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Program Staff: Mental Health Program

Mental Health Program Staff

Eve H. Byrd, D.N.P., M.P.H.
Director

Eve Byrd became director of the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program in February 2017. Prior to joining The Carter Center, she was a faculty member of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University and served as executive director of the Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression, Department of Psychiatry at the Emory School of Medicine. 

She has held leadership positions both nationally and locally in work aimed at eliminating stigma and improving access to care for people with behavioral health disorders. She supported the Special Advisor to the Governor on Mental Health, engaging stakeholders in the process that resulted in a settlement agreement between Georgia and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Read full bio. 

Lei Ellingson, M.P.P., M.S.S.E. 
Special Liaison

Lei Ellingson joined the Mental Health Program in 1998 as the Assistant Director and eventually rose to Senior Associate Director where she participated in developing, planning, and implementing Mental Health Program activities, including the Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, the Liberia Mental Health Initiative, and the Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum.

Currently Ellingson serves as Special Liaison for the Mental Health Program and acts as the primary program liaison to Mrs. Carter’s office for all correspondence and special projects. She works in collaboration with other members of The Carter Center to assist in drafting program materials, talking points, website content, and publications as liaison to Mrs. Carter’s office. Previously, Ellingson worked in the field of special education. She received a master’s of public policy degree from Duke University, a master’s of science in special education from The Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s of arts from Mount Holyoke College.

Kari Cobham, M.A.
Senior Associate Director, Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism and Media

Kari Cobham has more than a decade of experience in journalism, digital storytelling, and newsroom leadership. She was previously Cox Media Group’s senior manager of digital content, where she led content strategy, news partnerships, and training for newsrooms across the United States. Before that, she was executive producer at a television station in Orlando, Florida.

Cobham has been a speaker for the International Center for Journalists, Online News Association, National Association of Black Journalists, and the Poynter Institute, and has served as faculty at the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Cobham is a graduate of Yale University’s Thread media storytelling program. She holds a master's degree in mass communications from the University of Central Florida and a bachelor's degree in public relations and advertising from Bethune-Cookman University, where she was also an adjunct professor of communication graphics.

Samhita Kumar, M.P.H.
Associate Director, Global Mental Health Programs and Liberia

Samhita Kumar is a mental health and development specialist who joined the Mental Health Program in June 2019. Previously, she was with the World Bank Group, where she designed and implemented programs to help address the psychosocial well-being of vulnerable groups and enhance human capital in low- and middle-income countries and fragile and conflict-affected situations. Kumar also supported World Bank efforts to address fragility, conflict, and violence. Prior to joining the World Bank, Kumar conducted research on severe mental disorders among youth and early learning and memory in childhood, working with leading academic and policy institutions. She holds a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology and global health from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in neuroscience from Emory University.

Helen Robinson, M.P.A.
Associate Director, Public Policy

Helen Robinson joined the Mental Health Program in 2020. As associate director for public policy, she analyzes federal and state-level policy impacting mental health parity and convenes key stakeholders to advance evidence-based approaches to prevention, treatment, and health promotion. Prior to joining the Center, she served as director of advocacy at the YWCA of Greater Atlanta, where she led collaborative efforts to improve the health, safety and economic empowerment of women and girls in Georgia through strategic policy change. She also served as lead trainer for the award-winning Georgia Women’s Policy Institute. She has extensive experience advancing evidence-based public policies that empower communities and improve health equity. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University and a bachelor’s in political science with a gender studies concentration from Davidson College.

S. Benedict Dossen, M.Sc G.M.H., B.S.W.
Country Program Lead
Mental Health Program – Liberia

S. Benedict Dossen oversees all Carter Center behavioral health initiatives in Liberia. He engages in policy-setting, program-related global initiatives, and information sessions. Dossen represents the program at the national and international levels and makes public speaking appearances on the Center’s behalf. He works closely with Liberian government agencies, universities and other stakeholders in planning and implementing projects related to the national mental health agenda, while at the same time sustaining and strengthening the Carter Center’s initiatives. Dossen previously was director of gender and social inclusion with the Millennium Challenge Account Liberia. He developed the concept for and served as the interim executive director of the country’s national mental health center of excellence, called the Liberia Center for Outcomes Research in Mental Health. He holds a Master of Science in Global Mental Health from King’s College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Stella Maris Polytechnic in Monrovia, Liberia. He serves on two of Liberia’s leading research ethics bodies and is a research ethics fellow with New York University and Western Institutional Review Board’s ethics program.

Janice Cooper, Ph.D., M.P.A. 
Sr. Project Adviser, Global Behavioral Health

Janice L. Cooper is the senior project adviser for the Liberia Mental Health Initiative. She oversees a national training, policy, and support program to expand capacity for mental health services delivery. She also is responsible for interacting with national and international colleagues and partners of the program. A native Liberian and health services researcher specializing in children's mental health, Cooper has worked in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors in the United States and Liberia. Prior to joining The Carter Center in 2010, Cooper was the interim director of the National Center for Children in Poverty as well as an assistant clinical professor in health policy and management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. From 2005 through 2009, she served as the National Center's director of child health and mental health, receiving the distinguished Calderone Prize for Junior Faculty in 2007. Cooper earned a doctorate in health policy from Harvard University. She was a 2001 fellow in medical ethics at Harvard Medical School and a 1999 Archibald Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow. She holds additional undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Essex in Colchester, England, and Columbia and Harvard universities in the United States. 

Sadie Bazur-Leidy, M.P.H.
Senior Program Associate, Global Mental Health Programs and Liberia

Sadie Bazur-Leidy joined the Mental Health Program in September 2019 as the senior program associate for the Liberia and Global Mental Health Initiative. In this role she works to design, implement, and evaluate global mental health activities and collaborates with partners to meet program goals. Prior to joining The Carter Center, Bazur-Leidy worked with various nongovernmental organizations to build health workforce capacity, manage medical supply chains, and improve access to surgical care services in Malawi and Ethiopia. She holds a master’s degree in public health from New York University in community and international health, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Macalester College.

Michelle Rivera, M.S., B.Sc.
Senior Program Associate

Michelle Rivera is the senior program associate for the Carter Center Mental Health Program. She was previously program coordinator for the Washington Area Community Investment Fund, which promotes equity and economic opportunity in underserved neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., region. She has also served as program manager at Unconventional International. Rivera has conducted field research with rural farmers in Colombia on building peace within their communities, consulted for World Vision International in Amman, Jordan, and worked with students in foster care as a residential case manager in New York City. She holds a master’s degree in peacebuilding and gender studies from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and a B.Sc. in counseling psychology from Toccoa Falls College.

Susan Hunsinger
Program Associate

Susan Pearson Hunsinger is responsible for departmental communications, financial processing, and logistical support for the Mental Health Program. Prior to joining the department, she worked in Art Services at The Carter Center, owned a small business, and worked as a freelance writer and editor. Hunsinger earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Ana Cunningham, M.S.S.W.
Program Associate, Public Policy

As a program associate for public policy, Ana Cunningham coordinates operations of the Mental Health Program’s School-Based Behavioral Health initiative and manages grants and project proposals for the public policy team. Prior to joining The Carter Center, Cunningham worked at the Atlanta Regional Commission and Core Services Group, Inc. In both positions, she helped coordinate medical and behavioral health care for individuals through administrative work, home visits, or service referrals. Cunningham holds a Master of Science in Social Work, Advanced Generalist Practice, and Programming from the Columbia School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts, Human Development from Eckerd College.

Tsion Horra
Program Assistant, Global Mental Health Programs and Liberia

Tsion Horra joined the Mental Health Program in January 2019 as the program assistant for the Liberia and Global Mental Health Initiative. In this role, she is responsible for departmental communications, financial processing, and logistical support. Horra previously worked for the Atlanta Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, where she managed a grant project and connected immigrant communities to city services. Horra received her undergraduate degree from Emory University in 2017.

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