Welcome and overview

New features and updates appearing in the July Communiqué newsletter

Tiffany G. Townsend, PhD
Senior Director of OEMA

Tiffany G. Townsend, PhD
It was August 2010 when OEMA’s Senior Director, Bertha G. Holliday, PhD, announced her retirement in the pages of the Communiqué. After 16 years of service to APA and to the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, Dr. Holliday officially retired on July 15, 2010. Almost exactly a year later, I began my tenure as the new Senior Director of OEMA on July 5, 2011, and immediately realized that I had huge shoes to fill! As OEMA’s sixth director, I certainly benefit from the strong foundation laid by those directors that served before me. Due to the efforts of Esteban Olmedo, PhD, Lillian Comas-Díaz, PhD, Christine Hall, PhD, L. Philip Guzmán, PhD, and of course, Bertha Holliday, PhD, OEMA has been firmly established as the champion of ethnic minority interests in the field and profession of psychology.

My challenge is to continue the strong traditions of the Office while also working to keep OEMA revolutionary, with exciting new initiatives. This means retaining some projects relatively unchanged, developing brand new programs, and revitalizing efforts that need updating to ensure their relevance, timeliness and/or practicality. One of my first objectives as director was to re-establish production of the Communiqué. As a venue to examine, discuss and advocate for issues relevant to ethnic minorities in the profession and in the field of psychology, the Communiqué remains an extremely important tool for OEMA to communicate with you, our constituents. Unfortunately, due to a drastic reduction in office staff, the August 2010 issue not only served as Dr. Holliday’s retirement issue, but it also marked the beginning of a long hiatus in the production of the Communiqué.

Now, 20 years after its initial publication, we are excited to publish the first issue of the revitalized Communiqué, which effectively ends the two-year hiatus of the newsletter. You will notice we have updated the format of the Communiqué by delivering it online and streamlining the publication to be much shorter. In order to avoid losing information in this streamlined version, the newsletter will now be published quarterly instead of semi-annually. The winter issue (February) will cover the spring consolidated meetings, OEMA updates and announcements. The spring issue (May) will be primarily thematic, with articles and reflections to address topics relevant to psychologists and/or communities of color. The summer issue (August) will be devoted to OEMA updates, announcements and APA convention programming. Finally, the fall issue (November) will provide updates concerning the fall consolidated meetings and will also include a special thematic section, likely serving as a continuation of the theme introduced in the spring.

In this current issue, we have included a brief special section on racial bias, racial profiling and microaggression. From this point forward, thematic sections will be concentrated in the spring and fall issues. However, given that APA’s Convention will take place in Orlando, Fla. this year, 30 miles outside of Sanford, we thought we could use this convention issue to begin a dialogue concerning the ways in which psychology can speak to and help to address some of the problems in race relations that were highlighted in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. This section features a commentary by Kevin Nadal, PhD, one of the leading researchers in understanding the impacts of microaggression, or subtle forms of discrimination, on the mental and physical health of people of color. It also includes essays from two graduate students of psychology, Steven Kniffley, MA, and Dave Jean.

Following our special section, we provide a brief update on OEMA’s recent activities. In addition to the revitalized Communiqué, OEMA is continuing other long standing programs and awards. The Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology Task Force (CEMRRAT2), Council of National Psychology Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Interest (CNPAAEMI) and Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) awards (Suinn Awards, Tanaka Dissertation Award and the Tomes Award) remain active. In fact, APA’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) has been chosen to receive the Suinn Award this year. A description of APA’s MFP is provided in the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs (OEMA) update along with additional information concerning the Tanaka and Tomes Awards. In addition, OEMA has a strong tradition of providing training programs for students and researchers of color to help build the next generation of scholars who can lead the way in tailoring psychology to meet the diversity and ever changing demography of American society. Under my direction, OEMA is continuing this tradition. Specifically, OEMA solicited applications, coordinated review and selection, and coordinated grant award processes for three 2012 awardees of OEMA’s Promoting Psychological Research and Training on Health Disparities Issues (ProDIGs) grants to early career faculty at minority-serving institutions. These grantees, Sinead Younge, PhD, Nhan Truong, PhD, and Lesia Ruglass, PhD, are introduced in this issue under the OEMA update.

The OEMA update also includes a report on the current progress of the CEMRRAT Initiative. In February 2011, the APA Council of Representatives (COR) reinstated funding for the CEMRRAT Initiative, allowing OEMA to reinstitute the CEMRRAT Implementation Grants Fund. The CEMRRAT2 Task Force, with support from OEMA staff, was able to solicit proposals, review, identify and select projects for funding, and authorize OEMA to disburse funds. Currently, grants were awarded totaling $36,500 across seven priority areas. A summary of each funded project is provided in the CEMRRAT2 TF update.

Finally, as a new initiative in OEMA, we are expanding our scope to educate the broader community about issues particularly relevant to America’s ethnic minority population. Our new initiative, the Ethnicity and Health in America Series is designed to raise public awareness concerning the varied health concerns of America’s people of color, while highlighting the impact of psychology and psychological factors on those health concerns. A full description of this initiative is also included in the OEMA update following the special section.

In closing, I am excited to join the APA family and I look forward to building upon the rich tradition of those directors on whose shoulders I stand. I want to thank the staff of OEMA for their tireless effort to produce this first online version of the Communiqué. In particular, I want to thank Sherry T. Wynn and Alberto Figueroa-García, MBA, who have been very supportive during this transition in leadership. I also want to thank our OEMA interns, Nneka Nnadozie and Danielle Stephenson, who eagerly assist our staff, regardless of the task. Of course, we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to those APA members who voluntarily provided submissions for this issue. Without you, this would not have been possible. We hope you find this revitalized Communiqué informative but as we continue to refine the new format for the newsletter, I encourage you to provide input and feedback. Together, we can work to ensure that the Communiqué continues to serve as the “voice” for ethnic minority issues in psychology.