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AVAPL established the new Psychologists of Color (PoC) and Allies Special Interest Group (SIG) to provide a network of psychologists who value ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity.  An active and growing community, the POC (and Allies) SIG holds national monthly calls, a listserv dedicated to increasing knowledge, awareness, and support of psychologists of color as well as opportunities to learn and connect through programming at the AVAPL conference.
To be added to the Psychologists of Color (PoC) and Allies SIG listserv, please send a request to: or

Mission & Background

Psychologists of Color and Allies
Special Interest Group
Association of VA Psychology Leaders

The new Psychologists of Color (PoC) and Allies SIG was developed to provide a community and network of psychologists who value ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity.  In addition to hosting meetings during the AVAPL convention, the SIG provides a listserv that is dedicated to learn more about, unite, and support our psychologist brothers and sisters of color.  An initial community of PoCs and Allies conference call was held, with monthly calls planned.  Efforts are underway to implement formal ongoing AVAPL presentations focusing on diversity.

  • Discuss and address the unique needs and challenges facing psychologists of color.
  • Provide networking opportunities with peers and experienced professionals within AVAPL.
  • Promote collaborative learning opportunities that emphasize existing research and scholarship related to diversity issues within psychology.
  • Promote professional development and leadership capacity through participation in the SIG.
  • Identify and address ethnic minority student/trainee/early career issues.

Topics of Interest Identified During Initial June 2017 Networking Lunch Meeting

  • Developing leadership training for psychologists of color.
  • Assist VHA with improving cultural competence of psychologists.
  • Assist VHA with improving recruitment of psychologists and students/trainees of color.
  • Developing training on how to be a good ally.
  • Providing psychologists of color a support system/network.
  • Providing training on disparities in health care.
  • Providing training and education on cultural issues in supervision, including power differentials

Current Challenges facing Psychologists of Color

  • Isolation, few colleagues of color or allies.
  • Being identified as “the” diversity spokesperson, speaking for/representing ALL people of color.
  • Assumptions that Veterans of color should mainly be seen by psychologists of color. (Lack of interest in being culturally competent).
  • Workplace cultural environment not supportive of cultural diversity.
  • Promulgation of stereotypes about people of color including that they are not suited for leadership roles.
  • For students of color and student allies-lack of culturally competent supervision, training and education.
  • Lack of psychologists and other leaders of color in VHA leadership (e.g., local MH leadership, VISN leadership, and VACO leadership).
  • Overt racist/discriminatory behaviors by colleagues.
  • Inconsistent standards applied to psychologists of color—advocacy efforts viewed as aggressive or inappropriate, stepping out of one’s role.

Current SIG Activities to address challenges

  • Continue to generate active discussion and participation on SIG Listserv.  Topics above can be raised.
  • Develop connections and collaborations with other groups (e.g., VA Psychology Training Committee, Multicultural and Diversity Committee; Women in Leadership SIG).
  • Participate in AVAPL newsletters.
  • Institutionalize SIG networking lunch @ annual AVAPL conference.
  • Develop formal programming focusing on diversity issues for annual AVAPL conference.
  • Implement monthly PoC and Allies Community call to provide forum for discussion of current issues related to ethnicity and other cultural issues.

Psychologists of Color (and Allies) SIG Leadership




Gayle Iwamasa


Marcos Lopez


Maurice Endsley

Research Coordinator

Arti Sarma

Outreach & Hospitality Coordinator


Listserv Coordinator


Christopher Watson

National Call Coordinator

Veronica Shead

National Call Coordinator

Asale Hubbard

Social Media Coordinator

Josephine Ridley

Mentor Coordinator

Monthly Call Agenda and Minutes

MARCH 2019
APRIL 2019

Educational Corner