inclusion perspective. Contact:

Julia HessDr. Hess is a Research Assistant Professor, UNM Prevention Research Center (PRC), Department of Pediatrics. She is a sociocultural anthropologist. Dr. Hess, Co-Investigator on TREE Center, Immigrant Wellbeing Project.

She is a recipient of TREE Center Pilot Award for Designing a Culturally Appropriate Group Navigation Model to Improve Mental and Emotional Health Equity for Spanish-Speaking Latina Women. She is Co-Investigator on VIVA III: Healthy Places—Healthy People, translating physical activity recommendations, scale-up and dissemination in Navajo Communities.

Dr. Hess’ research interests are: Transnational migration; health and well-being; social determinants of health; health equity; U.S. immigration; refugees; community-based participatory research; collaborative, participatory research methods. Dr. Hess is a collaborator and advisor on qualitative methods in mixed methods projects that aim to address health disparities. Contact:

  1. Centro Sávila ( ensures access to linguistically and culturally relevant, quality mental health and preventive services in Albuquerque’s South Valley and International District. The clinic provides a range of behavioral and health care services to Spanish-speaking immigrants, regardless of their immigration or socioeconomic status, within a holistic framework to create a healthier, engaged, and equitable community. Their Community Health worker program is in collaboration with UNM Pathways and Bernalillo County in order to connect immigrant families to resources thereby enhancing their well-being.
  2. Encuentro ( has been working to strengthen immigrant parents, families, and communities in New Mexico since 2014. They offer Adult Education, Career Development, and Home Health Aid classes with a strong focus on leadership development, collective transformation, and community engagement. They aim to build skills for economic and social justice.
  3. New Mexico Dream Team (NMDT; is part of the United We Dream national network working in New Mexico to empower multigenerational, undocumented, LGBTQ+, and mixed status families to build people-power and uplift immigrant, queer, and communities of people of color. They engage, empower, and mobilize youth to advocate for positive policy changes at the local, state, and national levels, thereby dismantling systemic oppression.
  4. New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC; created in 2010 so that all New Mexicans, regardless of immigration status, can achieve their full potential with respect and dignity. They provide access to legal services, advocacy, and education within a cross-institutional, intersectional, and collaborative approach, increasing civic engagement of the immigrant community. They aim to achieve justice and equity for low-income immigrant communities.

Integrating Intergenerational Cultural Knowledge Exchange with Zero Suicide

“Integrating Intergenerational Cultural Knowledge Exchange with Zero Suicide” works collaboratively with a Southwestern tribal nation to integrate cultural knowledge and language into primary care settings as a means of suicide prevention. This research study is an innovative study in that it incorporates Zero Suicide into primary care settings. The goal of this study is to determine the effectiveness of Zero Suicide plus a cultural component (ZS+) (experimental group) compared to Zero Suicide (ZS) alone (control group) on suicidal ideation, behaviors, and resiliency in a randomized control trial of 138 American Indian (AI) youth ages 12-24 at two rural primary care clinics in the community. The long-term goal of this study is to determine which is more effective at reducing suicidal ideation and behaviors and increasing resiliency, ZS+ or ZS alone. Year 1 will focus on training providers on the Zero Suicide model and manualizing a curriculum for Intergenerational Cultural Knowledge Sessions that was piloted and positively evaluated over the past three summers as a cultural module to improve the adoption and acceptability of Zero Suicide. Years 2-4 will focus on participant recruitment, assignment to experimental and control groups, and implementation. Year 5 will focus on data analysis and dissemination. Data will be collected from all participants at 4 time points: baseline, 12-weeks, 6-months and 9-months to explore the effects of the intervention over time.


Aim 1. Using CBPR, partner with tribal stakeholders and researchers to formally manualized the KICKS cultural module for Zero Suicide (ZS+).

Aim 2. Determine if adding a cultural component to the Zero Suicide model is more effective at reducing risk factors and increasing resiliency in AI youth than Zero Suicide alone.

Aim 3. Determine the essential features of the KICKS module for adaptation by other tribes and disseminate the model.

Leadership and Researchers

Headshot Deborah AltschulDr. Deborah Altschul - (MPI) is a psychologist who is an associate professor at the University of New Mexico’s Department Of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, and the Vice Chair of Community Behavioral Health Research. Her work is largely focused on examining the connection between behavioral health disparities, community based participatory research, and evidence-based practice.

Dr. Altschul works closely with tribal communities and the state of New Mexico’s children and adult behavioral health authorities helping to develop a sustainable, culturally competent behavioral health infrastructure. She works closely with the Pueblo of San Felipe on several SAMHSA grant initiatives and an NIH research study related to suicide prevention and behavioral health services.

Contact Deb Altschul:

Head shot Brandi FinkDr. Brandi Fink, PhD - (MPI) Dr. Fink's program of research focuses on translating basic findings into novel clinical interventions with a particular focus on issues worsened by alcohol and substance use (suicide, intimate partner violence, substance use treatment drop-out and relapse). Included in this work has been an emphasis on ensuring that under-served populations are represented in this research and have the opportunity to benefit from the clinical innovations.

Dr. Fink has been continuously funded by the NIH since joining the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and is currently a member of an investigative group who is the recipient of an NIH Construction Grant to build a specialized substance use and brain injury research facility that will serve investigators across the Mountain West region.

Contact Brandi Fink:

Head shot Bernice ChavezBernice Chavez, BSW, is a San Felipe Pueblo tribal member fluent in her Keresan language. She has been employed with the University of New Mexico’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science as a Program Coordinator for over 5 years. She recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from New Mexico Highlands University.

She is the Research Coordinator for the TREE grant and is also part of the local evaluation team under several other SAMHSA grants with the Pueblo of San Felipe where she is responsible for data collection, management, entry, and report writing.

Contact Bernice Chavez:

Head shot Ryan SanchezRyan Sanchez carries years of experience in collecting client-level data on a number of SAMHSA grants with the Pueblo of San Felipe. As a community member of the Pueblo of San Felipe, Ryan is able to share data outcomes and findings to community members, tribal leaders and elders in a culturally appropriate manner. Ryan has experience as a youth mentor working on suicide and substance abuse prevention efforts; representing youth voice in community, state-wide and grantee meetings nationwide. Ryan currently works as a Program Coordinator for UNM’s Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Division of Community Behavioral Health. His role includes data collection, reporting and management.

Contact Ryan Sanchez:

Esther Tenorio is the Project Director (PD) for this grant as well as several SAMHSA-funded grants at San Felipe, and has a 35+-year history working in Behavioral Health programming with Native American communities. She is a Keres speaking San Felipe tribal member versed in the development of comprehensive culturally appropriate programming for Children’s Mental Health initiatives.

Jimel Sandoval currently serves as the Project Director for the Pueblo of San Felipe Systems of Care initiative. In his role, he leads an innovative program that is aimed at expanding the efforts of several SAMHSA-funded grants. With a strong cultural background and fluency in the Keres language and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico, he oversees the development and successful implementation of tribal youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies across all child and youth supporting organizations.

Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart (Co-I; Hunkpapa/Oglala Lakota Teton Sioux) and the Director of Native American and Disparities Research in the UNM Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Brave Heart has significant experience in the field of AI behavioral health and historical trauma (HT). She was the PI for an NIMHD-funded grant that was part of the New Mexico Center for the Advancement for Research and Engagement on Health Disparities (NM CARES) P20 and a NIMH-funded R34 Pilot Clinical Trial and Feasibility study on HT. Dr. Brave Heart is a Co-PI on the proposed TREE Center, and as Co-I on this study.

Contact Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart:

Steven Verney (Co-I; Tsimshian Alaskan Native) has extensive experience conducting RCTs in AI communities on topics related to cognitive psychological assessment and culture, and has a demonstrated record of successful research projects, including serving as the PI and Co-I on several NIH-funded projects such as his current RO1 AI RCT; and was the Director of the Research Core for the NIMHD-funded NM CARES, and is the current Co-PI on the TREE Center.

Contact Steven Verney:

Illuminating the Sociopolitical Contexts of Cognitive Decline Among American Indian/Native American and Latino Older Populations in Rural/Frontier Contexts

NIMHD Grant 3U54MD004811-07S1. AD/ADRD Administrative Supplement to the TREE Center. 7/1/2018 – 06/1/2019

Supports research Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to advance our knowledge of age-related cognitive decline risk factors among rural/frontier populations. We have had 158 trainees for 8 workshops which was comprised of a mixture of pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and junior level faculty participants. The workshops were led by senior scholars in aging researchers.


Steven Verney, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator,

Gabriel R. Sanchez, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Lisa Cacari-Stone, PhD, Principal Investigator,


TREE Center Contact

Transdisciplinary Research, Equity and Engagement Center for Advancing Behavioral Health (TREE Center)
Integrity Building
1001 Medical Arts Avenue NE
1 University of New Mexico 87131

NIMHD Grant # U54 MD004811-09

Director and Principal Investigator
Lisa Cacari Stone, PhD, MS, MA (ella, ella y suya/ she, her and hers)


Office: 505-994-5081