About

Board Members

suarez
Paola Suarez, PhD

President-Elect

Quiroz 1
Yakeel Quiroz, PhD

Member At Large

Karen
Karen Dorsman, BA

Student Representative

andrea mejia kurasz
Andrea Mejia Kurasz, MA

Student Representative-Elect

Committee Chairs

Kayleen Ball
Kayleen Ball, PsyD

Communications

Macdonald
Beatriz MacDonald Wer, PhD

Continuing Education

Delia
Delia Silva, PsyD, ABPP

Information Technology

suarez
Paola Suarez, PhD

Liaison

anita Herrera-hamilton revised
Anita Herrera-Hamilton, PhD, ABPP

Membership and Elections

Quiroz 1
Yakeel Quiroz, PhD

Membership and Elections

M-1
Mirella Diaz-Santos, PhD

Mentorship and Education

HNS Staff
David M. Lechuga, PhD, ABPP, ABN

Administrative Director

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We are a group of clinical and research neuropsychologists interested in promoting the competent practice of neuropsychology with Spanish-speaking populations. (read the complete mission statement here) If you are a practicing neuropsychologist or student, we encourage you to consider the many benefits of becoming a member of the Hispanic Neuropsychological Society. (learn more about registration here)
This website offers resources for Spanish-speaking neuropsychologists, students of neuropsychology, and the general public, including:

• Job openings
• Resources for patients, students, and clinicians
• Our public directory of member clinicians
• Find a Spanish-Speaking Neuropsychologist

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We also offer content that is accessible only to active members of the Hispanic Neuropsychological Society (HNS), including:

• Guidelines/Standards of Practice
• Research Literature
• Patient Handouts
• Database of Available Bilingual Tests
• HNS Private Newsgroup

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Veronica Bordes Edgar, PhD, ABPP

Dr. Bordes Edgar was born in Mexico City, Mexico and immigrated to the United States at 5 years of age. Becoming a naturalized citizen at the age of 16, she started to become increasingly aware of the cultural differences around her. Although she did not realize it at the time, she had to learn how to navigate three cultures – Mexican, Mexican-American, and American. This propelled her to want to help other children who struggle with the same challenge.

Dr. Bordes Edgar has been an active member of HNS since 2010. She initially served on the Executive Committee as Secretary from 2015-2017; she was active in the organization of the Houston to Austin HNS Conference in 2015 and the bylaws revision in 2017. She is also one of the founding members who helped establish HNS as a non-profit organization. Dr. Bordes Edgar rejoined the board in 2019 as President-Elect and now serves as President. She has led another round of bylaws revisions and has been active as a liaison for HNS with other major neuropsychological associations. She credits her HNS involvement, including its mentorship and relationships, for much of her professional success.

Dr. Bordes Edgar is an Associate Professor with joint faculty appointments in Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center. She serves as a bilingual Pediatric Neuropsychologist at Children’s Health and is Co-Director for the Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at UTSW Medical Center. Her areas of interest include cultural and bilingual issues in assessment, genetic and neurodevelopmental disorders, and interdisciplinary teaching of medical and psychology trainees.

Additional training and professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Counseling Psychology – Arizona State University
  • Pre-doctoral internship – Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – University of Minnesota Medical School
  • Board-certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Neuropsychology and Pediatric Neuropsychology
  • 2018 ABPP Early Career Psychologist Service Award recipient
  • 2018 ABPP Early Career Psychologist Service Award recipient 
  • 2021 NAN Tony Wong Diversity Award for Outstanding Work Related to Diversity as a Mentor
  • Fellow status in HNS and NAN
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar

Dr. Bordes Edgar and her husband have an 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. Bilingualism and biliteracy are strongly valued in their household so both children attend a Spanish-language elementary school. Dr. Bordes Edgar enjoys spending time with her family, camping, golf, and a good early morning workout.

Paola Suarez, PhD

As a 13-year-old, Dr. Suarez immigrated from Colombia to Miami, Florida where she completed high school. During this transition, she endured much of the stigma associated with being a non-English speaking foreigner and an English as a Second Language (ESL) learner. Although she was not taken seriously by many of her teachers and peers, who often treated her as “less than,” she had the uncompromising support of her family and an amazing teacher who guided her and other ESL students, through the tedious and, at times, confusing college application process. Consequently, Dr. Suarez was accepted for admission into Barry University, a small Catholic liberal arts university in Miami. There, Dr. Suarez was exposed to several faculty in the Department of Psychology who allowed her to explore her curiosity on the workings of the bilingual brain. Although she had little understanding of neuropsychology at the time, she wanted others to understand that her brain and those of other bilingual individuals processed information in a manner than was different, not “less than.” This passion for ensuring that immigrants, especially non-English speaking individuals, are viewed as fully human fuels what she does on a daily basis. 

Dr. Suarez was part of the group, led by former HNS President, Dr. Lechuga, who put together the Houston to Austin meeting in 2015 with the goal of sparking a discussion around how the current guidelines were limited in serving only a few and disproportionately taxing minority clinicians providing services to the underserved. Currently, Dr. Suarez is serving as the President-Elect of HNS.

Dr. Suarez is a Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Director of the Cultural Neuropsychology Program and Co-Principal Investigator of the UCLA-LACDMH Bilingual & Spanish Interdisciplinary Clinical Training Program (BASIC-T) within UCLA’s Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence. Her clinical work is dedicated to ensuring that bilingual patients get the best neuropsychological services possible and that they are not inadvertently misdiagnosed. She also has the privilege of training externs, interns, and postdoctoral fellows who can carry on the mission of ensuring that others will not be cast aside as “less than.” 

Additional training and professional highlights include:

  • Pre-doctoral internship – UCLA
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – UCLA
  • Past Chairperson, Culture and Diversity Committee, National Academy of Neuropsychology; Past Mentor, Women in Neuropsychology Committee, National Academy of Neuropsychology; Current Mentor, Mentoring Committee, HNS
  • 2019-2020 Outstanding Faculty Housestaff Teaching Adult/Geriatric Division, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
  • 2014 Tony Wong Memorial Postdoctoral Diversity Award from the National Academic of Neuropsychology
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar

What Dr. Suarez loves most in the world is spending time with her husband and boys, as well as her parents and siblings. She also equally enjoys watching soccer with her father and brothers in a Colombian soccer stadium. 

Angela Canas, PHD, NCSP

Dr. Canas was born in Medellin, Colombia and immigrated to the United States at 5 years of age. She was nearly retained in kindergarten due her limited English language proficiency and the scarcity of bilingual programming in Texas at the time but was recommended for enrollment in private schooling following two additional years of English language immersion. Dr. Canas was later awarded a substantive academic scholarship to Southern Methodist University, where she fulfilled her goal of becoming a first-generation college graduate. Her personal experience coupled with her extensive knowledge of special education law has been foundational to her professional work with Spanish-speaking families, particularly as it relates to patient advocacy and liaises with educational entities, medical providers, and community-based organizations. 

Dr. Canas joined HNS in 2019, assuming the Communications Committee Chair position. Through this role, she was able to connect with others who were passionate about providing equitable and quality care to marginalized populations and had the opportunity to raise public awareness about the importance of multicultural issues as it relates to the field of neuropsychology and society at large. Currently, Dr. Canas is serving as Secretary. She hopes that her attention to detail, information tracking, and communication skills will further support the organization as it aims to evolve. 

Dr. Canas is a Clinical Neuropsychologist at Children’s Health and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center. She conducts neuropsychological evaluations of pediatric patients with an array of complex medical, developmental, and neurological conditions, with an emphasis on Spanish-bilingual/monolingual patients, as well as those with Neurofibromatosis, Type 1 and congenital heart disease. She is the Lead Pediatric Neuropsychologist for the Children’s Health/UTSW Neurofibromatosis Program and the Bilingual Neuropsychologist for the Children’s Health Heart Center Fontan Program. She is actively involved in the education and supervision of trainees, serves on the UTSW Clinical Psychology Training Committee, and is a Children’s Health Cultural Diversity Scholar supervisor.

Additional training and professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in School Psychology – Texas Woman’s University
  • Pre-doctoral internship – Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center/Louisiana School Psychology Internship Consortium
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – University of Colorado School of Medicine/Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Nationally Certified School Psychologist
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar

Dr. Canas enjoys traveling, camping, and exploring local markets and restaurants with her husband, Jared, as well as spending time with their fur babies, Pete and Gracie.

Jose Lafosse, PhD, ABPP

Dr. Lafosse was born in California, where his Peruvian parents met and decided to stay.  His parents forced him to speak Spanish at home, for which he is eternally grateful.  He now regularly relies on his Spanish language skills and bicultural background to provide neuropsychological services to a broad range of Latinx patients. 

Dr. Lafosse has been a member of HNS for many years and has seen the organization grow in size and influence.  After having previously served on the National Association of Neuropsychology (NAN) Diversity Committee, the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 40 Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee, and the HNS Mentoring & Education Committee, he is excited to play a larger role as HNS Treasurer.  He hopes to see HNS provide even more impactful leadership on how to best provide neuropsychological services to Latinx populations.  

Dr. Lafosse earned promotion to the rank of Professor at Regis University in Denver, where he has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience since 2003.  He also maintains an active forensic and clinical private practice in Denver and San Diego (https://lafosseneuropsychology.com).  

Other educational and professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – University of Southern California
  • Predoctoral internship – Palo Alto VA Medical Center and Stanford University Medical Center
  • Postdoctoral residency – University of California-Davis School of Medicine
  • Board certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Fellow, NAN
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar

Away from work, Dr. Lafosse enjoys sailing, playing racquetball, wine tasting, playing piano & guitar, the performing arts, and international travel. 

Anita Herrera-Hamilton, PhD, ABPP

As a fourth generation Latinx and Native American, Dr. Anita Herrera-Hamilton has devoted much of her career to increasing access to neuropsychological services among underrepresented populations. Additionally, she is involved in the mentorship of numerous undergraduate, graduate, and early career professionals. Having put herself through school, Dr. Herrera-Hamilton, is keenly aware of the necessary resilience and risk factors associated with being a first-generation or early generation college student.  

Currently, Dr. Herrera-Hamilton is serving as Member-At-Large for HNS, a Board Member for the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN), and Treasurer, for Division 8 (Neuropsychology) of the California Psychological Association (CPA). She has recently published on the experiences of equity (e.g., microaggressions) experienced by black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) neuropsychologists. While aiming to increase support and education about systemic inequity and intersectional bias, the goal of her service is to support capable and talented Latinx neuropsychologists in breaking leadership barriers within the field overall and to increase BIPOC patient access to specialized neuropsychological services.

In addition to seeing clients in private practice, Dr. Herrera-Hamilton holds Assistant Professor appointments at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the University of Southern California (USC), Keck School of Medicine. For over 10 years, Dr. Herrera-Hamilton served as the Director of Neuropsychological Services for multiple divisions at CHLA including Neurology, Sports Medicine/Concussion Clinic, Rehabilitation, Cardiology, Hematology-Oncology, and Pediatrics. 

Additional professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Fuller School of Psychology 
  • Pre-doctoral internship – Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – CHLA
  • Board-certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Neuropsychology 
  • Publications available for review via Research Gate

As a native Southern Californian, Dr. Herrera-Hamilton loves spending time with her husband, two sons, and friends around her much-loved, Long Beach community. She enjoys paddle boarding, hot yoga, hiking and creative writing. 

Yakeel Quiroz, PhD

Dr. Quiroz is originally from Colombia and moved to Boston, Massachusetts in the early 2000s to pursue graduate education.  Since very early in her career, she has been committed to conducting clinical research that can benefit culturally and linguistically diverse populations. She has also invested her efforts in creating training opportunities to increase representation of women and Latinos in neuroscience and neuropsychology. 

Dr. Quiroz is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She is the Director of the MGH Multicultural Assessment and Research Center and the Multicultural Alzheimer’s Prevention Program (MAPP). Her current research uses genomics and biomarkers to inform early detection and prevention of age-related memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease dementia. She is the principal investigator of the Colombia-Boston (COLBOS) biomarker study on autosomal-dominant Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which follows individuals from the world’s largest extended family with a single, AD-causing mutation (E280A in Presenilin1), as well as the Boston Latino Aging Study (BLAST). She also launched and directs the elective in multicultural neuropsychology as part of the MGH/Harvard Medical School Clinical Psychology Internship and the Mass General Brigham postdoctoral fellowship training program in multicultural clinical neuropsychology.

She has been an HNS member for the past ten years. She currently serves as Member-At-Large. In this position, she seeks to represent the interests of both clinicians and researchers working to advance and improve the science and care of multicultural patients.

Additional professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Boston University
  • Pre-doctoral internship – Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • Publications available for review via the NIH National Library of Medicine

In her spare time, Dr. Quiroz enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling to new places, attending academic conferences, and listening to music.

Karen Dorsman, BA

Ms. Dorsman was born in Nicaragua, “tierra de lagos y volcanes.” She has resided in three different countries, which has given her the opportunity to cherish her roots and to recognize the vast diversity amongst populations of Hispanic/Latinx origin.

Ms. Dorsman has been an HNS student member since 2017. She strives to bring people together and uses her voice to advocate for equity in academia, science, and the healthcare field. HNS’s continued support has been and continues to be instrumental in her graduate school journey. Currently, Ms. Dorsman serves as the Student Representative Elect and the Co-Chair of the Student Association Committee; she is also a member of the Conference Committee. Ms. Dorsman is committed to give back by supporting other students from minoritized backgrounds in neuropsychology and those invested in working with culturally diverse populations. She believes in amplifying her colleagues’ voices as well as fostering community and leadership skills amongst trainees, as it is through governance work and peer support that long-lasting changes in inclusion can be achieved.

Ms. Dorsman is currently a doctoral student at University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center. She is a credentialed bilingual (English/Spanish) student-provider. Throughout her life, she has witnessed how social forces shape health outcomes. Therefore, her research interests focus on the social determinants of brain health and cognitive trajectories across the lifespan. She is also passionate about community education and engagement. Ms. Dorsman strongly believes that the dissemination of scientific knowledge gives people around the world a voice in advocating for evidence-based public policies on healthcare and education. Ms. Dorsman strives to become a culturally humble clinician and researcher whose contributions help to inform public health policies that promote brain health equity.

Additional training and professional highlights include:

  • Bachelor’s in Psychology – Universidad Católica del Uruguay
  • Communications & Education Officer – Association of Neuropsychology Students in Training chapter at UTSW
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar

In her spare time, Ms. Dorsman enjoys cooking, reading, and playing with her dog, Coconut. She is also passionate about Nicaraguan folklore dance and loves going for walks with her family.

Andrea Mejia Kurasz, MA

Ms. Mejia Kurasz was born in New Jersey, where her parents immigrated to from Honduras. She grew up in a rural, small town in North Carolina and was raised in a multi-generational, Spanish-speaking household. Given the lack of Spanish-speaking providers and resources in the area, she learned to value and advocate for patient-centered care and health equity at a young age.

Currently, Ms. Mejia Kurasz serves as the Student Representative Elect and the Co-Chair of the Student Association Committee. She is also a member of the IT and Awards Committees. She hopes to foster community and amplify trainees from historically underrepresented and excluded backgrounds. She also hopes to increase clinical, research, and professional opportunities for trainees centered on cultural humility and intersectionality, moving towards a more equitable practice of neuropsychology. 

Ms. Mejia Kurasz is currently a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Clinical and Health Psychology program at the University of Florida, with a training concentration in clinical neuropsychology. Her clinical and research interests center around cognitive aging, behavioral interventions, and health disparities. She is currently funded by a National Institute of Aging T32 fellowship. 

Additional training and professional highlights include:

  • Bachelor’s in Psychology – University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Master’s in Psychology – University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar

In her spare time, Ms. Mejia Kurasz enjoys being active (e.g., cycling, boxing, tennis), reading, and spending time with her husband and German Shedder, Savannah. 

Laura Renteria, PhD, ABPP

Dr. Renteria was born and raised in central California. Her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico. Her parents were employed as farm laborers and their grueling work under the hot sun inspired her to pursue college coursework. Dr. Renteria was the first generation in her family to attend college, graduating with honors from Stanford University. It was her experience of growing up in a small rural town with little access to Spanish speaking medical providers, as well as her graduate studies working with Alaska Natives and Spanish speakers that began to spur her interest in cross cultural work.

Dr. Renteria first discovered HNS during her post-doctoral fellowship and a few years later served in the role of webmaster (creating the HNS listserv we use today!). She then became president of the organization in 2010. Currently, Dr. Renteria serves as the Chair of the Awards Committee. Over the years, she has enjoyed being able to meet and work with so many peers that have the same passion.

Dr. Renteria is the founder and owner of Oregon Neurobehavioral Group in Portland (OregonNeurobehavioralGroup.com). She conducts neuropsychological evaluations in English and Spanish with adults that have a variety of neurological conditions. She also performs legal work including civil cases and worker’s compensation evaluations. She is currently serving as a Member on the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology.

Additional professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Loyola University Chicago
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – University of Illinois College of Medicine
  • Pre-doctoral internship – University of Florida Health Science Center
  • Publications available for review via ResearchGate
  • Board certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Neuropsychology

In her free time, Dr. Renteria enjoys traveling, shopping at the farmer’s market, scary movies, papercrafts, and long walks with her husband and dog.

Kayleen Ball, PsyD

Dr. Ball was born and raised in Miami, Florida to Colombian parents. Growing up in Miami allowed Dr. Ball to learn about most Latin American countries through her peers. She attended Albizu University (formerly Carlos Albizu University), where she devoted much of her training to working with the Latinx community. During her time in training in Texas, Dr. Ball became aware of the barriers to treatment that Latinx individuals/families face on a daily basis in the United States. She also personally experienced the culture shock of living in cities where the Latinx community is not the majority. These experiences drove Dr. Ball to pursue formal specialized training in bilingual neuropsychological assessment with the goal of providing culturally competent neuropsychological services to her community.  

Dr. Ball joined HNS with the goal of advocating for the Latinx community and trainees. She was a member of the HNS Communications Committee from 2019-2021 and is now serving as the Chair of that committee. In this position, Dr. Ball hopes to increase HNS’ social media presence and following, as well as utilize social media to highlight crucial topics for the black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) and Latinx communities. 

Dr. Ball is a clinical neuropsychologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. She provides bilingual assessment services to patients with a variety of medically complex conditions. She is the bilingual neuropsychologist for the Neuro-Cardiac Developmental, Neuro-Oncology, and Epilepsy Surgery Outcomes Clinics. Dr. Ball is actively involved in the education and supervision of neuropsychology track interns and neuropsychology fellows. Trainees rotating with Dr. Ball focus on bilingual assessment, diversity, and multiculturalism.  Dr. Ball hopes to collaborate with colleagues to develop culturally appropriate norms for the Latinx pediatric population and promote culturally competent neuropsychological assessment.

 Additional professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Albizu University
  • Pre-doctoral internship – The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston/McGovern School of Medicine
  • Post-doctoral Fellowship – Children’s Health

Dr. Ball enjoys traveling, foodie experiences, and attending concerts with her husband, Christian, as well as soaking up all the cuddles/hugs from her newborn baby, Brooklyn Rose.

Beatriz MacDonald Wer, Ph.D

Dr. MacDonald Wer was born and raised in Guatemala and moved to the United States at 20 years of age to complete her college degree at Harvard University. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and proficient in Italian, which she learned while in college so that she could explore  Italy. Having lived in Guatemala, Italy, Boston, Denver, Albuquerque, and Houston, Dr. MacDonald Wer has a deep commitment to promote the inclusion and equity of cultural and linguistic diversity.

Dr. MacDonald Wer has been an active member of HNS since 2015. She has served as Student Representative (2016-2017) and Secretary (2018-2019) on the Executive Committee and as a member of the Mentoring and Education Committee (2018-2021) and Membership and Elections Committee (2017-2021). She was asked to be the Program Co-Chair of the 2019 3rd Biannual Hispanic Neuropsychological Society Conference, Cultural Neuropsychology in Action. Currently, Dr. MacDonald Wer serves as the Chair of the Continuing Education Committee. She loves being part of the HNS familia and supporting the growth of such an important organization!

During her time at the University of New Mexico (UNM), Dr. MacDonald Wer founded the Multicultural Excellence in Neuropsychology Training and Evaluation (MENTE) Program, a center dedicated to providing clinical training, research, and service delivery to linguistic minorities. Currently, Dr. MacDonald Wer is a Leader of Inclusive Excellence, Co-Chair of Cultural and Linguistic Diversity, and a Pediatric Clinical Neuropsychologist in the Psychology Division at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Since 2021, she has also served as the Interim Co-Director of the Postdoctoral Neuropsychology Fellowship. Her interests focus on programmatic systems and didactics to support cultural and linguistic equity and inclusion, epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders, and mentorship and sponsorship.

Additional training and professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – University of Denver
  • Pre-doctoral internship – University of New Mexico, Health Sciences Center
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – University of New Mexico Hospitals
  • 2018 NAN Outstanding Work Related to Diversity as an Early Career Professional
  • 2020 Distinguished Professor, Universidad Del Valle de Guatemala
  • Co-developed the SALUD Strutt MacDonald Equitable Healthcare Model
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=NSUw7J0AAAAJ&hl=en)

Dr. MacDonald Wer and her husband are raising a strong biracial (Black American and Latina), bilingual 6-year-old that keeps them on their toes. Dr. MacDonald Wer loves spending time with her family, listening to podcasts, impromptu dance parties, and traveling! She wrote this from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Atitl%C3%A1n), her favorite place in the world!

DELIA SILVA, PSYD, ABPP

Dr. Silva’s parents immigrated from Panama and Chile to the United States, and she was born and raised in melting pot that is New York City. She grew up speaking Spanish at home and feels fortunate to have grown up in an environment where cultural diversity was the norm, not the exception.

During her training to become a neuropsychologist, Dr. Silva was often asked to work with Spanish-speaking patients, though most training sites did not have supervisors who also spoke Spanish or had sufficient cultural knowledge relevant to Latinx populations. She joined HNS as a student and found mentorship and training resources that helped her gain competency in providing neuropsychological services to these patients. Dr. Silva has served on the HNS Board as Member-at-Large (2014-2016) and Secretary (2019-2022). She has also been involved with several committees over the years and is currently serving as the Chair of the Information Technology (IT) Committee. She views HNS as the main organization to promote development of professional resources and scientific advancements in neuropsychology that are specific to Latinx groups; she is honored to help the organization in any way she can. 

Dr. Silva is the owner of Pacific Neurobehavioral Clinic, PC, a group practice in San Diego, California that offers neuropsychological evaluation and psychotherapy services to adults with various neuropsychiatric conditions. She engages in clinical and civil forensic work and oversees the clinic operations.

Educational, training and professional experiences include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Florida Institute of Technology
  • Post-doctoral fellowships – Fullerton Neuropsychological Services, St. Jude Medical Center (one year; neurorehabilitation) and University of California San Diego (one year; clinical neuropsychology)
  • Staff neuropsychologist at Sharp Memorial and Grossmont hospitals from 2009-2012
  • Board certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) for the state of California
  • Treasurer and Current Chair of California Psychological Association-Division 8 (Neuropsychology)

In her spare time, Dr. Silva enjoys playing and making music (piano and electronic instruments; she recently took up learning how to play the theremin), playing tennis, karaoke, and spending time with family and friends. 

Mirella Díaz-Santos, PHD

Dr. Díaz-Santos is from Villas de Loíza, Canóvanas Puerto Rico. She attended public schools with supportive teachers who believed in their students. During middle school, she was mentored to apply to a science and math program at Berwind High School (San Juan). La Escuela Superior de Berwind is where she learned about her passion for science and psychology.

With a clear sense for the importance of kind-authentic mentorship and sponsorship for Latino/a/x trainees, Dr. Díaz-Santos began her journey as the Chair of the Mentoring and Education Committee in January 2020. She and her committee members re-launched the Mentoring Program during the Fall of 2019 with the vision of fostering connections “a la distancia” via mentoring-pairing, peer-to-peer mentoring, and an virtual educational program to engage the whole HNS community in the topics of mentoring, sponsorship, scholarly identity, and professional currency. 

Dr. Díaz-Santos is an Assistant Professor In-Residence with dual appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine. She is also a Faculty Neuropsychology Lead for the Community Engagement Core at UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the Director of the Equity for Latinx-Hispanic Healthy Aging (ELHA) Lab. Her work focuses on prevention, early detection/diagnosis, and management of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in Latinx communities. 

Additional professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Boston University
  • Post-doctoral fellowships (UCLA) – Medical Psychological Assessment Clinical/Cultural Neuropsychology Program (clinical neuropsychology); Human Connectome Project: Aging and the Depression Grand Challenge (research) 
  • Member, National Academy of Neuropsychology Culture and Diversity Committee
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar

Dr. Díaz-Santos loves dancing, karaoke, and hiking, as well as spending virtual time exercising and/or singing with her nephews and niece who live in Puerto Rico.

Heidi Bender, PHD, ABPP​

Dr. Bender was born and raised in the melting-pot of Brooklyn, New York. She has resided in four of the five boroughs of New York City throughout her lifetime and has sought every opportunity to become immersed in the vibrant tapestries unique to each neighborhood, through her friendships, exploration of the arts, and food. Her deep awareness of and respect for a person’s unique life experiences, and their cumulative influence on the person’s past, present, and future continues to imbue her work today.

Membership and leadership involvement in HNS seemed to be a natural fit for Dr. Bender, as the espíritu de inclusión y familia, is one that strongly resonates with her personal and professional missions. Dr. Bender served as the Member-At-Large (2020-2021) and is the current Practice Committee Chair for the organization. She is especially passionate about creating educational opportunities aimed at improving the cultural awareness and sensitivity afforded to the Latinx community, as well as directly supervising and supporting Latinx trainees and early-career neuropsychologists to ensure that future generations are as linguistically-, racially-, culturally- and experientially-diverse as the patient populations that they serve.

Dr. Bender is the Director of Neuropsychological Services in the Department of Neurological Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine where she is also an Associate Professor. As an accomplished researcher in the fields of epilepsy and cross-cultural neuropsychology, Dr. Bender has been an invited lecturer throughout the United States and abroad on these and other topics. Moreover, Dr. Bender has published in over 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts in national and international scientific journals, as well as book chapters and encyclopedia entries.

Additional educational and training highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Pre-doctoral internship – The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University (NYU) Medical Center
  • Post-doctoral fellowship (3-year) – NYU School of Medicine, Comprehensive Epilepsy Center 
  • Board certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Co-Chair, New York Neuropsychology Group Bilingual Task Force

Dr. Bender enjoys going on “adventures,” as her young son is fond of saying, including hiking, swimming, cooking, and traveling.

Franchesca Arias, PhD

Dr. Arias is from Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. She relocated to the United States (US) with her family after her father was diagnosed with a central nervous system (CNS) condition. Her personal experience, as well as her trajectory as an immigrant woman of color in the US, influenced her desire to study the connection between the brain and behavior and to work to empower persons from underrepresented groups living with CNS disorders. Dr. Arias has been a member of the Hispanic Neuropsychological Society (HNS) for over 7 years and has held numerous positions (e.g., 2011-2013 Student Representative, HNS 2019 Conference Task Force). Currently, Dr. Arias is an active member in the Mentorship and Education and Membership and Elections Committees. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Science Committee. In this role, she hopes to facilitate the dissemination of peer-reviewed research focusing on culturally sensitive clinical practice. Additionally, she hopes to support efforts within HNS to develop and publish original empirical work.

Dr. Arias is a clinical neuropsychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, part of Harvard Medical School, and an Assistant Scientist at the Aging Brain Center at Hebrew SeniorLife. In the summer of 2022, Dr. Arias will be transitioning to a tenure-track faculty position at the University of Florida. Her clinical and research interests center around cognitive aging, particularly health trajectories of older adults and understanding how chronic medical illness interacts with acute medical events and socioeconomic factors to precipitate cognitive decline.

Additional training and professional highlights include: 

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Fordham University
  • Pre-doctoral internship – The University of Florida, Health Science Center
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – The University of Florida, Health Science Center
  • Elected member – The Ethic’s Minority Affairs Subcommittee of the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (APA Division 40)
  • Founding member – The Spanish Teleneuropsychological Assessment and Research (STAR) Consortium
  • Publications available via ResearchGate 

Dr. Arias enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising, baking, and listening to music. 

Zara Melikyan, PhD

Dr. Melikyan is interested in and knowledgeable about different cultures; she grew up in the multicultural city of Moscow, Russia, and is Russian-English-Italian trilingual. She came to appreciate diversity on a new, professional level when she came to the United States to pursue her post-doctoral fellowship in cross-cultural neuropsychology, where she combined Russian and American neuropsychological approaches. Her first-hand experience of challenges that culturally diverse individuals face in different areas of their lives is foundational to her research, mentoring, and work in professional organizations.

Dr. Melikyan joined HNS in 2021 and assumed the position of Science Committee Co-Chair in 2022. Through this role she is able to enhance multicultural aspects of research. She also has the opportunity to strengthen the inclusion of minoritized populations in the research.   

Dr. Melikyan is an Associate Project Scientist at the University of California Irvine’s The 90+ Study. Her research interests include association of modifiable factors, such as sleep and occupation, with the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in the oldest-old (age 90+), norms development, and cross-cultural neuropsychology. She is also involved in educational activities through mentoring undergraduate students and presenting in regular Clinical Pathological Conferences and group research meetings. 

Additional training and professional highlights include: 

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – The Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
  • Pre-doctoral internship – The Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – University of North Carolina, Wilmington, USA
  • Publications available for review via Google Scholar

Dr. Melikyan enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, learning foreign languages, dancing, and sports.  

Michelle Miranda, PHD

Dr. Miranda is the daughter of immigrant parents from El Salvador, who fled their country during the civil war. Her family had a very humble beginning in Southeast Los Angeles, where they experienced injustices that cultivated her desire and drive to improve the lives of her family members and community. She was the first in her family to attend a four-year university and to subsequently obtain a doctorate degree. Her early experiences laid the groundwork for her professional work with the Spanish-speaking community, as well as her community service activities.

Dr. Miranda is passionate about social justice issues and the role of clinical neuropsychologists as advocates for patients. To this end, she joined HNS in 2019, as the Co-Chair for the Social Justice and Advocacy Committee, where she works on initiatives aimed at bringing accessibility issues to the forefront and advocating for the equitable service and treatment of all.

Dr. Miranda is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She conducts neuropsychological evaluations and provides psychotherapy services to patients with epilepsy, including pre-surgical cases, as well as Wada testing, in both English and Spanish. During her short tenure at the University of Utah, she has developed the first Spanish neuropsychological service for patients with neurological conditions. In addition to her clinical duties, she also participates in providing free cognitive evaluations to underserved populations at the Fourth Street Clinic, which is a community clinic that partners with the University of Utah Department of Neurology in order to provide services to populations that would otherwise be unable to obtain such services.

Additional professional highlights include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Alliant International University, California School of Professional Psychology
  • Pre-doctoral internship – Veterans Affairs (VA) Black Hills Health Care System
  • Post-doctoral fellowship – University of Miami, Department of Neurology

On a personal note, Dr. Miranda enjoys salsa/bachata dancing, eating (particularly desserts/cake), hiking in the mountains of Utah, and spending time with family and friends.

DAVID M. LECHUGA, PhD, ABPP, ABN

Dr. Lechuga was born in Lynwood, California and raised in Carson, California. His mother was Mexican and Filipina American, and his father was Mexican American. He is also of Native American decent. His professional work is viewed through these ethnic and cultural influences. Dr. Lechuga is also a United States Air Force (USAF) veteran.

Dr. Lechuga is a past president of HNS and is the current administrative director. HNS is home to him because of its emphasis on cultural neuropsychology. HNS serves as a source of inspiration for his governance work.

Dr. Lechuga is the director of The Neurobehavioral Clinic & Counseling Center, a private practice servicing individuals with learning, cognitive, and behavioral challenges (www.neuroclinic.com). He conducts assessments and therapy with brain-injured adolescents and adults. Dr. Lechuga is a civil forensic neuropsychologist and serves as the sports neuropsychology consultant for several professional and amateur teams including the LA Kings, LA Football Club, LA Galaxy, and Concordia University. He also supervises interns and postdoctoral fellows at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence.

Additional training and professional experiences include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – UCLA
  • Pre-doctoral internship – UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
  • Licensed in California, Hawaii, and Arizona
  • Board-certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Psychology and Rehabilitation Psychology, as well as through the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology
  • Former president of the California Psychological Association and represented California at the APA Council of Representatives for six years

Dr. Lechuga’s life gifts revolve around family; he has been married for 35 years, and has a son, a daughter, a grandson, and a granddaughter on the way! Distractions include music, karate, and paddling his outrigger canoe.