This page is dedicated to highlighting our team and giving you a better sense of who we are. The information below will help you put faces to names and give a small snapshot of what each of us does at SCS. We look forward to working with you.
Vesna Hampel-Kozar, Ph.D., L.P.
Education: Ph.D. Counseling Psychology, Iowa State University.
About Me: I enjoy helping students grow and develop in ways that are consistent with and honor their values. Prior to joining the SCS staff at the University of Minnesota, I worked in a variety of higher education institutions; residential, non-residential, online, primarily adult-serving, in rural and urban settings. I’ve served as an academic advisor, career counselor, teaching faculty, and administrator in addition to providing direct counseling services. These roles have influenced me to take a holistic perspective on my work with students, including finding ways to make use of natural supports, strengths, and resources. I recognize the importance of the context and systems within which students’ lives are happening, both within the University and in communities outside of the institution. I continue to be impacted by my own past experiences as a first generation college student, from an immigrant family, and the experiences of students with whom I’ve worked. I am honored to accompany students on part of their journeys, and work to build a foundation of respect in the counseling relationship. In my spare time, I enjoy introvert things that ground me including: time with my partner, children, and dog; laughs with friends; cooking; books; music; and movies.
Professional Interests: My professional interests include relationships with self and others, navigating significant life change, graduate and professional school student issues, career development, managing stress and anxiety, self-compassion, self-care, and clinical supervision and training. I especially enjoy working with students who are the first in their families to navigate college, and students who began their academic journey elsewhere and are negotiating the transition to the University.
Leslie Bautista, Psy.D., L.P.
Staff Psychologist. Clinical Psychology, Wright State University School of Professional Psychology.
Interests: Interpersonal violence, trauma, gender issues, diversity and multicultural awareness, training and supervision of psychology trainees. Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. Member: MPA, AWP, NLPA.
Sarra Beckham-Chasnoff, Ph.D., L.P., L.M.F.T.
Interim Assistant Director; Senior Supervising Psychologist.
Education: Ph.D. Counseling Psychology, Indiana State University.
About Me: I’ve worked in college counseling for the largest part of my career because this is a time in a person’s life where they are open to understanding themselves as adults, often for the first time. I weave a developmental approach into my work with students as they learn more about who they are and how to navigate the relationships that are important to them. I focus on emotional understanding, believing that our culture often encourages us to negate important feelings we have, leaving us to navigate our lives without fully knowing ourselves. I also look at the world with a feminist lens, believing that the gender roles and other stereotypes we are taught when we are young, and are expected to follow into adulthood, can create barriers to leading a fulfilling life. Lastly, I recognize that the people I work with are students who may be struggling with academic challenges and expectations that complicate their lives.
When I’m not at work you can likely find me running by the river, reading a library book, or cheering on my favorite football team..
Professional Interests: Prior to working at Student Counseling Services, I worked in a LGBT+ Counseling Center and I continue to find fulfillment working with students from my queer community. I also have
been privileged to facilitate a grief group for students who have lost parents or siblings, and I work with grieving students individually as well.
Kifaya Bishop, M.S.
Education: M.S. College Counseling & Student Development, St. Cloud State University
About Me: As a first generation college student, many Student Affairs professionals have guided me and contributed to my undergraduate success. For this reason (and many more) I pursued a career in College Counseling and Student Development to continue to give back to college students in their academic and mental health journey. I’m committed to advocating, supporting, and empowering students as they navigate systemic oppression and institutional barriers. I hope to make mental health services accessible for everyone and destigmatize seeking services, especially those from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds. It's been an honor to continually serve students who identify in marginalized communities including but not limited to first generation immigrants, first generation college students, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, international, DACA, and various spiritual/religious identities.
When not at work, I enjoy and appreciate time with my family and friends. I also like exploring nature, new places, and new foods! When the opportunity arises, I love to travel domestically and internationally.
Professional interest: It’s important for me to build trust and rapport with my clients. I have a holistic counseling approach and use a social justice lens in my work. I have a strong interest in intersectional identity development. I also use an integrative approach of CBT, Person-Centered, systemic, and interpersonal processes in my work.
Alexa Fetzer, Ph.D., L.P.
Groups Coordinator, Staff Psychologist.
Education: Ph.D. Counseling Psychology, University at Albany, SUNY.
About Me: In my counseling work, I like to help students gain a better understanding of their current struggles, and help them identify new ways of being or relating to others that feel more genuine and meet their goals more effectively. I believe that in coming to know ourselves and forming relationships with others, we often rely on what we’ve learned from previous experiences, or what has seemed to work in the past. When we enter periods of transition that bring new roles, new relationships, and new experiences, our previous learned ways of being or forming relationships may not be as effective, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, or relationship and identity concerns. I enjoy working with students to gain insight into the possible “whys” of what isn’t working, and “hows” for moving forward in a way that is more genuine to who they are and to what their values and goals may be. This inherently includes a multicultural approach, as I believe we receive many messages and “shoulds” about how to be and how to form relationships from our diverse experiences—from our family systems, our cultural values and beliefs, and surrounding sociopolitical messages and experiences.
When I’m not at work, I like to nurture my northern MN roots by camping, canoeing, and working on my loon call in the wilderness. I also enjoy yoga, eating delicious food (emphasis on the eating—not so much on the cooking), and keeping up with an ever-growing Netflix queue
Professional Interests: My professional interests include clinical supervision and training, group counseling, diversity awareness and social justice issues, identity development, interpersonal relationship concerns, emotion regulation, mindfulness, anxiety, and depression.
Nina Hernandez Beithon, M.S.W., LICSW
Diversity Liaison Counselor.
Education: M.S.W. Social Work, University of Minnesota.
About Me: My work is deeply rooted in relationships, as I believe that healing happens in relationship with others and ourselves. I approach therapy with a social justice and anti-oppressive lens which includes a profound understanding of the systems at play that impact students from oppressed communities. My personal and professional work also includes macro-level work to change systems at a larger institutional level in addition to individual and group counseling. As a mixed (Mexican/White) person I am committed to serving students from a variety of backgrounds and enjoy co-creating and exploring together in therapy what healing looks like for you. I take a holistic approach to healing as I believe that our mental wellbeing is strongly connected and in balance with other life components including academics, spirituality, politics, relationships, finances and physical health. I provide therapy in English and Spanish. In my free time, I enjoy practicing and performing with our Indigenous Mexica Danza group, reading, and spending time in nature.
Professional Interests: My professional interests include: race-based traumatic stress, student activism, police violence, political-based oppression, Latinx populations and issues, oppression fatigue, indigenous and students of color populations and issues, traditional indigenous healing practices, interpersonal trauma, inter-generational and/or historical trauma, gender based violence (domestic and sexual violence), self-esteem, body positivity, identity exploration, LGBTQ populations and issues, harm reduction, and cultural adjustment for 1st generation college students.
Donna Kulakowski, Ph.D., L.P.
Staff Psychologist. Embedded counselor at Carlson School of Management.
Education: Ph.D. Counseling Psychology, University of Minnesota.
Professional Interests: Mindfulness, emotional wellness, managing anxiety and depression, 1st-gen students, LGBT concerns, identity and transitional issues, managing emotions.
Jodi Leirness, Psy.D., L.P.
Staff Psychologist, Coordinator for the University Response Team.
Education: Psy.D. Counseling Psychology, University of St. Thomas
About Me: I believe therapy is most effective when conducted in an open, safe, and nurturing environment with respect given to the strengths, wisdom, and humanity of each client. I work from an integrative and holistic perspective, meeting each client where they are, and working collaboratively with clients to reach their own personal goals. I truly love working with students and I feel honored to join alongside clients as they create lasting, meaningful change and healing in their lives. When I am not at work I enjoy baking homemade blueberry muffins, taking walks to the farmers market with my partner, dancing in the kitchen with our two young children, and playing games with our silly kitten.
Professional Interests: My professional interests include working with college students struggling with suicidality, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, identity and multicultural exploration, and existential issues, with a specific focus on well-being, balance, self-care, compassion, and self-acceptance.
Jake Loeffler, Psy.D
Outreach Coordinator, Staff Counselor.
Education: Psy.D. Clinical Psychology, Rosemead School of Psychology.
About Me: Sometimes life happens faster than we can adapt to it and often it can be helpful to have someone navigate life during these times. I view caring for one's’ mental health as an ongoing process which requires more work during difficult chapters in life. As a counselor, I help students build resiliency through supporting their strengths and equipping them with skills to make changes to their lives. Each of us are weathering a unique season in our lives and I aim to provide assistance for today’s battles as well as confidence in one’s abilities to effectively build a life for the future. Some of my own personal values include watching and playing sports. I am a MN sports fan. I enjoy woodworking and collaborating with different makers. I cherish sunny days on the lake paddle boarding and nights under the stars. I completed my graduate school at Rosemead School of Psychology in La Mirada, CA and moved back to Minneapolis for the friendly people, nature, and seasons. I am a foodie and enjoy frequenting the great eateries and gathering spaces around the Twin Cities. I value my faith and enjoy sharing life with other members of my faith community.
Professional Interests: Trained as a generalist, I work with a wide range of concerns including depression, anxiety/stress, mood disorders, trauma, academic skills development, grief, identity development, family and relationship issues, and spirituality. I work from an integrated holistic framework that incorporates person-centered, interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral and insight-oriented theories that values individual differences and diversity with the goal of identifying and developing personal strengths that will foster empowerment.
Meredith Martyr, Ph.D., L.P.
Staff Psychologist, Practicum Coordinator.
Education: Ph.D. Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology, University of Minnesota.
About Me: Welcome! My name is Meredith (she/her/hers.) I wholeheartedly believe therapy is a sacred space where meaningful change can happen. As a psychologist, it is important to pull back the curtains around mental health and empower clients to honor their internal and external experiences. I consistently lead with a systemic lens in order to acknowledge the systems of oppression that have directly led to a client's suffering. Through this acknowledgment and continual awareness, my sincere aim is to co-create a space that is collaborative, open, honest, and feels (safe)r. Additionally, I believe in the power of relational counseling, meaning I use the therapeutic relationship as an opportunity to explore relational patterns, attachment styles and wounds, and the various ways we interact with the world. Lastly, I am committed to anti-racism work and increasing my awareness of how I, directly and indirectly, contribute to white supremacy.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare" - Audre Lorde
Professional Interests: LGBTQIA+ concerns (specialization in Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming/Non-Binary identities), Transgender Health, Women's Health, Gender Roles & Societal Expectations, Romantic Relationships, Sexual Violence, Anxiety, and Adjustment Concerns.
Greg Sawyer, M.A.
Education: M.A. Marriage and Family Therapy, St. Mary's University.
About Me: I am an African American male, social justice advocate, educator, advisor, and counselor. I am committed to providing advocacy and support to our student population using a student-centered approach as my guidance modality. I am a graduate of the U of M and was born and raised in the Twin Cities. I’m also a father to 3 exceptional daughters.
Professional Interests: I am a strong believer in the systems approach to understanding and learning ways to best navigate our world. I am a proponent of well managed mental health and work to guide and support students in their journey.
Lauren Scholder, Psy.D., L.P.
Coordinator - St. Paul Office, Staff Psychologist.
Education: Psy.D. Clinical Psychology, Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
About Me: I strive to create genuine relationships with clients where they feel heard, understood and accepted. In therapy, we will work together to build insight, self-awareness, coping, problem-solving and promotion of overall well-being. I approach each therapeutic relationship with compassion, empathy, respect, and warmth. My objective is to create safety with clients so that they may be their authentic selves and work towards change.
I have had the privilege of working in four college counseling centers with both traditional and non-traditional college students. In my free time, I enjoy taking my dog Billmurray for walks, watching too much TV, and spending time with friends and family.
Professional Interests: My professional interests include identity development and exploration, relationships with self and others, navigating significant life change, working with historically marginalized individuals and communities, trauma, managing depression and anxiety, graduate and professional school student issues and clinical supervision and training.
I provide services on the St. Paul campus of the University, and have liaison relationships with faculty and staff who work with students whose majors are housed in St. Paul, or who live on or near the St. Paul campus.
Chia-Chen Tu, Ph.D., L.P.
Interim Training Director.
Education: Ph.D. Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology, University of Minnesota.
Languages Spoken: English, Mandarin Chinese.
About Me: I believe human beings have the potential to grow and my role is to enhance people’s awareness and foster change through human connections. I strive to work collaboratively with clients to create a trusting and respectful relationship in which they can gain perspectives or develop new skills and confidence to meet life's challenges. I have extensive experience doing psychotherapy at university counseling centers and providing supervision and training to psychology trainees. I have a special interest in understanding the complexities of human connections as well as exploring the personal and social factors that can lead to disconnection. I work closely with International Student and Scholar Services staff to support international students, and I also develop workshops to assist graduate and professional school students in coping with academic stress and enhancing professional skills. I am fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese and experienced in providing bi-lingual counseling and clinical supervision. When I am not working, I enjoy visiting local farmers markets or art fairs, attending performance art events or film festivals, and travel.
Professional Interests: Resilience to shame, relationship distress, anxiety, childhood trauma, cultural adjustment and identity development for international students, common concerns for first generation students or students of color, training and supervision of psychology trainees, mind-body integration.
Courtney Padjen, M.A.
Counselor. Clinical Psychology, Northcentral University.
Dany Piñon, M.A.
Counseling Psychology, University of St. Thomas
Tamesin Dyas, M.S.W., L.G.S.W.
Education: Master of Social Work (M.S.W.), University of Minnesota.
Education: Argosy University, M.A. Marriage and Family Therapy
Nikolai Guimaoutdinov, M.A.
Clinical Psychology, Pacific University-Oregon
Professional Interests: trauma, identity development, sexuality, sexual health, gender identity, racial/ethnic/cultural identity, eating issues/concerns, and personality disorders.
Chieh-Yu Liao, M.A.
Counseling Psychology, Cleveland State University
My approach to therapy is centered on establishing a therapeutic relationship with my clients in a safe and confidential environment that is conducive to the healing process. I collaborate with each client to discover their true self as well as their relationships with others and the world. I prompt my clients with questions to help them explore their intertwined thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that stand in their way to feeling satisfied and happy. I tailor my approach based on the unique needs and strengths of each client, with an emphasis on holistic care – i.e., I incorporate mindfulness, meditation, and self-care into our sessions as we make our way together on this journey toward achieving their goals.
My primary interests include cultivating self-compassion, self-acceptance, and mindfulness; managing stress and anxiety; overcoming issues with adjustment and change; developing better interpersonal and romantic relationships; identity exploration; emotion focused work; and suicidality. I am also interested in working with students from culturally diverse backgrounds, especially international students.
Rayna Narvaez, M.A.
Counseling Psychology, The University of Iowa
I believe we each have our own unique identities, experiences, and ways of interacting with and perceiving the world around us. As a therapist, I view it as my role to encourage deeper exploration, awareness, and curiosity for your experience, with a primary goal of increasing your own emotional awareness and range of responses to life’s circumstances. I believe you are the authority on your own life and the goal is to trust your lived experiences. I aim to be aware of the ways that my own upbringing and cultural context influence my worldview and seek to approach others with humility and non-judgment. I believe relationships hold an important influence in our development as unique individuals and value the exploration of current relationships, family dynamics, and the therapeutic relationship. When I am not at work, I enjoy cooking, finding new restaurants and coffeeshops, exercising, organizing, and trying my hand at a new sewing project.
Some of my counseling interests include adjustment concerns, relationship distress, Multiracial identity development, existential issues surrounding loss, loneliness, and search for meaning, religious and spiritual exploration, self-compassion, nutritional and holistic wellness, attachment theory, DBT.
Advanced Practicum Trainees
Information and Scheduling
Information and Scheduling
Outreach Graduate Assistant