Parents as Teachers Advisory Board

Advisory Board

Sharlene Gozalians

Sharlene Gozalians is a Senior Public Health Research Associate at the LA Best Babies Network. She earned her Masters of Public Health in Health Education and Promotion at the University of Southern California; she continued her education to earn her Doctorate in Public Health at Loma Linda University. Her professional background includes working with healthy food access and the built environment issues in Los Angeles County, creating healthy communities, youth empowerment and advocacy, corner store conversions, program planning and evaluation and teaching. Her volunteer experience includes working in Tanzania, Brazil and Armenia addressing prevention, health education and maternal and child health issues. Sharlene’s passion for public health addresses the needs of underserved and vulnerable populations.

Nadia Islam

Nadia Islam is the USC School of Social Work’s first associate professor of clinical practice in social work and the Associate Director for the USC Telehealth Clinic. She has taught advanced and introductory social work practice courses including the Virtual Field Practicum. As a member of the faculty work group designing the DSW@USC, she has spearheaded the development of curricula for innovation laboratory courses. As clinical director of USC Telehealth, a virtual outpatient behavioral health clinic, she leads clinical and administrative operations for virtual tele-mental health services. She developed and directs a rigorous six-week training curriculum consisting of online modules, live didactic sessions and role-plays. The curriculum also includes observations by licensed clinical social work supervisors/field instructors to develop Master of Social Work interns’ skills in biopsychosocial assessment, diagnostic formulation, treatment planning, documentation, suicide/homicide risk assessment and cultural sensitivity to special populations within a virtual practice setting. She leads an experienced and talented team of licensed, clinical faculty who recruits and teaches MSW students. Prior to co-launching USC Telehealth in 2012, she served as a clinical director with organizations working on behalf of people who have experienced intimate partner violence and sex or labor trafficking, managing emergency shelter, transitional housing, legal advocacy, outpatient therapeutic services, and community education and outreach activities. Her dissertation research explored the development of psychological empowerment among women who had experienced intimate partner violence.

Brandi Jordan

Brandi Jordan has been helping new families grow, adjust, and find balance for the last decade. Brandi is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Newborn Care Specialist and a Certified Postpartum Doula. She holds a BA in Child Development and a Master's of Social Work from USC. In 2009, she opened The Cradle Company Parenting Center and Boutique, a Los Angeles resource center for parents. Brandi's work as a consultant, group leader, and in-home practitioner has led her to develop a unique philosophy of parenting, fondly named Practical Parenting™, a pragmatic, practical and healthy approach for the "whole" family.

Ashwini Lakshmanan

Ashwini Lakshmanan is an attending neonatologist in the Division of Neonatology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and is an assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Her clinical interests include addressing disparities in health care delivery in neonatology, infant follow up after NICU discharge and neonatal outcomes

Lawrence Palinkas


Lawrence Palinkas is the Albert G. and Frances Lomas Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health and chair of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. He also holds secondary appointments as professor in the departments of Anthropology and Preventive Medicine at USC.

A medical anthropologist, his primary areas of expertise are mental health services research and behavioral health and prevention science. Palinkas is particularly interested in the sociocultural and environmental determinants of health and health-related behavior with a focus on disease prevention and health promotion, child welfare and child mental health, translational and implementation science, immigrant and refugee communities, global health and health disparities, and health behavior in extreme environments and disasters. His research has included studies of the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices for delivery of mental health services and prevention programs to children, adolescents and underserved populations; psychosocial adaptation to extreme environments and manmade disasters; mental health needs of older adults; cultural explanatory models of mental illness and service utilization; HIV and substance abuse prevention in Mexico; evaluation of academic-community research practice partnerships; and acculturation and chronic disease risk in immigrant and refugee populations. This work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, National Institutes of Health, MacArthur Foundation and William T. Grant Foundation. His current research encompasses mental health services, prevention science, immigrant health and global health. He also provides expertise to students and colleagues in the use of qualitative and mixed research methods.

Benita Walton-Moss

Benita Walton-Moss is an Associate Clinical Professor at USC School of Social Work, Department of Nursing. She has been a registered nurse for over 35 years and a family nurse practitioner for more than 30 years. Her clinical and research interests focus on health care of vulnerable populations including women’s health and substance abuse. She is enthusiastic about community-based research.
©2017 Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc.