Lydia Bartram, MSW
A two-time FAU alumna, Lydia earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work. She received her MSW from Florida Atlantic University in 2008 and is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology. Serving as the guiding force at FAU’s Karen Slattery Educational Research Center for Child Development for close to a decade, Lydia has left an indelible mark on the lives of hundreds of young children. With more than 20 years’ experience working with children and families, she has successfully managed programs in early childhood education, special education, and therapy and support for young children and their families. Her areas of specializations include, school leadership and administration, early childhood education, early intervention, inclusion, program development, mentoring and training.
Lydia is a seasoned education leader and college instructor and an international speaker, researcher and author. Remaining active on the international level for several decades, she has participated in relief and advocacy efforts in support of orphans in Romania, Peru and Bolivia, Tarascan Indians in Mexico, indigenous communities in Brazil’s Amazon jungle and HIV/AIDS intervention and prevention projects in Uganda.
Seth Densen, MSW
Seth received his MSW from Adelphi University in 2008 after receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Utah in Family Studies and Human Development. His career in social work began when he successfully advocated for mandatory Holocaust education in public schools in the state of Utah. Upon relocating to Florida, Seth served the state as a Child Protective Investigations Supervisor with the Department of Children and Families. He is passionate about child welfare and effectuating change on macro levels. Presently, he is a social worker with the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a division of MorseLife Health Systems which enables seniors to live independently at home for as long as possible by addressing the social, emotional, medical, and everyday needs and challenges older adults often face. Seth regularly teaches Social Welfare Policy, Social Work Practice III, Case Management, and various other courses.
Tamara Gilarski, LCSW
Psychotherapist & Clinical Supervisor
Brandy Hughey-Pidermann, DSW, LCSW-QS
Dr. Brandy Pidermann works in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Memorial Healthcare System and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. She has an earned doctorate degree in Advanced Clinical Social Work from Florida Atlantic University, a master of Social Work degree from Barry University with a concentration in Clinical Leadership, and a Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree from Florida International University. She specializes in child and adolescent mental health working with patients and families providing psychotherapy services, clinical supervision to registered clinical social work interns and consultations to families and agencies. She is committed to providing high-quality care and services that focus on improving patient and families’ social-emotional functioning and enhance their overall mood and well-being. In addition to her clinical practice, she has contributed to the growing research and professional literature in suicide prevention among school-aged youth and is a contributing author on parenting and mental health content for The Daily Drip. She also serves on the Patient and Family Advisory Council Behavioral Health Committee for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Dr. Pidermann has developed and consulted on proposals and strategic plans that offer support to patients and families in the community and in educational and healthcare systems. She is also an adjunct professor at the College of Social Work and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University where she enjoys teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in child welfare and clinical practice. In her down time Dr. Pidermann enjoys writing and developing material and enrichment activities influenced by her clinical encounters as a way to provide additional support and promote healthy practices among children, adolescents, and families.
Brad Jaffe, LCSW
Brad Jaffe, LCSW, is the corporate therapist for the e-commerce company Chewy, Inc. Additionally, Brad maintains a private practice in Boca Raton, where he treats families and young adults experiencing mood, anxiety and thought disorders. He is a licensed supervisor in the state of Florida, providing supervision and case consultation for students seeking licensure. A native of Florida, Brad received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and his masters degree from Columbia University. After receiving his MSW, Brad trained at the American Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Karen Horney Clinic in New York. Before relocating to Florida in 2016, Brad worked for Project Renewal, a New York City social services agency that provided mental health care to the homeless population. There, he provided outpatient counseling and helped integrate mental health services into the primary care department.
Gerard John, LCSW, CCTP, MCAP, CCATP, CCFP, CTMH
Mr. Gerard John is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned his Bachelor and Master degree in Social Work from Florida International University in 1999 and 2001 respectively. Mr. John is certified as a clinical trauma professional (CCTP) and is a Master’s level Certified Addiction Professional (MCAP). Mr. John has over 20 years of experience providing therapeutic services to diverse populations, from working with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families with mental health and substance use issues. He is a certified trauma and clinical anxiety treatment professional. In addition to his experience in providing clinical services to clients, he also has a strong supervisory and managerial background where he oversaw various clinical programs that impacted the lives of many clients. Mr. John has been an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University for over eight years providing instruction and guidance to students in the undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Social Work. He has a passion for helping others realize their full potential and becoming self-actualized.
Dré Johnson, MSW, LCSW
Dré Johnson received his BSW from The College at Brockport State University of New York. He fulfilled his Minor of African & African-American Studies at The University of Ghana in West Africa. He later received his MSW from FAU as both a Provost Fellowship recipient and a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) recipient.
After graduation, Dré was called to serve as the Founding Team Leader of New York State's first Emergency Response Mental Health Unit. He also taught as an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Brockport. He worked with nearly 70 schools throughout NY, NJ, FL, and MA as a Diversity Workshop Facilitator. Dré is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing psychotherapy for an award-winning outpatient facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The experienced lobbyist, educator and activist most recently published an article for the School Social Work Journal on mass shootings in schools. Dré has facilitated workshops, moderated countywide initiatives, town hall meetings and presented on the international stage.
Brandy Macaluso, MSW
Brandy Macaluso, MSW, is the Chief Programming Officer with the Coalition for Independent Living Options serving Palm Beach, Martin, St Lucie, Okeechobee, and Indian River counties. She is the program administrator and provides direct services to crime victims with disabilities that have acquired a disability through an act of violent crime or that have been exploited due to the vulnerability of an existing disability.
She received her MSW from Florida Atlantic University-Boca Raton, Summa Cum Laude. She has undergraduate degrees in Social Work and Health Care Administration. She also has a specialty certification in Working with Elders and Families and completed University-Credit Independent Studies in the Assessment & Treatment of Victims of Violent Crime. She is credentialed through the National Organization for Victim Assistance’s National Victim Advocate Credentialing Program at the Advanced Level, holding more than 15,600 hours of experience in the field of victim assistance.
Brandy Macaluso has conducted many focus groups with victim assistance providers & leaders in the victim service field to develop protocols for practice. She has provided training to service providers on the specific needs of victims with disabilities according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehab Act, and the Fair Housing Act. She is the past president and current advisory board member & historian for the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches and provides training as an adjunct professor on these topics in conjunction with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Palm Beach State College Criminal Justice Program, Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) School of Social Work, and FAU’s Criminology & Criminal Justice School under the College for Design and Social Inquiry. She is the past president of the Palm Beach Victims’ Rights Coalition and was appointed to the Palm Beach County Corrections Task Force. She is a current trainer of the Crime Victim Practitioner Designation with the Florida Office of the Attorney General.
The Crime Victim Services program under Brandy’s direction won the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Director’s Community Leadership Award in 2016 presented by former FBI Director James Comey. She was recognized by the Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi as the 2012 Outstanding Victim Service Provider during the 2013 Victims’ Rights Week, the 2013 Palm Beach County Victim Advocate of the Year by the Palm Beach Victims’ Rights Coalition, the 2013 Palm Beach County Service Worker of the Year by the Palm Beach County InterAgency Network, and 2014 Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers, Florida Chapter. Brandy Macaluso was also named 2020 Centennial Trailblazer by the St. Lucie County League of Women Voters for her service to crime victims and received the only adjunct award for FAU’s 2019 Center for E-Learning Award in Excellence for inspiring young minds to take the path of forensic social work and crime victim services.
Brandy Macaluso wrote a federally-recognized Best Practice Guide Book for First Responders on how to interact with individuals with disabilities. She co-authored 3 book chapters in the 2009, 2013, and 2016 Social Work Desk Reference relating to best practices with victims of crime; authored a Spotlight Section in 101 Careers in Social Work related to the forensic social work field; assisted in research for the book titled Helping Victims of Violent Crime: Assessment, Treatment and Evidenced Based Practices; co-authored a Victims of Crime workbook of case vignettes for use in University-level instruction; and has published 2 peer review articles related to victims of crime with disabilities. She has also written many letters to the editor regarding crime victim issues and fair housing for people with disabilities. She is a member of the Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society. She has held National Advisory Board positions with the Vera Institute on Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking, and Dating Violence with Disabilities; the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Responding to Crime Victims with Disabilities; the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence Through a Different Lens Conference; and Oregon State University’s Disabilities and Domestic Violence Project.
Tara McDonnell, LCSW, RPT
Tara McDonnell, co-founder of the Center for Mindful Families in West Palm Beach, specializes in working with children under 6. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and Master’s Degree in Social Work from FAU. Tara is dedicated to providing early intervention to help families create a strong and healthy foundation for a lifetime of health and well-being, and has worked successfully with children who have experienced anxiety, attachment issues, depression, divorce, grief and loss, sensory processing challenges, sexual abuse, and trauma, as well as gifted children with social-emotional difficulties.
Tara has extensive experience and training in evidenced-based interventions such as Child-Centered Play Therapy, Brazelton Touchpoints, Infant Mental Health, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and utilizing art therapy techniques. Tara is also an HSP-Knowledgeable Professional, specializing in working with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) and Children (HSCs). Tara has provided services in a variety of settings including schools and child-care centers and is certified in teaching yoga to children and families. Tara has also provided professional training in supporting the social-emotional wellness of children and families to police officers, first responders, teachers school counselors, and pediatricians.
Macy Oosthuizen, LCSW
Macy Oosthuizen, LCSW received her Bachelor’s Degree from Ithaca College in NY and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from FAU. Macy is the is the co-founder of Center for Mindful Families in West Palm Beach, FL. In her therapy practice, Macy specializes in working with children, teens, and adults connected to adoption and donor conception as well as LGBTQ+ children, teens, and adults (especially trans children and teens). Macy is also the founder and facilitator of Florida Adoption Connections Truth & Support (FACTS) a support group for adults connected to adoption. Macy has completed her 200-level yoga teacher certification as well as has training in mindfulness, CBT, and Play Therapy. Before opening a private practice, Macy began her career with the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, 4th District in West Palm Beach, FL as a forensic social worker specializing in family preservation/dependency cases, policy advising, and death penalty mitigation. She continues some of her work in a volunteer capacity. As a state and national policy advocate and lobbyist, Macy has testified before multiple state congressional hearings to help adoptees gain access to their original birth certificates and change laws to support adoptees. She has also met with many state and national representatives to help leaders understand the impact and importance of post-adoption issues. Macy is a current board member of Florida Adoption Reform & Education (FLARE) and is working on policy supporting FL adoptees.
Brittany Peters, MSW, DSW, LCSW, MCAP
Dr. Brittany Peters received her BSW and MSW from Florida State University, and received her DSW from the University of Tennessee. She currently owns and operates a private practice, Center for Wellness & Clinical Development, LLC. Dr. Peters is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a Qualified Supervisor for clinical social work, and a certified master’s level addiction professional (MCAP).
Dr. Peters has more than 14 years of experience in community mental health as a clinician, advocate, consultant, and clinical director. She also teaches adjunct social work courses and mentors doctoral students.
Honoring her passion for civic engagement, Dr. Peters volunteers with several organizations. She is currently serving as the Chair of the Health & Wellness Committee with the Pinellas County Urban League Young Professionals, Co-chair of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the Behavioral Health Interest Chair for NASW-FL. Dr. Peters is also trained as part of the Statewide Crisis Intervention Rapid Response Team and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pinellas County National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Behavioral Health Equity Alliance.
John Puls, LCSW, MCAP
John Puls has been working with people suffering from substance use disorder and people in recovery since 2013. During this time, John has worked in all levels of care during the duration of substance use treatment. He is a MSW graduate of Florida Atlantic University’s Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work. John is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and a master’s level certified addiction professional (MCAP) with the state of Florida. He is a passionate advocate for implementing person centered and evidenced based care for those suffering from substance use disorder.
Tracey Rubenstein, LCSW, QS, BC-TMH
Tracey Rubenstein began volunteering with survivors of domestic violence while an undergraduate student at Middlebury College. After years of crisis line work, she decided to pursue her Master of Social Work degree from Tulane University. Tracey became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 2001. She was the director of the YWCA Rape Crisis Program in New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina and helped build a coalition of services for domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking after Katrina. Mrs. Rubenstein relocated to Florida in 2010 and opened her private practice working with adults. She is a Qualified Supervisor for social workers pursuing licensure, and she maintains a thriving telehealth practice in Arkansas and NewYork in addition to her Florida practice. She became an adjunct instructor at FAU in Spring 2020.
Cindy Sterne, LCSW, ACSW, MCAP, ICADC, CCTP
Cindy earned her Master of Social Work degree from Florida Atlantic University in 2004 and her Bachelor of Social Work degree from FAU in 2003. She has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2006 and a Qualified Supervisor since 2008. Cindy is a member of The Academy of Certified Social Workers, is a Certified Master’s Level Addictions Professional (MCAP), is an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional trained in EMDR. Cindy has a passion for group work, which she teaches to professionals in the community as a member of the Florida Institute for Group Facilitation. She also serves on the Florida Certification Board’s Behavioral Health Advisory Board. Cindy brings more than 30 years of clinical social work experience to FAU. She is committed to helping each person understand their inherent value and worth. Her work as a therapist includes providing services to children, adolescents, and families in inpatient and outpatient care, as well as working with youth in foster care and those involved in the juvenile justice system. Cindy’s clinical expertise includes Addictions, Co-occurring Disorders and Group work. In 2017, Cindy was recognized as the Florida Atlantic University Broward Achievement Awards Faculty Member of the Year.