HNS Election 2022

Welcome to the HNS Election (2022)! Below is a list of positions and candidates with their respective statements. The election ballot appears at the bottom of the page for those who are logged in and current with HNS member dues. 

President-Elect

Candidate: Paola Suarez, PhD

Dear HNS Members,

I often say that I became a neuropsychologist through a “series of fortunate events.” From being trained as a psychometrist by one of the greatest neuropsychologists when I did not know what neuropsychology was, to meeting just the person who would introduce me to my incredible graduate school mentor (“my angel”), to having the chance to do internship at a top neuropsychology site, to being a faculty member at a program where I have been lucky to train the future superstars of neuropsychology. Having a background in sociology, I understand clearly that my path was and continues to be atypical as a member of the underrepresented group in neuropsychology due to the various institutional and societal barriers that act as our gatekeepers. With this in mind, as I have gone from one fortunate event to another, I have never forgotten, and in fact, have felt a big sense of individual responsibility to ensure that I use any resources that are available to me in neutralizing inequities that exist in the training of underrepresented students in neuropsychology who, in the near future, can serve culturally and linguistically underrepresented communities.

In any part of my “series of fortunate events” could I have ever imagined that I would be considered as President-elect of HNS. Nevertheless, if given your vote of confidence, I will commit to continue to work with the current board of directors and members towards the common good of the organization. In the face of systemic barriers that many of us encounter, mentorship is vital for survival and success in our field and as President of HNS, I would continue to foster the strong mentorship program that has already been put in place. I would also like to develop authentic connections between HNS and our communities, where I hope we can learn about their needs and desires and eventually increase our ability to serve in more meaningful ways. Last, if I am lucky enough to serve as President of HNS, I would work to provide some of the unique training opportunities that have been provided to me, specifically regarding the brain-behavior relationships that impact cognitive and mental health for the communities we serve.

Secretary

Candidate: Angela Canas, PhD

I was born in Medellin, Colombia and immigrated to the United States (US) at the age of 5 years. Due to my limited English language proficiency and the scarcity of bilingual programming in Texas at the time, I struggled to stay on par with my monolingual peers and was nearly retained. However, following two additional years of English language immersion, I was enrolled in a private school at the suggestion of my educators and with arduous work from my parents. I was later awarded a substantive academic scholarship to Southern Methodist University, where I fulfilled the goal of becoming a first-generation college graduate. My unique upbringing, with both its challenges and opportunities, has been foundational to my professional development overall and to my work as a culturally competent Spanish bilingual neuropsychologist specifically.

Currently, I am a Spanish-Bilingual Clinical Neuropsychologist at Children’s Health and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center. I am 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. I am actively involved in the education and supervision of trainees and am the 2021-2022 Children’s Health Cultural Diversity Scholar supervisor.

I joined the Hispanic Neuropsychological Society (HNS) in 2019, assuming the Communications Committee Chair position. Through this role, I have been able to connect with others who are passionate about providing equitable and quality care to marginalized populations and to disseminate information and promote events that help raise public awareness about the importance of multicultural issues as it relates to the field of neuropsychology and society at large. I have also gleaned insight into the inner workings and needs of the organization as it aims to evolve. It is with this goal of evolution in mind that I wish to continue my service with the organization and its members. The Secretary position, in particular, appears to be a great fit, given the attention to detail, information tracking, and communication skills I have fortified during my time with HNS. In the words of Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” I hope that my answer will forever include ongoing service to the Latine community.

Member at Large

Candidate: Kristin Krueger, PhD

I am a Rehabilitation and Clinical Neuropsychologist seeking candidacy for member at large for the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Neuropsychological Society (HNS).  I first joined HNS in 2001 and have enjoyed and benefited immensely from the experience.  In 2010 I served as a member at large for HNS and found that to be a fulfilling experience.  However, it has been even more rewarding seeing HNS grow and develop in the last 10 years.  

My career goals have always been focused on health care disparities.  I completed internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and have subsequently worked in diverse clinical settings, such as Cook County Hospital, San Francisco’s Veteran’s Affairs Hospital, and Audie Murphy Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in San Antonio. Recently, I transitioned into a full time research position in the Rush University Medical Center’s Institute for Healthy Aging, where I work on a wide range of studies, many of which include collecting data from Spanish speakers.  I continue to maintain a small private practice where I conduct neuropsychological evaluations of Spanish speakers.  Through my work over the years, I have become aware of the challenges in providing accurate evaluations for Spanish speakers, bilingual individuals and for those whose cultural and social contexts differ from the majority of English speaking individuals. 

If elected to the board of HNS, I see my primary duty to support the role of president in advancing the projects of HNS according to its mission.  Secondarily, I would like to work with already existing initiatives to help increase the number of HNS members achieve board certification.  Having gone through the AACN board certification process, I am well aware of the challenges in this process for persons who conduct the majority of their work with Spanish speakers or bilingual persons.  Additionally, I would propose assembling a committee to discuss and draft basic competencies needed to perform accurate neuropsychological evaluations for Spanish speakers.  Finally, I would like to continue the work demonstrated by HNS members in collaborating with and supporting other neuropsychological organizations that provide perspectives and services that historically have received less attention. 

Member at Large

Candidate: Zarui Melikyan, PhD

Dear Hispanic Neuropsychological Society Membership and Elections Committee Members, 

The mission and work of Hispanic Neuropsychological Society (HNS) are becoming increasingly important with growing population diversity in the United States and all over the world. Having myself a diverse professional and cultural background, I have experienced firsthand the benefits as well as challenges that diverse individuals experience in every aspect of their lives. I am passionate about improving those experiences as they relate to neuropsychology, that is why I decided to run for the Board member-at-large position. Below I discuss the areas that resonate with me the most.

Quality research is important to advance our field, and provide evidence-based and relevant clinical practice. I think there is a clear need for quality research addressing issues of diversity in neuropsychology, and an insufficient number of neuropsychology researchers with diverse backgrounds. During my fellowship I have co-mentored the research in cross-cultural neuropsychology done by students from different backgrounds: African-American, Latinx, Russian, who now successfully continue their research in graduate school.  

I believe it is important to strengthen and diversify the paths to translate research into clinical practice and disseminate findings among professionals and general audience. In that vein, usage of novel platforms like podcasts and Zoom presentations allow for fast dissemination of the results and foster collaborations. There is a great need to educate general audience how they may benefit from neuropsychology research. To that end, I volunteer for a local Alzheimer’s Association chapter by providing community lectures on dementia.  

I believe that work in neuropsychology is a team endeavor, we work together, we learn from each other, we inspire one another. It is vital for the development of our field to foster communications to improve practice, promote collaboration, and benefit the community. At the University of California Irvine I am organizing weekly research meetings that bring together neuropsychologists, epidemiologists, pathologists, and neurologists. I have organized similar meetings back in Russia, and have been on the organizing committees of several conferences. 

On a separate note, I am efficient, fast learner, and enjoy communication. 

I will be happy to apply my expertise and passion to advance the mission of HNS. 

Member at Large

Candidate: Yakeel Quiroz, PhD

Dr. Quiroz is 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. She earned her master’s degree in cognitive neuroscience and PhD in clinical psychology from Boston University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology and brain imaging at MGH. Her current research uses genomics and biomarkers to inform early detection and prevention of age-related memory decline, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia. She founded the first Multicultural Neuropsychology Program at MGH and developed the neuropsychological assessment protocol that has been used in the past seven years at MGH to evaluate bilingual and monolingual Spanish-speaking patients with memory disorders. She also launched and directs the elective in multicultural neuropsychology as part of the MGH/Harvard Medical School Clinical Psychology Internship. She recently received approval by the Mass General Brigham Graduate Medical Education to start the MGB postdoctoral fellowship training program in multicultural clinical neuropsychology.

“I am fully committed to increasing representation of women in science and in neuropsychology and providing opportunities for trainees and junior investigators and clinicians to advance their careers. I would like to see HNS representing the interests of both clinicians and researchers working to advance and improve the science and care of multicultural populations.”

Member at Large

Candidate: Jason Smith, PhD

Jason Smith, PhD ABPP is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, jointly appointed in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW).  He is the Chief of the Division of Rehabilitation Psychology and holds his board certified in Rehabilitation Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).  His clinical and research areas of interest include neuropsychological assessment of Spanish-speakers, neuropsychology of epilepsy, epilepsy rehabilitation and traumatic brain injury.  He also founded the UTSW Adaptive Sports Coalition.  

I am proud to be nominated for the Member at Large role for the Hispanic Neuropsychology Society (HNS).  I believe that serving in this role will allow me to continue my personal and professional mission to improve the available services to patients through clinical work, research, education and clinical training of our future psychologists.  In short, I have a heart for the underserved and ultimately aim to overcome barriers to the best care these folks deserve. 

Student Representative-Elect

Candidate: Carla Cabrera, MS

I am currently a PsyD student at Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) APA accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology, specializing in neuropsychology. I am excited about the prospect of working with such diverse individuals with the commonality of an interest in neuropsychology. I believe that my clinical experience and interests align strongly with the aim of HNS in terms of providing mentorship to other students and promoting the organization to other current and future professionals.

The clinical experiences I obtained from a variety of practicum and employment experiences make me a suitable candidate. During my graduate program, I have provided comprehensive outpatient and inpatient neuropsychological evaluations as well as psychological assessments to a variety of patients in both English and Spanish. My training has included a heavy emphasis on neurocognitive disorders ranging from Parkinson’s disease to traumatic brain injury, as well as neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disability, language disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and specific learning disorder. I have also received extensive training with diverse age groups ranging from toddlers to older adults. The lifespan trainings I have received have become imperative in that I have acquired the skill to inquire detailed questions during intakes for a more comprehensive conceptualization of each diverse case. Furthermore, I have appreciation for diversity in all its forms.

I have also attempted to gain leadership experience in other areas including rehabilitation psychology by becoming president of NSU’s Division 22 Rehabilitation Organization. This organization allowed me to volunteer with traumatic brain injury and spinal cord survivors, conduct process groups, and advocate to emphasize social roles and community integration. Moreover, I have been mentoring five graduate students (neuropsychology, forensic, and general focused) throughout the years in my program. Therefore, I believe that for my current level of training, I have learned what it takes to be involved as a member of an organization and take a leadership role.

Last but not least, I advocate for diversity since I was born in the diverse country of Peru and dealt with the typical difficulties most migrants undergo such as language barriers, leaving family behind, acculturation, and financial hardship. Nonetheless, I think human individuality is beautiful in all its form and feel vey proud to pave the way for Hispanic female professionals, specially in the field of neuropsychology. Upon finding myself as one of the only Spanish speaking, let alone non-US born individuals, in my neuropsychology program I felt the need to find an organization that I could feel a part of. That’s when I stumbled upon this organization during one of my poster presentations at the National Academy of Neuropsychology. I immediately looked up the site and since then, have followed on social media, liked posts, and paid membership. Yet, I still felt the urge to attempt getting more involved. So here I am! Thank you for this opportunity.

Student Representative-Elect

Candidate: Andrea Mejia Kurasz, MA

I grew up in a multi-generational, Spanish-speaking household. I spent the first 8 years of my life in an ethnically diverse city (Plainfield, NJ) before moving to a rural, small town (Mocksville, NC). Like many of us within HNS, my lived experiences have shaped who I am by instilling values of resiliency and familismo. In line with familismo, I followed my older sister to the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) where I obtained my undergraduate and master’s degree. My interests in cultural neuropsychology started at UNCW, when examining the relationship between cultural factors and neuropsychological performance with Spanish speakers. Currently, I am a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Clinical and Health Psychology  program at the University of Florida, with a training concentration in clinical neuropsychology. Throughout my PhD training, I have pursued mixed-methods research in cognitive aging, particularly with Hispanic/Latinx older adults. I have actively sought opportunities to advance  my clinical competencies in my heritage culture and language, including provision of  intervention and assessment services in Spanish within a community clinic and at an academic  medical setting. I hope to pursue more opportunities for clinical work and supervision in Spanish  during internship next year to support my career goal of working with culturally and  linguistically diverse patients.  

HNS is my home in neuropsychology. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate training, HNS-related opportunities and the HNS familia have significantly contributed to my professional development in cultural neuropsychology. This year, I have particularly enjoyed fostering community through the HNS Mentoring Program, in addition to joining the HNS Website Subcommittee. I am enthusiastic for the opportunity to be considered as Student Representative Elect and to advance a neuropsychology that is representative and inclusive of historically underrepresented communities. I am committed to fulfilling my role as Student Representative  Elect with energy, enthusiasm, and initiative. It would be a privilege to work and learn alongside  other dedicated members in our field to support and amplify trainees (the future of  neuropsychology) and move towards an equitable neuropsychology. I would be honored to  receive your vote. 

Student Representative-Elect

Candidate: Denise Oleas, BA

Denise Oleas is a Latina/x daughter of immigrants and a first-generation graduate student. She is interested in understanding why ethnoculturally diverse individuals are at increased risk for  worse cognitive and physical health outcomes, identifying protective factors against the  development of disorders, and ultimately, employing more inclusive research protocols in our  studies. Long term, she is passionate about not only making research inclusive to underserved  communities, but also having immediate impact by actively participating in institutions that serve  marginalized scientists and advocate for our underrepresented participants. 

Denise is a doctoral student at Fordham University working under the mentorship of Dr. Monica  Rivera Mindt. Under Dr. Rivera Mindt’s supervision, she is a part of an interdisciplinary study  assessing cognitive aging in ethnoculturally diverse (e.g., Latinx, Black, American, American  Indian/Alaskan Native) HIV+/- older adults in both English and Spanish. This rich opportunity has  further contributed to her growing knowledge of culturally competent clinical care and the  importance of having clinicians whom look like you. Alongside her research activities, she has intervention experience conducting individual psychotherapy with ethnoculturally diverse young  adults experiencing a variety of psychiatric and comorbid substance use disorders.  

Throughout her graduate school experiences, she continues to witness how sociocultural factors  shape both cognitive and physical health outcomes – furthering Denise’s passion for community  engagement and training. Moreover, these experiences, along with her neuropsychological  training and the incredible mentorship she has received from strong, intelligent, and kind mentors,  have inspired her to leadership, service, and ‘paying it forward’ to emerging scientists and  colleagues. To that end, Denise has mentored others by helping them with graduate school  applications, career planning, and even more basic foundational knowledge-introducing  interested students to neuropsychology. As the HNS Student Representative Elect, Denise hopes  to reach a broader audience of students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds interested in higher education.  

Denise became an HNS member in 2019, when her mentor then encouraged her to become  involved with an organization that shared her cultural and educational interests. She participated  in the 2019 HNS conference and felt right at home, surrounded by colleagues who looked like her  and spoke like her family. Denise realized that HNS had connected her to her community and  could help her reach her goal of advocating for equity in academia, science, and healthcare. 

Building on her personal, research, and clinical experiences, she is applying to the HNS Student  Representative Elect position to give back to the HNS community and support fellow neuropsychology students and trainees from underrepresented backgrounds and those invested  in working with culturally diverse populations. She believes in fostering a safe space for students,  scientists, and clinicians to come together to build lasting change, founded on the basis of  diversity, equity, and justice.  

In her spare time, Denise enjoys working out, dancing to Latinx music, traveling to Ecuador (her  heritage culture), and visiting museums. Spending time with her family and learning about her family’s history are things Denise values the most. 

You must be logged in and current with HNS member dues to vote. Please log in, renew if necessary, and then return to this page.

Scroll to Top