Executive Board


Dr. Daniel Cruz, PhD, President

Dr. Daniel Cruz is an Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University, in the Counseling Psychology Training Program, Department of Professional Psychology & Family Therapy (PPFT). Dr. Cruz serves as a Behavioral Scientist at Mountainside Hospital, Family Medicine Residency Training Program, Hackensack Meridian Health system. He is interested in addressing health disparities among African-Americans and Latinos, which include examining institutional and systemic discrimination, and microaggressions as explanatory mechanisms. He is also interested in mindfulness, existentialism and meaning in life, as protective factors against stress. In addition to disseminating his work in peer reviewed journals, Dr. Cruz  supervises an integrative health training program; a collaboration between Seton Hall University and Mountainside Hospital, where he and a team of healthcare providers directly impact the healthcare of minority populations, in hopes of reducing health disparities.

Aileen Torres, PhD, Past-President                                                                                       

Dr. Aileen Torres is currently the Associate Director of Clinical Services/Internship Director at Youth Consultation Services (YCS). She is a mentor in the American Pschological Associaion's Minority Fellowship Program's Training Advisory Committee (APA MFP TAC).  Dr. Torres, a licensed clinical psychologist in NJ and Puerto Rico, is also in private practice in Lyndhurst where she specializes in psychological assessments, mainly for immigration purposes. Her clinical and research interests include multicultural competency, bilingual assessment, trauma, bicultural integration, and other clinical issues specific to Latino families in the United States. She has recently published chapters in the following books:  Enhancing Behavioral Health in Hispanic Populations: Eliminating Disparities Through Integrated Behavioral and Primary  Care  and Toolkit for Counseling Spanish-Speaking Clients.

Sueli Petry, PhD, Treasurer                                                                                                    

Dr. Sueli Petry is a psychologist and family therapist. She is a clinician and supervisor in the clinical psychology internship program at Rutgers University in Newark, on the faculty of the Multicultural Family Institute in Highland Park, and in private practice. In her clinical practice, she works with children, adolescents and families in Newark and Highland Park. Many of her clients are Latino immigrants. She has published on Brazilian families, bereavement issues for Latinos, spirituality, and is a co-author of Genograms: Assessment and Interventions (3rd Edition, 2008).  Dr. Petry is a past-president and long-standing member of LPANJ.

Angela P. Vargas, PhD, Board Secretary                                                                            

Dr. Vargas is a Licensed Psychologist in the States of New Jersey and of New York.  Dr. Vargas graduated from Fordham University with a Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology.  She completed a Pre-Doctoral Clinical Internship at Lincoln Hospital (Bronx, NY) and Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Audrey Hepburn Children’s House, Hackensack University Medical Center (Hackensack, NJ).  Throughout her trajectory in the psychology field, Dr. Vargas has also been actively involved in research and writing that has sought to understand the interplay between various cultural factors and individual development.  At present and in addition to private practice work, Dr. Vargas practices in a NYC hospital where she engages in clinical services and supervision/teaching for psychology trainees. Dr. Vargas has extensive education, training, and experience in the field of mental health across the lifespan, with communities of diverse backgrounds and resources, and within inpatient and outpatient settings.  Specialty areas include treatment of mood disorders and trauma via individual, group, and family therapies, as well as psychological assessment (cognitive, academic, forensic, and personality) and comprehensive evaluations.  Dr. Vargas particularly enjoys working with adolescents and individuals navigating major life transitions and issues surrounding one’s identity (racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation). 

Melany Rivera-Maldonado, PhD, Member-At-Large                                                          

Dr. Rivera-Maldonado is a Bilingual Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Dr. Helen May Strauss Outpatient Clinic of Youth Consultation Services in Union City, New Jersey. In addition to providing psychotherapy and evaluation services for Latino families, she is the Project Manager of the Entre Familias Program, a bicultural prevention program that serves parents and children between the ages of seven to ten. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology and has a minor in journalism from the University of Puerto Rico. Her diverse research interests include: women and psychopathology, motherhood, biculturalism, early childhood and play therapy. In July of 2016, Dr. Rivera-Maldonado served as a fellow at the Psychology Summer Institute, organized by the Minority Fellowship Program of the American Psychological Association. In the past, she has presented at several forums including the Regional Congress of the Inter-American Society of Psychology (El Salvador), the Puerto Rican Psychological Association annual Convention  and the Latino Psychological Association of New Jersey.