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Here we highlight the extraordinary work of our members, both those recognized by SCRA and those who have won awards from the APA.
Thomasina Borkman has made substantial contributions to community psychology in the area of theory and research on self-help/mutual aid groups and voluntary community–based organizations. For over four decades, she has conducted innovative survey based, ethnographic, and participatory action research into the processes and understandings of self-help and mutual support groups. Dr. Borkman’s research, leadership, and policy work helped the field of self-help move forward both nationally and internationally and has contributed to research and knowledge in the fields of community psychology, sociology, policy studies, and voluntary action. She introduced the important concept of experiential knowledge as an overlooked but critically important form of knowledge possessed by non-academics and non-professionals, which values the lived experiences and knowledge of community members. Through her research and policy work, Dr. Borkman has advocated for using the language, perspectives, and voices of community members within community organizations to more fully understand the roles, processes, and strengths of mutual support groups and other community-based organizations.
Dennis Mohatt has made substantial contributions to community psychology practice. He has served in numerous community mental health leadership, advocacy, advisory, and activist roles, at the community, state, and federal levels. Mr. Mohatt’s work has had a meaningful impact on a national scope, and these roles have included serving as a member of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health, Deputy Director for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and, currently, Vice President for Behavioral Health for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Mental Health Program. His work has addressed rural mental health and facilitating the creation of rural mental health services, advocating for the needs of rural communities, and developing administrative and service strategies in various organizations. Additionally, Mr. Mohatt has contributed to the field through his research and scholarship that on developing collaborative community-based solutions and community-centered preventive strategies to address the needs of many community groups, including veterans, college students, rural youth, and behavioral health care providers. His work in consultation and social policy has made significant meaningful impacts on a broad geographical scope to assist others in developing innovative service models and implement creative workforce development programs. Mr. Mohatt’s work exemplifies the integration of community psychology principles and values into community practice.
Kyrah K. Brown is an assistant professor, Department of Kinesiology (Public Health), College of Nursing and Health Innovation, at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Brown is described by her recommenders as a “born community psychologist” who has been involved with SCRA as an undergraduate, served in an exemplary manner as co-chair of the Community Psychology Practice Council, and whose work has focused on improving the well-being of minority youth and families through program development and evaluation. Even at this early career stage, Dr. Brown has shown advanced consultation and program evaluation skills. Her most recent scholarly accomplishment is co-editing New Directions in Evaluation: Evaluating Community Coalitions and Collaborations. Dr. Brown is dedicated to career contributions to community psychology and SCRA.
Amie Thurber received her degree from Vanderbilt University in 2018; Sarah Safransky served as Chair of her dissertation committee. In her dissertation, “The Neighborhood Story Project: Keeping More Than Our Homes”, Dr. Thurber examined individuals’ sense of place, belonging, and history as consequences of the gentrification of neighborhoods in addition to other, expected material losses, such as affordable housing. She conducted a multi-phase participatory action research intervention to engage residents in studying and taking leadership positions in their neighborhoods. Her methodologically-appropriate project is effectively grounded in community psychology theories related to place attachments, social ties, and civic action. Dr. Thurber provides a guide for creating learning, caring, and empowering environments, and offers a replicable practice model which can facilitate collective action in neighborhoods becoming gentrified.
Dissertation Title: The Neighborhood Story Project: Keeping More Than Our Homes
Dissertation Chair: Sarah Safransky, Vanderbilt University
Erin R. Ellison received her degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2017. In her dissertation, “Collaborative Competence and Relational Praxis Among Community Organizers: The Reproduction of, and Resistance to, Systems of Oppression”, Dr. Ellison examined relational empowerment processes collaborative competence among union organizers using mixed-method, multi-level social network analysis and qualitative analyses. She focused on the functioning of the organizing group in addressing oppression and the building of power via social support and group cohesion to make socially just change.
Necessary to this process is that organizing participants must recognize the persistence of racism, classism, and sexism, including that those who reproduce oppression must acknowledge their own oppressive behaviors. Such relational work by individuals and groups can improve resolution of injustices and enable working together in empowering ways. Dr. Ellison’s dissertation clearly meets the criteria for the Emory L. Cowen Dissertation Award.
Dissertation Title: Collaborative Competence and Relational Praxis Among Community Organizers: The Reproduction of, and Resistance to, Systems of Oppression
Dissertation Chair: Dr. Regina Day Langhout, California, Santa Cruz
Ciann L. Wilson is an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. She has supervised numerous graduate students of color and students with intersecting identities. Dr. Wilson is affiliated with and supports the Equity & Access Research Interest Group, which focuses on utilizing community-based research approaches to improve the health, well-being, and social service access of racialized and marginalized communities. In addition to her mentoring, advising, and teaching commitments, she also engages students in opportunities for critical scholarship and community-engaged research centered on elevating the stories and realities of Black, Indigenous, and communities of color and LGBTQ communities. Additionally, Dr. Wilson is a member of the Diversity and Equity Committee, which seeks to bring more ethnic minority faculty members to the Community Psychology program and the University. As a fervent proponent of proportional representation, Dr. Wilson understands the connection between student success and having professors that represent student communities – professors who understand the lived experiences of what it takes for ethnic minority students to attain university degrees. Lastly, Dr. Wilson's long trajectory of scholarly work centered on health promotion, HIV treatment and prevention, and well-being also demonstrates her commitment to social justice.
James Cook has long-standing and far-reaching contributions to community psychology and community research and action through education. These included scholarly contributions to understanding building campus community partnerships, teaching a variety of community psychology related courses at the graduate and undergraduate level, and development of the winner of the 2013 SCRA outstanding program award – UNC-Charlotte. Students’ comments on Dr. Cook’s courses reflect powerful experiences that put them on a path of success, collaboration, and working for social change. Particularly noteworthy is the impact he has had on students that have gone on to practice community psychology in a range of settings. Letters of support also spoke to the “learning-while-doing” approach of Dr. Cook, and particularly his long history of facilitating class projects that benefit both students and community partners in meaningful ways.
Isaac Prilleltensky, through his career, has contributed substantially to the field of community psychology in innovative ways that are consistent with the traditions pioneered by Seymour Sarason. His work has contributed to a vision of community psychology where values are a central framework for action, knowledge is drawn from multiple disciplines, and critical perspectives, power, and privilege considerations are integrated into theory, research, and practice. Dr. Prilleltensky’s leadership and dedication to overcoming injustice and to work for meaningful social change and social action in communities has been inspirational and influential to theorists, researchers, students, practitioners in the field, as well as influencing policy makers, community members, and community leaders. His critiques of the psychology field as a whole, challenges to individually–based notions of wellness, development of a values-based frameworks for the field, and contributions to understandings of oppression, conscientization, empowerment, liberation, social justice, critical psychology, and the need to put theory in action, or praxis, have been major theoretical contributions to psychology. Finally, Dr. Prilleltensky has exemplified the idea of the researcher/activist and has consistently translated theory and research into action through numerous community–based interventions to promote wellness, empowerment, liberation, inclusion, and a sense of belonging in the US and in Canada.
The National Prevention Science Coalition (NPSC) collaborates with diverse organizations, experts, and community stakeholders to support the development of policies that promote prevention to address diverse challenges affecting the healthy development of individuals, families, and communities. Within the last several years, the NPSC has hosted 18 congressional briefings and has published numerous articles, op-ed pieces, and policy statements that have been identified as instrumental in addressing serious community problems, including drug (i.e., opioid) crises, child maltreatment, and human trafficking. The NPSC has made significant accomplishments in addressing transdisciplinary research towards reducing social ills and increasing general public awareness of the importance of community resilience. Through this award, we celebrate the action-oriented, collaborative approach of NPSC as a model for Community Psychologists engaged in public policy.
Regina Langhout received this award for her courageous leadership and exemplary action on behalf of individuals, families, and communities at risk of deportation and family separation, and her actions have had local and national impacts. She took a leadership role in drafting and disseminating a policy brief on this issue which was published on SCRA’s webpages. Dr. Langhout worked with her university to issue a press release locally and nationally. The policy brief was published in AJCP via open access. She was interviewed on deportation and forced family separation issues by NPR’s affiliate KAZU and state-wide NPR affiliates, and she authored a newspaper Op-Ed focusing on how communities could support immigrants lacking authorization. Dr. Langhout and the policy brief committee members also facilitated dissemination to local immigration attorneys, various bar associations, city council members, immigrant rights advocacy groups, researcher and practitioner list serves, social media networks and universities, and APA social media.
Donata Francescato was selected to receive the Special Contribution to Community Psychology Award because of her exemplary contributions to the field of community psychology. She has been an intellectual pioneer and a champion of community psychology in her home country of Italy and throughout Europe. Dr. Francescato’s work spans more than five decades has had a tremendous impact on academic and lay communities. Her work has advanced the field of community psychology through contributing to theory, research, methodologies, and training. Dr. Francescato has contributed to the dissemination of community psychology among academics, community professionals, and the general public through mass media interventions, writing textbooks, and providing resources and support for psychologists to communicate with the general public. She introduced the Participatory Multidimensional Organizational Analysis (PMOA) model, Socio-Political Empowerment Training Labs, and innovative online collaborative learning models for conducting integrative, interdisciplinary, and empowering community practice. Dr. Francescato has been a strong advocate for women’s roles and women’s activism, and fostered empowerment at the individual, organizational, and community level for marginalized community groups.
The Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice is this year’s winner of the Don Klein Publication Award to Advance Community Psychology Practice. The Global Journal highlights the work of practitioners and provides a publication outlet for practitioners, encouraging diverse viewpoints, focusing on a lively exchange of information, and creating collaborations. The Global Journal was started in 2010 and has published continuously since that time. Its reach is substantial; it has over 1,000 subscribers and more than 1,500 followers on various social media platforms. Although 52% of subscribers are from North American, other subscribers live and work throughout the world, including Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Central/South America. It truly has a global reach and embodies the values of SCRA and community psychology.