Stephanie Felder

Scholarly Retreats
Type of work

Dr. Stephanie Felder is a Commander (CDR) in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She serves as the Chief Licensed Clinical Social Worker within the Office of the Secretary (OS), Office of the Assistant Secretary (OASH), Office of Surgeon General, Commissioned Corps Headquarters’ Public Health Emergency Response Strike Team (PHERST). As a PHERST clinical social worker she provides rapid response to regional, national, and global public health emergencies. CDR Felder is known for her deployment leadership with USPHS. In 2022, CDR Felder served as the Officer-in-Charge for one of the Afghan repatriation missions. She served on the leadership team for 300 staff and 115 Afghan unaccompanied minors, resulting in protection of mission members and settlement of refugees.

Among the most notable of her deployments was her exemplary leadership as the Behavioral Health Officer-in-Charge at the Javits Center during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City from March to May 2020. CDR Felder has spent nearly 10 years in various positions of leadership in the U.S. Public Health Service providing program management, technical assistance, research, evaluation, and data analysis within several agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services. Her experience includes oversight of grants for HIV/AIDS services for medically underserved patients, technical assistance for communities experiencing natural disasters, and supervision of clinical standards and quality for hospice and home health agencies.

During her time at A Studio in the Woods, she worked with collaborator Dr. Indira Harris to explore the convergence of climate change (focused on natural disasters) and its impact on an exceedingly vulnerable group—veterans experiencing homelessness. While limited research explores the connections between mental health and climate change, climate change also clearly leads to adverse economic and social impacts on communities. People experiencing homelessness are some of the most vulnerable in our society. The vulnerability of these individuals is exacerbated even more when disaster strikes and disrupts healthcare access, community services, and homeless service organizations. These individuals are often left to manage in a disturbed environment leading to increased emotional and mental distress.

Photo by Kun Shun