Jessica Branch, LCPC (Counselor and Workshop Facilitator)

Picture of Jessica Branch

Jessica is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has worked extensively with college students, adolescents, kids, and families since 1997. She specializes in individual and family work and can provide therapy in Spanish, too. She has a B.A. in Spanish and became fluent by studying and living abroad in both Mexico, and Colombia, South America. She has maintained a private practice in Silver Spring, Maryland, for the past nine years, and likes to really try to understand what each person might need in the therapy process. She really enjoys working with young people, but also those of different ages and backgrounds. She strives to provide kindness, attentive listening, and collaboration in the therapy room.
Jessica received her Masters degree at Virginia Tech in 1997. She has worked in various, university student support services including Career Services, International Student Services, and Women Center positions. She went on to do internship work with the YMCA Youth and Family Services, which placed her in Silver Spring public schools working with students and families coming from different parts of the world, like Central America, South America, the Phillipines, Ethiopia, Africa, and the U.S. Working with a variety of folks has shaped her thinking and training choices in Narrative therapy, Family Systems, Mindfulness, and EMDR.
Professional Interests   Working with People to Battle the Effects of Anxiety, Depression, Stress, Self-harm, and Trauma on Their Lives and Relationships
Personal Interests:  Avid West Coast Swing Dancer and Practitioner of Aikido; Enjoy Being Outside; Reading; and Many Kinds of Music
EMDR Certification
MA.Ed, Counselor Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
B.A., Spanish, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Jessica works for the Center on Wednesdays, 11am - 6pm, and Fridays (virtual only), 12pm - 2pm.


Lynne Dingle, LCSW-C (Counselor)


Lynne has extensive experience working with couples, individuals, and families. She has also run groups with a variety of themes, such as self-esteem, empowerment, and the aftermath of being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. Part of her work has been to consult with counselors who work in an agency setting. She trained addiction counselors in the techniques of family therapy, active listening, and improving communications within the family.
Currently Lynne is a volunteer at Give an Hour. She provides free therapy for returning veterans and/or their family. She has experience working with individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Her training in this area has included a multitude of workshops that cover not only veterans, but individuals who have suffered trauma from abuse. She maintains a private practice in Gaithersburg, MD. Lynne's college degrees came while she was raising her family. She has a working knowledge and understanding of the stress of being a returning student while managing the many tasks of a family.
Lynne's approach with her clients is open and direct, teaching people to be aware of their outside world and how it impacts their emotions. She uses a psychodynamic approach with theory also based in Gestalt and Object Relations. The environment she hopes to create is one where a person feels comfortable and safe. She is capable of addressing most client concerns that deal with anxiety or depression, PTSD, relationships, and parenting, as well as coping with and learning time management to help deal with the stressors we all experience in our lives.
Professional Interests:  PTSD; Addiction Issues; Anxiety and Depression; Relationship Issues; Life Stage Developmental Concerns
Personal Interests: Knitting, reading and traveling top the list. Love the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox! Spending time at the beach.
M.S.W., 1983, Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Certificate - Object Relations/Self Psychology, 1988
Certificate - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injury, 2012
Lynne works for the Center on Mondays, 12pm - 6pm, and Wednesdays (virtual only), 9am - 3pm.


Jonathan Kandell, Ph.D. (Director)


Following his internship at the University of Maryland, College Park Counseling Center (1989-90), Dr. Kandell was hired by that agency and worked there for 22 years, the last 18 as Assistant Director overseeing the Center’s Counseling Service.  While at UM, he also was an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the College Student Personnel program, teaching counseling techniques.  On the national level, Jonathan has spent much of his career involved with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), especially with the Association's Commission for Counseling and Psychological Services (CCAPS), including a two-year term as its Chair.  In August, 2012, Jonathan joined the Universities at Shady Grove to create and develop a brand-new counseling center on the campus, the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC).  He appreciates the opportunity to work with the students, faculty, and staff of such a dynamic and growing campus as USG.
Professional Interests:  Counseling Center Administration; Group and Couples Counseling; Impact of Advancing Technology on Individuals and Society, including Internet Addiction; Grief and Loss Issues; Organizational Behavior and Consultation
Personal Interests:  Popular Culture (Music, TV, Film); Sports; Fantasy Football; Computers and Other Technologies; Card and Other Games
Ph.D., 1991, Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park
M.S., 1986, Marriage and Family Therapy, University of Maryland, College Park
B.S., 1970, Chemistry, University of Maryland, College Park
Jonathan works for the Center full-time (currently M - Th, 10am-7pm. F, 9am-1pm (Tuesdays and Fridays are virtual only ).


Linda Kaplan, LCSW-C (Counselor)

Picture of Linda Kaplan


In her 30 plus years of experience, Linda M. Kaplan, LCSW-C has been fortunate to work in both the public and private sector; including child abuse and neglect agencies and family service agencies. She has also maintained a private practice in Gaithersburg, Maryland since 1990. Ms. Kaplan has worked with complex multi-problem families, couples, groups and individuals. She has worked with adolescent clients through clients in late adulthood. She has a particular interest in college-age students and returning older students.
Along with the more traditional modalities of therapy, Linda has found that the use of mindfulness and spirituality has strengthened and empowered her clients. She has attended numerous workshops over the years that support her view of Integrative Mental Health. She has found the integration of cognitive-behavioral techniques and psychodynamic work, along with bodywork and awareness (mindfulness), maximizes a person’s happiness and well-being.
Professional Interests:  Depression; Anxiety; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Eating Disorders/Disordered Eating; Addictions; Relationship Issues; Self-Esteem
Personal Interests:  The Outdoors; Reading; Travel; Meditating; Dogs; Dancing
M.S.W., 1980, Clinical Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore
B.S., 1978, Family Studies, University of Maryland, College Park
Anchal works for the Center Tuesdays (virtual only), 9am-1pm , and Thursdays, 10am - 2pm.


Anchal Khanna, LCMFT (Counselor)


Anchal is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist with over fourteen years of experience providing individual, couples and group therapy. She is in private practice in Rockville, MD and has worked for many years in college counseling centers. In her most recent experience at George Mason University’s Counseling Center, she served in the role of the Assistant Director managing crisis and clinical services.
Anchal has significant experience working with diverse clinical issues including mood concerns, relationship difficulties, trauma, life transitions, cultural adjustments and sexual assault. She uses an integrative approach in therapy with the goal to facilitate a collaborative and solution focused dialogue towards creating change and movement.
Anchal has advanced training in the Gottman Method of couples therapy and is also a Gottman Educator trained to work with couples as they transition to parenthood. She is a seasoned presenter and workshop facilitator.
Personal Interests:  Swimming; Reading; Art; and spending time with family and friends
M.S., 2002, Marriage and Family Therapy, Northern Illinois University
Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist, State of Maryland
Licensed Professional Counselor, Commonwealth of Virginia
Certified Gottman Educator
Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, Level III Trained
Anchal works for the Center Tuesdays, 10am-4pm, and Thursdays (virtual only), 9am - 3pm.


Sara Cho Kim, Ph.D. (Counselor and Outreach/Marketing Coordinator)

Picture of Sara Cho Kim, Ph.D.


Sara Cho Kim is a licensed psychologist and is committed to promoting wellness and connection within and between all communities. Dr. Cho Kim has provided individual counseling in a private practice setting and has served as a faculty member in clinical mental health counseling in various academic settings. Dr. Cho Kim completed her APA accredited internship at the University of Maryland, College Park Counseling Center. Her practice is rooted in person-centered, strengths-based approaches that encourage clients to be active participants in identifying and embracing their strengths to achieve their goals. She uses an integrative approach to therapy and conceptualization primarily centered in relational-cultural theory, multicultural and cognitive-behavioral approaches. Dr. Cho Kim is a Maryland native and is a second generation Asian American.
Professional Interests:  Depression; Anxiety; Racial, Cultural, and Gender Identity Development; Immigrant Families; Interpersonal Relationship Concerns; and the Intersection of Physical and Mental Health
Personal Interests:  Traveling; Listening to Podcasts; Working Out; and Spending Time with Friends and Family
Ph.D., 2009, Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
M.S., 2000, Education and Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
B.A., 1998, Folklore, University of Pennsylvania
Sara works for the Center full-time (currently M - Th, 10am-7pm. F, 10am-2pm (Mondays and Fridays are virtual only)).


Chhaya Lagowala (Administrative Assistant)

Picture of Chhaya Lagowala


Chhaya has been with the USM System for over 25 years. During her extensive career at the Shady Grove campus, Chhaya has gained a diverse experience in her different roles with the UMGC Admissions team, USG Conference and Events Services team, and the USG Executive Director’s office. Chhaya brings her drive to support the student body along with her familiarity with our campus team and work processes to her current role with the Center for Counseling and Consultation at USG. Chhaya is really excited about her current role as it gives her an opportunity to help the students in need and hopes to be part of the team for years to come. In addition to her B.S in Computer Science from NJCU, Chhaya received her second B.S. in Information System Management from UMGC.
Personal Interests:  Hiking, Traveling, Yoga, Meditation, Spending Time with Family, Cooking, Connecting with People, and Continuous Learning
B.S., Information Systems Management, University of Maryland Global Campus
B.S., Computer Science, New Jersey City University
Chhaya works for the Center Mondays - Thursdays, 10am - 7pm, and Fridays (virtual only) 10am - 2pm.


Katie Piura, LMSW (Counselor)

Picture of Katie Piura


Katie is a Licensed Master in Social Work who has worked extensively with children, adolescents, adults, and families for 7 years. She specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, ADHD, mood disorders, codependency, relationship and or family issues, and life transitions.
Katie values a nurturing and empathic relationship with her clients that shows unconditional positive regard. Meeting clients where they are and meeting them at their pace in the therapeutic process is what she does in order to help clients feel empowered in their healing process.
Katie received her BSW (Bachelor in Social Work) from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). She is an alum from UMBC, Shady Grove campus. Katie also received an MSW (Masters in Social Work), clinical concentration, from the Catholic University of America.
Katie has experience working as a clinician in non-profits and in government agencies serving clients who have endured different types of trauma, life transitions, and or struggle with a mental health diagnosis. She has extensive experience serving Black and Latinx clients and provides therapy in English or Spanish or both, depending on the client’s language preference. Katie also has experience providing social work services internationally. She is currently a clinician in a group practice while working at the Universities at Shady Grove Center for Counseling and Consultation.
Katie is originally from Honduras and has grown up in both Honduras and the DMV area in U.S. She attended a bilingual school in Honduras and attended college in Maryland and graduate school in D.C.
Professional Interests:  Working with survivors of child sexual abuse, including survivors of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC); pursue a doctorate degree to research CSEC in Latinx population; provide child sexual abuse and (CSEC) prevention workshops in the community; working as a clinician for college students; provide support groups for college students.
Personal Interests:  Makeup artistry; traveling; creating YouTube videos that are helpful; home decor; music; reading; comedy shows; and walks in nature with her shorkie dog
M.S.W, Social Work, Catholic University of America
B.S.W, Social Work, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Katie works for the Center Mondays - Thursdays, 5pm - 7pm (Mondays and Tuesdays are virtual only).