About Us

The Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) is a multi-disciplinary team excited to assist you and your organization! Let us know how we can help!

BH WELL is grateful to be funded in part by the Kentucky Department for Public Health Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program. We also have work that is supported, in part, by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Medicaid Services under Agreement titled "Assessing the Impact of Long-Acting Injectable (LAIs) on Psychiatric Treatment Outcomes Among Medicaid Beneficiaries.” This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Medicaid Services.


Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli

Chizimuzo T.C. Okoli, Ph.D., MPH, MSN, PMHNP-BC, APRN, NCTTP, FAAN, is a Professor in the UK College of Nursing. He also directs both the Tobacco Treatment and the Research & Evidence-Based Practices services at Eastern State Hospital, a state psychiatric facility in Lexington, KY. His primary research focuses on enhancing substance use treatment (particularly tobacco use) among people living with mental and behavioral health challenges. He is internationally recognized for developing and integrating tobacco treatment approaches within mental and behavioral health systems as well as training tobacco treatment providers. He served as principle and co-investigator on several grants from the Canadian Institute of Health Research, National Institute of Health, Kentucky Department of Public Health, and Kentucky State Department of Medicaid.

Dianna Inman

Dianna Inman DNP, RN, APRN, CPNP, PMHS, PMHNP. Dr. Inman is an Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of South Carolina and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Kentucky. She is certified as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Mental Health Specialist, and a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She has received funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to train nurses in helping patients with alcohol use.

Lovoria Williams

Lovoria Williams Ph.D., FNP-BC, FAANP, is an Associate Professor in the UK College of Nursing. She conducts research that focuses on delivering interventions to reduce health disparities among minority and medically underserved populations. She utilizes community-based participatory research methods to deliver behavioral interventions aimed to increase tobacco cessation and cancer screening behaviors and to reduce obesity and diabetes. She is nationally recognized for developing culturally-adapted interventions for implementation by community health workers.

Lee Anne Walmsley

Lee Anne Walmsley, Ph.D., EdS, MSN, RN, is an Assistant Professor in the UK College of Nursing and is the Chair of the Work-Life and Student Wellness Council.  She is trained in Counseling Psychology and utilizes her expertise in bringing wellness and self-care programs to faculty, staff and students at the College of Nursing.  She is trained in Mindful Meditation and teaches Koru classes for the University.  Her research interest is in psychological well-being and improving mental health outcomes for interprofessional health care students. 

Amanda Lykins

Amanda Lykins, DNP, RN-BC, currently serves as the Staff Development Specialist (SDS) for Behavioral Health at UK HealthCare with responsibilities at UK Chandler Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and Eastern State Hospital. As an SDS, her focus is on nursing professional development and improving outcomes in patient care. She is an expert in clinical practice, education, research and consultation and uses these skills to influence the three spheres of practice: Patient Care, Nursing, and Systems. Dr. Lykins is ANCC board certified in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing. Her research interests include improving self-care of mental health patients and self-care of nurses with an emphasis on suicide prevention.

Stephanie Kehler

Stephanie Kehler, Ph.D., RN, CHSE is a Lecturer and Simulation Specialist in the UK College of Nursing. As an educator, she uses her simulation expertise in undergraduate education as well as a focus of research in educating nursing staff. She has earned multiple degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Doctor of Philosophy in nursing. She is certified by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare as a Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and a Jonas Scholar. Read this Q&A with Dr. Kehler.

Andrew Makowski

Andrew Makowski, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing, where he teaches in the DNP program and is the psychiatric mental nurse practitioner track coordinator. Dr. Makowski received both his BSN and MSN from Eastern Kentucky University and his Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Kentucky. He is certified as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse practitioner and practices in an integrated care setting. He has a clinical interest in mood disorders, anxiety, and severe mental illness. Dr. Makowski is a member of the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA), the Kentucky Association of Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Midwives (KANPNM), the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). 

Andrew T. Cooley

Andrew T. Cooley, MD, is an Associate Professor of psychiatry at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He is also the Chief Medical Officer at Eastern State Hospital. Dr. Cooley is a Psychiatry Specialist commonly working with personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and addiction and substance abuse. He received both his BA and MD from University of Arkansas. Dr. Cooley is part of the LAI Medicaid project with the BH WELL team.

Jennifer Scarduzio

Jennifer Scarduzio (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication. Her research examines the intersections of interpersonal, health, and organizational communication. She examines workplace wellness through investigations of medical error disclosure, patient safety, and communication between healthcare professionals and patients who have experienced violence. Her work appears in journals such as Qualitative Health Research, Health Communication, and the Handbook of Health Communication, among others.


Heather Robertson

Heather Robertson works at the University of Kentucky as the Director of  Mental and Behavioral Health Nursing Executive Operations and as the Director of Executive Operations for the Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) research team. She holds a joint appointment at Eastern State Hospital. Ms. Robertson also serves as a member of the BREATHE Executive Committee. She co-created and manages a Work Learning Program (WLP) at Eastern State Hospital that was designed based on the evidence-based components of the Living Learning Programs (LLP). She oversees programs, budgets, contracts, and staffing. Heather has over 30 years of experience in program management, growth, and development; resource development and management; fiscal development and management; research; and evidence-based evaluations, surveillance, and inspections. She holds a Masters of Public Administration and is a 1994 graduate of the post-Masters Federal Presidential Management Program. She has been with the University of Kentucky College of Nursing for over 15 years and part of the Academic-Practice Partnership between UK HealthCare, Eastern State Hospital, and UK College of Nursing for over 5 years. Ms. Robertson is also an inaugural and current UK Lewis Honors College PAC member.

Emily Koyagi

Emily Koyagi joins the BH WELL team as Program Manager. She comes to us from UK’s Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute where she worked as a Research Analyst Principal. Her prior positions have included Research Translation Coordinator for UK’s Superfund Research Center, Research Coordinator for the Kentucky Statistical Analysis Center, and Senior Resource Analyst for EKU’s Justice and Safety Center. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology from Denison University and a Master of Public Administration from UK. Her areas of expertise include program management, data management and analysis, communications, technical writing and editing, and research translation.

Michele Gulley

Michele focuses on video editing, filming, and animation. She creates animated videos for the BH Well Team. She received her bachelor’s degree from UK in Media Arts. Fun fact: Michele is the narrator for many of the videos on this site.

Dotty Berryman

Dotty K. Berryman is an artist who has joined the BH WELL team to illustrate "The Dimensions," a comic book series centered on tobacco dependence treatment and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) eight dimensions of wellness. She received her bachelor's in studio art from Northern Kentucky University SOTA and is a freelance artist with a focus in illustration and portraitue.

Kylie Pemberton

Kylie Pemberton assists with the web-based simulated tobacco treatment evaluation and analysis and provides additional educational content communication support for the team. She is a master's student in Educational Psychology at UK. She received her bachelor’s degree from UK in Kinesiology and Health Promotion. Long term she hopes to work within student affairs or academic advising in the university setting. 

Sarret Seng

Sarret Seng is originally from Southern California, where she received a BA in Psychology while conducting neurobehavioral research, before completing her BSN in Nursing at UK. She currently works as a psychiatric nurse at an inpatient facility and is pursuing a PhD in Nursing at the University of Kentucky, where she is examining substance abuse treatment programs for people living with severe and persistent mental illness. Specifically, her research involves interviewing study participants, developing tobacco cessation infographics, contributing to the development and publication of original research papers, and assisting in program coordination as a research assistant working with Dr. Okoli. She has also presented the team’s work at multiple conferences, including the American Psychiatric Nurses’ Association and Southern Nursing Research Society conferences. 

Bassema Mahyoub Mahmoud Abu Farsakh

Bassema is a Ph.D. nursing student at University of Kentucky. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Jordan and her master's in psychiatric and mental health nursing from Hashemite University in Jordan. Her research of interest is focused on adverse life experiences, nicotine dependence and smoking cessation interventions for people living with mental illnesses.

Tianyi Wang

Tianyi Wang is a Ph.D. student studying statistics at the University of Kentucky. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University and her Master’s degree in statistics from Arizona State University. She has over two years of pharmaceutical industry experience in both biostatistics analysis and clinical programming. Her research interest is focused on biostatistics, such as oncology study and the bioequivalence project. 

David Bryan Blondell

A native Kentuckian, David Bryan Blondell has over 30 years of experience creating Fine Art action sports portraits for the NBA’s Orlando Magic and UK athletics, as well as providing illustrations, caricatures, cartoons and computer graphics while also serving as an Art Director for several Orlando Ad Agencies. For many years during his career, he further combined all these skill-sets with writing and editing while serving as Publisher for the PGA TOUR’s regional golf magazine in Central Florida, among other golf-related publications. An award-winning cartoonist and holding a BFA in Design & Illustration, David’s experience working with many styles of art and design makes him a versatile asset to meet the unique needs of any project.

Laura Deaton

Laura Deaton is a student in the nursing PhD program at the University of Kentucky. She received her BSN at Belmont University in Nashville, TN in 2015. She has been a child/adolescent psychiatric nurse in both inpatient and outpatient settings for 6 years. Her research interests include trauma informed care, transcultural psychiatry, and suicide prevention. 

Ohoud Alosais

Ohoud is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. After receiving her BSN from King Saud University, she earned her Master’s in Nursing Education from Roberts Wesleyan College. Her research interest is mental health help-seeking behavior among Arabs in the United States.

Claudia Robertson

Claudia Robertson is an Occupational Therapy doctoral student at Eastern Kentucky University. She completed her bachelor's in Psychology at the University of Kentucky and the Lewis Honors College. She completed two senior research projects: one on the relationship between five facets of mindfulness and OCD symptoms and the other on problem solving intervention effectiveness versus non-behavioral intervention in children at-risk for ADHD. Claudia has been a project assistant with the BH WELL team since Fall 2018. She provides training and event support as well as social media support for BH WELL. Claudia has also written BH WELL blogs about how occupational therapy can enhance recovery for individuals living with mental illness.

Madelyn Strong

Madelyn Strong is a registered nurse in the neurosciences intensive care unit at UK Healthcare. She began working with BH WELL as an undergraduate research intern in 2017. Madelyn was named an APNA Board of Director's Scholar in 2019. She is continuing her education to become a Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at UK. She is currently exploring Garden Therapy research and plans to bring this field of study to UK through her graduate program. She is passionate about using garden therapy to aid in the holistic treatment of psychiatric mental health illnesses.

Jarrod Franchino

Jarrod Franchino is an undergraduate student in the UK College of Nursing. He expects to graduate in December 2021 and aspires to work in the cardiovascular intensive care unit. He began working with BH WELL as an undergraduate research intern in 2017. Jarrod is serving part-time in the Army National Guard and is a cadet in UK's ARMY ROTC program commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in May 2022. He is currently conducting a pilot study at the Lexington VA hospital to evaluate Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in nurses. Jarrod is passionate about empowering nurses to increase their job satisfaction as well as their mental and physical health.

Priscilla Cho

Priscilla Cho is an undergraduate summer intern for BH WELL. She is assisting with evaluating BH WELL’s The Dimensions comic book. Priscilla is a University of Pennsylvania undergraduate student pursuing her Bachelor’s in Nursing Science degree. She's currently interested in the various areas within the field of psychiatric nursing. 

Visiting Scholars

Kristina Yau

Kristina Yau is a medical student at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine in Ottawa, Canada. She graduated on the Dean’s Honour List from McGill University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Kristina is a student of the Global Health Concentration program at her medical school. She is currently pursuing a scholarly project with Dr. Chizimuzo Okoli, looking at the associations of smoke-free policy with tobacco use and consumption among patients with psychiatric disorders living in rural and urban areas. She presented their research findings at the 13th Annual Ottawa Conference: State of the Art Clinical Approaches to Smoking Cessation. In July 2021, she will be presenting at the International Conference on Healthcare and Public Health. 

Former BH WELL Colleagues

Amani Kappi

Amani Kappi, PhD, MSN, RN, BSN is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at Jazan University in Saudi Arabia. As a member of the Saudi ADHD Society, she conducts research and develops programs that improve mental health outcomes for children with ADHD. During her time at BH WELL, she assisted with data support as Temporary Technical/Paraprofessional for Nursing Instruction while completing her Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. Amani received her undergraduate degree from King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia. She received her Master's degree as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for primary care from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. 


Chloé Ryan

Chloé Ryan works for the U.S. Government. She graduated from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce in December 2019. Mrs. Ryan worked with the BH WELL research team as a graduate research assistant during graduate school and as a project assistant during her undergraduate education. She was responsible for coordinating research participant recruitment and enrollment, data collection and cleaning, and literature review support. In addition, Mrs. Ryan served as the first BH WELL Communications Coordinator and was responsible for starting the BH WELL video blog series that continues on today. 

Huijuan He

Huijuan He, MSN, is an Associate Professor and Director of Fundamental Nursing at Hubei Traditional Chinese Medicine University in Hubei, China. Her focus is on nursing education and management of chronic disease. She worked as a visiting scholar at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing with Dr. Okoli. During this time, she studied the relationship between continued smoking and the risk for a secondary or recurrent stroke. She has coauthored two research papers with Dr. Okoli and other colleagues since completing her visiting scholar position.

Hunter McKenzie

Hunter McKenzie is an architecture graduate student at Columbia University in New York City. He graduated from the UK Lewis Honors College and the College of Design with a bachelors degree in architecture. Hunter was a project assistant with the BH WELL team from Fall 2018 to Summer 2021. He supported the BH WELL website development, created graphic content regarding tobacco treatment for individuals living with mental illness and for tobacco policy support in mental health environments. Hunter also wrote BH WELL blogs about the importance of architecture and how it can impact one's behavioral health. 

Janet Otachi

Janet Otachi, Ph.D., MA, has a PhD in social work and is a Licensed Social Worker in Kentucky. She worked with BH WELL as a project coordinator until completion of her PhD. In August 2021, she accepted a position with the Healing Community Study as their Partnership and Interventions Manager. She has worked with vulnerable populations both in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the United States in health services research, gender-based violence prevention, HIV prevention, and in enhancing evidence-based practices in substance use and mental health. Dr. Otachi's research interests are in evidence-based tobacco treatment interventions, social policy, addressing health disparities, and tracking and evaluation of public health programs to enhance evidence-based practice.

Jialin Wang

Jialin Wang, MSN, RN, is a professor and supervisor of College of Nursing at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Sichuan province, China. Her areas of expertiseinclude advanced nursing education and nursing psychology. As a visiting scholar under Dr. Okoli, Wang completed cooperative research on compassion fatigue among Chinese and American nurses. Her current research continues to focus on interventions for compassion fatigue among Chinese nurses.

Jonathan Kodet

Jonathan Kodet, PhD, a licensed psychologist at St. Cloud Hospital in Minnesota, USA. He works in the Specialty Care Center providing individual, group, and relationship/marital outpatient psychotherapy with adults. As a Graduate Research Assistant at BH WELL, Dr. Kodet worked with Dr. Okoli on several projects including (1) Behavioral and Physiological Responses to Nicotine Patch Administration Among Nonsmokers Based on Acute and Chronic Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Exposure and (2) A systematic review of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure and smoking behaviors: Smoking status, susceptibility, initiation, dependence, and cessation.

Kaitlyn Spadoni

Kaitlyn Spadoni received both master’s in Instructional Systems Design and her bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Marketing from UK. Kaitlyn's role at BH WELL focused on designing and developing learning and practice programs. Her role involved working closely with the BH WELL faculty to create, select and suggest learning programs to fill identified gaps within the learning process.

Sooksai Kaewbua

Sooksai Kaewbua, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC is originally from Thailand where she received a B.S. in Economics and worked in business. In 2006, she came to the US and earned a B.S. in Nursing from Murray State University. She has worked as a psychiatric nurse in both inpatient and outpatient settings, including working with veterans and patients of all ages. She earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Psychiatric/Mental-Health track from the University of Kentucky. In 2017, she co-published a research paper with the BH WELL team focused on tobacco addiction treatment titled Factors associated with staff engagement in patients’ tobacco treatment in a state psychiatric facility.

Yazan Al-Mrayat

Yazan is a Ph.D. student and graduate research assistant at the University of Kentucky, College of Nursing. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nursing with 9 years of clinical experience. His research area of interest is tobacco research among patients with mental illness.