Publications Journal Newsletter Book Series

A 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, and
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, and
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.

Chronology of Division 45 History—Part 1
Chronology of Division 45 History—Part 2

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