Counseling and Student Development Center
“Supporting a Healthy Learning Environment”
Building 39, Suite 120
Dr. Sislena Ledbetter - Director
Columbia providing overall direction for client services and University support activities. Dr. Ledbetter is a distinguished psychologist, lecturer and counselor and has over 25 years of research experience in the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Her past work included advertising and branding, product development (ideation and evaluation) customer satisfaction/user experience, and strategic planning. She has applied her skills across a wide variety of sectors including engineering education, non-profit diversity, consumer marketing, primary education, healthcare, aging and non-profit advertising. She also has experience establishing research functions within companies.
Dr. Ledbetter completed her Bachelor's of Arts degree in Psychology from North Carolina Central University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Dr. Ledbetter completed her Master's and Doctoral degrees in Social Psychology from Howard University. The focus of her academic studies was exploring life satisfaction for mid-life African American and White women. During her studies at Howard, Dr. Ledbetter was recognized for excellence in public service and received the Patricia Roberts Harris Fellowship in Public Affairs during which she traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to work with the Program to Combat Racism, and served as a White House intern in the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton Administration. Dr. Ledbetter's post-doctoral training includes the Leadership Training Program at Georgetown University and life coach training with the Newfield Network.
Dr. Ledbetter has lectured and presented at many organizations and institutions including: Howard University, Xerox University, Trinity University, Virginia Commonwealth University and a number of conferences and symposia.
Dr. Ledbetter previously worked for the American Psychological Association, where she served as a liaison between the association and undergraduate psychology students. She also served on several committees including a committee developed to increase minority student recruitment and retention in the field of psychology. At the National Educational Association's Membership Corporation, Dr. Ledbetter revolutionized communication and feedback between NEA members and the Member Benefits Corporation by creating the NEA Member Advisory Panel. As a Sr. Research Advisor at AARP Dr. Ledbetter has received the Sustained Excellence Award, a New Ventures in Leadership fellowship, and is the co-founder of the Jerry Florence Memorial Mentoring Program. Dr. Ledbetter is a life coach and the founder of LedBetter Coaching, a company that provides personal and business coaching and counseling services.
Dr. Deborah Curry - Counselor
Dr. Curry enjoys working with university students. She serves as the Center's training director, overseeing the multidisciplinary therapy training program which includes psychology doctoral students and psychiatry residents. Dr. Curry's past experience includes clinical work with clients of all ages in the GW Center Clinic, with high school students in the District of Columbia and with university students at both George Mason University's Counseling Center and James Madison University's Counseling Center.
Dr. Curry is licensed as a psychologist in the District of Columbia and Maryland, a member of the American Psychological Association and the Maryland Psychological Association and is credentialed by the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. She earned her Doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D.) from George Washington University. Dr. Curry trained locally in assessments at the Hyperactivity, Attention and Learning Problems Clinic of Children's National Medical, completed one-year fellowships at both the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis and the Baltimore-Washington Institute for Psychoanalysis as well as one year of advanced training at the Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy Program of the Washington School for Psychiatry. As a warmly interactive therapist, her treatment approach is to foster insight, provide support and offer useful feedback to help students resolve current problems as well as to shift long-standing patterns that contribute to unhappiness. With sensitivity and compassion, Dr. Curry works with students to find solutions to a wide range of life challenges and psychological issues with the ultimate goal of supporting students' academic progress and achievement of life goals.
Dr. Serena Butler-Johnson- Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Butler-Johnson is a Licensed Psychologist who provides psychotherapy services to students and runs the Starting Early, Starting Smart women's retention initiative. Dr. Butler-Johnson has also served as the Project Director of the Mental Health Pilot Project grant award from the Morehouse School of Medicine, the coordinator of the Concerned Student Leaders Experience, and an Instructor for the Freshman Orientation Course. Prior to joining the Counseling & Student Development Center at UDC in 2006, Dr. Butler-Johnson provided psychotherapy and psychological assessment at a variety of facilities, including the Westborough State Hospital, the American University Counseling Center, the Washington Middle School for Girls, and the GW Center Clinic.
Dr. Butler-Johnson received her Doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D.) from The George Washington University and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Butler's clinical interests include individual psychotherapy, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and body image, self-esteem, women's issues, and multicultural issues.
In her clinical approach, Dr. Butler-Johnson believes that clients empower themselves by using therapy to develop insight, better understand and modify dysfunctional patterns, and to ultimately discover more rewarding ways of living and relating to others. Dr. Butler-Johnson emphasizes the importance of the therapeutic relationship in promoting growth, change, and healing.
Dr. Makon Fardis - TEAM 100 Coordinator & Counselor
Dr. Fardis was born in a bi-cultural, bilingual family in Iran and experienced first hand the social upheaval and political turmoil of the last 3 decades of the country. He completed his medical training in Mashad University of Medical Sciences and practiced medicine in ethnically diverse areas of the country. As a physician, he noted that a great number of patients in general practice benefit from counseling and therapy and decided to pursue a career in psychology. He came to the United States and earned his PhD in clinical psychology from The University of Montana. He then completed his clinical training in the New York metro area emphasizing on systems issues and service delivery to underprivileged populations.
In therapy, he draws primarily upon psychodynamic, family systems, and cognitive behavioral orientations. Dr. Fardis is a firm believer that humans have a natural drive for self betterment and therefore, one of the main goals in therapy is to identify and address the obstacles that people face on their path to excellence. A majority of these obstacles have a relational nature and could stem from early environments, nuclear and extended family relationships (current and historical), and underlying sociopolitical trends.
Clinically, Dr. Fardis is interested in multicultural issues in therapy, relationships, family dynamics, and cross-cultural communication. He believes that contextual factors play as crucial a role as individual and intrapsychic ones and hence, makes all effort to tackle both. He is also a strong advocate of public discourse and education, and dissemination of knowledge. To this end, he has presented talks and workshops in a variety of settings on the issues pertinent to social and individual psychology. He has had had various academic positions such as associate professor in Mashad University of Medical Sciences and psychology instructor at The University of Montana.In addition to clinical work, Dr. Fardis is the coordinator for TEAM 100 at the University of the District of Columbia, a retention program intending to prevent premature withdrawal from college by providing a network of academic and social support to 100 of the incoming freshman every academic year.
Ms. Shawnda Sanford - Administrative Assistant
Ms. Sanford is the Staff Assistant of the Counseling and Career Development Center. She has worked with TRIO and College Preparatory Programs for the past ten years here at UDC. Ms. Sanford is working on her Bachelor's degree at the University. "I am excited about working in the Counseling and Career Development