Publications Journal Newsletter Book Series

Division 45's 20th Anniversary

A Message From Division 45's
Founding President

Dear Division 45 Colleagues:

Since my early days of involvement with APA in the 1970's I always felt that there was a need for a division to represent the interests of people of color in the science and profession of psychology.

As a participant in the "Dulles Conference" in 1978, I argued strenuously for the conferees to recommend the creation of a division on ethnic minority issues. It was not to be at the time, and instead the conferees recommended the creation of an Office and a Board of Ethnic Minority Affairs (BEMA).

Little did I know at the time that I would become the first Director of the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs and serve as the Central Office Liaison to BEMA!

But the continuing need for a division was always in my mind. Towards the end of my tenure at the APA Central Office during 1983–84, BEMA established its Task Force on Communication with Minority Constituencies. Under the able leadership of my successor, Dr. Lillian Comas-Diaz, this dedicated group of psychologists of color provided the impetus and organizational efforts that resulted in the creation of Division 45.

Over the past 20 years, Division 45 has provided superb leadership in bringing issues of concern to psychologist of color to a degree of prominence within APA that seemed unattainable at the time. This has taken place on a number of fronts. These include convention programming, representation on the APA governance structure including the Council of Representatives and the Board of Directors, and the development and adoption of policies and guidelines for psychological services to and research with people of color.

Please accept my heartfelt congratulations to Division 45 on this momentous occasion and my sincere thanks to the many psychologists who have freely volunteered their time and effort to make the Division a resounding success.

Esteban Olmedo, PhD
Founding President

Statement by Dr. Clive Kennedy
for Division 45 Open House Celebration

It’s amazing how quickly time has passed. During that labor of love twenty years ago, the members of BEMA worked and played together, conceiving of and creating a permanent vehicle within APA structure to further the study of ethnicity and culture. Over these years, the officers and members of Division 45 have made us proud with unparalleled dedication and commitment, furthering the original vision within a multicultural environment. It is that same spirit experienced by BEMA members—balanced by gender and ethnicity—that drives the passionate but objective focus on topics previously avoided, ignored, or shamed. It is with utmost delight that I join APA in celebrating this important milestone.

Clive D. Kennedy, PhD

Brief History of the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues: A Division of the American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives
voted to establish the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic
Minority Issues (Division 45) in August of 1986. This represented the
culmination of decades of efforts to integrate ethnic minority psychology into the American Psychological Association. Members of the Society's initial steering committee were:

Esteban Olmedo, President
Lillian Comas-Díaz, Treasurer
John Moritsugu, Secretary
Melba Vasquez, Council Representative

The first elected Executive Committee included:

Chalsa M. Loo and John N. Moritsugu, Co-Presidents
Dalmas A. Taylor, President-elect
Esteban Olmedo, Past Founding President
Lillian Comas-Díaz, Secretary-Treasurer
Melba Vasquez, Council Representative
Lisa Porché-Burke, Member at Large
Teresa LaFromboise, Member at Large
Charles Pine, Member at Large
Hortensia Amaro, Member at Large
Joseph Trimble, Fellows Committee Chair
Eduardo Morales, Convention Program Chair
William D. Parham, Membership Chair
James Jones, Newsletter Editor

The Society has been instrumental in the development and support of
several ongoing programs that had seeds in the initiatives of Former
Society Presidents. Vera Paster founded the mentoring program, "Links and Shoulders." Many of the Society's rituals and traditions used during Executive Committee meetings and awards ceremonies were introduced by Charles Pine. Joseph Trimble established an annual student poster award.

One of the initial goals of the Society was to "Promote the study of
ethnicity and culture in psychology". Initially, this goal was
achieved through scholarly presentations at the APA annual
convention. The goal of development of an official divisional journal
was realized in 1998 with the establishment of Cultural Diversity and
Ethnic Minority Psychology.

During the second decade of the Society, we have doubled the number of our Council Representatives from one to two. Starting in 1999, and continuing in alternate years, Division 45 has been a major sponsor and organizer of the National Multicultural Conference and Summit.

The Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues
continues to grow and now has more than 1,000 members. Many of our founding members are still active in the governance of the division, providing the collective memory that allows us to mentor newer members and continue our progress.

Many of the first dreams of the Division have become realities. We know we still have far to go. The growth of the Society reflects the strength of our membership and the continued potential to achieve as we pause to celebrate, remember, honor, and consider how far we have come in our first 20 years.

Click here to see photos and names of Division 45 founding members.


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