2021 Executive Board
Melissa Rivera Marano, PsyD., President
Melissa Rivera Marano, Psy.D. obtained both her Masters and Doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology from the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University. Dr. Rivera Marano has provided assessment and therapy services as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist since 2001. In addition to clinical services, during her career she has worked as an administrator of a youth based community organization and program researcher. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University teaching Assessment courses to the doctoral psychology students. She also teaches an Intro to Clinical Psychology undergraduate course. Dr. Rivera Marano is on the Medical Staff of Monmouth Medical Center working with the Regional Newborn Extension Program. Dr. Rivera Marano is also published.  Dr. Rivera Marano is owner of a group private practice in Freehold, NJ. The private practice provides clinical services to children through adults. Her clinical specialties include treatment of Anxiety Disorders using a Cognitive Behavioral Approach along with validated techniques that are individualized to each patient.  Dr. Rivera Marano’s assessment services include neuropsychological assessment, pre-surgical assessment for bariatric surgery, psychological evaluation and forensic evaluation. She also provides psychological assessment and treatment for individuals involved in immigration proceedings, workers compensation and auto injury. Utilizing an integrative health model approach, Dr. Rivera Marano’s services include biofeedback, yoga therapy and reiki. Dr. Rivera Marano is a former Board Trustee on NAMI NJ and former Board member of the New Jersey Psychological Association Foundation of New Jersey. Dr. Rivera Marano is an active member of the Latino Mental Health Association of New Jersey, National Latino Psychological Association, NJ Psychological Association and Monmouth/Ocean County Psychological Association.

Jesselly De La Cruz, DSW, Past President
Dr. De La Cruz, BA in Political Science (Rider University), MSW (Rutgers University), and DSW (Rutgers University), is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in NJ. She completed a Post-Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy at The Multicultural Family Institute, Inc. in Highland Park, NJ. Having originated from an underprivileged background and being a child of an immigrant family herself, Dr. De La Cruz’s education and work has been motivated by her desire to support traditionally underserved populations. Towards that overarching goal, she has worked with Latino advocacy nonprofit agencies. She currently serves as Executive Director for the Latino Action Network Foundation. Her clinical experience includes providing emergency screening of persons in mental health crisis at an inner city hospital, outpatient and in-home child and family therapy, and clinical consultation for nursing homes with primarily Spanish-speaking residents. In addition, she has extensive experience working in the prevention of child sexual abuse by conducting forensic evaluations, individual, group and family therapy at an intensive outpatient program for court mandated youth who have sexually abused and/or have fire setting behaviors. Currently, Dr. De La Cruz coordinates the psychological treatment of child sexual abuse survivors and their non-offending families in Hudson County, NJ. As a Practitioner Scholar, her research interests focus on systemic approaches to the prevention and treatment of sexual abuse, and the healing of intergenerational trauma in families through the use of mindfulness based psychotherapies, play therapy, multi-systemic family therapy, as well as the political empowerment of Latinos in NJ.

Azara Santiago Rivera, PhD., President-elect

Dr. Santiago Rivera, Ph.D., NCC is a Professor and Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology at Felician University, Lodi, New Jersey.  She has held academic and administrative appointments at Merrimack College, North Andover, MA, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington, DC and Chicago, IL, The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI and the University at Albany, NY.  Her current work involves assessing depression in Latinx adults and the challenges associated with the use of translated measures from English to Spanish. She is a coauthor of 3 books, over 50 peer reviewed articles and book chapters, and has given over 120 presentations/workshops at local, national and international conferences, universities, and organizations. Her publications and research interests include multicultural competencies in the counseling profession, bilingual therapy, and behavioral activation as a treatment for depression in Latinx adults.  Her professional and leadership positions in professional organizations include President of the National Latinx Psychological Association.  She is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Latinx Psychology and is a Fellow of Divisions 45 and 17 of the American Psychological Association (APA). She served as committee member and chair of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education’s Outstanding Dissertation Awards Committee. Currently, she is the chair-elect of AAHHE’s Finance Committee. In 2014, Dr. Santiago-Rivera received the APA Presidential Citation for outstanding contribution to the profession. 


Angela P. Vargas, PhD, Treasurer 
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). 

Petty Tineo, M.A., Secretary
Petty Tineo is currently a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Montclair State University. Petty holds an M.A. degree in Clinical Psychology from Montclair State University and B.S. degree in Psychology from Seton Hall University. She has prior clinical experience working as a clinical extern at the Youth Development Clinic in Newark, NJ and is currently an extern at the Counseling and Psychological Services Clinic at Montclair State University. Petty is also a graduate research assistant in the Clinical and Community Studies Lab and the Youth Mental Health Services Lab at MSU and her research interests include multicultural psychology, acculturation of minority groups, understanding ethnic and cultural differences in exposure to traumatic events, and the long-term mental health outcomes in the aftermath of trauma.

Vanessa De Jesus Guzman, M.A., L.P.C., Early Career Professional Representative

Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is a licensed and board certified counselor with 17 years of experience of working with children and families. She has obtained both her BS and MA from The College of New Jersey. Vanessa has been a tenured second grade teacher, middle school counselor, behavioral assistant, in-home clinician, group facilitator, and mindfulness instructor. Vanessa is the owner of Free to Be Mindful, LLC - located in Ridgefield, NJ - which provides counseling and mindfulness education for kids, parents and educators. Vanessa is also the founder of Amiga Moms, a movement empowering 21st-century Latina mothers through a supportive network and mindfulness education to help women live lives with ease and peace in minds and hearts.  

Vacant - Student Representative
LMHANJ is currently seeking candidates to service in the Student Representative. Interested in leadership? Check out the Office of Student Representative requirements in our bylaws. Candidates can submit their resumes to Dr. Ricardo Martinez, Past President via email to [email protected]