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The Connection Institute Key Personnel

Charles Barber (Co-Director)
Charles Barber, M.F.A., is the Co-Director and Founder of The Connection Institute for Innovative Practice. He is also a visiting writer at Wesleyan and a lecturer in Psychiatry at Yale University. He is the author of Songs from the Black Chair: A Memoir of Mental Interiors (University of Nebraska Press), Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation (Random House), and the forthcoming Citizen Outlaw: A Gangster’s Journey (HarperCollins). He has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation, and Salon, and received the Pushcart Prize. He worked for many years in shelters, supportive housing programs and halfway houses in New York City and Connecticut.

Michele Klimczak (Co-Director)
Michele Klimczak, M.A., L.M.S.W., is the Co-Director of the Connection Institute for Innovative Practice and the Director of Training for The Connection. She is also an associate professor in the Human Services Department of Post University in Waterbury, CT. She has over twenty-five years of direct practice and administrative experience in the fields of child welfare and family violence. Her research interests include the developmental effects of complex trauma, innovative case management models, and narrative approaches to recovery.

Dr. David Sells (Research Director)
David Sells, Ph.D., is the Research Director at The Connection Institute for Innovative Practice. He is a licensed clinical psychologist serving on the faculty at the Yale School of Medicine for over ten years, currently as an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health. His research interests include therapeutic relationships, psychological recovery in chronic illness, community reentry following incarceration, and the integration of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. David has published scores of research articles on these and related topics, served as principal investigator on funded grants, and presented his work to audiences both nationally and internationally.

Michael Rowe (Research Consultant)
Michael Rowe, M.P.H, Ph.D., is a Professor of Sociology in the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and the Co-Director of the Yale Program on Recovery and Community Health. A medical sociologist, Dr. Rowe’s main areas of study are citizenship as an applied theoretical framework of social inclusion of persons with mental illnesses, homelessness, illness, and peers as providers of support to people with like experiences. He also writes and has conducted research in the areas of narrative medicine and medical errors. He is the author of many peer-review articles, book chapters, and other publications. Among his six books are Citizenship and Mental Health (Oxford University Press), Crossing the Border: Encounters Between Homeless People and Outreach Workers (University of California Press), and The Book of Jesse: A Story of Youth, Illness, and Medicine. (Francis Press).

Chyrell Bellamy (Research Consultant)
Chyrell Bellamy, M.S.W., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor for Yale University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry’s Program for Recovery and Community Health and the Director of Peer Services and Research. She researches interventions for people with mental illness, co‐occurring disorders, substance abuse, and HIV. Chyrell received her Ph.D. in the Joint program in Social Work and Social Psychology from the University of Michigan and her M.S.W. and B.A. degrees from Rutgers University. As the Director of Peer Services and Research she provides instruction on peer curricula development and training based on her research and practice experience with peer employees; training of peers to conduct research; and research and evaluation of peer support projects. At Yale, she directs a grant funded by NIMH assessing the effectiveness of peer supports in reducing hospitalizations. She is currently conducting a federal study that examines how to improve health care for individuals with psychiatric illness. She proudly identifies as a person with first‐hand lived experiences with mental health and substance abuse and brings these experiences to her work related to prevention and recovery issues.

Dr. Mark Costa (Research Consultant)
Mark Costa, M.D., M.P.H., is currently an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Department of Psychiatry, Program for Recovery and Community Health. He served for eighteen years as a psychiatrist in Brazil, where he also completed his Master of Public Health degree. His research and practical interest relates to Integrated Health Care and Community Re-entry for people with mental illness and substance abuse challenges.

Bandy X. Lee (Project Director)
Bandy X. Lee, M.D., M.Div., is a faculty member in the Law and Psychiatry Division of the Yale School of Medicine and the Global Health Studies Program of the Yale Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She trained in medical anthropology, has worked in criminal justice reform and asylum legal services, and leads a project group for the World Health Organization’s Violence Prevention Alliance. She has written more than 100 peer reviewed articles, edited eleven academic books, and is the author of the textbook, Violence (Wiley-Blackwell, in press).

Rahil Rojiani (Research Fellow)
Rahil Rojiani is a 4th year medical student at Yale University, hoping to become a psychiatrist. He came to The Connection to start a community drumming and story-telling program and to research how it can help people heal. He is most interested in the intersection of internal, individual paths of liberation (meditation and other contemplative practices) and external, collective paths of liberation (organizing for social and economic justice). He climbs, plays sitar, and drinks too much tea.

Jon Logan-Rung (Research Associate)
Jon Logan-Rung is an honors candidate at Wesleyan University, Class of 2018. He has focused his studies on sociology. Last year he created and facilitated The Workshop — an art therapy collective for people incarcerated in Connecticut. He has been commissioned by the Institute to write a manual outlining his methods for the use of future art therapy initiatives.

Lauren Hagani (Research Associate)
Lauren Hagani is a sophomore at Columbia University. She is planning on studying Psychology and is interested in Criminal Justice and Neuroscience. After college, she expects to go on to Graduate School to become a Forensic Psychologist. At The Connection, she has been working with Dr. David Sells on a project distilling interviews with ex-convicts into first-person narrative summaries of their experiences and analyzing their common themes.

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