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, Clinical Director
Renita is the Clinical Director of Kente Circle. 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.
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 lives depends mainly on the quality of our relationships and how we view ourselves in light of our relationships. Meriam enjoys working with individuals, couples, and families from diverse ages and backgrounds, and has experience working with depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, stressful life transitions, as well as other areas.
Meriam graduated from the University of Minnesota with two bachelors in Child Psychology and Communication Studies. Recently, she graduated with her Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Meriam has worked with children and families throughout the past 8 years primarily in community service work. Her experience has sparked her interest in working with individuals and families to help them develop and foster stronger bonds and connections, particularly when experiencing oppression, poverty, or when coming from histories of trauma.
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, spend time in nature, read books, and practice photography.
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.
Hafia Q. Gray MA, LPCC, LADC
Namaste! My name is Hafia and I have passionately worked in the mental health/social services field for over 15 years. I hold professional licenses in drug and alcohol counseling (LADC) and professional clinical counseling (LPCC). I believe in taking a supportive, person-centered approach when working with clients, and I keep trauma-conscious practices at the forefront of my clinical and community work. Some of my specialties include working with individuals living with depression, anxiety, PTSD or other trauma responses, interpersonal/relationship challenges, and drug and alcohol addiction. I also provide couples counseling for those looking to repair or explore effective communication and interactions with their partners. Some of my other interests include practicing yoga, meditation, writing, and exploring in nature and absolutely these values "show up" in my therapeutic approaches with clients. Therapy is a powerful tool that I believe starts with improving self-awareness. Do you really know yourself and accept yourself? Let's work on that!
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.
Professionals are fully licensed clinicians
Practitioners are clinicians pursuing licensure under supervision