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The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 51   Number 4 Fall 2018

Regional Network News

Edited by Scot Evans – Regional Network Coordinator

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall” - Oscar Wilde.  The fall season is a great time to check out your SCRA region information on the website and contact the coordinators to see what is going on in your neck of the autumn woods (http://www.scra27.org/who-we-are/regional-activities/). There are a lot of great things happening in our SCRA regions across the globe – check out the news from the Midwest and Southeast regions of the U.S. and info on the Community Psychology Conference in Slovakia.

 

News from the Midwest Region U.S.

MIDWEST REGIONAL COORDINATORS (RCS)

Amber Kelly, National Louis University; Melissa Ponce Rodas, Andrews University; Tonya Hall, Chicago State University

MIDWEST STUDENT REGIONAL COORDINATOR (SRCS)

Naz Chief, National Louis University

 

Announcements and information for inclusion in future Midwest updates should be sent to Melissa Ponce- Rodas (ponce@andrews.edu)

 

Interview with Monika Black: Are Community Psychologists Employable and Successful in the Midwest?

Written by Tonya Hall

QUESTION 1: Please tell me about your experiences as a community psychology doctoral student in the Midwest at DePaul University Chicago. Indicate pros/cons to share with community psychology students in the Midwest.  I came to Chicago from Columbus, Ohio with a clinical psychology degree and a Master’s of Healthcare Administration from The Ohio State University. However, I was not fully exposed to community psychology until 2000. At that time, I found Chicago to be rich in the principals of community psychology. I did my own research to find out more about the field and found Bogart Dolton’s book and ecological frameworks inspirational. The ecological framework was the best model that I had found to easily explain the independent and intersectional influences of multiple variables across key contexts. Shortly after reading the book, I happened to drive by the front gates of DePaul, I knew that it was the school for me. When I started exploring schools in community psychology in Chicago, DePaul University was the only school that returned my call. Dr. Susan McMahon was on the way to a meeting but took the time to talk with me about my interests in the community psychology doctoral program. DePaul was destined to be a part of my personal journey.

I loved graduate school and my colleagues would not be shocked to hear that from me. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Early in my program, I met with three faculty members that I thought best matched my interests and asked them to be on my team. It was the beginning of a good partnership. My focus was and continues to be on three key areas including communities of color, leadership, and women.     

DePaul’s program in community psychology was a phenomenal fit for my personality, character strengths, and leadership style. I was able to move to a faculty advisor who gave me direction and get the space that I needed to build relationships across disciplines and communities. I had the wonderful support of a leader within the department who helped me to truly forge relationships across each of the disciplines within psychology while building relationships with faculty from Women and Gender Studies, Public Health, the business school, etc. Later, I was graciously adopted by the I/O psychology program.  I was also able to develop key relationships with community partners and leaders and work on outside projects, as long as I kept my grades up, of course. As I stepped into my identity as a budding consultant, I very intentionally formed relationships with other consultants to establish a deeper commitment in the community and establish a greater sense of validity for what the work really looked and felt like in the field. Truly it was a great ecosystem and I remain grateful for the faculty who gave me the freedom to work outside of the box.

In particular, the interdepartmental partnerships I was able to create led to a pipeline of opportunities, which prompted me think seriously about what I would do next, after DePaul. Also, I aimed to form partnerships with key foundations and corporations that were engaged in the community that were related to my interests. This resulted in one of my first funded projects called the “Telling Our Stories” Project that captured resident stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly, of the impact that Chicago’s Plan for Transformation had on their psychological well-being, sense of community, and livelihood. Over 400 former residents were interviewed and shared their perspectives regarding the issues. Community psychology made this possible and it was great to have these experiences while in graduate school and having a rich environment of resources. I would encourage community psychology students to focus on starting their careers right now and not wait unless they risk losing control over their personal journey.

The only restriction that I faced in community psychology was the limited choice of whether I would become a tenure-track professor or a practitioner in the field. I wanted to create partnerships. I am a consultant who partners with the University, similar to that of Dr. Leonard Jason. I added the community psychology perspective of partnering across communities. Essentially, I wanted to build and sustain partnerships with students, faculty, community leaders, and corporations. I wanted to be mindful of various lived experiences, perspectives, strengths, theoretical approaches that key players in the ecosystem provide. I did not want to be bound by context. For instance, in a system that can be fragmented and hierarchical, I find it important to teach and be challenged by the wonderful questions that students ask so that I can challenge myself, clients, community leaders, and bring those to the questions to the CEOs of organizations today, without having to wait for the report to come out. Engaging in each aspect of the ecosystem keeps me mindful, constantly challenged, fresh, and on my toes. So, I decided to move forward with TandemSpring, be forever adjunct, a consultant, and a coach who partners across universities, titles (e.g., students, staff, middle managers to CEOs), and contexts (academia, Non-profits, For-profits and entrepreneurship). I do it all with a passion to help people to realize their full potential and bring their whole self to their work.   

QUESTION 2: Please tell me about your employment experiences in the field of community psychology in the Midwest. Share any suggestions for community psychology students who have completed their Ph.D. program and are seeking employment in the Midwest. I am an oddball, for all the right reasons, because I moved out of the box and created my own jobs as a consultant. I did participate in a few traditional fellowship programs along my journey. I encourage community psychology students to do the same to establish tangible partnership experiences. You can be a consultant or associate consultant now. You can be your own leader. You can work with dynamic people now who can help you to obtain your next community psychology job in academia, clinical settings or the community including corporate settings.

My strength is my focus on positive psychology and I offer that to my clients and the people that I partner with. I encourage others to capture and tell your story of how academic experiences have given you your strength. It is not all about the bullet points on the CV but the Why and the How that inspired you to focus in one area or another, work with a specific faculty member, engage in community-based research project, etc. Show employers that you are ready to offer them what worked well in your academic program and how you can apply it to the community to be an active partner in solving problems, their problems. Always check to see if the job matches your strengths. Chicago has a wealth of community psychology experiences available. Apply your strengths and build on it on your next job. For example, I ran non-profits, which led to my consulting in program development and evaluation across organizations, which created opportunities for me to be an executive coach to ensure that organizations had the culture necessary to support program design, development, and evaluation efforts. That opened the door to public speaking opportunities, working to empower women financially, and now, the development of Chicago’s only female-led and focused angel investing initiative.

At DyMynd, I started by working in the background to create an online assessment that would best match women with their financial strengths. At the time, financial institutions did not see these women as a part of a viable market and many women were left underserved with few options to become economically empowered. This was even more true for every aspect of difference that they brought to the table. Women of color knew that they were not valued clients by financial institutions and largely preferred to work with credit unions. I increasingly became intrigued by the opportunity to impact such an underserved population.

Shortly after completing my doctorate, I had the opportunity to go to New York for a focus group asking women to simply talk about their relationship with finance. The average net worth in the room was $35 million, and I am sitting there, a recently graduate community psychologist, wondering if perhaps this time I have gone too far outside of the box. However, I found that for the women in the room, that the challenges that they were facing, were interpersonal relationships with money, institutional, and societal. One of the women who commented on the systematic impact of women not being offered the same education, resources, and tools as men, ended with a statement about “This problem is too big; it is multipronged and too much for us to get our hands around at this point.” That is when I knew that this was now an issue for community psychology to address, and that is when I began to pursue as my passion project. I still had a consulting firm to run as my day job.

In Chicago, I used the experience in New York to run focus groups with 50 leading women in Chicago so that we could diversify the participants across, age, ethnicity, gender identity, and net worth. For many women it was the first time that they had ever had an open conversation about their emotional relationship with money. In the focus groups alone, we had women who cried, who were angry, who were tired for the ways that they had been taught that money was exclusively a man’s game by their families, cultures, and society. I was truly touched by the experience and the power of women collectively sharing their money experiences changed me and empowered me in my own life. Over the years, DyMynd illuminated another opportunity to economically empower women in Chicago which led to DyMynd Angels. DyMynd Angels is at the beginning phases of raising $1.92 million to invest in 20 female led start-ups, in Chicago and throughout the Midwest to close the gender funding gap.  For me, DyMynd Angels, has been the ultimate intersection of community psychology. We are educating a new generation of female funders while healing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and fostering a community of female funders and founders who, together, will change the landscape for the female economy in Chicago. This initiative not only brings funder and founders together, but it has opened up a dialogue in Chicago about what it means for women to step forward and lead with their whole hearts (e.g., on behalf of themselves, their families and communities) across levels of net-worth, cultural identities, titles, phase of career, context, etc. Additionally, this program model has opened the cultural dynamics across women who are more likely to become NPO leaders and those encouraged to engage in the “for-profits” arena. Women can be driven by their values and causes and simply choose the financial model that works best for them.

Community psychology allowed us to create the space and processes to talk about these issues and to design transformational programming around it. I have had CEO’s and CFO’s of some of the leading banks in the country who now realize that women are the market in finance, ask “how did you get women to engage.” My response is that “we asked questions, and then we listened.” I share this because what I know to be true but can’t say is that we simply used participatory-based research practices and created authentic space for the community to have voice. But the fact that such leaders truly wanted to know the answer to that question suggests, to me, that there continues to be a lot of opportunity and desire for the application of the principles of community psychology. The fact that participatory-based research is not a common business terms, says to me that we, as Community Psychologists, have a great opportunity to be proactive agents of change, even in Corporate America. In fact, I feel that there is great opportunity to do so in this economic socio-political environment.

QUESTION 3: Please describe your research experiences in community psychology. I do not have ample research projects in community psychology in the traditional sense. If you look at my list of publications it is very light. But that too is by design, as I wanted to do more community projects that resulted in reports, programs, etc. That list on the CV is rather long. I have more extended participatory based research on program design and evaluation. That being said, I do wish that I had spent more time in a formal research setting/lab and had just a few more publications under my belt, but not many more!

QUESTION 4: Please indicate any of your additional employment-related or research goals in community psychology that you have planned to complete in the future in the Midwest. My answers would have been different one year ago as 2017 was a rather productive year. Currently, I have an incredibly high level of job satisfaction in community psychology. I feel that I am in the right seat on the right bus. I have long considered leadership the ultimate of social justice issue. If we can answer the question of who is designed to lead then we will crack the Corporate Mindset and open the doors for ALL people to bring their talents and strengths to the table without micro aggressions, stereotypes, systematic barriers, etc. We can actually create space for people to simply lead well. As an executive coach I am able to truly partner with leaders on their journey to bringing their whole selves to work. I co-wrote a book with my business partner and better half grounded in the principles of positive psychology and have the wonderful blessing of empowering women through DyMynd and DyMynd Angels, all of which I will continue to focus on over the next 3-5 years.

QUESTION 5: Do you have any suggestions for community psychology students in the Midwest? Do not wait for your career to begin to form partnerships, create projects and programs, and tasks some strategic risks. Graduate school is the perfect place to incubate a new idea, model, and/or business. With a more open mindset, owning your role as a leader, you might find more opportunities are right in front of you and what could be better than embarking on new opportunities with the support of great faculty and resources. Be a proactive partner in healing academic institutions and community partnerships. Create opportunities for true collaboration and timely dissemination of information with the community. Do not wait to look for opportunities to build a bridge. If you decide not to go the tenure track route, what can you do? Community psychology has the principles, models, and the tools to build the many of the bridges that the world needs right now.

Trainings in the Midwest

Written by Amber Kelly

The Midwest is full of various trainings opportunities to learn new skills or brush up on old concepts. Here are some upcoming trainings in the Midwest:

Asset Based Community Development Institute’s Faith Rooted Working Group

October 31st 8:30-5:00 pm CST

Acumen

Offers free and paid learning opportunities online this Fall. Some free sessions include: Storytelling for Change, Introduction to Human- Centered Design and Social Impact Analysis. 

Upcoming Conference

Registration is now open for Midwest Eco. Check out the website to learn more https://midwesteco2018.weebly. com/ 

News from the Southeast Region U.S.

SOUTHEAST REGIONAL COORDINATORS (RCS):

Pam Imm, Community Psychologist, Independent Practice; Lexington SC; Wing Yi (Winnie) Chan, Rand Corporation; Elan Hope, North Carolina State University

SOUTHEAST STUDENT REGIONAL COORDINATORS (SRCS):

Geena Washington, North Carolina State University; Douglas Archie, University of South Carolina; Andrew GadaireUNC-Charlotte

Architects of Humanity: Decolonizing the Future of Community Psychology: Southeast Ecological Community Psychology Conference 2018

The Southeast Region of the Society for Community Research and Action hosted the 2018 Southeast ECO Conference - Architects of Humanity: Decolonizing the Future of Community Psychology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC on September 28th & 29th, 2018.

Southeast ECO is a regional extension of the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA, http://www.scra27.org). ECO conferences are organized by graduate students and allow community psychologists and other folks from applied settings to gather. We welcome cross-collaboration, including but not limited to community organizers, public health, social work, the arts, and technology.  The theme for the conference was "Architects of Humanity: Decolonizing the Future of Community Psychology." We were guided by a call to explore worlds where those who are most marginalized thrive, humanity is affirmed, and communities’ well-being is reflective of a commitment to liberation. The conference included storytelling, poster presentations, research talks, and teach-ins.

News from Europe/Middle East/Africa

REGIONAL COORDINATORS

Serdar Degirmencioglu, Cumhuriyet University; José Ornelas, Instituto Universitário, in Lisboa, Portugal; Caterina Arcidiacono, Federico II University, Naples, Italy; Julia Halamova, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia

5th Conference in Community Psychology in Slovakia and Workshop on Community Service Design

The goal of the conference and workshop is to provide time and space for both researchers and practitioners from various areas of community psychology in Europe so they can meet, present their work and research, inspire each other, and enjoy socializing together.

Organisation: Institute of Applied Psychology at Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, European Community Psychology Association (ECPA), and The Society for Community and Action Research (SCRA) Division 27 American Psychological Association.

Conference: December 3-4, 2018 (9.00-16.00)

ECPA General assembly: December 3, 2018 (16.00-17.30)

Workshop on Community Service Design: December 4, 2018 (14.00-18.00) and 5, 2018 (9.00-13.00)
Prof. Alessandra Talamo from University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
The Service Design Thinking workshop will provide a practical experience of some of the most popular techniques for the design of innovative services in real contexts. These participatory techniques are aimed at creating new services connecting the needs and wants of stakeholders with objectives and potential boundaries from service providers.

Conference language: English

Conference fee: No fee (free access)

Workshop language: English

Workshop fee: 50 €

Deadline for active participation in the conference: Please send an email with the following information to CommunityPsychologySlovakia@gmail.com: Name and surname of the presenters, workplace address, title of the presentation, and research based abstract (max 250 words) by September 16, 2018.

The proceedings from the conference will be published in electronic form with ISBN. The deadline for the submission of the conference papers is November 1, 2018 (CommunityPsychologySlovakia@gmail.com) in order to be reviewed and published prior the conference.

Deadline for participation in the workshop: Please send an email until November 15, 2018 to caterina.arcidiacono@unina.it

More information: https://fses.uniba.sk/pracoviska/ustavy/uap/komunitna-psychologia-na-slovensku/

Place: Institute of Applied Psychology
Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences Comenius University in Bratislava Mlynske luhy 4, 821 05 Bratislava, Slovakia

Contact person: Júlia Halamová, 00421908604141, julia.halamova@gmail.com

Looking forward to seeing you in Bratislava in Slovakia!