E-Board

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Nicole Cotton, MD: President

Dr. Nicole King Cotton is a Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She graduated from Emory University with a B.S. in Chemistry. After obtaining her M.D. from Morehouse School of Medicine, she completed her specialty training in adult, child and adolescent psychiatry at Emory University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of psychiatry at Morehouse School of Medicine and serves as the Associate Clerkship Director for 3rd year medical students. She is a consulting psychiatrist for Grady’s Integrated Care Program and for the IDP clinic. Dr. Cotton has given many local and national presentations on pediatric mental health, religion and spirituality in psychiatry, and minority mental health.  


Vanderlyn Sewell, MD: President Elect

Dr. Sewell is a Board Certified Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist.  She is currently the Medical Director of Laurel Heights Hospital.  We specialize in working with youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.  We have the only specialized Autism Acute Unit in the state of Georgia.  She completed her Child and Adolescent Psychiatry training at Emory University in 2004 and has been practicing in Atlanta ever since.  She has worked in multiple inpatient and outpatient settings and finds fulfilment in working with some of Georgia’s most challenging patients.  She is on the volunteer faculty of Emory School of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine.  She supervises medical students, residents, and fellows in their rotation at Laurel Heights.

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Michael ellis, do: Secretary/Treasurer

Dr. Michael Ellis is board certified in both General Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He completed his residency and fellowship at the Medical College of Georgia. He has been on the Lifelong Learning Workgroup for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) for 9 years. He is also an Advocacy Liaison for AACAP.  He is currently the Trustee on the Georgia Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He is Clinical Assistant Professor for Mercer University School of Medicine and a Clinical Associate Professor for the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Georgia Campus. Although he treats children and adolescents with various mental health diagnoses, he is also an autism expert. He has written a book on Autism Spectrum Disorder for parents of children with ASD that is set to be published in February 2018. It is called Caring for Autism. He lives and practices in Columbus, GA. He has a wife and three children.


Joel Axler, MD: Trustee at Large

Joel L. Axler, M.D., is the National Behavioral Health Managing Medical Director for the Anthem Government Business Division (GBD) for Medicare and Medicaid.  He is responsible for the administration of medical services for company health plans including  impact on health care quality, cost, and outcomes, and integrated behavioral and physical health services.  Prior to his current role, Dr. Axler served as Behavioral health medical director for Amerigroup Georgia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Anthem from 2011 until 2018.   In this role, he oversaw the psychiatric health needs of members in the Georgia Medicaid program  and he was also the medical director of the Foster Care program. With more than 30 years in health care, Dr. Axler has held leadership positions directing the psychiatric care of children, adolescents and adults. Prior to joining Amerigroup in 2011, Dr. Axler served as medical director at Peachford Behavioral Hospital in Atlanta and as Regional medical director of United Behavioral Health Care, Georgia for 15 years.

 Dr. Axler is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and is board certified in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry, and neurology. He is a diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners. He is a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Society and the Georgia Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

 Dr. Axler received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, completed his psychiatric residency training at the Institute of Living, and his pediatrics internship at Hartford Hospital, both in Hartford, Conn. He was chief psychiatry fellow at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and completed a postdoctoral residency fellowship in child psychiatry at Columbia University, both in New York, N.Y. Joel Axler has been on the board at Beth Shalom in various positions and served as President for 2 terms.  He is active in his  community and prior volunteer involvement includes psychiatric medical missions to Israel, Belarus,  Ukraine for  Jewish HealthCare International.

 

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Sandra Sexson, MD: Membership Committee Chair and Assembly Delegate

Professor, Psychiatry & Pediatrics, Chief of Child, Adolescent & Family Psychiatry, Director of Training in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

Dr. Sandra Sexson is a leader in psychiatric education, having served in numerous national & international roles. Leadership positions include chair of APA’s Council on Med Ed & LLL, ACP’s PRITE & PIPE Commissions, the ACAGME’s Psychiatry RRC as well as the Sub-Com on the Post Pediatric Portal Program, AACAP’s Training & Education Com. & Lifelong Learning Com. She served as president of AADPRT, Editor of PRITE & Founding Editor of CHILD PRITE, ABPN Team Leader for CAP as well as senior examiner in both psychiatry and CAP, and on ABPN general & CAP question writing Committees.  More recently she has been involved in ACGME-International work both as a consultant & now as a member of the International Medicine RRC.  Dr. Sexson has published articles on various topics related to psychiatric education in Academic Psychiatry & other venues.


 Ranjan Avasthi, MD: Assembly Delegate

Dr RK Avasthi, is a double board certified Adult and Child Psychiatrist working here in Atlanta, GA. He is currently the medical director for the Peace of Mind Psychiatric Services Clinic. He is also the lead psychiatrist for the Southern Crescent Behavioral Health System Partial Hospital Program that specializes in substance abuse and recovery. Dr. Avasthi completed his Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship at the Medical College of Georgia, a part of Augusta University. He stayed on to work as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior. He also serves as an Adjunct Clinical Professor for Morehouse School of Medicine.

Dr. Avasthi has lectured around the US at regional and national meetings for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and also at the American Psychiatric Association, where he was selected as an Investigator in Clinical Psychobiology for the 2013 Research Colloquium.

Dr. Avasthi was appointed to the national Disaster and Trauma Committee for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and has also been elected to serve as an Assembly Delegate for the Georgia Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has received a number of awards for leadership and service.

ravasthi@augusta.edu

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www.drsarahvinson.com

www.drsarahvinson.com

Sarah Vinson, MD: Past President and Nominating Committee Chair

Dr. Sarah Y. Vinson is a physician who specializes in adult, child & adolescent, and forensic psychiatry. She is the founder of the Lorio Psych Group, an Atlanta, GA based mental health practice providing expert care and consultation. After graduating from medical school at the University of Florida with Research Honors and as an Inductee in the Chapman Humanism Honors Society, she completed her general psychiatry training at Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School. While there, she also received specialized training in trauma through the Victims of Violence Program. She then returned to the South to complete fellowships in both child & adolescent and forensic psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine. In addition to providing mental health care services such as psychotherapy, consultation and psychopharmacology through her private practice, Dr. Vinson is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine. Just two years after joining the faculty she was honored as Psychiatry and Faculty of the Year in 2015. She is also Adjunct Faculty at Emory University School of Medicine. She has been elected and/or appointed to national and statewide office by her professional peers. She is the current President of the Georgia Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and is a Trustee on the board of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association. Additionally, she serves on the Communications Council of the American Psychiatric Association and is the Early Career Psychiatrist Representative on the Board of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. She has been a speaker at national conferences including the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Annual Meeting and The National Urban League Annual Meeting.. Dr. Vinson has received numerous awards in recognition of her service and leadership.Dr. Sarah Y. Vinson is a physician who specializes in adult, child & adolescent, and forensic psychiatry. She is the founder of the Lorio Psych Group, an Atlanta, GA based mental health practice providing expert care and consultation. After graduating from medical school at the University of Florida with Research Honors and as an Inductee in the Chapman Humanism Honors Society, she completed her general psychiatry training at Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School. While there, she also received specialized training in trauma through the Victims of Violence Program. She then returned to the South to complete fellowships in both child & adolescent and forensic psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine. In addition to providing mental health care services such as psychotherapy, consultation and psychopharmacology through her private practice, Dr. Vinson is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine. Just two years after joining the faculty she was honored as Psychiatry and Faculty of the Year in 2015. She is also Adjunct Faculty at Emory University School of Medicine. She has been elected and/or appointed to national and statewide office by her professional peers. She is the current President of the Georgia Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and is a Trustee on the board of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association. Additionally, she serves on the Communications Council of the American Psychiatric Association and is the Early Career Psychiatrist Representative on the Board of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. She has been a speaker at national conferences including the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Annual Meeting and The National Urban League Annual Meeting. Dr. Vinson has received numerous awards in recognition of her service and leadership.


Dale Peeples, MD: CommunicationS Committee Chair  

Dr. Peeples is an associate professor at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.  After completing medical school at USC in Columbia, South Carolina, he continued his training at MCG completing his internship, residency, and fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.  Since staying on as faculty, he works in both inpatient and outpatient services in the child and adolescent division. He also provides services to juvenile corrections currently working with the Regional Youth Detention Center of Augusta and the Augusta Youth Development Campus, as well as the Macon YDC via telemedicine. In terms of serving the school’s educational mission, most of his work focuses on training the child & adolescent psychiatry fellows as the assistant program director for the fellowship program, & the outpatient director as well.  Nationally, he’s a member of the AACAP media committee.

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