Research Associates 2022–2023
Dr. Erin Smith
Erin I. Smith, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and the director of research for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Her Ph.D. (University of California Riverside) is in developmental psychology, where she studied the development of religious and scientific cognition. Her current research interests focus on the psychological and cultural influences on the science/religion dialogue and the distinct role of church in children’s development, especially for children who have experienced adverse life experiences.
Emilio R. Bermejo
Russ Bermejo, MSW, currently serves as an assistant professor of Social Work at California Baptist University. He is also currently a Senior Training and Technical Specialist with ICF International, which is a global consulting and technology services company based in Fairfax, Virginia. Prior to these positions, Mr. Bermejo provided consultation to counties and states to improve outcomes for children and families affected by substance use disorders and child maltreatment. Mr. Bermejo has also served in the Philippines as an Aftercare Fellow for International Justice Mission, where he worked on collaborative aftercare projects focused on rescue and protection, and reintegration, economic self-sufficiency of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. His research interests include the exploration of how cross-systems collaboration can improve outcomes for children of families involved in the child welfare system.
Professor Phil Breitenbucher has over 20 years of progressively responsible experience in the management of public child welfare and community-based prevention services. He was formerly a program director with the National Center on Substance Use and Child Welfare where he directed the Children Affected by Methamphetamine program and authored numerous papers and trained nationally on evidenced-based practices. Additionally, Professor Breitenbucher provides direct consultation to states and counties to achieve organizational changes and practice improvements in child welfare. Phil received his Master of Social Work from California State University, San Bernardino, his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California Baptist University and his certificate in addiction and recovery from Light University.
Dr. Lizbeth Gaona
Dr. Lizbeth Gaona is an assistant professor of behavioral sciences. She has extensive experience working as clinical consultant and clinical supervisor in community mental health programs primarily with adults diagnosed with a serious mental illness. While working as a clinician at Harbor UCLA Medical Center Dr. Gaona earned clinical certifications in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy. Along with her colleagues Dr. Gaona founded the first DBT Spanish adherent program within Los Angeles County in 2007. Dr. Gaona also participated in dissemination and implementation efforts of adherent cognitive behavior therapy in a collaborative project between the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and the Association of Cognitive and Behavior Therapy (A-CBT) and continues to serve as a dialectical behavior therapy program consultant for Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. In addition, Dr. Gaona is the chair of the Diversity Action Committee of the Association of Cognitive and Behavior Therapy (A-CBT), a non-profit organization which she also serves as a board member for. Some of Dr. Gaona’s research interests include outcomes related to cultural adaptation of evidenced based practices for underserved and diverse populations, religion and trauma.
Dr. Jong Cheon Lee
Dr. Jong Cheon Lee is an associate professor of psychology as well as a licensed professional counselor. He has worked with individuals, couples, and families in various counseling settings, including church-based counseling ministries, private practice, and counseling agencies. As an ordained minister, he has served single young adults, couples, and families at church. His research interests are integrating Christianity and psychology, healthy marriage and family relationships, and sexual addiction.
Dr. Bruce Stokes
H Bruce Stokes, Ph.D., is a professor of anthropology and behavioral sciences. His Ph.D. (University of California, Riverside) is in Psychological Anthropology with an emphasis on the intersection of psychological Identity formation in religious and cultural contexts. Dr. Stokes is also a pastor and teaches in the M.A. in Counseling Ministry program at CBU. He serves on the translation team for the New American Standard Bible (NASB) with the Lockman Foundation. Dr. Stokes' current research interests focus on identity formation and marginality as experienced in ethnic, religious, linguistic, and cultural groups.
Dr. Dretona Maddox
Dretona T. Maddox, DSW, BSN, RN-PHN, LCSW, is an associate professor of social work for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (CBSS). She is a suicide loss survivor who endured homelessness as a teen. Dr. Maddox overcame adversity, earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Phoenix, her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, and her Doctor of Social Work from California Baptist University, where she studied barriers to health equity in maternal health for pregnant Black teens. Her current research interests focus on Black Adolescent Maternal Health. Dr. Maddox is the founding executive director of Purposely Chosen, Inc., which provides support and advocacy services to pregnant/parenting teens in foster care. This organization includes two maternity homes in the Inland Empire of Southern California.