Larry Tucker, LMFT, Owner
Larry is the owner and co-founder of Kente Circle. He identifies himself as a relational therapist. “I believe that isolation is a major cause of mental illness and the cure for this disease lies within relationships.” Larry enjoys helping individuals, couples and families navigate life’s challenges. He believes that everyone has strength that can aid them at their lowest moments in life. His approach is grounded in focusing on each person’s strengths. He also feels “it is important that each of us learn to embrace our weakness and areas of growth by acknowledging where we have difficulties. True healing occurs only when people are brave enough to embrace that pain is a normal part of life and acknowledge that suffering is a choice.”
Larry is an Adjunct Professor at St. Mary’s University, Twin Cities Campus, in their Masters Program for Marriage and Family Therapy. Larry has 20 plus years of experience in the social service field. He is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, Minnesota MFT and LPC Board Approved Supervisor. Larry is also a trainer and consultant to agencies who are interested in enhancing their cultural knowledge and experiences with their staff and clients. As a trainer and consultant his goal is to inspire people to resist giving into the fear that comes with the unknown. Fear has a way of immobilizing people and their dreams. Larry hopes to encourage clients to lean into their fears and difficult conversations by being curious about what they don’t understand.
Renita Wilson, LICSW
Renita is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (B.S.- in Rhetoric, Youth Studies and African American Studies and Master Degree in Social Work). Renita joined the Kente Circle team in February 2011. Prior to joining the team, Renita earned a multitude of skills, experience, and expertise surrounding issues related to Family and Children services: Child Protection, Foster care, and Adoption as well as working with Adults and Children in Mental Health spanning over 20 plus years. Renita is an approved supervisor for the Board of Social Work In 2007, Renita began focusing her work with families and children through a clinical lens as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. Renita approaches her clinical work as she does with all areas of her professional encounters; client centered, respectful, open-minded and honoring their story. Renita has also worked in both private and public agencies in supervisory and management positions, overseeing all operating functions of programming and maintaining required expectations for continued service delivery.
Katie Kussard, MA, LMFT
Katie has been providing individual, couples, and family therapy at Kente’ Circle for ten years. She believes strongly that it is through relationships that change occurs. Katie works collaboratively with her clients to uncover their strengths. She understands that when we are in-tune with our strengths we can be empowered to create the change that we desire for our life/family/relationships. Katie works to provide a nurturing environment that fosters safety and trust. She is committed to providing culturally attuned services where differences are recognized and valued. Katie recently returned from living abroad with her family in Guatemala. She is excited to begin working with people who are excited to create the change they desire for themselves in their life.
Katie has a Bachelor of Science in Family Social Science from the University of MN and a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Agrosy University.
Kelsey Lundquist, MA, LMFT
Kelsey believes our relationships, connections, and past experiences greatly shape our lives. Kelsey received her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of St. Thomas in May 2013. Kelsey began her time at Kente Circle as an intern therapist in 2012. Upon obtaining her degree, Kelsey joined Kente Circle professionally in the roles of Associate Therapist and In-Home Service Coordinator. Kelsey is currently seeing clients both in-office and in-home for individual, couple, and family therapy. Kelsey utilizes a strength-based, relational-focused approach with her clients and feels privileged to walk alongside them in their journey through therapy. In her work, Kelsey is passionate about highlighting and utilizing client’s and families’ strengths, and honoring each family’s cultural values in the healing process.
Lekie Dwanyen, PhD
Lekie strongly believes that all families should have access to high quality mental health services. She is committed to working with racially and ethnically diverse individuals, couples, and families affected by distress and has experience offering in-home, outpatient, and school-based therapy services for clients. Dr. Dwanyen received her Master of Science degree in Couple and Family Therapy at the University of Kentucky and her Doctor of Philosophy in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities. She is trained to work with clients impacted by multiple and complex traumas (repeated instances of trauma exposure over one’s lifetime) in order to reduce the impacts of post traumatic stress symptoms on the client's daily life. Lekie reserves space to conduct Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), a highly effective treatment for complex PTSD, with up to two clients at a time. Lekie currently offers telehealth services only.
Leela Willard, MSW, LICSW
Leela is a clinical social worker who uses a cultural-relational approach and narrative practice combined with historical and social context to guide therapeutic interventions with clients. She believes that healing comes from looking inward to true identity as well as self-reflection on trauma and resiliency. She also believes that looking outward to the social norms that have contributed to misguided thinking about who we are, and through the development of healthy authentic relationships we can begin to restore the self. Through reclamation and reframing individuals can develop a true sense of self and live more authentically. Leela is committed to creating and holding the space to help individuals and families develop in these areas.
Leela has her Undergraduate Degree in Social Work from St Catherine University, and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Augsburg College. She has life experience and professional experience in areas such as adoption, addiction, childhood trauma, LGBTQ matters, identity, racism and discrimination (and the impact), grief, and child protection. She has had the honor of working within very diverse communities and is committed to the healing and empowerment of communities of color and indigenous peoples.
Meriam Njah, MS
Meriam believes that the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. Meriam enjoys working with couples, families, and individuals (teens and adults), and feels privileged to walk alongside them in their journey through therapy. Her approach to therapy is a gentle one, where she holds a non-judgmental, collaborative, culturally sensitive, kind, humorous, and passionate space for healing and growth. Her goal is to tailor the work so that it feels just right to you, in both approach and pace, so that you gain the understanding, and insight needed to make the changes you want to make in your life.
Meriam holds a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She received her two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Minnesota in Child Psychology and Communication Studies. She has also received specialized training in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy. Meriam is passionate about finding a deeper meaning to life, with all that it throws at us. Outside of the therapy room, Meriam likes to spend time with her brothers, explore nature, write, read books, and watch films.
Areas of specialization include: relationship issues (couples issues, couples communication, growing back together, creating safety and connection, navigating difficult family dynamics, navigating relationship with parents), identity issues, anxiety, stress, life transitions (especially transitioning to adulthood), life changing illnesses, grief, making sense of difficult life experiences, growing from hardship, healing from trauma, working with highly sensitive persons, learning to navigate emotion, learning to ask for needs, designing a more meaningful life, and therapy for therapists.
LJ Tucker, MS
Larry Gene Tucker Jr. (LJ) believes that we are a product of our environment. Our well-being lies within the relationships we build in our community. “It’s when our mental, physical, and spiritual self, align that we can continue to grow as individuals and a community.” LJ recognizes that growth comes from overcoming the challenges we face in our life experiences, and that we all inherently have what is necessary to guide us through those challenges. LJ continues to add Holistic approaches to his practice as it is accessible to any and everyone.
LJ has been a facilitator for youth groups and families for over 3 years. He has built trusting relationship with youth males. Working with Couples is a passion for LJ, it is the foundation for what creates healthy families. “Our first support system starts at home, where the foundation for relationships begin.” LJ believes that once we are able to grasp this concept, our families become one of our greatest tools.
LJ is a graduate student from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, with a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. He received his Bachelor’s degree at Minnesota State University, Mankato in Business Marketing. His goal is to live a liberating life through the reflection of relationships that are established through community building.
LaCresha Payne, MSW, LGSW
LaCresha has 7 years of experience working with adolescents and their families. She has co- facilitated racial dialogues with adolescents, provided academic support and guidance, and managed adolescents who were on probation. LaCresha has worked with families and children in exploring solutions to emotional, mental, and social challenges. LaCresha believes that all people are capable of greatness if given support, knowledge, and compassion. LaCresha graduated from St. Olaf College with an undergraduate degree in Social Work and American Racial and Multicultural Studies. She completed her Masters degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Adolescents and Families from the University of Minnesota School Of Social Work.
Leila Comer, MS
Leila believes there is power and influence in our relationships and culture. Her overall approach is guided by the idea that we learn and develop our identity, values, and beliefs through our relationships and experiences. Also, that we possess what we need and have the ability to heal and be whole. She emphasizes the importance of the mind and body connection because she recognizes that through this connection comes more access to the greatness we possess. Leila believes that because we live in an ever-changing world it is important to remain planted and continue to grow. She is passionate about helping individuals, couples, and families obtain and maintain overall wellness. Her goal is to reveal the pathways to healthy relationships with ones’ self and others. Leila practices from a relational/systemic, cultural, and biopsychosocial approach.
Leila holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Saint Mary’s University. She also has several years of experience working and volunteering in mental health and human services with culturally diverse youth, adults, and families in different settings. Leila is certified in Prepare/Enrich and Psychological First Aid. She is pursuing full licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy with an emphasis on Medical Family Therapy. Leila currently offers telehealth services only.
Laura Randall, MA
Laura believes that identity is shaped by past and present relationships, our environment, and our genetic makeup. She emphasizes the connection of mental, physical, and emotional health as a way to optimize wellbeing. Laura has a passion for family formation, and a desire to support individuals, couples, & families who are experiencing relational challenges, birth trauma, pregnancy & postpartum, transition to parenthood, illness, grief and loss. She encourages clients to slow down, tune into their emotions, energy, and body sensations--empowering them to gain self-knowledge, cope, and discover inner resources. Laura approaches therapy with cultural awareness and challenges the ways that whiteness shows up in the therapy setting. She values clients’ strengths, stories, and meaning-making as catalysts for change. Laura’s goal is to create a space for clients to show up authentically, be heard, and build mutual trust.
Laura has a Masters in Marriage & Family therapy from Saint Mary’s University. She brings 10 years of experience in mind body therapies & birth work to her integrative therapy approach, and she speaks fluent Spanish.
Laura cree que la identidad está determinada por las relaciones pasadas y presentes, nuestro entorno y nuestra estructura genética. Ella enfatiza la conexión de la salud mental, física y emocional como una forma de optimizar el bienestar. Laura tiene una pasión por la formación de la familia y el deseo de apoyar a las personas, parejas y familias que están experimentando desafíos relacionales, traumas de nacimiento, embarazo y posparto, transición a la paternidad, enfermedad, duelo y pérdida. Ella anima a los clientes a tomarse su tiempo, sintonizar sus emociones, energía y sensaciones corporales, dándoles el poder de adquirir autoconocimiento, sobrellevar la situación y descubrir sus recursos internos. Laura aborda la terapia con conciencia cultural y desafía las formas en que la discriminación se manifiesta en el entorno de la terapia. Valora las fortalezas, las historias y el significado de los clientes como catalizadores del cambio. El objetivo de Laura es crear un espacio para que los clientes se muestren auténticamente, sean escuchados y generen confianza mutua.
Laura tiene una maestría en terapia matrimonial y familiar de la Universidad de Saint Mary. Aporta 10 años de experiencia en terapias de cuerpo y mente y trabajo de parto a su enfoque de terapia integradora, y habla español con fluidez.