Hello, we are the Peer Responders team.

 

Our team culture revolves around solving serious problems with a positive and malleable spirit. Mental health is a complicated topic, but our flexibility, compassion, and can-do spirit keeps us as leaders in the field. We are resourceful when overcoming unique challenges because we have been trained to problem-solve and heal.

MEET THE EXECUTIVE BOARD...

Priya Patel

Founder and Director of Peer Responders

Priya Patel is a 17-year-old senior from New Jersey, a health care advocate, science researcher, and storyteller who believes in the power of narrative medicine. She is the founder and director of the Psychology Today-reviewed and Diana Awarded program, Peer Responders, which is the first mental health organization to look at friendship as the solution to psychological crises in teenagers. Her purpose is to help teenagers who are struggling with mental health, anxiety, depression, and discomfort in their own skin by training the people closest to them about what to do, how to notice, how to help, and what to give. Aspiring to become a specialist in neuroscience, Priya has accompanied a team of medical professionals to Jamaica for the Help Jamaica Medical Mission and works in Dr. BJ Fogg's Behavior Design Lab at Stanford. She is the founder of the neurology-based app MyPainManager through which the clinician-patient relationship is strengthened by support of graphical pain data visualization. As Founder and Chief Editor of YourStoryForLife.com, Priya works to empower her generation as empathic communicators who leave a kind and healthy footprint.

Annika Santhanam

Director of Audio-Visuals

Annika Santhanam is a 15-year-old sophomore in New Jersey. Since elementary school, she has advocated on a local and national level for families with life threatening food allergies. She founded the #GotYourBack food allergy support initiative to continue her advocacy efforts to educate the non-allergic community on the cause. She developed the #GotYourBack iOS app, an all-in-one food allergy management app. Recently, Annika’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill with other advocates helped to pass the allergy-oriented FASTER Act (H.R. 2117). As she continues her efforts, she hopes to inspire more kids to focus on their physical and mental well-being and build a strong support system to lead a healthy and happy life.

Rolane Blanc

Co-Director of Graphic Design, Liaison to Kentucky

Rolane Blanc is a 15-year old sophomore in Louisville. Since middle school she has seen others struggling to be able to talk about what’s on their minds in a safe environment. From not having someone to trust or just not knowing how to find the right person and ask to talk. She would like to be a psychologist of sorts so she can be there to listen and give advice should it be asked. She is glad to be apart of such an innovative program.

D'Asia White

Assistant of Marketing, Liaison to South Carolina

D'Asia White is a 16-year-old sophomore at York Comprehensive High School in South Carolina. Her goal is to become a neurosurgeon at Duke University. She has participated in the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Congress, which has given her insight on many different medical perspectives. D'Asia values mental health awareness and she is very passionate about helping in any way she can. She hopes to one day be able to say that she has saved someone's life.

SunYeong Still

Creative Director, Co-Liaison to New Jersey

SunYeong Still is a senior in high school from New Jersey. She is an Advocate for the Prevention of Child Abuse with aspirations in expanding the Education System from K-12th grade. During her high school year, completed the Medical Science Academy at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. In the future, she intends to collaborate as a specialist in the healthcare industry particularly to work with multidisciplinary teams in hospitals. She has accepted her invitation to become a member of the National Society of High School Scholars. In essence, what the world needs is to give today’s youth an assortment of education (especially abuse prevention) so the world will receive their abilities, resources, or ingenuity.

Raiven McGill

Co-Director of Graphic Design, Liaison to Arkansas

Raiven McGill graduated at 16, determined to follow in her father’s footsteps. Ambitiously pursuing her dreams of becoming a biochemist, she sought out programs to give her some sort of experience in the science/medical field before college. After losing her best friend to suicide, she became more interested in finding programs to teach her how to help other friends suffering from depression or anxiety. She was a delegate in the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians, which gave her a new perspective in the world of medicine. She was also inducted into the Honor Society of Torch and Laurel.

Ally Endacott

Co-Liaison to Illinois

Ally Endacott is a 17 year old junior from Illinois. Throughout high school she has seen the effects of mental illness on her community and those she cares about and wants to see a change in how it is regarded. Ally has also experienced anxiety and depression of her own and wants to give others the support she needed during hard times. She aspires to major in business and start her own business one day.

Bella Coimin

Liaison to New York

Bella Coimin is a 17-year-old rising senior from New York. Ever since the age of 13, Bella has developed a strong passion for medicine and research. In the past few years, Bella has participated in the Aim-High Medical Program and attended the Congress of Future Medical Leaders as a delegate from New York. Attendance of both affirmed that Bella wanted to dedicate her life as a healer and advocate for those who don’t have a voice of their own. In route to becoming a pediatric surgeon, Bella also hopes to use her platform to raise awareness for mental health.

Disha Patel

Co-Liaison to Illinois

Disha Patel is a senior at Reavis High School in Burbank, Illinois. She is passionate about pursuing a career in medicine and aspires to become an Osteopathic Doctor in Pediatrics or Family medicine. She is working towards her goal by volunteering weekly in the Surgical Family Waiting Room at Advocate Christ Hospital. Disha is a Treasurer for the National Honor Society chapter at her school and is also a delegate of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians. Additionally, she was inducted into the Society of Torch and Laurel. She continues to face challenges that come toward her with an open attitude and is always eager to take on anything that comes her way with a positive attitude.

Isabel Hernández

Liaison to Florida

When Isabel was ten years old, political persecution drove her family to migrate to America. Adjusting wasn’t easy. Immersed in a whole new country with a different culture and language, she soon began to feel alone, experiencing periods of depression and mental health issues. Playing the piano and guitar with her grandparents helped her through. Her dream is to work in the medical field as either an ob-gyn or a neuropsychologist. She is a member of the National Honor Society, HOSA, and the Congress of Future Medical Leaders. She hopes to save many lives in the future and help out her peers and friends. 

 

Kayla Gamboa-Alvarado

Liaison to Delaware

15 year old Kayla Gamboa-Alvarado is a Sophomore from Delaware. She is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, as well as a delegate of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians. With the hopes of pursuing a career and saving lives in the medical field, the Congress has helped her identify that she would like to pursue her dreams of becoming a cardiologist. During the congress she was also inducted into The Society of Torch and Laurel. Kayla is a student-athlete who plays soccer and runs cross country. She’s a hard-worker knowing there is always room for improvement. Kayla is grateful to be a part of a program that cares about mental health knowing that she can provide her full support and help for those in need, and spreading awareness.

Olivia Krysa

Co-Liaison to New Jersey

Olivia Krysa is a 16 year old junior in New Jersey. She has struggled with mental health herself over the past year and overcame it. She is trying to do her share of helping others regarding mental health. She was a delegate of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians, getting to meet people who changed the face of medicine and are currently making a difference. She has perceived  a new perspective from participating in the congress. Olivia has also accepted to be a member of National Society of High School Scholars. She aspires to become an anesthesiologist and is elated to be a part of the team!

Riya Dabbikar

Co-Liaison to Texas, Director of Medical Resources

Riya is a 16-year-old junior from Texas. As an active officer in multiple National Honor societies she uses her diligence and creativity to constantly find solutions to complex problems. She holds leadership roles within non-profit organizations such as Swab4Texas, Accessible Science, and Peer Responders. She is committed to help Peer Repsonders save lives through a more educated younger generation. She is nationally recognized as a delegate at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and has been awarded the Laureate Certification in science research writing. She aspires to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and truly believes that medicine offers a unique ray of hope to people from all walks of life.

Rouida Siddiqui

Liaison to Missouri

Rouida is a current junior at Park Hill South High School. Some of her favorite pastimes include reading, recreational sports, traveling, cooking, and watching foreign dramas. As for her favorite food, it changes every day depending on my mood but today, she feels like chocolate ice cream would be a good answer. Her dream is to become a specialized physician who not only treats patients’ illnesses, but also helps them see the value of life and how every day is a gift that should be lived out and made the best of.

Ryleigh Roberts

Liaison to Michigan

Ryleigh is a 17 year old senior from Deckerville, Michigan. Ryleigh is a current member of the National Honor Society, the Society of Torch & Laurel, as well as a delegate of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders. Ryleigh has always struggled with mental health and intends on majoring in psychology and pursuing some type of career within the field, and PeerResponders caught their attention. Ryleigh is very thankful for an organization such as PeerResponders willing to teach teens what they had to learn on their own.

Megan Curto

Liaison to Colorado

Megan Curto is a 16 year old from Alamosa, Colorado. She is a liaison for Peer Responders because she wants to spread awareness for mental health, and be able to help those who are going through mental illnesses of their own. She is a member of the National Honors Society, the Society of Torch & Laurel, an alumni of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, a part of the Accessible Science and Teen Health Now teams. She is also a mental health advocate through the Colorado Education Initiative’s Youth Roots program. She is pursuing her Laureate certification for Science Research Writing, and she aspires to be a woman in STEM.

Jessica Edem

Liaison to Maryland

Jessica Edem is a current junior in high school from Bowie, Maryland. Kind and passionate about her love for babies, after high school, she plans to take the pre-med track to pursue her dream of becoming a neonatologist. But until then, she enjoys being a part of her school’s Black Women Society (BWS), writing for its newspaper, The Wicket, taking on debates in Debate Club, and running for the Varsity Track Team. Mental health is something she’s always tried to prioritize, especially during the school year. She hopes that with the knowledge from Peer Responders, she’ll be able to help her friends, others, and even herself, cope with mental health in a safe and helpful way.

LaVie Saad

Liaison to California

LaVie Saad is a 16-year old junior in California as well as an advocate for mental health awareness and a writer who loves the idea of spreading science through journalism. LaVie has always enjoyed comforting her friends through times of stress, whether this meant giving advice, providing alternate options, or simply being something to talk to. She is very interested in psychology and neuroscience, and after attending the Congress of Future Medical Leaders as a delegate and being promoted to an ambassador position, her interest has only grown stronger. LaVie is excited to help make a difference through this program.

Giselle Silva

Liaison to California

I am Giselle Silva and am a senior at Notre Dame High School in Riverside, California. I am very passionate about pursuing a career in medicine and I aspire to become a Pediatrician. I also continue to try to involve myself with programs that will help me towards this goal. I spend my free time mostly with family, friends, and by volunteering within my community. Furthermore, I am a delegate of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians. Additionally, I was also inducted into the Society of Torch and Laurel. Overall, I am very excited to be apart of this team and to hope to help many through this program.

Corynne Foster

Liaison to Georgia

Corynne is a 16 year old upcoming junior at Rainey McCullers School of the Arts in Columbus, Georgia and an aspiring clinical psychologist. She is a delegate of the congress of Future Medical Leaders and a member of the National Society of Highschool Scholars. In her spare time she enjoys part-taking in her school choir, painting, and helping others through volunteer work. She can't wait to be one step to making a change by becoming a Peer Responder!

Raaga Katta

Liaison to Maryland

Raaga Katta is a 15-year old sophomore from Maryland. From a young age, she has wanted a career in the field of medicine. A few of her favorite pastimes include reading, baking, badminton, and going on walks. Raaga is a member in multiple honor societies and a delegate in the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians. From a young age, she has been passionate about pursuing a career in the field of medicine. She is excited to be a part of Peer Responders.

Roger E. Malaver Mariñas

Liaison to Puerto Rico

Roger E. Malaver Mariñas is a 16 year old rising senior from University High School Puerto Rico. Roger has always had a strong desire to become a physician and devotion to science/math and research. Following his interest, Roger participated in the Harvard Model Congress, and attended Summer camps related to material science, statistics and medicine. Recently he was a delegate at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and is part of the Society of Torch and Laurel. He’s also an artist and musician. After all the experience Roger was able to reinforce his wish of becoming a surgeon or an Internal Medicine doctor. However a physician's job is not only to heal the body but to also heal the mind if needed.

Abrina Stevens-Solomon

Liaison to New York

Abrina Stevens-Solomon is a 16 year old junior in Guilderland, New York. During the 2021-2022 school year, she began to struggle with her mental health which lead to withdrawal from extracurricular activities. It disappointed her when no one noticed her behavior. She hopes that with the help of Peer Responders, she can teach the students around her how to recognize the signs of mental illness. Abrina is also a delegate at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, an accepted member of National Society of High School Scholars, and is soon to be awarded the Laureate Certification in science research writing. In her free time, she enjoys drawing and painting. She aspires to be an emergency medical physician, but also holds interests in psychology and neurology.

Alina George

Liaison to New Jersey

Alina George is a 16-year-old junior from New Jersey. She believes it is crucial to address the issues with mental health, especially for the aging adolescents of today. An alumna of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists and an alumna delegate of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, she is interested in learning about the science of mental health psychology as well as ways of dealing with mental health issues. Together, she and her chapter members are finding solutions to implement at school and in their community to create a better quality of life for those suffering from depression, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses. Aspiring to be a future surgeon, she hopes to specialize in Cardiothoracics or Obstetrics. Alina hopes for a world where every individual feels that they have a right to live a fulfilling life and flourish in it. She feels being a part of an inspiring organization like Peer Responders is an honor and a true privilege.

Kassie Atchison

Liaison to Florida

Kassie Atchison is a 17-year-old senior from Florida. She is a member of the National Honors Society, the National Society of High School Scholars, and the Society of Torch and Laurel. As a delegate at the National Congress of Future Medical Leaders, as well as co-president of the Red Cross club at her school, Kassie is committed to finding ways to help people any way she can. Peer Responders is a program that really speaks to her due to some experiences she has had with her peers in the past, and mental health has always been an issue she is passionate about. Kassie is grateful for the opportunity to help people work through their mental health struggles, and to teach members of her community how they can help those they care about.

Jessica Dharanendiran

Liaison to North Carolina

Jessica Dharanendiran is a 17 year old senior from North Carolina. Jessica, an early college student, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Society of Torch & Laurel, and a delegate of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians. Jessica understands that life gets tough and over years of learning more about herself and her friends who choose to confide in her for support, she’s learned the grave importance of mental health to get through it all. She wants to be able to grow, not only personally, but as a community, towards creating a safer, more compassionate environment for teens struggling with mental health.

Sudeep Vattikuti

Liaison to Arizona

Sudeep Vattikuti is a 15 year old sophomore from Arizona. He attends Basis Peoria, where he enjoys participating in the school's speech and debate club. He also loves music. Playing piano since he was six years old, it is one of his passions, along with helping others. His goal is to become an endocrinologist in the medical field one day. After his brother got diagnosed with clinical depression, he started to realize the severity of the mental health crisis at a young age, and how it can affect someone and the people they love. Now, he wants to do everything he can to advocate for a world full of support, compassion, and love.

Rebecca Disney

Liaison to Pennsylvania

Rebekah Disney is a 17-year-old upcoming Senior at Central High School in Pennsylvania. Her goal is to receive her undergraduate in Biochemistry and doctorate in Genetics or Cancer Biology so that one day she can research Cancer and help more patients survive. She is an active member in Cove Cause for Cancer, and after attending the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians, she also wanted to be a part of Peer Responders. Because many of her classmates and close friends deal with different forms of anxiety and depression, she cannot wait to start a chapter in her own school to spread awareness and be a light for those struggling alone.

Anbini Ganesh

Liaison to Washington

Anbini is a 16-year-old junior at Lakeside School, Seattle. She is a writer, baker, photographer and entrepreneur who has been awarded over 4 regional Scholastic Awards for her writing and photography and has been published over 7 times in Lakeside’s Literary and Art magazine, IMAGO, for her writing and photography. As the CEO and Founder of the national level, registered nonprofit, Love and Sweet Bakery Anbini assists diverse communities through meal donations to homeless shelters, online sales, and fundraisers with the help of her multicultural, multi-religious team. As she is passionate about raising awareness about mental health, her nonprofit has conducted many Mental Health Fundraisers that specifically donate to mental health related organizations. Love and Sweet Bakery currently has 13 chapters and counting, all located in different areas of the United States. Anbini is also a competitive, year-round rower (recruiting profile: here) with Lakeside Crew, and hopes to pursue rowing in college. Furthermore, due to her athletic and culinary background, Anbini takes an interest in nutritional well-being, and writes monthly articles focused on nutritional science for the TEENHEALTH newsletter, an organization focused on the health, fitness, and well-being of teenagers. For the future, Anbini is interested in studying business, finance, and law, but wants to start by following her curiosity in business and social entrepreneurship.

Gregory Brown II

Liaison to South Carolina

I am 16 years old and live in South Carolina. Ever since I was in Nursery school I’ve always wanted t help people and put them first. I wanted to make sure the people around me were happy before anything else, and when I got older and into Middle School, I tried my best to help classmates and others deals with mental illnesses and their issues. I want to be a part of this program to expand the reach of those I can help and teach others with similar ideals as me do the same.

Jennifer Zong

Liaison to Georgia

Jiayi “Jennifer” Zong is a 17-year-old senior from Beijing, China, and came to school in America when she was 10. Since middle school she had found a lot of friends of her struggling through hard times, some developing suicidal tendencies. Therefore, inspiring her to major in psychology, to help those who live in mental struggles. In September 2021, Jennifer, along with a group of friends, started a research project regarding the mental health of recovered COVID-patients in China; and conducted a psychology research regarding the correlation between self-differentiation and attachment style, under the help of a professional psychologist over the summer of 2022. She is a member of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, the Society of Torch & Laurel, and a prefect/proctor at her school. After graduating from college, she plans on studying psychiatry and becoming a doctor, to use the best of her knowledge to help those in need.

Isabella Meute

Liaison to Illinois

Isabella is a sixteen-year-old from Illinois who is currently a sophomore in high school. In 2021, she worked with Georgetown University’s Medical Research: Clinical Trials Resulting in Medical Discoveries program. Recently, Isabella has been a delegate for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders. Additionally, she is a member of the Society of Torch and Laurel, has interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, and is an advocate of the Breaking Code Silence movement. Isabella’s dream is to become a neurosurgeon and to raise more awareness regarding anxiety and panic disorders.

Morgan Panebianco

Liaison to New Jersey

Morgan Panebianco is a 17-year-old entering her senior year in New Jersey. Morgan is a current officer of the National Honor Society, one of the heads of the community service organization at her school called Interact, and an ambassador of the organization Healing 4 Heroes. After seeing her best friend – her sister – struggle with mental health issues, she felt that as her sister, she had a responsibility to help her. The issue was that she did not know the right way to do so, leading to her watching her sister suffer. This began her journey in advocating for mental health, as her goal is to become more involved in assisting teens to learn how to help their peers who are struggling. She wants others to feel that they know the proper ways to help, as she wished she knew with her sister. She plans to major in psychology in order to learn more about mental illness and health, and possibly pursue it in her future.

At Peer Responders, we also practice what we preach — being there for each other, no matter what. We are a family that depends on one another for support, and everyone on the team freely gives that support as much as they receive it.

MEET THE MENTORS AND SPEAKERS...

Joe Polish

CEO of Genius Network, Author, Podcaster

Joe Polish is one of the most sought after marketers alive today. Known for his ability to connect with almost anyone on the planet, he leverages his networking prowess to bring together the top industry transformers and leaders in the world. His mission is to change the global conversation around addiction and recovery from one of judgment to one of compassion.

Chris Voss

CEO and Founder of The Black Swan Group Ltd, Author

Prior to 2008, Chris was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group. During Chris’s 24 year tenure in the Bureau, he was trained in the art of negotiation by not only the FBI but Scotland Yard and Harvard Law School. He is also a recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement and the FBI Agents Association Award for Distinguished and Exemplary Service. He has used his many years of experience in international crisis and high-stakes negotiations to develop a unique program and team that applies these globally proven techniques to the business world.

BJ Fogg

Stanford Researcher, Author of Tiny Habits

BJ Fogg is a behavior scientist who has directed a research lab at Stanford University for over 20 years and teaches his models and methods in special Stanford courses each year. He also trains innovators to use his work to create solutions that influence behavior for good, including health, sustainability, financial wellbeing, learning, productivity, and more. Fortune Magazine named him a "New Guru You Should Know" for his insight about mobile and social networks. In January of 2020 he shared 300 pages of new and practical uses for Behavior Design in my New York Times Bestselling book Tiny Habits.

Erin Matlock

CEO of Brain Summit

Erin Matlock is an artist, author, and advocate who has spent 13 years in leadership in the brain health and mental health markets. She is a life member of Mensa and a globally recognized mindset coach who has advised CEOs, health personalities, NY Times bestselling authors, critically acclaimed artists, elite athletes and highly successful entrepreneurs through deeply intense transition and rapid growth in their professional and personal lives. An international and TEDx speaker, she boldly challenges the stigma of suicide and depression through deeply personal accounts of survival and recovery.

Beck Gee-Cohen

Director of LBGTQI+ Programming at Visions Teen

Beck is a master’s level clinician with an undergraduate degree in Sociology with an emphasis on Gender & Sexuality and a master’s degree in Addiction Counseling. Beck has worked in the mental health and substance use field for over 10 years in various capacities. The main focus of his work has been invested in the LGBTQI+ community, adolescents, and families. Over this decade, Beck has trained numerous facilities on LGBTQI+ best practices, has been a keynote and presenter at many conferences and has facilitated workshops about LGBTQI+, trauma, adolescents, gender and sexuality.

Andre Norman

International Speaker, Author

Known to many as “The Ambassador Of Hope,” Andre’s experience and expertise is what empowers him to help people turn their situation around. From illiteracy to gang activity, Andre’s childhood prepared him for nothing less than a life of crime and violence and led him to a prison sentencing of over 100 years. He taught himself how to read, then to understand the law and without hesitation, participated in anger management groups. After winning his appeal and having been armed with a GED and a dream, Andre walked out of prison in 1999, after serving fourteen years. Andre travels around the world to serve as a mentor and listening ear for so many in need.

Tim Ringgold

Owner of Sonic Divinity Music Therapy Services, Author

Tim’s mission is to empower people to reach for music when they are facing stress in work or life, rather than harmful substances or digital distractions. He spent the past 11 years in hospitals and treatment centers helping people to reduce pain and relieve stress. Tim has given over 80 talks nationally and internationally on the subject, including the very first TEDx talk on music therapy, and has shared the stage with top thought leaders and researchers on how music affects the brain.

Kristin Wilson

Vice President of Clinical Outreach at Newport Academy

Kristin Wilson, MA, LPC, CCTP is passionate about the integration of holistic care in the treatment milieu to address the myriad of stressors that today’s teens face. She believes that higher levels of emotional resilience allow teens to more easily adapt to stressful situations or crises, with fewer negative effects. She holds a Master’s degree in psychology and Creative Arts Therapies, and presents workshops on using the creative arts to foster authentic connections with teens. Kristin’s belief in holistic care is further demonstrated by her certifications as a yoga teacher and a clinical trauma professional. She is pursuing her PhD in Psychology and is working on her dissertation.

Brynn Wilson

Miss New Jersey High

Brynn is a 16-year-old High School Junior who has taken her struggles with learning differences and used them to help others. Brynn has written a free advocacy workbook, “Grow Your Own Way”, which helps teens advocate for themselves in their learning environments. Brynn is proud to share her platforms as both, the 2020 National American Miss NJ Jr Teen and 2021 National United States NJ High, to spread awareness of, inclusion of and advocacy for teens who struggle with learning disabilities.

Enthusiasm also permeates the Peer Responders culture: we are excited to do this work every day, because we are bettering the world, one person at a time.

MEET THE PARTNERS...

Our Call to Action

SuicideMentalHealth20

Want to Join the Team?