Our Contributors

Who are forma’s contributors?

forma’s professional staff and Advisory Board consists of cross-disciplinary professionals who have field and content expertise in serving diverse populations who have experienced trauma. The diverse and highly skilled backgrounds of all our contributors allow forma to provide innovative and effective services that support healing within FGC-affected populations.

Executive Director

Joanna Vergoth, LCSW, NCPsyA, is the Founder and Executive Director of forma, with 20 years of experience as a business executive followed by 17 years of experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Psychoanalyst. As a mental health professional she has dedicated herself to the healing of trauma, including the treatment of firefighters and Cantor Fitzgerald employees impacted by 9-11, for which she received commendations from the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York State. She also developed and implemented “Care for the Caregivers,” a psychotherapeutic program for counselors and case managers suffering from secondary traumatic stress (STS). In addition to her public service, private practice, clinic and advocacy work, Ms. Vergoth has also studied and volunteered with organizations in London, Cairo, New York and Chicago which provide services to refugees, children of divorce, recovering prostitutes, and immigrant African women and girls. Over the past decade she has become a committed activist in the cause of FGC, first as Coordinator of the Midwest Network on Female Genital Cutting, and most recently with the creation of forma, which is dedicated to providing comprehensive, culturally-sensitive clinical services to women and families affected by FGC in the Chicago area, and serving as an information hub for FGC service providers nationwide via the forma website.

Pregnancy Support Professionals

Stephanie Tillman, CNM, MSN practices full-scope midwifery in Chicago, IL, serving women from all walks of life and all paths forward. She organizes and facilitates the pregnancy support group for forma, connecting clients with referral services and assisting the transition into the American healthcare system. Stephanie completed her Nurse-Midwife training at Yale University, during which time she volunteered in Haiti after the earthquake and in The Gambia in a busy maternity ward. She has a background in Global Health and Medical Anthropology from the University of Michigan, and previously worked in research to develop a woman-centered HIV prevention method. With a foundation in public health advocacy and clinical practice internationally, she has worked with women whose lives have been touched by FGC and is honored to continue that work through forma. 

Medical Professionals

Dr. Karlene Goodman, M.D. provides psychiatric services to forma clients. She comes to forma with over 20 years of experience working with new immigrant groups who have experienced severe trauma. Dr. Goodman is a graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School and also holds degrees in English and Law. She is a leading expert in refugee mental health and providing culturally-sensitive psychiatric services to victims of trauma and torture.

Clinical Staff

Nana Ahmed is an instrumental member of the forma team. She serves not only as a valuable interpreter, but she is an integral cultural broker who connects members of the community with the healing counseling resources available at forma. Ms. Ahmed is from Somalia, brought up in Yemen, and has lived in the United States for the last 4 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Thamar University in Yemen and has served various roles to support refugees over the past 13 years including serving as a refugee coordinator, organizing Arab-women groups and serving as a high school instructor in Yemen. Fluent in both Arabic and Somali, Ms. Ahmed now supports refugees in Chicago. Currently, she is an interpreter and job counselor at the Pan-African Association in addition to working at forma. Ms. Ahmed works with our licensed therapists to provide individual and group counseling at forma, and supports advocacy and FGC-awareness campaigns in the community.

Samantha Allweiss, MA is a graduate of University of Chicago Social Service Administration program. Ms. Allweiss provides individual therapy to newly arrived refugees in the RefugeeOne Wellness program, a mental health program providing clinical services to refugee clients from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and East and Central Africa. She also has a background in Gender and Women's Studies with prior experiences working with survivors of trauma in hospitals and domestic violence shelters. Her skills and experience serve FGC-affected women well as she provides individual and group counseling to forma clients.

Amanda Blowers, MSW, is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work program. Ms. Blowers has extensive experience with refugee and immigrant populations who have experienced trauma, providing both individual and group therapy to these groups. Additionally, she has worked with survivors of assault, abuse and victims of trafficking. At forma, Ms. Blowers supports the clinical services offered to FGC-affected women and families.

Sidd Mukerji is a second-year clinical social work intern completing an MA degree from the University of Chicago Social Service Administration program. Mr. Mukerji has experience working with diverse populations, including refugees, survivors of sexual exploitation, and neglected and orphaned youth. His practice and research interests focus on cross-cultural mental health. At forma, Mr. Mukerji provides individual and group services to men who have spouses and relatives affected by female genital cutting.

Advisory Board

Claude Barbre, M.S., M.Div., Ph.D., L.P., is Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Department, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Barbre is Course Stream Coordinator of the Psychodynamics Concentration at The Chicago School, a faculty member of the Child and Adolescent Track, and lead faculty in the Psychology and Spirituality Concentration. He has counseled children and families for over 25 years, and served for 12 years as Executive Director of The Harlem Family Institute, a New York City school-based, psychoanalytic training program, working with children and families in low-income, high-needs neighborhoods. Dr. Barbre is a past faculty member, training supervisor, and analyst at Westchester Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis (Bedford-Hills, N.Y.), and The Harlem Family Institute (New York City).

Dr. Carl Boyer, MD, practiced primary-care medicine for 20 years, including several extended clinic stints in rural South India, before completing a Master's degree in psychology and training as a Jungian psychoanalyst. He currently serves on the faculty of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and the C. G. Jung Institute of New York, both in Manhattan, as well as the Board of Directors of the Trauma Study Program at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. He has a private practice in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychopharmacology in Manhattan.

Dr. Memoona Hasnain, MD, MHPE, PhD is a the Director of Research in the Department of Family Medicine in the College of Medicine and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. She is also the Director of the Patient-center Medicine Scholars Program at the same institution and serves on forma’s Advisory Board. Dr. Hasnain received her medical degree from Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan and Masters in Health Professions Education and Doctorate in Public Health Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has a special interest in social justice and health as a human right. Dr. Hasnain is also interested in the social determinants of health, with a special interest in women’s health, HIV/AIDS, and quality care issues for understudied and at-risk minorities including FGC-affected groups. Additionally, Dr. Hasnain studies the patient, provider and system level barriers to the provision of quality patient-centered preventive and therapeutic services for minority women - especially immigrant women from South Asia & Middle East.

Wendy Neville Jones is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Psychoanalyst based in New York City and Tarrytown, NY.  She has been in practice since 1989, with specialties in Jungian Analysis, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociative Disorders and EMDR. She is on the faculty of the C.G. Jung Institute of New York.

Dr. Lih-Mei Liao qualified as a clinical psychologist and a health psychologist in the UK. She is a fellow of the British Psychological Society. She works part-time as the lead psychologist for women’s health at University College London Hospitals in the UK and is an honorary reader at University College London. Her research in the psychosocial aspects of congenital pelvic anomalies and their management has led to a broader interest in the psychology of elective surgery. She has co-/authored close to a hundred publications on topics relating to women’s reproductive, sexual and metabolic health. A committed and enthusiastic educator, she regularly carries out teaching, training and consultancy to health professionals and user groups in the UK and abroad.

Dr. Aimee Hilado Villalpando, PhD, LCSW is the Manager of the RefugeeOne Wellness Program and serves on forma’s Advisory Board. In her role, she supports forma in the development of its strategic plan and clinical services. Dr. Hilado has a Ph.D. in Social Work with Distinction and a Master of Science in Applied Child Development with seven years of clinical experience working with trauma-exposed children and adults. Her research and practice efforts focus on the importance of social support, mental health, women’s health and culturally-sensitive practice with trauma-exposed immigrants and refugees.