Council on Cultural, Ethnic and Racial Affairs



CERA's mission is to represent issues of cultural diversity and promote the concerns of people of color as a focus of community research and intervention; to promote training and professional development of people of color interested in community psychology; to advise the Executive Committee on matters of concern to people of color, and to inform and educate the Executive Committee regarding the implications of decisions as they pertain to people of color. 

Co-Chair: Jesica Siham Fernández, Santa Clara University

Co-Chair Dominique Thomas, University of Michigan 

Past-Chair Geraldine (Geri) Palmer, Adler University and Community Wellness Institute. LLC



This quarter we feature
Tiffeny R. Jimenez, Ph.D. 
Institutional affiliation:     National Louis University
Current position:              Associate Professor

Scholarship, Teaching & Areas of Practice
I wear many hats but identify as a scholar-practitioner living at the borders of being a community psychology practitioner and being a faculty member within academia. I am a faculty member within the NLU Community Psychology Doctoral Program in Chicago. NLU is a unique setting in that we are primarily a minority and Hispanic serving institution, which means we serve a high number of Black and Hispanic students. We also attract and serve an increasing number of students around the globe (e.g., Nigeria, Palestine, India, Kenya). I believe that working with the specific populations we do requires embedding a critical, liberatory, and decolonial stance in orientation to the field.
As part of my faculty role, I am also the Co-Chair of the NLU Civic Engagement Center involved in working to develop the ideological infrastructure needed to support ethical and deliberate university-community partnerships for communities we serve in the Chicagoland area. Through this role I advise on university-wide initiatives to promote civic and community engagement at all levels of the institution. We are currently conducting research to assess ways in which NLU students and alumni are impacting their communities and how NLU can best support educational experiences that lead to local, national, and potentially, global transformational change. Within this context, I teach Introduction to Community Psychology, Qualitative Research Methods, Mixed-Methods, Dissertation Proposal Writing, and Leadership and Organizational Change.
Scholarship-Practice Interests
I am fortunate to work at an academic institution that values a breadth of scholarship which allows me to pursue a number of interests. In general, I am interested in addressing a broad range of social issues simultaneously and therefore intentionally work with a number of scholars and practitioners, both as students locally and around the globe. I advise on a number of student projects where we co-learn and teach each other. Some examples of student projects include: examining hyper-criminalization among formerly incarcerated individuals living in Illinois, understanding Black maternal activism in Chicago, evaluating to what extent local community mental health services create empowering outcomes, understanding challenges to Hispanic parent engagement with the Chicago Public School system, assessing effectiveness of homeless services by examining interorganizational network activity, and understanding how the perspectives of medical professionals shape the design of medical research teams working to meet the needs of indigenous communities.
I am currently most passionate about a few areas of scholarship-practice: 1) developing innovative community psychology education models grounded in a liberatory critical approach, 2) participating in and supporting transdisciplinary community-based research to address multiple social problems simultaneously through educational opportunities promoting transformational systems leadership; 3) facilitating and conducting community-level research and evaluation to uncover ideological structures driving the function of dominant culture-based community systems, and 4) participating with the global Community Psychology movement to uncover larger processes of colonialism while promoting decolonial praxis as a guiding and generating force locally.
Extracurricular, Organizing & Community-Based Work
Complimentary to the scholarship-practice work I do are a number of additional activities that intersect to influence local needs of various historically underserved Chicago residents:
1.      Organizational Capacity Building for Local Mexican, Immigrant & Refugee Communities: This ongoing work involves consulting with local nonprofits serving Pilsen and Little Village residents of Chicago to facilitate strategic planning, retreats, and capacity-building around evaluating community-level systems change initiatives serving primarily Mexican, immigrant, and refugee communities.
2.      Addressing Inequality & Racism in West Side Chicago: Our college of Professional Studies and Advancement is currently developing ideas to partner with several community organizations, residents, and alumni on the West Side of Chicago. We are developing educational opportunities to address economic inequality and structural racism. This work is linking to existing participatory action research already being conducted by our students and alumni.
3.      Evaluating Diverse & Effective Hispanic Serving Doctoral Education: I am the evaluator on a large 5-year grant to build out NLU’s role as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) for Doctoral students. This work is being developed in partnership with local community organizations to ensure the relevance of resources and curriculum meet the needs of our local communities.
4.      Supporting Community Organizing & Advocacy on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): The NLU Civic Engagement Center is coordinating with multiple organizations across the city of Chicago serving diverse immigrant and refugee communities via a DACA Task Force to prepare for the supreme court decision on DACA expected this June 2020.
5.      Promoting Education on American Indian History in Chicago: I have been partnering with the local American Indian Center (AIC) in Chicago to ensure that accurate histories of American Indians are taught within the Chicago Public School System (CPS). I am also participating with AIC to support changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day in Chicago. Just this week, CPS voted to celebrate Indigenous People’s day over Columbus day within the school system.
Goals & Aspirations in Coming Years
Overall, my interests involve uncovering values systems that drive the structure and function of community systems, disrupting oppressive structures that perpetuate a multitude of social problems, and work to create settings that cultivate more ethical ways of being. I seek to co-create spaces where I can engage with others through as much of a pleasure activism approach as possible. More recent writing projects include: 1) uncovering ideologies of colonialism influencing interorganizational collaboratives using a critical community psychology framework; 2) articulating a continuum of community psychology practice; 3) examining community psychology education within a global decolonial context; and 4) developing a deeper understanding of what it means to live in embodied praxis towards building the Decolonial Village.
Lessons Learned from My Work
We work on issues that can feel extremely heavy, in many ways. I believe it is important that we find our people; the people that help us to connect to our true selves, and cultivate spaces to enjoy one another while we are on this earth. The topics are serious, and the problems are real, but we don’t need to take ourselves so seriously all the time. I try to remember this – that it’s ok and important to laugh - to remember that we are beautiful in all our humanity. I have learned that no matter the roles we hold, or the contexts we are in, we always have the option be kind to one another and drop all the pretense. We must work to acknowledge the dynamics we are living in, including being keenly aware of the power we hold. We also need to see past the ways in which we have been taught to view and treat each other, and choose to connect on a more human level. Let’s choose to expand our idea of family to connect authentically with all, as we are all part of the human family.   
Additional Highlights
I am most active in the American Evaluation Association, the Chicagoland Evaluation Association, and SCRA. I am currently participating with the SCRA Council on Education with an interest in supporting innovations in education that can enhance our ability to promote community transformation for minority and indigenous populations within the US and abroad. In addition, I currently participate in building the Decolonial Village with the Psychologists for Social Responsibility Decolonial Racial Justice Action group. I am also the recent recipient of the 2019 NLU Excellence in Research, Scholarship & Inquiry Award. 

Thank you so much for your time and contributions!


Illinois Lawmakers Introduce and Sponsor A Bill to Ban Mascots
It is our understanding that mascots depicting Indigenous Peoples are offensive to Indigenous Peoples and this has been known for over a decade. Illinois is no stranger to this issue, having retired its "Chief Illiniwek" mascot in 2007, and rightfully so. The mascot wore imitation Lakota dress and danced during half-time games as the mascot for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Protests by tribal nations ensued for years, and along with pressure from the NCAA, the mascot left the stadium. Recently, Rep. Maurice West introduced a bill which is being co-sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Carroll to ban schools from using Indigenous Peoples logos, mascots or other imagery unless they receive permission from Indigenous Peoples (not sure this makes sense...) and follow other mandated criteria. Not adhering to the criteria of the bill would result in the school not being eligible to participate in any playoffs. When it's all said and done, its unimaginable we still need laws to ensure human beings are treated with dignity and respect. Raise your hand if you agree...Read more here...
Narratives of Resistance: HIV, Colonialism & Health - Dr. Ciann Wilson



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In other News! 

  • The Community Psychologist - Please consider submitting your piece to the next issue of The Community Psychologist! 
  • Stay tuned for CERA's E-Newsletter which will be coming out again in June, 2020. Rather than monthly, the newsletter will post online quarterly and will be between 2-3 pages! This way we will be able to share more about what CERA is doing, our members and our impact on social justice work! If you wish to be featured in the E-Newsletter, please let Jesica, Dominique or Geri know. We are looking for students, faculty and practitioners. It's a great way to feature your work!