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Moiyattu Banya, M.S.W.

Headshot of Banya Moiyattu

Moiyattu Banya-Keister, M.S.W., is a third-year Ph.D. student at the New York University (NYU) Silver School of Social Work. She has 15 years of clinical experience and leadership with community-based organizations working with women and girls across Africa and the United States. As a survivor of the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, which occurred over 20 years ago, Banya-Keister values the importance of contributing to peaceful societies for women and girls in Sierra Leone and across Africa. She co-founded the nonprofit organization Girls Empowerment Sierra Leone, where she served as executive director for over a decade. Her interests are global mental health, community-based participatory research, and mixed methods.

Banya-Keister focuses on adolescent and young adult mental health services and interventions research. In particular, her interests center on supporting communities that have a history of trauma and gender-based violence in Africa. She is focused on the development and implementation of culturally relevant multilevel interventions that foster and nurture mental health and well-being among girls and young women on the continent. Her secondary research interests include improving mental health outcomes of refugee and first-generation immigrant African youth in the United States. Banya-Keister's interdisciplinary training in social work and public health shape her research agenda. She holds an M.S.W. from the Columbia University School of Social Work. She completed her undergraduate degree in public health at Rutgers University.

Banya-Keister currently conducts research as part of the Youth and Young Adult Mental Health Group at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. She also collaborates with the Research Program on Children and Adversity at Boston College, particularly on the Youth Readiness Initiative Sierra Leone. She also collaborates with The International Center for Child Health and Development at Washington University.

Recently, Banya-Keister was selected as a LEAD global mental health fellow as part of Washington University's Brown School of Psychiatry in 2023. In recognition of her work in Sierra Leone, Banya-Keister was also named one of the 'Top 100' African women making an impact in the lives of women and girls by Okay Africa. Banya-Keister was also selected as part of the NYU Urban Doctoral Fellowship, a highly competitive fellowship that fosters collaboration and scholarly discourse among a diverse group of faculty and students engaged in urban research. She was also selected to be part of the renowned Program for Research on Black Americans at the University of Michigan. She serves as an advisory board member of the Dreamer Girls Project at Yale University. Before arriving at NYU, Banya-Keister served as an adjunct professor at Temple University's Gender Studies Department and Columbia University School of Social Work.