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APA Recognizes Psychologists for International Work

The American Psychological Association (APA) gives two awards in recognition of outstanding contributions to international cooperation and advancement of psychology—the Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology and the APA International Humanitarian Award.

Psychology International (November-December 2007)


The American Psychological Association (APA) gives two awards in recognition of outstanding contributions to international cooperation and advancement of psychology—the Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology and the APA International Humanitarian Award. The 2008 award winners are Puncky Paul Heppner, PhD and co-recipients Joseph Prewitt Diaz, PhD and Gundelina Velazco, PhD.

Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology

Puncky Paul Heppner, PhD, winner of the Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology, is a counseling psychologist who is recognized for his contributions to our understanding of problem-solving appraisal and coping, his research collaborations with scholars around the world, his mentoring of international students in cross-national research, and his faciltiation of international relationships and exchanges in counseling psychology. Dr. Heppner has been the recipient of three Fulbright Fellowships.

APA International Humanitarian Award

APA chose two recipients for the award for 2008: Joseph Prewitt Diaz, PhD and Gundelina Velazco, PhD. Dr. Prewitt Diaz is recognized as an international expert in the areas of disaster mental health, international humanitarian relief and development, and in designing and implementing psychological support programs in areas affected by both natural disasters and armed conflicts. He began his international humanitarian work in 1999 when he joined the Central America delegation of the American Red Cross. In 2002 he assisted the Indian Red Cross in developing a national strategy for disaster mental health. This included training mental health professionals to become disaster mental health specialists and the programs he designed have been used as models throughout the world. In 2005 Dr. Prewitt Diaz became the Senior Advisor for psychological support for the American Red Cross International Services. Dr. Prewitt Diaz holds the rank of Officer in the Emergency Management structure of the American Red Cross and the rank of Senior Mission Coordinator with the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

Dr. Velazco is a member of the British Psychological Society and the former chair of the Psychology Department of De La Salle University in the Philippines, where she was also the director of Institutional Testing, Evaluation, and Research. From 1996-1998 she served as a consultant to the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development whose social workers she trained. From her international research, fieldwork, and counseling work, she became interested in the psychology of traumatized children and in dealing with the problems of different types of children at risk. In 1999, Dr. Velazco decided to devote her career fulltime to working with street children and victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation. She has designed and directed training programs for workers handling children at risk, headed international research projects, and designed products and materials suitable for particular groups of children in different parts of the world. She is currently the Director of Aftercare for Justice for Children International (JFCI), a US-based NGO working towards the abolition of child exploitation and trafficking.

All award recipients will be presented with their awards at the 2008 APA Convention in Boston. Ψ