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Who We Are

The EMPOWERR Program is located at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center (NCVC), a division of MUSC's Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. EMPOWERR is funded with a five year grant by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI). Our goal is to reduce the onset of substance use and prevent the transmission of HIV in minority teens in Charleston County. 

Please see the complete list of faculty and staff below.

EMPOWERR Faculty and Staff

Carla Kmett Danielson, PhD

Dr. Carla Kmett Danielson is the Founding Director of the EMPOWERR Program, which is dedicated to reducing HIV infection and substance use among local at-risk young people. Broadly, Dr. Danielson's research interests and clinical work focus on treatment and prevention with high-risk adolescent and traditionally underserved populations, including basic and translational science studies that inform applied clinical research. Her particular areas of research and clinical expertise are in: 1) evaluating and disseminating integrated treatments for comorbid PTSD and substance use problems, as well as HIV sexual risk behaviors, among trauma-exposed adolescents, and 2) understanding the pathways from trauma and stress exposure to mental health problems. Dr. Danielson has been continuously extramurally funded (e.g., NIDA, NIMH, NIAAA, Brain & Behavior Foundation, SAMHSA) as an MUSC faculty member. Her studies include randomized controlled trials (RCTs), assessment and lab-based studies that focus on biomarkers and mechanisms underlying the etiology of PTSD, addiction, and other psychopathology among trauma-exposed young people (e.g., current NIMH R01 examining threat-related negative valence systems, child victimization, and anxiety), and mixed methods investigations related to m-Health intervention development and evaluation. Of note, Dr. Danielson is the developer of Risk Reduction through Family Therapy (RRFT), an exposure-based integrative treatment for comorbid PTSD symptoms and substance use problems among adolescents with published RCT support (Danielson et al., 2012). She is currently leading a NIDA R01-funded large scale RCT evaluation of RRFT. Dr. Danielson is PI on a NIDA K24 (Mentorship and Research in HIV and Addiction Prevention among Traumatized Youth) and an NIMH T32 (Basic and Translational Research Training on Traumatic Stress Across the Lifespan)--and serves as a dedicated mentor to early stage investigators, post-doctoral fellows, psychology interns, and medical residents and students. 
EMPOWERR Program Director

Alyssa Rheingold, PhD
EMPOWERR Co-Director

Dr. Rheingold is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Professor at the NCVC.  She is the Co-Director of the EMPOWERR Program’s latest SAMHSA funded grant. Dr. Rheingold has worked at the NCVC for the past 16 years and has been involved with the EMPOWERR Program since its inception in 2006.  Her expertise includes treatment and prevention of health risk behaviors and interpersonal violence.  She is the PI on several VOCA-funded and OVC funded service providing intensive case management and community based trauma focused mental health counseling to victims of crime with specialized services for survivors of homicide. Dr. Rheingold is responsible for overseeing the day to activities of the EMPOWERR Program along with Dr. Danielson.

Jenna McCauley, PhD
Assistant Professor
Director of Environmental Strategies

Dr. McCauley has worked with the EMPOWERR program since its inception in 2008. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Addiction Sciences Division of the MUSC Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. McCauley’s general research interests focus on the dissemination and implementation of treatment and prevention interventions targeting substance abuse and associated conditions, like traumatic stress and depression. 

Angelea Moreland, PhD
Assistant Professor
Director of Environmental Strategies

Dr. Moreland is an Assistant Professor at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center (NCVC) at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). She earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University in 2009 and completed her pre-doctoral clinical internship and post-doctoral research fellowship at the NCVC. Dr. Moreland’s research interests focus on primary and secondary prevention of child abuse and risk factors for maltreatment among high risk parents of young children (i.e., substance use, teen pregnancy); as well as dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practice for victims of interpersonal violence and their families. Dr. Moreland also examines the link between early victimization and high-risk behaviors, such as substance use and delinquency, among children and adolescents. Currently, her primary projects focus on prevention of maltreatment, as well as other negative consequences, among substance-using parents; as well as several other projects focused on dissemination and implementation of evidence-based trauma-focused treatments.

Tatiana M. Davidson, Phd
Culutral Adaptation Co-Director

Dr. Davidson is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing and Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Davidson received her BS from the University of Washington and her MA and PhD from Clark University. She completed her internship and NIMH-funded postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Dr. Davidson’s research has focused on addressing mental health care disparities by maximizing reach and receipt of evidence-based treatments among traumatic stress and other vulnerable populations through the development, evaluation, and dissemination of innovative, technology-based resources. Dr. Davidson has been involved in a number of federally and internally funded projects focusing on reducing mental health care disparities among vulnerable and underserved populations through the development and evaluation of mobile resources to enhance quality of care in health and mental health care.

April L. Borkman, M. A.
Director of Operations

Ms. Borkman is the Director of Operations for the EMPOWERR Program. April has worked for the past 9 years as a health educator and program coordinator on multiple teen pregnancy prevention programs focusing on minority youth in both Charleston and Beaufort Counties. She served as co-chair of the Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council for several years. She is currently the co-chair of the Charleston Health Advisory Committee and member of the Board of Directors for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. April is also a trained facilitator of several evidence-based interventions. She is responsible for the oversight and management of EMPOWERR's day-to-day-functions.  

Isha Metzger, PhD
Health Educator

Dr. Isha Metzger is currently serving as a NIMH T-32 Postdoctoral Fellow in Traumatic Stress at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center where she has been privileged to work with the EMPOWERR Program since 2014. In addition, Dr. Metzger’s research is also supported by funding from the South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Center for Community Health Partnerships (SCTR/CCHP) at MUSC, and by funding from the Research Education Institute for Diverse Scholars (REIDS) Program at Yale University. Overall, Dr. Metzger’s mental health disparities research interests center on understanding risk behaviors (i.e., sexual activity, alcohol use) as well as risk and resilience factors (e.g., peer relationships, racial socialization and discrimination,) that impact youth outcomes (e.g., HIV contraction, unintended pregnancies, sexual assault) and inform engagement in and outcomes of culturally sensitive prevention and treatment programs.

Asia Rivers
Lead Health Educator

Asia Rivers recently graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Public Health and a minor in Communications. Asia began volunteering for the EMPOWERR Program in 2016 and transitioned into the Lead Health Educator position in 2017. She is responsible for leading EMPOWERR's evidence based helath education classes and manages all social media for the program. Asia also serves on the Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council and the World AIDS Day Committee.



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