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Faculty & Staff

Christopher Burnett, Psy.D.

Associate Professor    
(954) 262-3010

Christopher F. Burnett is increasingly recognized for his work in the application of systems thinking to social and organizational systems. His work focuses on “human systems” in the areas of government, business, education, community development, and health care, with the goal of illuminating and improving the quality of the human relationships necessary for success in each.

During the past six years, he has worked as an independent human systems consultant in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Burnett was a featured presenter at the 2001 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Summer Institutes for Advanced Clinical Training in Vancouver, Canada, where he presented a seminar on “Developing a Corporate Consulting and Systems Training Practice.”

Courses: Natural Systems Theory, Advanced Bowen Systems, Relationship Systems, Research, Supervision, and Couples Therapy and Family Therapy

Kara Erolin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor/Director of Doctoral Programs
(954) 262-3055

Kara S. Erolin is passionate about social justice issues for marginalized populations, especially for individuals, families, and communities impacted by trauma. She has extensive experience working with culturally diverse populations as an educator, clinical supervisor/practitioner, and researcher. She is a certified trainer in narrative exposure therapy (NET)—an evidence-based treatment posttraumatic stress disorder—and has conducted multiple trainings on NET for clinicians.

Pei-Fen Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Director of Accreditation    
(954) 262-3052

Pei-Fen Li’s research interests include dyadic analyses of couples’ communication and relational well-being, application of marriage and family therapy models in Eastern cultures, acculturation process of immigrant families and international students, and solution-focused brief therapy with parents of children with autism.

In 2017 and 2019, she received a grant from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and Quality of Life to study the effectiveness of solution-focused group brief therapy with parents of children with autism in Taiwan and South Florida. Li’s supervision style is strengths-based, system-informed, and solution-oriented. She also highlights the importance of the self of therapist in providing effective therapy services for clients.

Courses: Ethics, Research Methods, Quantitative I and II, Internal and External Practicum, Theories in Family Therapy, International Perspectives of MFT, and Crisis Management


Kristi Messer, M.P.H., M.S.W., LCSW

Director, KPCOM Undergraduate Programs
Assistant Professor, Master of Public Health
Assistant Professor, Master of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management
(954) 262-1072

Kristi Messer relocated to Florida from Washington D.C., where she spent years working with the Department of Health and Human Services to successfully launch community health centers across the nation. As a passionate public health professional, Messer currently serves the KPCOM as an academic administrator and professor in the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program.

Messer is also an assistant professor of disaster and emergency management and assists community health centers across the state with developing robust emergency preparedness plans. She has dedicated her professional life to underserved and vulnerable population groups through her involvement with the homeless, individuals with disabilities, communities affected by disasters, and persons impacted by mental illness.

During the past seven years, Messer has presented her research and academic achievements at more than 40 international, national, state, and local conferences. Messer is also a licensed clinical social worker and is dedicated to positively impacting children, families, and adults.

Fariha Niazi

Interim Chair
Assistant Professor    
(954) 262-8212

Fariha M. Niazi is particularly interested in teaching and training clinicians on how to work with individuals and families who are living with chronic behavioral and physical health conditions, especially those who have experienced social injustices and disadvantages, such as socioeconomic disparities and lack of access to health care. She has experience in using, training, and teaching clinical framework of integrated care, as well as the biopsychosocial model, when facilitating care for different cultural groups.

Before joining the Department of Family Therapy as a visiting faculty member, she was actively working in the community for more than 15 years. In addition to teaching, supervising, and training in graduate programs, Niazi has worked as a regional director for a community mental health agency and a training manager for an integrated managed care health plan.

Courses: Introduction to Systems Theories, Clinical Practice, Psychopathology, Couple Therapy, Supervision, Group Therapy, and Medical Family Therapy


Alina M. Perez, J.D., M.P.H., LCSW

Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1655

In addition to 17 years of experience in academia, Alina M. Perez brings more than 15 years of practical experience as a licensed clinical social worker in the areas of inpatient and outpatient mental health, inpatient oncology, emergency care, and hospice care. Her clinical practice, scholarship, and community involvement has focused extensively on addressing legal, ethical, and public health issues of the aging population, minorities, and the underserved. She has presented at many local, national, and international conferences and frequently provides lectures and continuing education sessions for students and professionals in the community and other NSU colleges.

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