Meet our Team

We are a diverse team of dedicated professionals with a wide range of skills and experience. We love what we do, and we do it with passion. We look forward to working with you!

Karen McDowell, Ph.D.

Founder and Creative Director

Dr. McDowell (she/her) is a licensed clinical psychologist, educator, speaker, and writer. She has extensive experience providing culturally competent, identity-affirming, and justice-oriented psychological services.  Dr. McDowell has worked in a variety of settings, including collegiate, forensic, and psychiatric settings, and has received specialized training in the assessment and treatment of psychological issues for the Deaf, including academic and cognitive assessment, capacity evaluations, medical consultation, and therapy in ASL. Karen also oversees TGM Press, where she coordinates publishing, merchandise design and course development.

Dr. McDowell also has extensive experience working with Queer and Transgender communities, and can provide support and guidance for individuals and families who are exploring gender identity and sexual orientation. She works closely with medical systems and other service providers to help reduce and remove barriers to healthcare for gender non-conforming individuals, and is available to consult with schools, businesses, and other organizations hoping to improve access to services for the LGBTQ+ community.

Monique Champagne, M.A., LPC, BEI-IV, NIC-Master

Director of Clinical Services

Monique (she/her) has been working in the Deaf community since 2002. She has earned her M.A. in Counseling Psychology and holds counseling licensure (LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor) as well as state and national interpreting certifications (BEI-IV, NIC-Master). Monique has served her community in various roles (sign language interpreter, teacher, mentor, researcher, and mental health provider). Her article on Job Satisfaction for sign language interpreters can be found here. Monique has received training in EMDR techniques to address experiences of trauma in her clinical work. At The Gracious Mind, Monique manages outreach and training coordination and serves as Clinical Director.

Monique was born into the Deaf community by two Deaf parents and identifies with DeafHeart. She provides counseling services in both spoken English and American Sign Language (ASL).

Aiden Hirshfield, Ph.D.

Director of Media Operations

Dr. Aiden Hirshfield (he/they) is a consultant, researcher, mentor and educator who has been involved with The Gracious Mind since 2015. Aiden holds a a PhD in Media Psychology and has more than a decade of professional experience in media research, production, and consulting with much of his work focused on gaming, user experience (UX), gender + sexuality, and immersive technology. As a TGNC and Queer-identified professional, Aiden is committed to promoting equity, inclusion, and better representation of marginalized communities in media and tech. After going through the rigorous and disheartening process of earning a PhD, Aiden is committed to academic institutional reform and has worked closely with students and educators to reduce barriers that many marginalized students face. At TGM, Aiden oversees strategic planning, organizational development, media, research, grants, and mentorship opportunities. If you’d like to learn more about Aiden’s work, publications, and portfolio, visit

Lindsey Warwick, M.S., LPC Associate, LMFT-Associate

Therapist and Educator

Lindsey Warwick (she/her) holds a Master of Science in Counseling and has been in clinical practice for four years, and is currently completing a Ph.D. in Counseling Education and Supervision. She holds both LPC Associate and LMFT Associate licenses, under the supervision of Don Zablosky, LPC-S, LMFT-S. Lindsey is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, a trauma-processing intervention, and works from a gestalt-existential lens. Her work focuses on the present moment and helping clients explore their own meaning-making.

Lindsey identifies with the ethics of a trauma-informed and culturally humble clinician. She enjoys working with adults in individual therapy, as well as with group and relationship counseling, and has a passion for working with LGBTQIA+, polyam, and folks in alternative relationships structures and communities. Her clinical expertise is trauma/PTSD, grief, anxiety/depression, relationship/communication difficulties, somatic processing, mindfulness, and spirituality – including spiritually transformative experiences and spiritual emergencies. Her goal is to help clients feel more fulfilled, present, aware, and attuned to their own needs so that they can follow through with meeting those needs in the best possible ways.  

Braden Weinmann, M.S., LPC Associate


Braden Weinmann (They/He) is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate practicing under the supervision of David Huffman, Ph.D., LPC S. Braden completed their Master of Science in Counseling at the University of North Texas, and served as a staff member at UNT Counseling and Testing Services, where they provided direct mental health counseling to UNT students. They also enjoyed opportunities to provide outreach and education to the UNT community on the topic of gender affirmation. 

Braden’s primary passion in counseling is holding space for clients to be deeply curious about their identity, particularly regarding sexuality, gender identity, and gender expression. They enjoy providing counseling with an emphasis on relational dynamics, emotional expression, honesty, and authenticity. 

They truly believe that feeling connected to others is fundamental to the human experience, and that all individuals deserve to have relationships, friendships, and connections that are secure and mutual (including your relationship with self!).   When they’re not working, they love reading the latest graphic novels and comics, learning to paint, bullet journaling, playing with their cats, watching anime, and playing video games.

Leslie Allen, LPC Associate, BEI-II

Therapist and Educator

Leslie (she/her) has worked in the education field for the past 22 years helping support Deaf and Hard of Hearing youth to overcome the trauma of language deprivation while providing mental health education. She is currently working as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate practicing under the supervision of Mark Hundley, LPC-S. Leslie completed her Masters of Education in Mental Health Counseling at Lamar University and Masters of Science in Deaf Education from Texas Woman’s University. Her goal is to provide a trauma sensitive and culturally informed space for clients to feel empowered. 

Zandra Ellis, M.A., LCDC

Consultant and Social Justice Facilitator

Zandra Ellis (she/they) is a Masters-Level Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and founder of Rise Above Counseling Services, a private practice and peer support group founded on the principle that sobriety is not boring. Zandra is also the lead substance abuse counselor and one of the co-founders of Foundation 45 in world-renowned Deep Ellum, a get-yo-life-coach, social activist and commentator, rabble-rouser, professional loud mouth, sex rights and sexual health advocate, and is dedicated to the idea of dismantling negative social systems.

Their credentials include:
-University of North Texas B.A. History- African-American History and Judaic Studies- 2005
-University of North Texas B.S. Rehabilitation Studies with a specialization in Addiction Studies- 2011
-Antioch University Los Angeles M.A. Psychology of Addiction, specialization in Trauma and First Responder Care, LGBTQ+ care- 2013
-Columbia University of New York M.A. Social Work (clinical track) specialization in Social Justice and Social Policy Reform (current student)

Vy Cao-Nguyen, M.A.

Advanced Intern and Consultant

 Vy Cao-Nguyen (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman’s University. Vy has specialized training in multicultural issues, social justice advocacy, and diversity and equity. In her work as a therapist, assessor, and consultant, she strives to provide compassionate, trauma-informed services from a sex-positive and feminist framework. Vy has worked with young adults and adults at a variety of settings such as shelters, hospice, and a university counseling center. Vy believes that healing begins by fostering clarity and connection in relationships, and uses an emotion-focused and strengths-based approach to empower clients to grow. Never one to underestimate the power of art and nature, Vy enjoys incorporating creative elements into clients’ growth journeys. When she is not doing therapy, Vy may be found in the garden with her dogs or camping at the local craft store.

Kitzia Moreno, M.A.

Advanced Intern

Kitzia Moreno (she/her) is a Doctoral therapist in training, earning her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman’s University. As a relational, person-centered therapist, she believes it is an honor to hear clients’ personal stories and walk with them on their healing journey. She believes healing happens through relationships and works to create a safe atmosphere of open communication where clients can feel seen, heard, and valued. Kitzia has training in trauma-informed practices and multicultural counseling; however, she believes that the client is the expert in their own life. Her greatest hope is to develop an authentic connection with clients that meets their needs and celebrates their unique identities. Kitzia has considerable experience working with survivors of trauma and LGBTQ+ identity development. Outside of her role as a therapist, Kitzia engages in self-care by tending to her many plants and spending time with her Great Dane named Groot.

Kitzia es bilingüe. Entiende las diferencias culturales y las barreras que existen para encontrar servicios en español. Su enfoque multicultural le brinda la oportunidad de conectar más profundamente con sus clientes.

Marijo Villano, M.A.

Advanced Intern

Marijo Villano (she/her) is an advanced doctoral trainee earning a degree in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman’s University. She works to create a safe, trauma-informed space to help clients freely and creatively explore themselves and their world. Marijo believes that experiencing safety in relationships, including with the self, can be the key to living an authentic and healing life. Marijo also believes in the strengths and resilience that people hold that not only help them survive, but thrive. She has experience working with trauma ranging from racial, sexual, complex, and familial. She also has experience in working with AAPI issues, relationship issues, and work/career related issues. When Marijo isn’t in session with clients, you can find her hiking, watching anime, exploring different food scenes, or changing the layout of her island in Animal Crossing!

Chrissy Meek, M.A.

Advanced Intern

Chrissy Meek (she/her) is a passionate counseling professional who completed her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology at TWU in 2019 and is pursuing her PhD. She is currently focused on her clinical work at TGM and completing her dissertation focused on Highly Sensitive People. Chrissy has served as a counselor and assessor with a diverse community of mental health clients since 2015. She strives to create a safe, affirming, and healing therapeutic relationship where clients can feel free to be authentic, vulnerable, expressive, and feel seen, heard, and valued. Chrissy approaches her work from a relational-cultural, interpersonal, sex positive, LGBTQ+ affirming, and trauma sensitive perspective. She incorporates connectedness, collaboration, feminism, individual context, vocation, culture, identity, values, and coping skills into the counseling process. She believes that mental health is often centered around our relationships with ourselves, the systems we live in, and those around us, and that exploring these can often be the catalyst for change and growth!  

In her free time, Chrissy appreciates moving artwork, 80s & Lo-Fi music, cooking, gardening, playing Stardew Valley, bullet journaling, and exercising. She is also a colossal Star Trek fan and will not hesitate to quote Captain Jean Luc Picard at any available moment.

Marcus Moreland

Practicum Intern

Marcus (he/him) is a master’s student from Texas Woman’s University studying counseling psychology. He loves spending time loving his dogs, playing video games, working out, and cooking! Marcus thinks that at its core, mental health is about empowering our authentic selves and finding new, adaptive ways to handle life’s innate suffering. This means we explore, challenge, and strengthen our truths, both in relationships and our in lives. Marcus believes that therapists serve many roles for their clients, all reliant upon a mutually authentic relationship.

Jourdan Bartels

Practicum Intern

Jourdan (she/her) is a Master’s student at Texas Woman’s University, studying Counseling Psychology. She strives to connect authentically with her clients and provide a healing, corrective experience. Jourdan believes healing happens in relationships with others, and when we grow our compassion for ourselves. She works from a trauma-informed, relational, and feminist-multicultural perspective, honoring all parts of each client, and she is passionate about making identity-affirming therapy more accessible. Outside of therapy, Jourdan loves to listen to podcasts, engage in joyful movement, and take care of her plants. She hopes to walk alongside clients as they work to honor their experiences, needs, and emotions just as they are.

Jacqueline Trinh

Practicum Intern

Jacqueline (she/her/they/them) is an advanced doctoral trainee earning their Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman’s University. Jacqueline dedicates their time to watching anime, playing Pokemon, and spoiling their dogs. Jacqueline has a passion for working with people who experience grief and loss in their lives, as these experiences highlight the value of connection with others and within one’s self. Jacqueline believes authentic, healing connections with one’s self and with others is the key to growth and change. They hope to journey with each client to help find connection, empowerment, and authenticity in their lives. 

Katy Vah

Clinic Operations Manager

Katy (she/her) is a mental health advocate, passionate organizer, and dedicated mother to her saucy and sweet 6-year-old daughter. Katy is committed to bringing kindness and compassion to her work with clients, and works hard to help them feel cared for every step of the way. She believes that every person deserves to have an advocate, and strives to make the administrative process comfortable and easy for all our clients.

Anjelica Thompson

Executive Operations Manager

Anjelica (she/her) has been working as an ASL interpreter since 2011. She holds her National Interpreter Certification and loves working with the Deaf community. She is an avid list maker who is passionate about organization, communication, and inclusion. She loves animals, arts and crafts, rainy days, and bullet journaling. Driving around with the windows down listening to her favorite music is one of her favorite ways to destress. When she isn’t interpreting or organizing, you can find her snuggled up with her two cats Josie and Lani watching her favorite movies. 

Lauren Ly

Office Administrator

Kayla Laird

Media Operations Manager

Kayla (she/her) is an aspiring ASL interpreter raised by Deaf parents in North Texas. She received a degree in journalism at The University of North Texas and works in communications. Combining her passion for accessibility, deaf-advocacy, and marketing, Kayla manages The Gracious Mind’s social media accounts. Kayla hopes to spread joy, camaraderie, and awareness to our followers.

P.S. She wanted us to tell you to be sure and follow The Gracious Mind on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


TGM Press Operations Manager

Tiffany Lloyd, BEI Advanced

TGM Education Coordinator and Interpreter Mentor

Tiffany Lloyd (she/her) is a graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language and Theatre. She later attended and graduated from Tyler Junior College with a degree in Sign Language Interpreting and an ASL skills certificate. She currently lives and works in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has an Advanced Certification from the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters. Tiffany is passionate about education, intersectionality, inclusion, equality, justice, and how it all relates to mental health. She strives to find ways to uplift and invest in the interpreting community and beyond.

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