Dr. Liza Chowdhury

Project Director

Dr. Chowdhury is a scholar activist and yogi with several years of experience working in the field of community corrections and teaching in higher education.  During her career as a Probation Officer, her passion was working with justice involved youth and partnering with local schools to create positive outcomes for the young people she supervised.

After her departure from the New Jersey Judiciary, she continued her passion of working with youth into her career as a academic by continuing to advocate for innovative, evidence based, trauma informed community based solutions and safe spaces for youth. She also is a certified Yoga Instructor and utilizes wellness practices in her work with the community and her students. As an expert in this field, she regularly volunteers with youth focused community organizations, consults with organizations that work with families, advocates for social justice and partners with credible messengers to develop innovative interventions for youth that are justice involved. Her main goal in life is to continue utilizing community partnerships, academic research, activism, healing practices and education to fight against inequality and injustice.

Presently, she teaches at Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY) within the Social Science, Human Services and Criminal Justice Department. Prior to her current appointment, she taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Rutgers University. She has experience in teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses that include Research Methods, Corrections, Gender Crime and Justice, Gangs and Street Crimes, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Contemporary Issues, Community Resource Management, Advanced Corrections, Race and Crime and Juveniles and Violence. She loves her students and believes that their achievements are her greatest rewards in life. One of her most meaningful experiences in teaching has been teaching students for the NJ STEP program inside correctional facilities. Presently, she advocates for continued opportunities for students inside correctional facilities around the country.

Dr. Chowdhury’s research interests are intersectionality, juvenile justice, gender and crime, mass incarceration, restorative justice, collective efficacy, prison infractions and punishment, racial disparity and the criminal justice system, and trauma focused violence interventions. In 2017, she co-founded a nonprofit entitled Reimagining Justice. Her partners and her provide training, motivational speaking, transformative mentoring, narrative therapy, consultation, resilience circles and support for organizations and community members that are looking to develop innovative solutions for youth in schools and the community. Reimagining Justice has partnered with organizations in Belize, Illinois, Virginia, NJ and NY in the first year of its incorporation. The goal of this organization is to reimagine a justice system that provides love, empathy, equality and opportunities for our communitie
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I’m changing the things I cannot accept”
Angela Davis

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Teddie Martinez

Hospital based Violence Interventions Coordinator

Theodore Martinez, commonly known as Teddie is a campaigner against gun violence and advocate for returning citizens (ex-felons). Born and raised in the city of Paterson, Teddie has worked with communities across the city, state, and country, through organizations like Paterson’s Men Stand UP, Queens Life Camp Inc., Newark ‘s FP Youth OutCry Foundation and Reimagining Justice to eradicate violence.

Teddie works as the Hospital Violence Intervention (HVIP) Coordinator/Supervisor for Reimagining Justice HVIP program at Saint Joseph Hospital in Paterson, NJ.

In 1990, Teddie fell victim to a brutal gun assault where he was shot 11 times. It is that experience that motivates him to keep fighting to end the vicious cycle of violence that’s sweeping across America- not just in Paterson. To raise awareness of the ongoing violence in the city of Paterson, using Life Camps Inc theme ‘’BURY DA BEEF” Teddie collaborated with other community organization, City Officials, Pastors and Community members and organized a series of anti –violence rallies. In 2009, after witnessing a young man get murdered, Teddie co-created Project Change Anti- Violence Movement with Kenyatte Stewart a lawyer from Paterson NJ. Together they hosted anti- violence seminars and speaking engagements in the Paterson Public School system. In 2010, they organized a successful truce among local gang members in the city of Paterson that ended months of violence in the city. In 2012, Teddie Co-founded PROJECT RECONNECT a 501c3 nonprofit organization with his Barbara. In 2013, Teddie and Barbara created a documentary titled ‘’Death by Design” which addressed the cause, affect and cure to violence in the city of Paterson. Though his work with Project Reconnect, he was instrumental in organizing a truce in 2015 with city officials. Teddie also serves as mentor and life coach to men and woman of all ages.

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Casey Melvin

Field Operations Director

Casey C. Melvin is native to the Great City of Paterson where he has lived, worked and thrivedfor his entire life. He is a business owner, and a passionate advocate. He has beenself-employed for more than twenty-four years. After completing cosmetology training at Wilfred Academy in 1990, Melvin opened the door to his barber shop, Kutt Creators, in 1994. Thebarbershop changed names in 1998 to Simply the Best Barbershop and was at the samelocation for more than twenty-five years.

Melvin shares his barbering experiences by regularly teaching courses to inmates at the Passaic County Jail. Barbering has allowed him to serve asa listening and oftentimes helpful ear for his clientele and, consequently, the community at large. In addition to serving his faithful clients and teaching, Melvin also serves his community bycreating opportunities and experiences for all ages. Most notably is The Day of the Babieswhich can now boast twenty-five years of celebration and dedication to children. Melvin hasbeen an active member of the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. of Paterson since it was created in 2002.Hiscommunity activism is unceasing. He is wherever there is a need. In 2018, Melvin identified aneed in the Paterson City Council and sought election to the Council-at- Large seat.

He is active in community organizations including The Paterson Street Keepers which he co-founded in 2001, and The Men Stand Up Anti-violence Initiative where he served as manager.

Both organizations address violence, provide resources and aim to bring peace in the streets.Other organizations include Team Charity, and BAND Against Neighborhood Destruction. As aparent, he has served as president of the PTO and as president of the Paterson Public SchoolsParent Leadership Alliance. He brings to the Paterson Healing Collective the full benefits of all the positive relationships that he has built over the years with people no matter their job title, level of education, or station in life. A quote that he lives by comes from Marcus Garvey, “I trust that you will so live today as to realize that you are masters of your own destiny, masters of yourfate; if there is anything you want in this world, it is for you to strike out with confidence and faith in self and reach for it.”

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Adam Garrastegui, Esq.

HVIP Director

Adam Garrastegui, Esq. is a New Jersey attorney and graduate of Rutgers Law School and Rutgers Business School where he received his JDMBA and Certificate in Corporate and Business Law.  Post-graduation, he served a federal judicial clerkship with a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the District of New Jersey and later practiced as a Bankruptcy and Corporate Restructuring associate.

Realizing the growing need for positive community engagement, Adam decided to lend his skills to Paterson Healing Collective in hopes of changing the narrative surrounding inner-city youth in New Jersey.
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Samiyah Abdullah

Victim Support Specialist

Samiyah Abdullah is a Newark New Jersey native, educated in North Jersey school system. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Legal Studies. She has dedicated her career to being a public servant. She is a personal assistant for the author of Friend in Your Pocket Inc. Which is an inspirational/ motivational book for adults and children.

She managed the calendar, organized meetings, arranged networking events etc. She worked for Elmwood Park Police Department as a Telecommunications Operator. Dispatching 911 emergency calls for police, fire department and EMS along with a variety of other responsibilities. She worked for a non- for-profit agency called Transitional Professionals with Bergen County Jail. The mission of the agency was to provide support to those recently released from jail. Responsibilities included working in the inmate advocate office, the law library, instructing weekly programing for the Drug Rehabilitation Unit and facilitated an art therapy class with the females in the Immigration Unit. Serving justice involved individuals is her passion and she enjoys seeing our people flourish. She is a devout vegan in March of 2020 she launched her own business. “It’s a Way of Life” 100% Vegan Irish Sea Moss drinks and gels. She believes when you eat clean your mind opens making you more aware allowing individuals to grow and elevate themselves. Samiyah looks forward to helping the participants of Paterson Healing Collective thrive and be the best version of themselves. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius
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Barbara Martinez

Operations Director

Barbara has been a part of the anti-violence movement since 2001, and currently works with Reimagining Justice as Data/Grant manager for the Paterson, NJ Hospital Violence Intervention Program (HVIP).  As single mother, helping two sons grow into maturity and two daughters become women, Barbara witnessed the growing gang violence in the city of Paterson and was determined to make a difference, starting with her children.

As a result, Barbara started on a mission as community mom to embrace at risk youth with the hope of steering them down the right path. She also became an advocate after witnessing the brutal beating of her brother by the police.
Barbara has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice w/concentration in Law and is in pursuit of her law degree. For over 25 years, Barbara has worked in Corporate America as a Manager/Supervisor, Case Manager and Trainer. In 2012, she and husband Teddie created a 501c3 non-profit organization known as Project Reconnect CDC. In 2013, Barbara helped to create a documentary titled “Death by Design’’ addressing the cause, affect and cure to end violence in the city of Paterson. In 2015, working behind the scenes she worked collaboratively with other community organizations to successfully bring rival gang members together for a gang truce. Barbara also served as Case Manager for the Passaic County Re-Entry Program (P.R.E.P) at Passaic County Jail. Barbara formerly worked as a NJ Ombudsman Volunteer Advocate for the Elderly and as a Team Responder for the Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT).
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T. Rahshon.Dixon

Community safety planner/Interventionist

Rahshon Dixon currently serves as the Parks Department Supervisor for the Department of Public Works in the City of Paterson. A native of Paterson, New Jersey, Mr. Dixon is a concerned community member who has devoted his time to violence prevention and advocacy in the city. He is also a member of several grass roots organizations in the City of Paterson such as The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. of Paterson Inc., The POWER Coalition and The Village.

In addition to his commitment to the organizations, Mr. Dixon is also the founder of The Street Keepers, an organization focused on peaceful conflict resolution in the streets of Paterson to prevent gun violence. He is a graduate of Eastside High School and has since returned to his alma mater to speak to youth about the pitfalls of the streets, conflict resolution and decision making. Volunteer work has been Mr. Dixon’s passion for the last fifteen years. He has worked with the city’s most challenging youth as well as adults while trying to encourage “peace in the streets”. In summary, Rashon Dixon is a pillar of the Paterson Community. He has dedicated himself to be a resource to the community he serves. He has received multiple awards and has been recognized for his volunteer efforts by city leaders as well as the community at large. His commitment to them powerment of his community has been consistent and will continue to improve the landscape of his city.
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Quan Hargrove

Community safety planner/Interventionist

LaQuan Hargrove currently serves as the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) Coordinator & Case Expeditor for Passaic County’s Department of Human Services. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Mr. Hargrove is a concerned community member who has devoted his career to advocating for children and families who have come into contact with the Juvenile Justice System.

He is also a member of a number of grass roots organizations in the City of Paterson such as The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. of Paterson Inc., The Village as well as The Street Keepers. Hargrove is a graduate of East Orange High School and later the Pennsylvania State University. He has worked with the City’s most challenging youth in his current role as well as in previous positions at Great Falls Academy and the Paterson Youth Services Bureau. In short, Hargrove is dedicated to being a resource to the community he serves. His commitment to the empowerment of his community has been consistent and will continue to strengthen.
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Najee Seabrooks

High Risk Interventionist

Najee is a High-Risk Interventionist at PHC. He has experience as a survivor of violence himself and his goal in this position is to help restore the communities in Paterson, NJ, with guidance, mentoring, and more community outings. His skill set includes a very strong mindset who is always willing to learn and help others out.

Also, he majored in General Studies: Social and Behavioral Sciences because coming from an urban environment witnessing a lot of traumas. He enjoys being around his family and loved ones; plus, giving back and playing sports always helps clear his mind. One of his favorite quotes is “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power – Abraham Lincoln”.
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Isaiah Elam

High Risk Interventionist

Isaiah is a High-Risk Interventionist at PHC. He has experience as a survivor of violence and his goal in this position is to help individuals get their life together and to change the negative thinking of the community into positive and to also have others support and help others in the best way possible. His skill set includes reliability ,goal setting, team building, communication, and effective feedback.

He also enjoys helping others and providing for other people who are in need. “Sometimes the most powerful & meaningful thighs come from words that touch our heart and lead us forward to our potential”
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Jason Davis

Crisis Intervention Specialist

Born and raised in Harlem, Jason Davis is an African American Author, Poet, Inspirational Speaker, and Parent Consultant on youth self-inflicted injuries. Davis has cultivated a youth empowerment movement based on gang diversion and strengthening mental health in the Black community. As an adolescent, he found himself drawn to a life riddled with drugs and gang affiliation.

A long-term tumultuous relationship with his father became a catalyst for years of mental anguish, which manifested itself by way of multiple crimes and acts of violence. In 2005, Davis met Terrie Williams, a well-known public relations strategist, author, and mental health advocate. With her support, Davis was able to assess the course in which his life had taken and make the transition necessary to reconcile his past. He began to make amends for his past transgressions through youth advocacy endeavors. Davis made a name for himself as an inspirational speaker in multiple private and public institutions across the country. He has presented alongside the likes of the revered Reverend Alfonso Wyatt, former WNBA player Marion Jones, former Essence Magazine editor in chief Susan L. Taylor, former Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Author Terry McMillan, Actor John Amos, former Newark Mayor Corey Booker, Political Activist Fred Hammond Jr., and Malcolm Shabazz to name a few.
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Isenia Brown

Case Manager/Interventionist

I was born and raised in West New York N.J. Throughout my high school years, I was in a program called “Tomorrow’s Teachers” and it allowed me to work with children from the grades Kindergarten to High school. While being in this program I tutored throughout Hudson County. Also, while being in the program I received an award from the “Olivero’s Teaching family”.

After my High School years, I graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology from New Jersey City University. After graduating I began to work at “Great Oaks Legacy Downtown Elementary School”. I was able to help so many students at “Great Oaks Legacy Downtown Elementary School” and being able to make positive changes in their lives was my goal. In my leisure time, I usually volunteer at “Hudson View Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare”. While volunteering I am able to help the younger population and elderly in anything that they need. Now as a Case Manager/Interventionist at PHC I want to continue to do what I love which is to help others. I am looking forward to helping all my clients to reach/achieve all of their goals. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there” – Theodore Roosevelt
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Terrance Drakeford

Outreach Worker/Mentor

Terrence is a life long Paterson resident who now serves as an outreach worker and mentor for his community.  He is a recent survivor of gun violence and utilizes his experience and community ties to mediate conflict.  

He recently was awarded by the Mayor’s office for risking his life to save a family from a house fire.  Terrance is a dedicated father and community advocate that wants to see his city safer and thrive.”
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Javis Porter

Outreach Worker/Mentor

Javis is a life long Paterson resident who now serves as an outreach worker and mentor for his community.  He is a survivor of gun violence and utilizes his experience and community ties to mediate conflict.

He serves as a community mentor for young people in his neighborhood who are navigating the pressures of being exposed to violence and disengaged from school.  Javis wants to see a better outcome for his community and utilizes his reputation and community buy in to reduce violence and retaliation. 
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Kashif Eleby

Outreach Worker/Mentor

Kashi is a life long Paterson resident who now serves as an outreach worker and mentor for his community.  He is a recent survivor of gun violence and utilizes his experience and community ties to mediate conflict.  Kashif is a credible messenger who can explain the hardships youth face when they make a decision that can be life altering.

He currently mentors youth that are impacted by violence and is an advocate for his community.  His mission at PHC is to help reduce retaliation and create a safer Paterson for future generations.
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Megan Miller

Case Manager /Interventionist

Megan is a Licensed Social Worker in the State of New Jersey with experience counseling and providing case management services for justice-involved individuals. Her own encounters with the prison system as a visiting family member emphasized that violence manifests not only person to person but structurally, through our society and institutions. Working with others to reimagine these structures in more humanizing and restorative forms is a core passion that brought her to join the team at Paterson Healing Collective.

Megan practiced for many years as an architect before choosing to return to school for a Master of Social Work degree. Having previously focused on the ability of our environment to shape our psychological state, she is now working on the power of our internal state to influence our environment. As a Case Manager/Interventionist at PHC she works with participants on goal setting and attainment, with an emphasis on self-knowledge, interrelatedness, and compassion. She believes that interacting authentically with others is how we restore a deep understanding of ourselves. “I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also much more than that. So are we all.” -James Baldwin
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