El Futuro has recruited an expert team of dedicated clinicians. El Futuro’s bilingual staff provides culturally appropriate care in a professional environment, where clients are treated with dignity and respect.
Alvely Alcantara, MSW, LCSWA
Therapist, 919-688-7101 ext 625
Alvely grew up on a large farm in the Dominican Republic, and moved to New York City when she was six. She loved the north, but in 2006 her husband joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC– so Alvely decided to give the south a try! She loves living here, but having to learn to drive to get anywhere was a challenge on top of the cultural shock she experienced after years of living in a big city like NYC. After moving to North Carolina, Alvely completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and then attended the Virtual Academic Center at the University of Southern California to get her MSW. She is now working on completing her LCSW. In her free time, Alvely likes to spend time with her husband and take part in grueling workout bootcamps!
Front Desk, 919-688-7101 ext 600
Marianna came to the US from Costa Rica eight years ago. This makes her the only Costa Rican on our staff. When she heard of the opportunity to work at El Futuro, she jumped at the chance thinking “this is what I was thinking ever since coming to the US but I didn’t know how to do it!” Marianna speaks with gentleness and kindness as she welcomes people who come to El Futuro. In her spare time away from El Futuro she enjoys drawing, photography and walking with her family in nature.
Christa Atkinson, MSW, LCSW
Therapist, (919) 338-1939 ext 517
Christa specializes in working with young children, adolescents and families with trauma, abuse, anxiety and depression. Christa brings experience working with diverse populations with an emphasis on cultural sensitivity and respect for all people. She has worked with court-involved youth in juvenile justice, traumatized and behaviorally challenged adolescents in a residential treatment center, and as the lead Clinical Social Worker in a Robert Wood Johnson funded program targeting mental health for Latinos in Durham elementary schools. Christa currently works as a Therapist at El Futuro serving Spanish-speaking clients in Carrboro. She is trained in providing multiple evidenced-based models including Incredible Years parenting groups, SPARCS adolescent treatment groups, MMTT child treatment groups and Child Parent Psychotherapy. Christa received her BA from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and her Master’s degree in Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill. She has lived in Costa Rica and Chile and traveled and worked in South America and Africa. Christa enjoys spending time practicing and teaching yoga, but most of all she enjoys her time as a mother. Specialties: Mental Health treatment with young children, adolescents, families and adults with trauma, abuse, anxiety and depression.
Roberto Blanco, MD
Psychiatrist, (919) 688-7101 ext 613
Roberto joined El Futuro in 2006 as part of a year-long training through the UNC Psychiatry training program. He went on to complete his Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship and now works with us providing psychiatric care to children and adults. Roberto was born in Italy but has roots from Mexico and the US. He trained at Emory University for undergraduate work in Art and then went to Vanderbilt for medical school before coming to North Carolina for specialty training in Psychiatry. Roberto enjoys travel, art, music, running, and comida tipica!
Jennifer Casanova, MSPH
Clinic Manager, (919) 688-7101 ext 607
Jennifer Casanova is originally from New York City and grew up in Colombia, South America. She is a proud graduate from the Gillings School of Global Public Health where she developed a stronger sense for the needs of minority underserved communities in a health context. Throughout her international and local experiences, she has been involved with Latino communities and stakeholders to provide assistance with literacy, community engagement and capacity building. Jennifer is a salsera at heart and in her free time she enjoys choreography and volunteering.
Access Coordinator, (919) 688-7101, ext 605
Gisele grew up in Brazil with a French father and German mother. Throughout her upbringing and continuing until today, she has been involved in the arts as a teacher and director of a gallery. Before coming to the US, she lived for seven years in Ontario, Canada. Interestingly, she learned Spanish in Canada! In addition to art, Gisele enjoys writing and practicing and guiding meditation in several languages.
Authorization Specialist, (919) 688-7101 ext 608
Mary is from Venezuela and moved to the United States in 2008. She got her International Relations degree from “Universidad Central de Venezuela”. She is also a GED Instructor at Durham Technology Community College. Mary’s love for helping the Hispanic community brought her to El Futuro. Her cheerful personality and work ethic make her an asset to our organization. On her free time she enjoys zumba, running and spending time with friends.
Adris Fortunato, CSAC
Substance Abuse Counselor, (919) 688-7101 ext 612
Adris Fortunato has years of experience providing substance abuse counseling to the local Latino community. Adris has lived in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and New York before moving to North Carolina. Adris brings warmth, energy and hope to every interaction whether it be in individual counseling, group treatment or in casual interactions with fellow coworkers. In his down time he can be found with his family, playing baseball, or instructing Zumba!
Director of Development and External Relations, (919) 688-7101, ext 606
Mike grew up in Newark, New Jersey. He led Vacamas Programs for Youth, a nonprofit agency in New York City, for 33 years as the Executive Director. The services of Vacamas included school and community-based educational and character development programs for at-risk youth populations in the most impoverished neighborhoods in New York City and urban New Jersey. Several years ago he and his wife moved to North Carolina to be closer to North Carolina to be closer to their children and grandchildren. He quickly jumped into action with a number of local nonprofits and provided consultations with the Executive Service Corps. He joined El Futuro because he loves the mission and wants to ensure the services of El Futuro are around for a long time!
Receptionist, (919) 338-1939 ext 517
Connie Garcia is the Clinical Assistant who first greets most callers and visitors to El Futuro. She is of Nicaraguan descent and grew up in New Jersey and Philadelphia. A licensed cosmetologist and legal secretary, Ms. Garcia has a wide variety of experience including organization, customer service, home health work, supervision, soldering, electronics, and site maintenance. Ms. Garcia is a proud grandmother and is active in her church community and extended family.
Linda Guzman, BA
Project Coordinator for Padres Efectivos, (919) 688-7101 ext 602
From the day Linda joined us, she has consistently gone above and beyond to grow our group programs including Padres Efectivos and SPARCS. Linda graduated from UNC Greensboro where she received a BA in psychology and minor in Spanish. Originally from New Jersey, she lived most of her life in North Carolina and has experience abroad in Peru, Puerto Rico and Spain. Linda is excited to be here and says “I am thrilled to be a part of a project that will help so many families and feel privileged to be working with such a great team.”
Molly Hayes, MEd, LPC
Therapist, (919) 688-7101 ext 614
Molly and others dreamed of creating a place like El Futuro 8 years ago when she was a mental health case manager helping immigrant children in Orange County. She helped found El Futuro and since then pursued training to become a therapist earning her Masters degree in Counselor Education from NC State. Over the last several years Molly provided therapy for small children and their families as well as leading groups. She is trained in attachment based therapy models including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Child Parent Psychotherapy and Strengthening Families. She also has advanced training in Motivational Interviewing. Molly lived in the Dominican Republic for several years as a child, but is native to North Carolina and loves calling the Triangle her home. Molly joined El Futuro in 2011 in order to more fully use her bilingual ability in helping families in our community.
Medical Assistant, (919) 688-7101 ext 630
Carrie is a hard worker and someone with a big heart for others. She grew up in Asheboro, NC, and attended UNC-G where she earned a BA in Theology and later earned a BA in Spanish from UNC-W. Carrie also has a Diploma in Translation and Interpreting from Cape Fear Community College. As the Medical Assistant she supports our psychiatrists by helping with a range of duties from checking up on students in schools to making sure patients get their medications. In her free time she enjoys many activities like dancing, playing the guitar and writing songs, cooking, and even surfing!
Priscilla Hidalgo, MD
Psychiatrist, (919) 688-7101 ext 618
Priscilla was born in the Dominican Republic where she completed medical school before moving to the US for a psychiatry residency at the University of Virginia and then a fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry. She is boarded in both general psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry. During her residency training she worked with refugees and helped establish a refugee clinic – an experience that changed her life and showed her how she could be a psychiatrist and help people through the difficult process of acculturation. She loves working at El Futuro and considers it more than a job! During her free time she loves spending time with friends, reading, listening to music, dancing and yummy Dominican food!
Karon Johnson, MSW, P-LCSW
Therapist, (919) 688-7101 ext 611
Karon sees the potential in all those she encounters. Her long road to become a social worker has her doing what she hoped – helping empower others to overcome and rise up. She grew up in Los Angeles before coming to Durham in 1984. She raised her family and has been continuously involved in our community. She earned a degree in Spanish from NCCU with a concentration in education. She attended the School of Social Work UNC-CH with an interest in the intersection of experiences of African Americans and Latinos. In her spare time she enjoys reading, gaming, bodybuilding, listening to music, spending time with family and playing Scrabble!
Rosanna Lora, PhD
Therapist, (919) 688-7101 ext 624
Rosanna grew up in New Jersey, and moved down to North Carolina with her family around three years ago. She grew up knowing Spanish and English, as her parents thought that it was important to raise their children to be bilingual. After getting her undergraduate degree at Cornell University, Rosanna went on to get her Masters in Counseling from New York University, and then her doctorate from Long Island University. In her spare time, she loves to travel and exercise, and also likes to read, try new restaurants, and relax with her husband and children.
Marita Malm Morgan, PhD, LPCA
Therapist, (919) 688-7101 ext 610
Marita moved to the US six years ago from Argentina where she completed her Psychology studies (MA degree) and practice psychotherapy for 10 years. In her practice there she worked in public hospitals helping mostly adults and seniors. Her training is in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in an Integrated Model of Psychotherapy and also in Neuropsychology. As soon as she moved to US, she worked with us as a volunteer for a year and then she continued helping off and on over the last several years volunteering to help with special cases. Additionally she finished her PhD in Psychology and became licensed in North Carolina! She loves working at El Futuro and helping the Spanish speaking population living here in North Carolina.
DWI Counselor, (919) 688-7101 ext 617
Kenia was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Puerto Rico after high school in order to attend the University of Puerto Rico. She graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice, minor in Forensic Psychology and associate degree in Education. She has over six years of experience as a substance abuse counselor. She also has served as a Hispanic community parent liaison in Wake County School System.
Alejandra Martinez-Lacabe, MSW, LCSW
Therapist, (919) 688-7101 ext 612
Alejandra (Ale) Martinez-Lacabe was born in Parana, Argentina and moved to the United States after high school. She has lived in Chicago and Iowa before moving to North Carolina. While living in Iowa Ale attended Iowa State University and received an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Social Work. Ale has over 10 years experience as a family therapist and has worked in a variety of community and school settings. She has enjoyed helping children and adults since an early age. On her free time Ale likes spending time outdoors, enjoying music and traveling.
Dave Mills, MDiv, MAcc, CPA
Finance Director, (919) 688-7101 ext 609
Dave is a North Carolina native who has lived in Durham since 1996. He received a Master’s of Divinity from Union Seminary and a Master’s of Accounting from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. He went back to school and became a CPA with the goal of managing the finances of a non-profit. Dave has a decade of work in the local non-profit community, including seven years as an Executive Director. He is an active volunteer in Durham and is currently the treasurer of three community organizations. When Dave isn’t crunching numbers he enjoys hiking with his wife and two daughters, reading, going to Durham Bulls games, and studying Spanish.
Courtney Pope, PLCSW
Therapist, (919) 688-7101 ext 623
When Courtney listens, you feel like you are the only one in the world. She sees each person we help as a special gift. Originally from California, Courtney began learning Spanish during her time pursuing her undergraduate degree at UCLA. Upon graduation, Courtney moved to Argentina, where she spent seven years working with university students and helping to develop projects to benefit rural Andean communities. During her time in Argentina, Courtney’s interest in mental health and social advocacy grew. Relocating from South America to the American South, Courtney obtained a Masters degree in Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill. Courtney’s favorite hobby is exploring, particularly when mountains are involved.
Sarelli Rossi, MHA
Associate Director, (919) 688-7101 ext 603
Graciela Aires Rust, MS, LPCA, CRC
Therapist, (919) 688-7101 ext 615
Graciela is an Argentinean born and after moving to the United States, she studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she obtained her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology in 2013. She graduated with a dual specialty, Psychiatric Disabilities and Developmental Disabilities. Graciela’s interests are working with women, adolescents and children with mood disorders and trauma, and currently she is pursuing the specialty in working with individuals with substance abuse disorders. Since moving to the United States she has participated in numerous organizations that serve the Latino community as a board member and volunteer. She enjoys working at El Futuro because of the care and quality of services provided and because of the wonderful staff. She contributes weekly to the newspaper La Noticia as a columnist on topics related to mental health. Graciela enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, learning about other cultures, meditating, and dancing.
Front Desk, (919) 688-7101 ext 600
Beatriz is from a large family with Mexican heritage – Guanajuato to be specific! As she was in high school, she frequently thought about how she could someday work to help others. Currently, Beatriz is studying at Alamance Community College to become a social worker. She loves working at El Futuro because even though she is still in school she can still work somewhere she can help people every day!
David Lucas “Luke” Smith, MD
Psychiatrist and Executive Director, (919) 688-7101 ext 604
Luke Smith was raised in Arkansas and moved to North Carolina for psychiatry residency training in child and adult psychiatry. After volunteering in the community and perceiving a great need for Spanish language services, Dr. Smith mobilized the community to create El Futuro. He is the Executive Director and Medical Director, and provides psychiatric care to both children and adults. He is double board certified in both adult psychiatry and in child and adolescent psychiatry. On the weekend you can find him hanging out with family and mountain biking.
Karla Siu, MSW, LCSW
Therapist and Clinical Director, (919) 688-7101 ext 601
Karla Siu grew up in Honduras, Tokyo and Virginia. She has worked in welfare reform, community mental health, research on biculturalism, and services to Latino domestic violence offenders. Karla has special expertise in serving families and children, conducting play therapy, and assisting in recovery from trauma. She co-authored a paper on cultural issues in treating Latino-Hispanic families with domestic violence issues, published in 2009.
Lynn Tovar, MEd, LPCA
Therapist, (919) 688-7101 ext 624
Lynn grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. She was a part of a large family growing up, and loved taking part in extended family gatherings. She went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her undergraduate degree, and then went on to get her Masters of Counseling and Career Development from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Before moving to North Carolina in 2007, Lynn lived in Mexico City for four years where she learned Spanish, taught in a counseling program, and volunteered with a non-profit organization focused on sustainable development in rural areas of Mexico. Lynn is currently working on her PhD in Counselor Education at North Carolina State University. Having completed a clinical practicum at El Futuro earlier in her doctoral studies, she feels fortunate to be part of the El Futuro staff serving the local Hispanic community. Lynn loves to camp, do yoga, and spend time with her husband and children.
Front Desk, (919) 688-7101 ext 600
Luis was born in Lima, Peru and came with his family to the US when he was 9. He graduated valedictorian from Southern Lee High School in Sanford and then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Psychology and two minors – one in Anthropology and the other in Spanish. He strongly identifies with El Futuro’s mission and is happy to facilitate the process of providing the Hispanic community with beneficial services that are otherwise not easily accessible to them. He believes that even though inequality seems like an inescapable feature of society, El Futuro strives to create equal opportunity for all individuals and is an example to be followed. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis, going to the gym, going on nature walks, and listening to music.