Our Advisory Board

CONCEPT Continuing & Professional Studies, Palo Alto University is proud to be a leading resource for continuing education and professional training for mental health professionals.

The breadth and depth of expertise represented by our CE advisory board allows for the recruitment, selection, and strategic prioritization of continuing education offerings that provide meaningful training experiences for mental health professionals.


Leading Experts  |  Strategic Visionaries

Meet Our CE Advisory Board Members


Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD

Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD, currently serves as Clinical Director of Correctional Health Services (CHS) for New York City Health and Hospitals. The New York City jail system is the second largest in the nation, and approximately 25% of admissions will receive mental health services through CHS. In this position, Dr. Barber Rioja is responsible for the overall clinical oversight, management, supervision, and innovative development of the approximately 250 non-medical clinical staff, consisting of supervisory and line psychologists, mental health clinicians, social workers, art therapists, and treatment aides.


Eduardo Bunge, PhD

Eduardo Bunge, PhD, is Professor in the Psychology department and Director of the Master’s in Science of Psychology at Palo Alto University. Additionally, Dr. Bunge is the Director of the Children and Adolescents Psychotherapy and Technology (CAPT) Research Lab. He earned his undergraduate and MS degree at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and received his Ph.D. in psychology from the Universidad de Palermo, Argentina.


Kelly Coker, PhD

Kelly Coker, PhD, is a professor and Associate Chair in the Counseling Department at Palo Alto University and the Faculty Director of Assessment and Student Learning Outcomes. Dr. Coker is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and Qualified Licensed Supervisor in North Carolina as well as a Board-Certified Tele-mental Health Provider. She has presented and published in areas related to distance counselor education, substance abuse prevention and intervention, clinical training and supervision, the use of play in counseling and supervision, and the importance of program evaluation and assessment in counseling.


Manuela Garcia, LCSW

Manuela Garcia, LCSW is the Executive Director at United Family & Children’s Society, an agency licensed by the NJ Department of Human Services for adoption and mental health outpatient services. The agency serves as a field placement for local clinical degree graduate programs. Ms. Garcia has served as CONCEPT’s social work liaison since 2015.

Shreya Vaishnav_Image_round

Shreya Vaishnav, PhD

Shreya Vaishnav, PhD is an Assistant Professor at Palo Alto University. She earned her PhD in Counselor Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) and her masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Arizona State University. Dr. Vaishnav's research focuses on the impact of microaggressions on individuals from marginalized identities and she has facilitated workshops on navigating and responding to microaggressions in academia. She has also led research projects on effective mentoring practices for students and faculty, strengths-based approaches in working with students from marginalized backgrounds, and engaging in social justice advocacy within counseling. Her clinical expertise lies in working with immigrant populations on cross-cultural issues, specifically South Asian immigrants and first-generation Asian Americans.


Cristen Wathen, PhD, LCPC, NCC

Cristen Wathen, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Counseling Department at Palo Alto University and the director of PAU's Center for Educational Excellence. Her research and writing center on innovative pedagogy and andragogy both online and in person, Group Counseling, and mental wellness needs for those with 
chronic illnesses and organ transplantation. She has a background in working with survivors of trauma and child sexual abuse. She also has experience counseling and advising college students and working with underserved populations in educational settings.   Cristen attended Baylor University for her master’s and Idaho State University for her PhD. Before joining PAU, she was an Assistant Professor at Montana State University for four years.  She has served as the Rocky Mountain Association for Counselor Education and Supervision president and as the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision's secretary among other professional service positions.  She is a licensed counselor in California, Montana and in Idaho and is Board Certified in Telemental Health.

Advisory Board Affiliations