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Washington, D.C. — The American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF) has announced the nine inaugural recipients of its new Community Diversity Fellowship, funded by the Sozosei Foundation. The Community Diversity fellows, like other APAF fellows, will receive professional development, experiential learning, and networking opportunities. In addition, the Community Diversity fellows will deliver culturally competent psychiatric care in hard-to-reach and traditionally underrepresented communities. This fellowship was created to support psychiatry residents who are committed to serving minoritized and vulnerable populations, many of whom may themselves be from diverse backgrounds.
"Increasing diverse leadership in the field of psychiatry is paramount," said APAF Executive Director Rawle Andrews, Jr., Esq. "We’re grateful to our partners at Sozosei for recognizing and working to fill this critical need, and we’re eager to witness the impact these fellows create."
This new fellowship was made possible thanks to a two-year, $230,000 grant from the Sozosei Foundation. A goal of the Sozosei Foundation is to decriminalize mental illness through advocacy, research, and improving access to mental healthcare, including increasing the number of diverse psychiatrists in training.
"The American Psychiatric Association Foundation has an impressive history of innovative approaches to solving the nation’s most pressing mental health issues. We are honored to partner with APAF and to learn alongside them through their thoughtful work," said Melissa M. Beck, Esq., executive director of the Sozosei Foundation.
During field placement, the Community Diversity fellows will complete required service hours as part of their professional development curriculum. One fellow will volunteer at the HOPE Center, an APAF partner in Harlem, New York. Three will fulfill their service requirement at the Oakland Community Health Network (OCHN) in Troy, Michigan.
"I am thrilled that Oakland Community Health Network has been chosen by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation to host three Community Diversity Fellows," said OCHN’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Vasilis K. Pozios. "As a former APAF fellow and a current member of the Jeanne M. Spurlock, M.D., Congressional Fellowship Selection Committee, I have witnessed firsthand how APAF fellowships positively influence the field of psychiatry and boost the career trajectories of young psychiatrists, especially those from underrepresented or marginalized communities. OCHN’s partnership with the APAF reaffirms our commitment to improve health equity in Oakland County and support the future of psychiatry."
The inaugural Community Diversity Fellows class includes Kelly Akah of Einstein Health Care Network, Samantha Hinds of Rochester General Hospital, Yesul Kim of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Kyal Lalk of Henry Ford Hospital, James Lockhart of George Washington University, Tamara McClain of Authority Health, Julia Rodes of Medical University of South Carolina, Jason Tran of Kaiser Permanente San Jose, Cristina Valentin-Rivera of Broward Health Psychiatry Residency, Devin Van Dyke of BIDMC Harvard Psychiatry Residency, Deonna Vaughn of the University of Michigan, Nikhila Veluri of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, and Giovani Moises Zelada of the University of Texas Southwestern.
"The APAF fellow is a much-needed addition to our mental health team and will help to expand the capacity of the HOPE Center," said Dr. Lena Green, Executive Director of the HOPE Center. "Since the beginning of the pandemic, community residents who sign up for services have long wait times of over six months to see a therapist. More clinicians mean more people will get the support they need. We have an opportunity to collaborate in an interdisciplinary way with social workers and psychiatrists working in tandem to provide high-level care for patients. Lastly, medication management is a specialty service that will benefit the community greatly and will be an excellent addition to clinical care."
The American Psychiatric Association Foundation is the philanthropic and educational arm of APA. The APA Foundation promotes awareness of mental illnesses and the effectiveness of treatment, the importance of early intervention, access to care, and the need for high-quality services and treatment through a combination of public and professional education, research, research training, grants, and awards.
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA's vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.