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Conant House Staff

The Counseling Center staff are experienced mental health professionals dedicated to our students’ personal growth and development. Learn more about us by browsing the biographies below; it is important that you have confidence in your counselor and her/his ability to help you.
Mark Thompson Faculty Portrait 2015

Mark Thompson, PhD


Welcome and thanks for visiting our Counseling Center website. It has been my privilege to serve as director of Colgate's Counseling Center since 1997. I am a counseling psychologist and earned my Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1987.  Both my master’s and bachelor’s degrees were awarded by St. Bonaventure University.

I enjoy my contact with students to address both clinical and developmental issues.  Through individual and group therapy, I work with students to resolve mental health concerns. This year I’ll be leading the men’s therapy group and the family issues group.  In addition to directing the Counseling Center, I serve on the Shaw Wellness Institute steering committee, the Eating Issues Management Team, the Colgate Men’s Group, and provide workshops and trainings addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, bystander intervention, and sexual assault prevention.  I have served on the faculty for Colgate’s Yes Means Yes series promoting positive sexuality since we started the program about six years ago.

My areas of professional interest include acquaintance rape prevention, bereavement and loss, men's issues, dissociation and trauma, and identity concerns. The psychological theories and orientations that most heavily influence the way I work with students include cognitive-behavioral, systems, Adlerian, and humanistic approaches.  All that being said, I work hard to establish genuine and respectful therapy relationships to help the students with whom I work achieve their counseling goals.

My professional activities include membership in the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD), where I currently serve as a member of the Governing Board and chair of the Director Development committee.  From 2009-12 I co-chaired the Elements of Excellence Committee addressing training needs for counseling center directors. As a member of the American Psychological Association, I participate in Divisions 17 (Counseling Psychology) and 51 (Men and Masculinity).  I am actively involved in the Counseling Centers of New York (CCNY) network.

On a personal note, my partner/spouse works as an administrator at a neighboring college. We have two wonderful daughters, one a student affairs professional herself and our younger daughter  a recent college graduate now out in the working world. Family life fills up most of my non-work time and is very important to me. I enjoy lots of sports, both as a participant and an observer. I love to read, listen to music, and spend time in the out-of-doors. Even though I was raised on Long Island, I've grown to love living in a small town.

Dawn LaFrance

Dawn LaFrance, PsyD

Associate Director

I have been on the staff at Colgate's Counseling Center since 2001. I enjoy working with college students and helping them through their many life experiences.

After completing my undergraduate degree at Lafayette College, I earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of Indianapolis.

During my training, I worked primarily in community mental health and university counseling centers. I spent my internship year at Utah State University's Counseling Center. My therapeutic orientation is a combination of cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and systems perspectives. Existential and humanistic theories have also influenced my work. Although I am a generalist, I am especially interested in diversity issues, college adjustment, sexual abuse trauma, women's issues, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. 

I am the Associate Director of the Counseling Center and coordinate our clinical responses. I support Colgate's diversity initiatives and am involved in positive sexuality initiatives on campus.

I live with my family in Hamilton. I love country living, especially spending time outside. In my free time, I enjoy playing with my children, working in the garden, reading, walking, and spending time with my family and friends.
Julie Hawkins

Julie Hawkins, PhD

Staff Psychologist

I joined the Colgate Counseling Center in 2012. As a Central New York native, I’m so very pleased to be back in the area after several years of living in Florida. While in Florida, I earned a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Miami. I completed internship at the Florida State University Counseling Center, and a post-doctoral residency in the residential addiction treatment unit of a psychiatric hospital.  Although I enjoyed long walks on the beach, after years of wishing the seasons would change, I decided to move back “home”.

I’ve worked with people of all ages, in a variety of settings, including several colleges as well as hospitals and community mental health centers. My primary area of interest is helping students with their own personal growth and development, while taking into consideration individual characteristics and values.  I appreciate all forms of diversity. I believe that managing stress is vital to overall well-being, and have advanced training in meditation, mindfulness, stress management and mind/body medicine. Issues I find particularly interesting include anxiety, depression, relationships and family dynamics. My therapeutic orientation tends toward a blend of systems theories, Adlerian, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

While I love the clinical work, I always look forward to interacting with students outside the office. I’m a member of the Social Norming Committee and the ALANA Affairs committee. I also teach a course in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which students can take for a PE credit, and do several workshops, including Managing Test Anxiety, Beating the Winter Blues, and Helping Students in Distress.

When I’m not on campus, I’m usually out finding new things to explore to balance both the introverted and extroverted sides of my personality – whether it’s a day trip, trying something new and creative or spending time with family, friends and pets.

Niki KeatingNiki Keating, PhD

Staff Psychologist

I received my doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from the University at Buffalo and completed my doctoral internship at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. My professional experience spans many settings, however I have been consistently drawn to working with young adults. After working in several university counseling centers, I found working with college students to be my niche. My clinical interests are holistic wellness, women's issues, multicultural issues, identity development, and relationships. My approach to therapeutic work is strongly influenced by interpersonal and cognitive theories.

Despite growing up in suburbs of Central New York, I truly love country living in Hamilton. When I'm not in the office, I'm most likely to be found trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, gardening, or reading the latest thriller/mystery novel. My partner and daughter often keep me busy with outdoor activities, traveling, and trying new foods.
Susan Nolen

Susan Nolen, MSW

Staff Counselor

Originally from Virginia, I received a bachelor’s of social work from James Madison University in 1982, and a master’s of social work from Temple University in 1986. Both my undergraduate and graduate programs focused on systems theory which serves as a foundation for my work with students here at Colgate.

I enjoy working with the variety of issues our students are dealing with including body image concerns and eating disorders, depression, anxiety, grief, developmental issues, relationship concerns, and family issues. I’ve had the pleasure of helping students work through the problems associated with these significant developmental years on a part-time, adjunct basis since the fall of 1989.
Outside of work I enjoy music, walking, volunteer work, and receiving texts from my three children who are in the process of emptying the nest.

Denise Contrerase

Denise M. Contreras, MSW

 Staff Counselor

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, I had the opportunity to travel and serve as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force for over seven years. Following my separation from the military, I pursued my college education and received my Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in Social Work from Texas State University in 2006 and 2007. My MSW program in direct-practice was built on the liberal arts perspective. 

I have extensive experience working on the issues that initially brought me to social work: substance abuse prevention, crisis intervention, and a desire to support the emotional health of young adults. I enjoy working with students on the issues they experience including adjustment, depression, anxiety, grief, body image, relationship concerns, men's issues, and family issues. I am a generalist who enjoys helping students identify their strengths and develop new ways of coping with stress. My approach to the therapeutic process involves a strengths-based perspective and cognitive behavioral techniques. In my practice, I am also interested in issues of diversity, identity, and intersectionality. 

My outside interests include jogging and attending sporting events. I am a Texas Longhorn football fan. I also enjoy reading, art, travel, and spending time with my family, partner, and friends.

Amanda BridgeAmanda L. Bridge

Office Manager