Who we are

SHIDLO, Ariel photo 2010Ariel Shidlo, PhD, Co-Director, is a psychologist in New York. His specialty is LGBT refugee mental health. He has been a member of the volunteer Asylum Network of Physicians for Human Rights since 2005. He has a Certificate in Global Mental Health from the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. Ariel is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. He instructs medical students at the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights. He has contributed to the field of LGBT mental health since 1986, as a clinician, researcher, teacher, and activist. Ariel conducted the first research project documenting the harm of “ex-gay” therapies. He co-edited the book “Sexual Conversion Therapy: Ethical, Clinical and Research Perspectives”; it won a Distinguished Book Award (2002) from the LGBT division of the American Psychological Association.  Ariel founded mental health and peer counseling programs for HIV-negative and HIV-positive MSM at St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan. He was a member of the first American Psychological Association task force that drafted guidelines for psychotherapy with LGB clients.

joycehunterjpegJoyce Hunter, DSW, Co-Director, has been a human rights activist, researcher, and clinician for over 30 years, specializing in issues relating to youth, women, HIV/AIDS, and the LGBT communities. She is Co-Investigator of the Global Community Core at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia. She is also Principal Investigator of a community-based research project for dissemination of an HIV prevention program for LGB adolescents, that includes a video entitled, ” Working It Out,” which she co-developed, about coming out and coping with stressful situations, stigma, harassment, and violence. Dr. Hunter is also Assistant Clinical Professor, Psychiatric Social Work, Dept. of Psychiatry, College of Physicians & Surgeons, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences, at Columbia University.

Joanne color photo for webJoanne Ahola M.D., Medical Director, is board certified in psychiatry and on the voluntary faculties of the Weill Cornell Medical College and the Columbia University College of Physicians. She is Medical Director of the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights. Dr. Ahola has been a member of the volunteer Asylum Network of Physicians for Human Rights since 2000, conducting psychological evaluations of asylum seekers. With PHR, Dr. Ahola has trained health professionals around the country in evaluating and documenting the psychological effects of torture and other forms of persecution. She has particular expertise in LGBT asylum, the one year filing deadline, and testifying in court asylum hearings.





BABElizabeth Vento, MSEd, Coordinator, completed the Post-Bacc Certificate in Psychology program at Columbia University (2009-2011). She will apply to doctoral programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology and is interested in serving the LGBT community. She has volunteered at the Trevor Project and the Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training. Her research, teaching and counseling goals are motivated by her committment to social justice. She is interested in empirically supported treatment as well as harm reduction and sex-positive approaches to counseling.



carl photoMichael Carl Budd, Development and Outreach Coordinator, is a graduate of the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo, where his thesis research focused on LGBT refugees and asylum-seekers. While completing his master’s degree, he served as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar and an AUC Writing Center Fellow.  He also volunteered with the Youth LEAD Project, a program of St. Andrew’s Refugee Services in Cairo, Egypt. Carl has worked as a consultant and as a program officer in the non-profit sector and has interned with the US State Department and the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. He completed his undergraduate coursework at the Institute of International Studies at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and at Université Rennes 2 in Rennes, France.


huso tryHuso Yi, PhD, Co-Founder, is Assistant Professor in School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was a pioneer of the LGBT rights movement in South Korea in 1995. He was a US NIH postdoctoral research fellow at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, Columbia University (2007-2010). He is on the Executive Board and Chair of Training Committee at the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture, and Society (IASSCS) (2007-present). His has researched the social-ecological determinants of HIV risks, cross-cultural aspects of sexualities, community-based participatory interventions among vulnerable and hidden populations, and social inequality in health.


Drs. Hunter, Shidlo and Yi co-founded the Research Institute Without Walls (RIWW) to create an environment in which their passions in human rights, mental health, international collaboration and serving the LGBT community can come together.