Director of Research & Evaluation at Born This Way Foundation
Claudia-Santi F. Fernandes, Ed.D., LPC, MCHES is the Director of Research + Evaluation at Born This Way Foundation, where she spearheads the Foundation's research strategy and provides scientific expertise in the design and implementation of impactful programs and youth-led initiatives. She also holds a faculty appointment as an assistant clinical professor of the Child Study Center and in Biomedical Informatics and Data Science at the Yale School of Medicine.
With a career spanning over 20 years, Dr. Claudia has been instrumental in leading efforts toward mental health promotion and substance misuse prevention within educational settings. As a prevention scientist and licensed professional counselor (LPC), she brings a unique blend of academic knowledge and practical experience to her approach—strongly emphasizing evidence-based research to inform youth-centered programs, policies, and structures. A core focus of her work is amplifying youth perspectives and experiences, ensuring their voices are central to decision-making processes.
Dr. Claudia's professional journey began as a public school teacher in Connecticut and a bilingual school counselor in New York City. She was part of the founding leadership team at Bard High School Early College in Newark, NJ. Observing the impact and reach of science, she transitioned to a 10-year career in applied research at the Yale School of Medicine where she was promoted to ladder-track faculty. Her research was funded by the prestigious Yale Center for Clinical Investigation Scholar Award and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Advancing Translational Science. With this funding, she led her team in the development and evaluation of a digital game targeting suicide prevention in young people who misuse substances. Dr. Claudia has disseminated her research widely through publications in peer-reviewed journals and national presentations.
Dr. Claudia holds a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Applied Psychology from New York University and a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Health and Behavior Studies from Columbia University Teachers College. She brings an unwavering commitment to improving youth well-being through her extensive research experience and ongoing work in the field of mental health promotion and prevention.
Join our diverse panel of parents who have experienced the New York State Mental Health system firsthand. Through their stories, gain valuable insights into navigating youth mental health challenges. Also hear from a researcher from the Born This Way Foundation who has been evaluating what makes a difference to youth and families. Discover practical strategies for communication, early recognition, and resilience-building within your family. Empower yourself to make a positive impact on your family's mental wellness journey.