African American Eating Disorders Professionals (AAEDP) Committee     

Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Subcommittee  

AAEDP Committee CO-CHAIR Carolyn Coker Ross, MD, MPH, CEDS is a physician, internationally recognized speaker and expert in the use of integrative medicine to treat eating disorders and addictions. She is board certified in both Preventive Medicine and Addiction Medicine. She is the author of four books, the most recent of which is “The Food Addiction Recovery Workbook.” Earlier books include “The Overcoming Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating Workbook” and “The Emotional Eating Workbook.” She is also the co-presenter on an audio with Dr. Andrew Weil, “The Joy of Eating Well.”

Dr. Ross completed a two-year fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, studying with Dr. Andrew Weil. Her path then led her to work as the head of the Eating Disorders Program and the Integrative Medicine Department at world-renowned inpatient hospital, Sierra Tucson where she pioneered the Integrative Medicine approach to eating disorder and addiction treatment.  Dr. Ross is also an addiction medicine specialist and Suboxone doctor who specializes in opioid addiction treatment. She is a consultant for treatment centers across the country on eating disorders, addiction medicine and integrative medicine.

Currently, Dr. Ross is the CEO of The Anchor Program™, an online non-diet telemedicine coaching program for individuals with binge eating, compulsive overeating and food addiction.  The Anchor Certification Program(TM) also offers a certification program for therapists and other providers in the use of her unique approach in working with individuals who struggle with food and body image issues. Contact: (520)-440-0079/Email:, ~

 AAEDP Committee CO-CHAIR Paula Edwards-Gayfield, LPCS, LPC, CEDS, NCC  is the Regional Assistant Vice President at The Renfrew Center, overseeing clinical and administrative operations at the Atlanta, GA; Orlando, FL; Ridgewood, NJ; and West Palm Beach, FL locations. A Licensed Professional Counselor in Oklahoma and LPC Supervisor in North Carolina, she received her Master’s degree in Counseling from the UNC at Charlotte. Ms. Edwards-Gayfield has extensive experience working with adolescents, adults and families, with special interest in the treatment of eating disorders, women’s issues, relationship concern, mood and anxiety disorders, and life adjustments.

A National Certified Counselor, she is a member of the American Counseling Association, the Oklahoma Counseling Association, Oklahoma Eating Disorder Association, and is certified with the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp™).

Ms. Edwards-Gayfield is a frequent presenter at local and national conferences with a primary focus on eating disorders and diversity. Contact: (704)-285-7644 / Email:,

~Message from CO-CHAIRS~

Our mission has expanded.  In keeping with the mission of iaedp’s African American Eating Disorders Professionals (AAEDP) Committee dedicated to identifying, attracting, and engaging African-American Eating Disorders Professionals and providing training and conducting research focused on the unique societal challenges impacting eating behavior and African-Americans, and the barriers to the professional advancement of African-Americans in the field, we recognize that other groups experience similar barriers.

Because African Americans are representative in various groups including People of Color, the AAEDP Committee is proud to model inclusivity with the establishment of a Black, Indigenous, People of Color subcommittee of the AAEDP. In so doing, we recognize the complex cumulative challenges of racism, sexism and classism and how they combine, overlap and/or intersect.

We would like to pay a special tribute to the founding co-chairs of AAEDP – Mazella Fuller, PhD, MSW, LCSW, CEDS-S and Charlynn Small PhD, CEDS-S who spearheaded the growth and development of the AAEDP, since its inception in June 2016.

With our expanded mission, we look forward to be able to engage and attract African American and other professionals of color to model inclusivity and diversity within iaedp.  Our mission is to spread the word about AAEDP and about the prevalence and unique characteristics of eating disorders as they present in African Americans and people of color.

iaedp™ Board Liaison

AAEDP Founding Co-Chair Emeritus Charlynn Small, PhD, CEDS-S is a native of Washington, DC, and is a licensed clinical psychologist (LCP) on staff at the University of Richmond’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Center in Virginia, where she serves as Chair of the University’s Eating and Body Image Concerns Team. Dr. Small received her MA in Clinical/Community Psychology at the University of the District of Columbia, and her PhD in School Psychology at Howard University. She completed her clinical training at the University of Richmond. Dr. Small is also a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Washington, DC, and has been certified as a school psychologist in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

She is a frequent speaker at international and national conferences, and is an educator and advocate for the awareness of eating disorders affecting African-Americans, and other persons of color and underrepresented groups. Published journal articles focus on multicultural education, and on college students with eating disorders. Dr. Small is a member of iaedp™ Board of Directors and an iaedp™ certified (CEDS-S) Approved Supervisor. She has served as a member of the Advisory Board for the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), and currently serves as Certification Chair of the Richmond, Virginia iaedp™ Chapter. Contact: (804)-289-8566 /Email:

Co-Chair Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Subcommittee Marvice Marcus, PhD has the great fortune of serving as a Staff Psychologist and member of the administrative team at Duke University. He earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Washington State University, and completed a predoctoral internship at Duke University CAPS. He primarily worked in university mental health, spanning three regions of the United States and views clinical work as both a place of refuge for clients and an avenue for activism. Dr. Marcus enjoys working with students who present with concerns related to adjustment, mood and anxiety disorders, social and familial conflict, and identity development (e.g., racial, sexual and gender expression). His approach to therapy is integrative, mostly composed of interpersonal/relational interventions, emotional-focused strategies, and behavioral elements. He is especially interested in developing ways to effectively use cultural studies to contextualize human suffering, as well as to elucidate the underpinnings of thought processes and behavior.

Other professional interests include men and masculinities, race and gender politics, and issues of diversity, inclusion and mattering in institutions of higher education. Contact: 919.660.1000/Email:

Co-Chair Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Subcommittee Norman H. Kim, PhD completed his B.A. at Yale and his Ph.D. in Psychology at UCLA. His research and clinical interests include the neurobiology and social development of people with autism, the developmental course of bipolar disorder, and the treatment of anxiety disorders.  In conjunction Norman has developed an expertise in treating and teaching about psychiatrically complex populations, multi-modal treatment, and diagnostic assessment with a particular focus on Eating Disorders, Trauma, and Bipolar Disorder. He is a regular national speaker, educator, and passionate advocate for eating disorder awareness and legislation with a particular focus on marginalized communities.  He is on the Board of Directors of the Eating Disorders Coalition and is the co-chair of the Transcultural SIG for the Academy of Eating Disorders. Norman is the co-founder and National Director of the Reasons Eating Disorder Center. Contact: (917)-565-1381/ Email:

AAEDP Founding Co-Chair Emeritus Mazella B. Fuller, PhD, MSW, LCSW, CEDS-S is a Clinical Associate on staff at the Counseling and Psychological Services of Duke University.  Dr. Fuller provides clinical services, consultation and training for social work and psychology interns.  She has worked in education for many years as a high school teacher, adjunct instructor, consultant and clinician.  Dr. Fuller is an Integrative Health Coach, and graduate of Duke Integrative Medicine.  She is a certified (CEDS-S) Approved Supervisor member of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (iaedp™) and completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program through the Duke Integrative Medicine/Duke University Medical Center.  Clinical focus areas are brief individual/student developmental framework, couples, gender and social justice, equity and inclusion, and women’s leadership development.

Dr. Fuller is a graduate of Smith College for Social Work in Northampton, MA and completed her clinical training at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.  Dr. Fuller has served as a member of the Advisory Board National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). Contact: (919)-660-1067/Email:

Gayle Brooks, PhD, CEDS-S is Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer for The Renfrew Center. Dr. Brooks leads the Renfrew Clinical Excellence Board, Research Department and the Clinical Training Department. She has clinical and administrative oversight responsibility for Renfrew’s residential facility in Florida and for the non-residential sites in TN, TX, NC, FL, GA and CA. For the past 30 years, she has treated patients from diverse backgrounds who suffer from eating disorders.

Dr. Brooks served as the eating disorders specialist in the HBO film Thin, has appeared on Good Morning America and has been featured in the following publications: The New York Times, People Magazine, Essence Magazine and Perspectives, The Renfrew Center Foundation’s journal for professionals. A frequent presenter at conferences and workshops, Dr. Brooks speaks on topics such as the Unified Treatment of the complex patient, eating disorders and cultural diversity, the interplay between eating disorders and trauma, and eating disorders in mid-life women. Dr. Brooks is Chairperson of the iaedp Senior Advisory Council, former Co-Chair of the AED Diversity SIG and former iaedp™ Board Member. Contact: (954)-671-6165 / Email:,

Dr. Lesley Williams, CEDS is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and board certified Family Medicine physician. She received her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University Kentucky College of Medicine and completed her Family Medicine residency training at Mayo Clinic Arizona. She has worked exclusively with eating disorders for over 15 years in the full spectrum of treatment settings.

Dr. Williams is founder of Williams Wellness Medical Group, an outpatient eating disorder practice in Phoenix, AZ dedicated to providing expert medical care for those struggling with all forms of eating disorders and disordered eating. She has previously served as the Co-Founder and CEO for Liberation Center eating disorder treatment center and is currently the Medical Team Lead for Banner Behavioral Health Hospital in Scottsdale, AZ. Dr. Williams is a dynamic speaker who has given numerous lectures at national professional conferences. Her areas of special interest and expertise include: Diabetes and Eating Disorders, Gastrointestinal Illnesses and Co-Occurring Eating Disorders, PCOS & Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Inclusivity in Eating Disorder Treatment, Diabetes and Eating Disorders as well as Health at Every Size Advocacy.

Dr. Williams is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp™). Due to her hard work and dedication to the field in 2018 Dr. Williams was named as one of the Top 80 Female Eating Disorder Leaders in the United States and just selected for AED’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. I am hopeful it will be a platform to expand diversity and inclusion efforts in the field. Contact: (602)-708-7877/Email:,

Judi-Lee Webb, Ph.D., LPC, CPCS, CEDS-S is a Licensed Psychologist and owner of Psychological Solutions of Atlanta, a private practice in Atlanta, GA. She provides counseling for adolescents, adults, couples and families. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor (CPCS), providing supervision to therapists seeking licensure in Georgia. Dr. Webb is also the Founding President of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp™) – Atlanta Chapter and was the first psychologist to become a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist & Approved Supervisor (CEDS-S).

Dr. Webb obtained her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from The University of Georgia in 2002, her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Howard University and Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from The University of Florida. She also completed her internship training at the Medical College of Georgia and Augusta VA Hospital with specialty training in eating disorders and obesity issues. She continued her eating disorder training by completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Atlanta Center for Eating Disorders (currently known as Walden Behavioral Care).

Dr. Webb has served as a professional member of Eating Disorders Information Network (EDIN) for several years conducting presentations in school, universities, medical and behavioral health offices, and community organizations. She was also a founding board member for Supporting Others Achieve Recovery (SOAR), an organization that offers hope and support for people in early recovery from an eating disorder. In addition, she been a member of the Georgia Psychological Association (GPA) since 1999 and has served as a GPA board member for several years. Currently, she is a committee member for GPA’s Council of Independent Practice and serves on GPA’s Speakers Bureau. Contact (404)-86102275/ Email: and

Neeru Bakshi, MD, FAPA, CEDS is a Board-certified psychiatrist, and the Western Region Medical Director for Eating Recovery Center. She is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp™) and the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED). Dr. Bakshi is also a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. She previously served as the Chairperson for the Overlake Hospital Department of Psychiatry, and she is a Clinical Instructor with the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

She attended George Washington University where she received a Bachelor’s of Science with Honors in Biology and earned her medical degree from Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center College of Medicine. Dr. Bakshi completed her internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Bakshi is a member of the Washington State Psychiatric Association as well as the American Psychiatric Association. Contact: 425-214-9343 /

Caryl James Bateman, B.Sc (Hons), M.Sc, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist and Eating Disorder Specialist in Jamaica. She is also a Senior Lecturer and the Psychology Unit Coordinator at the University of the West Indies, Mona. She has a passion for helping people, particularly people of the Caribbean. Through her research and her work with her patients, she has recognized that culture plays a significant role in the way in which individuals seek and receive treatment.

Within the Caribbean context she has done research in areas such as eating disorders, body image, sleep, the lived experiences of psychiatric patients, traditional medicine, sexuality, depression and trauma. She is an advocate for raising eating disorder awareness in the Caribbean and as such pioneered the first international conference in the Caribbean: Dying to be Beautiful: Body Image, Eating Behaviours and Health in the Caribbean. She works diligently with eating disorder sufferers and family members. In the international community Caryl actively informs about the Caribbean culture and its impact on the presentation and treatment of eating disorders. Contact:

Venecia Pearce-Dunbar, B.Sc (Hons); M.Sc, PhD is a Jamaican, a research psychologist and lecturer in psychology in the department of Sociology, Psychology and Social work at the University of the West Indies, Mona. She’s a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona where she received her B.Sc in Psychology and M.Sc in Applied Psychology. Venecia completed her doctoral studies at Brunel University London in the United Kingdom. Her research interests include body weight perceptions, perceptions of fluffy women, cultural differences in weight perception, body image, social media, eating disorders and health enhancing behaviours – specifically, physical activity. She’s an advocate for healthy living at any size and reducing weight stigma. She currently teaches social psychology, interpersonal and group dynamics, research and other related courses. She also supervises undergraduate and graduate research projects. She’s an author and presents at several conferences locally and overseas. She is currently a member of the iaedp International Chapter in Jamaica.  Contact:

Ashley Acle, LMFT and currently the California Regional Compliance Manager for Alsana: An Eating Recovery Community. Her research and clinical interests include eating disorders, suicidality and emotional expression and the influence of contextual factors on these presentations. Ashley is passionate about integrating culture in mental health, specifically in the treatment of eating disorders among ethnic and racial minorities, and has brought this unique perspective in to her previous roles as Director of Clinical Services and Program Director. She has worked with diverse individuals, families and couples struggling with suicidality, acute psychosis, homicidality, eating disorders, mood disorders and co-occurring relational distress for the last 10 years. Ashley is committed to increasing access to quality mental health care for underserved populations using technology and increased community awareness.

Ashley completed her B.A. at Swarthmore College and her Master of Family Therapy at Drexel University. Ashley has presented at several conferences and in the community on mental health and eating disorders. She is a member of the Northern California Community for Emotionally Focused Therapy (NCCEFT) and California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT). Contact:

Priscilla Tran has an extensive background in community development, patient advocacy, case management and marketing, spanning 15 years. For the past 3 years Priscilla has been an Advanced Treatment Placement Specialist an Initiative of Acadia Healthcare. She is humbled by the opportunity to provide access to free treatment guidance and advocacy to folks across all intersections of life. She provides an empathic ear and thoughtful guidance to individuals and their loved ones who are seeking healing while trying to navigate their residential treatment options, for a variety of behavioral health needs.

While providing treatment placement for a range of behavioral health needs, her established specialty is eating disorder care and providing consultation and training to peers throughout the country in regards to appropriate and accessible eating resources across all levels of care.

She hopes through her work she can be a conduit to joy and hope in these people’s lives. With her heart rooted in service, she has served as Division Director of March of Dimes in the state of Nevada, Youth Market Director of the American Heart Association and Clinical Outreach Supervisor of Center for Discovery in Northern California. She has served as membership chair of the IAEDP-Bay Area Chapter for the past two years and a board member of The Body Positive for the past two years.  Contact: (775)-843-6467 Email: or

Melodie Simmons, MS, LPCa is the Clinical Director of Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders in Wickenburg, Arizona. Melodie is the clinical care leader and drives treatment for each patient from admission to discharge. She develops and coordinates all programming for the inpatient, residential and partial hospitalization levels of care in both the adolescent and adult units.

Before joining Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders, Melodie served in multiple capacities for one of the largest nonprofit healthcare organizations in the nation. She has treated patients across the lifespan from early adolescent to geriatric, including patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Melodie has been employed as a clinician since 2008. During her tenure, she has treated many patients with eating disorders, co-occurring disorders/chemical dependency, personality disorders, and medically complex patients.

Melodie is a registered Licensed Supervisor on the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Registry. She currently holds an unrestricted independent license in professional counseling. Melodie studied advanced practice psychiatric nursing at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She received her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, and received her undergraduate degree from University of Alaska in her hometown of Fairbanks.

Melodie is a member of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, Phoenix chapter. She has a passion for learning and is in the process of obtaining her certification as an eating disorder specialist. Her long-term goal is to obtain a doctorate in behavioral health management. Contact: Cell (907)-590-5015 – Office (928)-684-9594 ext. 1131/ Email:

Kena Watson, LPA is a Master’s level psychologist and owner of Still Frames Therapy and Wellness, PLLC, based out of Chapel Hill, NC. She provides therapy for young adults and young adult couples and has a passion for working with women of color, especially college and early career professionals.

Her specialties include body image and eating disorders among people of color, anxiety and coping with life transitions particularly those affecting the Gen Z and Millennial demographic. She has 4 years of experience with working at Carolina House-an eating disorder treatment facility where she provided individual and family therapy as well as facilitated Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Body Image, Self-Care and Media Awareness groups for patients. In addition to therapy, Kena also hosts private therapeutic vision board events that are geared to help individuals and couples connect with their values as they plan for their vision for the year.

Kena is a co-owner and administrator of an eating disorder culinary consulting company, Kalon Collective, LLC. At Kalon Collective the mission is to provide support to those in eating disorder recovery with assistance with meal support, grocery store shopping, basic cooking skills, fear food exposure and restaurant meal support. It is an outpatient service that requires a referral from a dietitian. Contact me at: (919)-378-1720/ Email:, or IG: @still_frames_wellness

Carlus M. Houston is the Founder and an Eating Disorder Recovery Coach and Interventionist at Fidelis Treatment Consultants based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has spent the past 23 years working in many facets of mental and behavioral health, providing crisis stabilization, intake coordination, group, individual and family counseling and mental health education and advocacy.

For the past 5 years he has worked primarily with eating disorders as a Professional Relations Manager for Veritas Collaborative, educating medical and therapeutic providers, schools, patients and families of ED diagnosis, treatment options and resources. He has worked to set himself up as the “go to” person for ED resources by providing sincere, reliable guidance to all account types and for all levels of care. Leading you toward brighter paths. Contact: (678) 469-5913 /Email:

Ayana Habtemariam MSW, RD, LDN, is a nutrition therapist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and macro social worker based in Arlington, Va. She is the owner of Truly Real Nutrition, LLC, a private nutrition practice where she empowers clients to give up dieting in exchange for trusting their bodies and breaking free from food rules that result in feelings of failure and shame. She encourages her clients to embrace the beauty, power, and connection that their food traditions, personal experiences, and values add to their lives. She provides nutrition therapy for clients with disordered eating and those who are recovering from an eating disorder.

She is committed to increasing awareness of weight inclusive philosophies in Black communities and believes that weight-centric approaches to health and wellness only serve to exacerbate body image issues, stress, and anxiety which contribute to increased rates of chronic diseases often seen in Black communities.

Ayana earned her undergraduate degree in Foods and Nutrition from Morgan State University in 2005, completed her dietetic internship at the University of Delaware in 2007, and earned her MSW with a concentration in Social Policy and Community Arenas from Temple University in 2010. Contact: (703)-656-6631 Email:

Charlece “Charlie” Bishop, MS, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of CR Counseling, a private practice located in Birmingham, AL. She has worked in the eating disorder field for many years and has become an advocate for African-Americans struggling with eating disorders.  As a young African- American dancer, Charlie began to struggle with body image issues that later turned into struggling with an eating disorder. Upon moving into recovery, she became interested in the field to learn more about exactly what she was struggling with. 

Charlie earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of South Alabama and a Master of Science degree concentrating in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Alabama. She serves as a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, Alabama Marriage and Family Therapy Network, and Couples and Intimate Relationships Network. Contact me at: Cell: (205) 451-9456 | Email: | website:
Sabrina Richardson, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with Intrinsic Therapy LLC, a private practice she owns and operates. Sabrina graduated from the University of South Carolina Upstate earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Converse College. In addition, Sabrina completed the COAMFTE Accredited Post Degree Program with Emerge Family Therapy Center & Teaching Clinic.After passing the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy State Licensure Exam, Sabrina dedicated time and energy serving families, couples, and individuals struggling with weight issues. Sabrina has a specific focus in the maladaptive cycles of compulsive overeating. As a therapist, Sabrina’s approach centers on thoughts and emotions that determine our behaviors and impact the choices we make. Sabrina is the Director of Living Beyond the Tool, a conference for individuals who have had or are considering weight loss surgery. She is a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) and Obesity Action Coalition (OA). Sabrina is certified as a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist with Project Best and pursuing her iaedp™ Certified Eating Disorders Specialist (CEDS). Contact: (864)-314-4537 Email: or

For any questions, contact iaedp™ AAEDP-BIPOC Coordinator

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