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Co-Principal Investigator

Kameelah Mu'Min Rashad, PsyD

Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad, PsyD is the Founder and President of Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healing and emotional well-being in the American Muslim community through dialogue, education and training. She is also the founding co-Director of the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition, an initiative launched in collaboration with Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative to address need for effective planning, preparedness and organizing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through Muslim Wellness Foundation, Dr. Rashad has established the annual Black Muslim Psychology Conference and the Deeply Rooted Emerging Leaders Fellowship for Black Muslim young adults. Dr. Rashad also serves as the Fellow for Spirituality, Wellness and Social Justice at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). She is the advisor to Penn Sapelo, the first Black Muslim student organization at UPenn, and served three years as the Muslim Chaplain at UPenn. Dr. Rashad’s clinical and research areas of interest include: spirituality in psychotherapy, wellness and community resource building, story-telling as a way of facilitating connection, healing and closure in family of origin, mental health stigma in faith and minority communities, first generation college students and  emerging adults of color; diversity, religious identity and multicultural  issues in counseling, healing justice and faith based activism, racial trauma and healing, psychological impact of anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Blackness, Black Muslim psychology and Black Muslim intersectional invisibility. Dr. Rashad graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Psychology and MEd in Psychological Services. She obtained further graduate education, earning a second Masters in Restorative Practices & Youth Counseling (MRP) from the International Institute for Restorative Practices. She completed her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA.

Co-Principal Investigator


Bediako, PhD

Psychology Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Dr. Bediako is a tenured faculty member in the Department of Psychology who studies psychological, social, and policy aspects of community health and well-being. His primary area of research examines the clinical implications of sickle cell disease stigma. Dr. Bediako’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. He teaches courses in research methods, social psychology, health psychology, and developed a seminar in “Race, Science, and Society” for the renowned Meyerhoff Scholars Program and the UMBC Honors College. Dr. Bediako formerly chaired the UMBC Research and Creative Achievement Council and was also Associate Chair of the Department of Psychology. He serves as faculty advisor to the UMBC Muslim Student Association and is actively engaged with a number of community-based organizations.


Dr. Bediako received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Arkansas and completed a master’s degree in community psychology from Florida A&M University. After earning a master’s degree in psychology and the doctorate in social/health psychology from Stony Brook University, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow for Faculty Diversity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently pursuing a master’s in public administration from the University of Baltimore.

Selected Publications:

Ogunsile, J., Bediako, S. M., Nelson, J. Cichowitz, C., Yu, T., Carroll, C. P., Stewart, K. J., Naik, R., Haywood Jr., C., and Lanzkron, S. (2019). Metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk in sickle cell disease. Blood Cells, Molecules, and Diseases, 74, 25-29.

Holloway, B. M., McGill, L. S., and Bediako, S. M. (2017).  Depressive symptoms and sickle cell disease pain: The moderating role of internalized stigma. Stigma and Health, 2, 271-280.

Bediako, S. M., & Harris, C. (2017). Communalism moderates the association between racial centrality and emergency department utilization for sickle cell disease pain. Journal of Black Psychology, 43, 659-668.

Bediako, S. M., and King-Meadows, T. (2016). Public support for sickle-cell disease funding: Does race matter? Race and Social Problems, 8, 186-195.


Research Associate



Muslim Chaplain, Tufts University & Essex County Jail (Massachusetts)

Imam Abdul-Malik was appointed Muslim Chaplain at Tufts University in September, 2019. In this role, Imam Abdul-Malik offers mentorship and support to students across Tufts University schools and helps to coordinate programs and activities related to Muslim life on campus. He also supports Tufts staff and faculty and collaborates with departments and programs across the university. In collaboration with the wider chaplaincy team, Imam Abdul-Malik helps to foster opportunities for civic learning and leadership.

Imam Abdul-Malik Merchant’s mother converted to Islam when he was just eight years old, and from this time, the trajectory of his life has been centered around Islamic education. As a family, they moved to the Northern-Virginia area (accross the street from a mosque) to be a part of a diverse Muslim community. Simultaneously, Imam Merchant’s mother enrolled him and his younger sister in a private Islamic school in Maryland. 

After high school, Imam Merchant was accepted into Umm al-Qura University in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. The first two years of his studies were an intensive Arabic immersion program. After acquiring his diploma in Arabic he was accepted to the college of Shari’ah (Islamic Jurisprudence), but later transferred to the college of Da’wah (Proselytization) and Foundations of the Religion specializing in Islamic culture. It was here Imam Merchant realized he could use his passion for service, particularly for the disenfranchised of society. After nearly 10 year studying and living abroad, Imam Merchant returned to Boston, MA in 2016 with his wife and children to take a position at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). He served as the Associate Imam and his work concentrated around spiritual care and counseling.  In May of 2020 Imam Merchant completed a Masters of Theological Studies at Boston University’s School of Theology specializing in practical theology. He hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Social Work, with a focus on the decolonization of Islamic spiritual care and wellness.

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