Our LMHANJ Lifetime Members

Dr. Milton A. Fuentes

Dr. Milton A. Fuentes received his MA in Psychology with a Latina/o Psychology focus from Montclair State University and his Psy.D. in clinical psychology from the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University. He completed a pre-doctoral fellowship in clinical and community psychology at Yale University and secured post-doctoral training in epidemiology at Columbia University.  He is the 2012 President of the National Latinx Psychological Association and a former member of the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs.  Dr. Fuentes is the current president of the Latino Mental Health Association of NJ; an ethnic minority delegate to APA’s Council of Representatives, and member of APA’s Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest.  Dr. Fuentes’s research interests are in the areas of Latina/o and multicultural psychology, child/ family psychology, pedagogy and motivational interviewing. He serves as a consultant to several programs, including the Violence Prevention Office of the American Psychological Association, where he serves as a Coordinator and Master Trainer for the ACT Raising Safe Kids program. Dr. Fuentes is currently a professor in the psychology department, the director of the Research Academy for University Learning at Montclair State University.



Dr. Ricardo Martinez
Dr. Ricardo Martinez is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of perpetrators and survivors of sexual abuse, combat veterans, and other trauma survivors. He holds an MA in Psychology with a Latina/o Mental Health focus from Montclair State University and MS and PhD degrees in clinical/forensic psychology from Fordham University.  His areas of research and training include the standardized evaluation of risk for sexual re-offense, cross disciplinary treatment of trauma, mindfulness based psychotherapy, forensic psychology, personality disorders, and Latino Mental health. Dr. Martinez has provided mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults struggling with a broad spectrum of psychological conditions since 1991. Currently, he holds clinical positions in New Jersey, at the Department of Veteran Affairs Bloomfield Vet Center and at Hoboken University Medical Center. Dr. Martinez also provides consultation services to clinical teams serving or managing individuals with personality and conduct disorders, sexually abusive behaviors, and risk of violence.

Dr. Joel Núñez
Dr. Joel Núñez is a New Jersey state licensed clinical psychologist, author, speaker and educator. In 1996, he earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in psychology from Drew University and earned a full scholarship to study psychology at Penn State University. As a graduate student, Dr. Núñez was awarded the prestigious Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans on the basis of scholarly merit, academic promise and potential to contribute to public life. In 2003, he earned his Ph.D. in Psychology. He completed his predoctoral clinical internship at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and following his internship, he worked as a bilingual clinical psychologist at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Secaucus, New Jersey. Later, he became a consultant psychologist at a residential facility for individuals with developmental disorders in Totowa, New Jersey. Dr. Núñez earned his license to practice psychology in 2006. Presently, he owns and operates Prov 205 in Bayonne, NJ, a group practice specializing in psychotherapy, psychological evaluations, consultations, professional speaking engagements and expert testimony at court proceedings.
Dr. Sueli Petry
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.
Dr. Aileen Torres
Dr. Torres is a licensed clinical psychologist in NJ and Puerto Rico. Her clinical and research interests include abuse-related trauma responses, family therapy, parenting, immigration-related stressors and bicultural identity integration. She is currently a professor at William Paterson University's Clinical PsyD program.  She was the Associate Director of Clinical Services and Internship Director at the YCS Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health from 2011-2017 and is endorsed as a Level IV Clinical Mentor by the NJ Association for Infant Mental Health. She had worked at Metropolitan Regional Diagnostic Treatment Center (RDTC) at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center from 2007-2011 and had served on the Advisory Group on Child Abuse and Neglect Mental Health Evaluation for the NJ Department of Children and Families. Her private practice is located in Lyndhurst, NJ and she specializes in forensic psychological evaluations for immigration cases (extreme hardship, asylum, VAWA, etc.).  She is a Past-President (2011, 2015) of the Latino/a Psychological Association of NJ.  Dr. Torres is a currently a mentor for the American Psychological Association's, Minority Fellowship Program, Training Advisory Committee (APA MFP TAC). She had obtained her Master's degree at Teacher's College, Columbia University and doctorate at Carlos Albizu University (San Juan Campus).  Dr. Torres had also studied Marriage and Family Therapy at Seton Hall University.
Sonia Wadhwani Doyle, M.A., M.S.
Mrs. Sonia Wadhwani Doyle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Saint Peter’s University. She completed a Masters of Arts degree in General Theoretical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a Masters of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University.Mrs. Doyle is currently serving as a Disability Counselor/Career & Transition Services Specialist in the Office of Specialized Services at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She previously worked at Hoboken University Community Mental Health Center and Family & Children’s Services providing individual and family services implementing a strength-based focus and attention to diversity.  Mrs. Doyle previously served in various leadership roles through the Latino Psychological Association of New Jersey, including former president (2009) and secretary (2014-2018) in the New Jersey Counseling Association. 

Dr. Daniel Cruz

Dr. Daniel Cruz, Ph.D. is a Behavioral Science faculty member at Hackensack Meridian Health – Mountainside Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency training program. He is a licensed psychologist and is board certified in Counseling Psychology (ABPP-Co).  Dr. Cruz received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Seton Hall University and his Master’s degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at Rutgers University. He completed an APA accredited internship in child psychology at Rutgers University-University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC). Dr. Cruz is the 2015-2017 president of the Latino Mental Health Association of New Jersey (LMHANJ). His research aims to (1) Apply advanced quantitative analysis methods to understand, monitor, and reduce health disparities, and (2) Dissociate the clinical and neuropsychological mechanisms linked to Autism, ADHD, and Developmental Traumatic Stress Disorder (DTD). 



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Elsa Candelario, M.S.S.W, L.C.S.W

Elsa Candelario (MSSW, Columbia University School of Social Work) is a Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers University School of Social Work. Her teaching and professional experiences largely focus on macro social work practice, nonprofit leadership and social determinants of health issues. She is particularly interested in the areas of diversity and equity in nonprofit leadership, nonprofit governance, social determinants of health related to immigrants and Latino/a communities and cross sector collaboration, planning and advocacy. Prior to joining the faculty, she had a distinguished career of more than 25 years as a nonprofit administrator in New York and New Jersey. As an organizational leader, she was responsible for: strategic organizational direction; maintenance of donor, governmental and governance relationships; promotion of sound external affairs; and design, implementation and monitoring of health and human services programs. Her innovative and impactful work as a macro social work practitioner yielded scores of prestigious awards, honors and recognitions during her tenure. She has served as a respected voice within the areas of nonprofit leadership and health/human services through her participation in a wide range of activities, including her current service as an advisory board member of the NJ Population Health Cohort Study for the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy and member of the Center for Nonprofits’ Diversity and Equity Committee. Further she is a former board member and executive committee member of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NJ), Centers for Nonprofits, past president of the New Jersey Hispanic Directors Association, past vice-president of the Latino Action Network and past president of the Council of United Way of Camden County Partner Agencies. She is also a past member of the boards of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Camden, United Way of Camden County and the Community Planning and Advocacy Council. In addition, her industry expertise has resulted in her participation on a number of prominent and influential advisory boards and task forces. She was the founding chairperson of the Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma from 2005-2009 and was a member of the New Jersey Governor’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Integration from 2007-2009 and the New Jersey Commission on the Status of Women from 2004-2007. From 1998-2002 she also served as Chairperson of the NJ Latino Health Advisory Committee.  Ms. Candelario is an LCSW who clinically supervises social work professionals and students and also provides clinical social work interventions to individuals.



Dr. Jesselly De La Cruz

Dr. Jesselly De La Cruz, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Rider University), Masters in Social Work (Rutgers University) and a Doctorate in Social Work (Rutgers University), is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Jersey. As a bilingual mental health professional, Dr. De La Cruz has provided individual, group, family, and community-based treatment to clients in English and Spanish for 10+ years. Her clinical training and experience includes Latino mental health, working with children and families, assessment and psychological treatment of psychiatric mental health conditions, and trauma-based therapies. In addition to direct clinical services, she has extensive work experience in grant-funded social service, community, and policy programming and nonprofit management. She is committed to the advancement of the social work field and provides clinical supervision and training for licensed social workers and students as field instructor. She completed a 2-year-intensive course in Family Therapy at The Multicultural Family Institute, Inc. in Highland Park, NJ, is a Lifetime Member and President of the Latino Mental Health Association of NJ, Clinical and Research Member of the New Jersey Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, and an active member and leader in the National Association of Social Workers - New Jersey Chapter. Dr. De La Cruz is also a published author in academic texts such as Tools for Working with Spanish-speaking Clients (2017) and Social Work and Sexual Trauma: Phenomenological Perspectives (2018). She provides continuing education workshops and clinical trainings focused on Latino mental health and various clinical themes in working with sexual trauma.


Dr. Pete J.Economou

Pete J. Economou Ph.D., ABPP is an Associate Professor at Rutgers University in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP). He is the founder of a clinical practice specializing in Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and sports psychology, he is licensed by NJ and NY to practice psychology, he is board certified in CBT, and a certified mental performance consultant (CMPC). Dr. Pete is also a student of Zen Buddhism studying at the Morning Star Zendo with Robert Kennedy, Roshi for several years, which has translated into his mindfulness practices offered through the third wave CBT. Listen to his podcast, When East Meets West, to learn more about the integration of CBT and Zen Buddhism.

Follow Dr. Pete on Instagram @officialdrpete 

Twitter: @TheCWCNJ and @OfficialDrPete



Melissa Rivera Marano, PsyD., Past 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.




Enmanuel Mercedes, PhD, President-Elect

Dr. Enmanuel Mercedes, Ph.D. is a licensed counseling psychologist with over 15 years of clinical experiences. Dr. Mercedes is licensed in New York and New Jersey. He is the founder and CEO of E. Mercedes Consulting and Services, LLC, out of Caldwell, New Jersey.  This company’s mission is to provide mental health solutions to individuals and organizations seeking to improve their mental wellness and promote personal and professional growth. Besides his work as clinician, Dr. Mercedes is a wellness and mental health advocate, speaker, and thought leader on the important of mental health and emotional mastery in the various domains of our lives. This includes helping organizations create an environment that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion, through the fostering of psychological safety and emotional wellbeing.

Dr. Mercedes is particularly passionate about increasing access to mental health services for historically underserved communities. This is evidenced through his work at Zufall Health Center, a community health center in New Jersey, where he assists in coordinating integrated behavioral health care to a largely immigrant community. Furthermore, Dr. Mercedes is the co-coordinator of the Integrated Care Workplace Development Program at Zufall, assisting in areas development, implementation, training and supervision of the behavioral health and medical team members.

On a personal note, Dr. Mercedes was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He is a first-generation college student and the first to complete a doctoral degree. He obtained his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Seton Hall University. Currently, he is serving on the advisory board of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute at Seton Hall and received the 2018 Avance Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership and service.

Dr. Mercedes lives with his wife and two sons in West Caldwell, NJ. He is a big foody, loves dancing, is training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and has been practicing mindfulness meditation for over 10 years.


Podcast: http://wheneastmeetswest.us/

Listen to our Lifetime Member Profile Interviews on Youtube and Soundcloud. 

 2021 Lifetime Member Spotlight with Dr. Jesselly De La Cruz! 

 2021 Lifetime Member Spotlight with Dr. Aileen Torres! 

Listen on Soundcloud to Milton's 2020 Lifetime Member Spotlight  Interview: