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Our Team | Hip Hop Therapy Global Institute

Our Team


HHTGI Director

Ian Levy


Dr. Ian Levy is a professor of school counseling at the University of Massachusetts Boston, New York City native, and former High School counselor in the South Bronx. Ian’s research interests include the examination of mental health practices in urban schools, which entails interrogating the role of the school counselor and other school staff to ensure the emotional lives of young people are adequately addressed. Most notably, Dr. Levy piloted the development, implementation, and evaluation of a Hip Hop based counseling framework in urban schools. This particular hip hop therapy program was featured on various news outlets including the New York Times, and CNN.

In 2016 Dr. Levy was named the New York State School Counselor of the Year. In his current role as an academic, Dr. Levy remains focused on addressing the multifaceted roles of the school counselor as a not only a direct provider of counseling services, but a counselor educator. As a new professional, Dr. Levy has been recognized as an emerging leader by the Association of Humanistic Counseling. Through his work at UMass Boston, Dr. Levy now engages in the formal training of school counselors in culturally sensitive counseling and pedagogical practices in schools. In his role at UMass Boston, Dr. Levy supervises school counseling interns at 15 schools across Massachusetts. Dr. Levy is a recent recipient of the Joseph P. Healey Research enabling him the funding necessary to construct a studio at a local Boys & Girls Club in Boston where he will lead a team of pre-service school counselors in the implementation of a series of hip hop therapy groups.

HHTGI Founder

Tomas Alvarez


Tomás is a leading social entrepreneur known for trailblazing work using Hip Hop Therapy to promote mental health and wellbeing among youth of color. He is a clinically trained social worker specializing in the strength-based therapeutic care of youth disenfranchised by traditional mental health systems. He is an Ashoka Fellow and recent SEERS Fellow through Stanford University’s Program on Social Entrepreneurship. In 2015, Tomás was named a CNN Hero for his transformative work.

In 2004, Tomás pioneered one of the first Hip Hop Therapy programs to engage young men of color in therapy. He later served as the founding CEO of Beats Rhymes and Life, Inc. (BRL) where his vision and leadership helped to establish the organization as a prominent player in the field of Hip Hop Therapy. In 2015, Tomás transitioned out of BRL to launch the Hip Hop Therapy Global Institute (HHTGI) and focus his efforts on field-building projects that give rise to collective impact. He currently serves as an advisor for HHTGI.

In 2016, Tomas joined the Children’s Wellbeing Initiative, a joint project between Ashoka and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on shifting norms and systems to ensure every child grows up with a strong sense of self, belonging and purpose.