AACWI’s Leadership & Board of Directors
Dr. BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya is a licensed clinical psychologist and licensed clinical social worker who is co-founder and serves as the Executive Director of the African American Child Wellness Institute, as well, serves as the President of Brakins Consulting and Psychological Services. Her past community service includes organizations such as the Greater Minnesota Day Care Alliance, President of the Minnesota Psychological Association, President of the Association of Black Psychologist, and President of the Society for the Psychology of Women of the American Psychological Association. Dr Garrett-Akinsanya serves on the State Advisory Council’s Sub-Committee on Children’s Mental Health and Chairs the Outreach to Diverse Communities work group whose charge is to recommend to the Governor strategies for reducing disparities and increasing equitable access to quality mental health.
Akinyele Akinsanya is an astute business leader with extensive knowledge and experience in City & Regional planning. His specific backgrounds include Transit and Transportation planning, housing development, energy development as well as business process re-engineering in the transit and healthcare industries. He co-founded AACWI with Dr. Garrett-Akinsanya and together they have brought the organization where it is today. He is an active member in various community organizations including the Minnesota Institute of Nigeria Development (MIND) and Egbe Omo Oduduwa Minnesota.
Dr. Pearl Barner, II is co-founder and Past-President of the Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists, and former Treasurer of the Minnesota Psychological Association. In 2013 he retired from the University of Minnesota where he had served as a Psychologist and Director of Boynton Health Service-Mental Health Clinic, Assistant Vice Provost of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology, and Adjunct Graduate Faculty in the Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology Program.
Keyana Cannedy is the owner of her Home Health Care Agency and describes herself as a strong Black woman who has “been through the storm but always remembers to dance.” As a single-parent of “a 15 year old young Black king,” she has worked hard to instill greatness in his self-image in the hope that like her, he will be fearless and confident in his abilities to operate from his greatness at all times. She believes that all families should seek therapy when they need help and answers in raising their children. She contends that by accessing therapy at a young age, parents can teach their children to develop healthy perspectives about using therapy to address challenges that they may face in the future.
Rev. Dr. Alika Galloway is the co-pastor at Liberty Community Church (formally Kawanzaa Church) in Minneapolis. Dr. Galloway received her Doctorate degree from Virginia Union Seminary and has served as an adjunct faculty member at United Theology Seminary in New Brighton, Minnesota. Dr. Galloway is a recipient of numerous awards and honors including a Bush Fellowship, and Benjamin E. Mays Fellowship from the Fund for Theological Education. She is a creative visionary and co-founder of the North-side Healing Space and founder of the 21st Century Academy all located in Minnesota. She is nationally known as a Womanist Scholar and expert in health disparities impacting African American females.
Mary Ann Kowalski is the owner of Kowalski’s Markets. Mary Anne uses her business leadership role to help build a strong civic infrastructure within Kowalski’s that impacts the world around her. Her accomplishments in the grocery business have come from building right relationships with her customers, co-workers, vendor partners and stakeholders. She is the chair of the Kowalski’s 4 Kids Foundation, an organization which raises money for children at risk.
Kris Kowalski Christiansen is the CEO of Kowalski Markets. Having grown up in the family’s grocery business and garnering more than two decades of training and education, Kris earned the position of Chief Operating Officer and has since moved into the role of Chief Executive Officer. Kris is responsible for Kowalski Markets’ strategic direction as well as overseeing the company’s daily operations, and needs.
Eric Mahmoud is the President/CEO/Co-Founder of the Seed Academy & Harvest Preparatory School. Eric oversees the strategic operations of Harvest Network of Schools (HNS),and is a nationally recognized leader in delivering an excellent, affirming, enriching education through a portfolio of K-8 public charter schools in North Minneapolis. He is recognized for his innovative strategies in promoting academic success by focusing on the “The 5 Gaps” of academic achievement, illustrated in his book, Best In Class, co-authored with Jeffry Hasson. Under Eric’s leadership, HNS has successfully transformed education theory and practice in North Minneapolis, educating African American scholars at the highest levels.
Al McFarlane is the founder and owner of McFarlane Media Interests (MMI) as well as the Editor-In-Chief of Insight News, MMI’s flagship media property. Insight News is Minnesota’s largest ethnic newspaper with weekly, audited circulation of 35,000. McFarlane has served as Board Chair for the Minneapolis Urban League and as Board Chair for National Newspaper Publisher Association Foundation (NNPAF).
Beryl Wingate, Psy. D., LP a licensed psychologist, and Global Consultant with Medtronic Employee Assistance Program where she coordinates and provides EAP services to Medtronic’s national and international locations. Dr. Wingate’s career focus has been in the areas of Corporate Leadership, Human Resources, and employee mental health. She has over 35 years of experience working at organizations such as Control Data Corp, Medtronic, Norwest Corporation, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, the African American Family Services, the Hazelton Betty Ford Addiction Treatment Center, Macalester College, and Wells Fargo, where she served as the Assistant Vice-President and Consultant for the Employee Assistance Consulting Department. Dr. Wingate is the owner and founder of B4C Associates, LLC.
Dr. Oliver Williams is the Executive Director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, and a Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. His areas of interest include creating effective service delivery strategies that will reduce violence among African Americans, Ethnic Sensitive Practice, and Fatherhood. He has worked in the field of domestic violence for more than thirty-five years and is a clinical practitioner with experience working in mental health, family therapy, substance abuse, child welfare, delinquency, domestic violence and sexual assault programs. He has worked in battered women’s shelters, developed curricula for batterers’ intervention programs and facilitated counseling groups. He has provided training across the United States and abroad on research and service-delivery surrounding partner abuse.
Elizabeth Streefland is the principal of Streefland Law Firm. Elizabeth’s passion for immigration and diverse world cultures, broad knowledge of the law, and vibrant personality are some of the many reasons for her loyal client base. Simply, companies and people seek her services because they trust her to handle their cases well. They know they have her undivided attention. Elizabeth’s passion is summed up in this quotation of hers: “New Americans improve this country by contributing the very best of themselves, often at a great personal sacrifice. It is this interplay that I find most fascinating.” My goal is to make this process smooth as soon as possible.
Dr. Kalena Peterson is licensed clinical psychologist and assistant clinic director and member if the AACWI team since January 2023. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in 2014 and holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Dr. Peterson has spent the last five years working in private practice providing therapy, psychological evaluations and consultation services to adults and adolescents. Prior to entering private practice, she held a position as the Director of Client Services with the Cook County Jail Sheriff’s Women’s Justice Program where she also completed her post-doctoral fellowship working with incarcerated women with complex trauma and substance abuse issues. Dr. Peterson has broad range of experiences working with disenfranchised communities and minority populations. She has trained in several settings during her graduate studies including schools, correctional/forensic facilities, hospitals and primary care settings. During that time, she has had the opportunity to provide therapeutic services to adults of the homeless and HIV population, male juvenile offenders, school-aged children and adolescents, families and veterans. Dr. Peterson previously held an adjunct faculty position at Adler University where she taught graduate level courses in marriage and family therapy and courses related to trauma and victimization. Her special career interests include working with adults and families who present with various social, emotional, and behavioral concerns that are often related to adjustment issues, traumatic experiences, depression and anxiety. She has also engaged in research related to educational disparities for African American children and conducted an original study for her dissertation in fulfillment of her doctoral requirements entitled Gifted African Americans: The Relationship between Familial Support, Self-Efficacy, Educational Attainment, Life Satisfaction and Income. In her spare time, Dr. Peterson enjoys listening to music, visiting museums and being near the water (preferably a beach).
Director of Special Project
Dr. Dare Akinyemi is an accomplished Project Manager/Mechanical Engineer with over 30 years of tested experience and outstanding achievement in the areas of engineering, management and leadership in corporate america. His areas of expertise include machine process and product development, failure analysis, facilities engineering as well as energy with emphasis on renewable energy, project and program management, general management, operational management, and leadership. Dr. Dare Akinyemi has advanced degrees in mechanical engineering including a Ph.D. with emphasis on project management. He is currently a Director of Special Project at AACWI, working on numerous projects.
Mirlie works with couples, individuals, and families who may be facing a variety of different life challenges. Her specialty is working with early childhood from ages 1 to 5-years-old and with clients that are impacted by traumatic experiences.
Marita Glasglow, MA., LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and previous trainee and staff member of AACWI since March 2023. She received her master’s degree in Marriage and Family therapy from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2017 and earned her LMFT license in 2021. Marita has over eight years’ experience working with adolescents and adults who present with various mental health concerns. She is trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), grief therapy and certified in psychological first aid and PREPARE/ENRICH, an evidenced based assessment tool for marriage and couples therapy. In her spare time, Marita enjoys reading books and watching documentaries on African culture, swimming, gardening, traveling, playing pickleball, and spending time with family and friends.
Deleta Hayden, BS, AA, AS/HRA is the Executive Administrator for the African American Child Wellness institute. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, associate Science Degree in Computer Operations and in Human Resource Administration from Cardinal Stritch University. Ms. Hayden is essential to the daily operations of AACWI as she fields all call and correspondence to the clinic, coordinates initial screenings and schedules intakes for new clients and provides assistant duties to the Clinic Director and staff. Deleta is also a Certified Microsoft Professional.
In her spare time, Deleta enjoys traveling, bowling and playing board games with her family.
Shirlynn’s current health related affiliations include:
Attorney General’s Drug Pricing Taskforce
MDH Cardiovascular Collaborative
MDH 2030 Cardiovascular and Diabetes Work Group
Ramsey County’s Mental Health and Wellness Action Team (MHWAT)
DHS COVID taskforce member with the African American Child Wellness Institute
MN Nurses Association Diversity Taskforce
MNA Government Affairs Commission (GAC)
National Black Nurse Practitioner Association
Holistic Nurses Association
Hennepin County Juvenile Diversion Alternatives Steering Committee
Previous member of Hennepin County Biomedical Ethics Committee