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EDI Action Council  Honors and Awards



Lisa Eyler, Chair of the Psychiatry EDI Action Council, was the UCSD-wide faculty honoree for the 2018 Inclusive Excellence Award. Watch the video

Champion of Diversity Award

The Champion of Diversity Award is given annually to a Department of Psychiatry faculty member or trainee who has significantly contributed to diversity at UCSD or in the community via research, clinical activities, teaching, or community involvement.

2022 Winners

Ariel Lang, PhD, MPH

Ariel Lang 2022 CODDr. Ariel Lang was selected as our first faculty Champion of Diversity for 2022. Dr. Lang is a Professor in Residence in the Department of Psychiatry, an Adjunct Professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, and Director of our VA’s Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health.

Dr. Lang’s contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion have reached far and wide in the spheres of training, research, and clinical and community service. To share just a few snapshots of her commitment as outlined by her nominator Dr. Laurie Lindamer, "Dr. Lang has created a pipeline for undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to enter mental health research environments, and her trainees from underrepresented groups have gone on to successfully pursue doctoral, postdoctoral, and policy work."

In her research, she is vigilant about ensuring a diverse representation of gender and ethnicity in her subject samples, and as such her practices help inform the recruitment efforts of other researchers. Dr. Lang was recently awarded a VA Small Projects in Rehabilitation Research (SPiRE) grant, along with clinicians at the VA, to study a specialized intervention called Race-based Stress/Trauma and Empowerment in Veterans. This study has the potential to inform responsible and sensitive therapeutic interventions that target the negative consequences of racism. These are just a few examples of Dr. Lang’s work that capture the spirit of the Champion of Diversity Award. Congratulations to Dr. Lang, our 2022 Faculty Champion of Diversity.

Ana Ramirez, PhD

Ana Ramirez 2022 COD

Dr. Ana Ramirez, an assistant professor in the Department and Pediatric Program Director at the UC San Diego Eating Disorders Clinic, was selected as our second Faculty Champion of Diversity for 2022.

Her nominator, Dr. Leslie Anderson, emphasizes how Dr. Ramirez’ background as a naturalized American citizen who immigrated to the US from Mexico at age 10 and was the first on her mother’s side to graduate from college gives her unique insight into barriers for under-represented groups in higher education and in clinical care.

Clinically, Dr. Ramirez has been a champion for patients from minoritized backgrounds and is the only senior staff member who can provide therapy in Spanish. She has led in-services about the role of social determinants of health and is translating all the treatment materials into Spanish. Dr. Ramirez also created a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force within the Eating Disorders Clinic to enhance inclusion and belonging in the work environment. As an educator, Dr. Ramirez has mentored many trainees from under-represented groups and led workshops and trainings in English and Spanish focused on treatment of eating disorders with a culturally-affirming approach.

Finally, her scholarly work also centers on how to provide patient-centered care for eating disorders for those from minoritized groups. As Dr. Anderson states: “Dr. Ramirez consistently draws upon her personal experience and supports our staff, faculty, trainees and patients by creating a more mindful, inclusive and equitable clinic and work environment.” We are happy to award the 2022 Champion of Diversity Award to Dr. Ramirez!

Lily Kamalyan

Lily Kamalyan 2022 COD

Lily Kamalyan, a graduate student in the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, was selected for the Trainee Champion of Diversity award for 2022.

In the research domain, Lily has played a key role in a project developing neuropsychological test norms for Spanish speakers in the US and has also been involved in work examining cognitive decline among Latinos with HIV and neighborhood structural determinants of health and how they influenced cognitive decline and mood in people with HIV during the COIVD-19 pandemic.

In the area of teaching, Lily has been a student mentor to diverse undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students and served on a panel for undergraduate students from under-represented backgrounds that introduced them to the field of clinical psychology. She has also served on the JDP Diversity Committee and, outside of the department, she leads an online community organization to help disseminate research on brain health to the Armenian population worldwide and volunteered with the Armenian Mental Health Initiative.

We agreed with her mentors, Dr. Maria Marquine and Dr. Igor Grant, who nominated her when they said that “she is a perfect candidate give her important contributions to diversity at UCSD and in the community via her research, mentoring, and service activities.”  Congratulations to Lily Kamalyan, the 2022 Trainee Champion of Diversity!

2021 Winners

Katherine Nguyen Williams, PhD

kwilliams Katherine Nguyen Williams, Ph.D., was selected as the recipient of the Faculty Champion of Diversity Award for 2021.

She is an HS Clinical Professor in our Department and provides clinical services and training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Rady Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Nguyen Williams was chosen for this award given her commitment to diversity that is woven throughout her career, including her activism and work with low-income, culturally and racially diverse families in San Diego. She specializes in working with children and adolescents with severe psychopathology from multicultural backgrounds. In addition, Katherine is a bilingual/bicultural Vietnamese-American clinician and provides assessment and therapy in Vietnamese to low-income Vietnamese families.

Dr. Nguyen Williams has developed and participated in several clinical programs that serve diverse communities both within and well-beyond San Diego, including an autism assessment program and a pediatric anxiety and OCD program. She is also involved in research and volunteer work that promotes anti-racism, empathy, and compassion. She has provided parenting and mental health awareness seminars to low SES, immigrant, and refugee families and diverse college students.

Katherine is also a member of the Chair’s Committee on Diversity Issues and has served in important ways, including recently providing support to a group of Spanish-speaking parents who were dealing with their children’s anxieties about returning to school during the pandemic. She has served as co-trainer for UCSD's Unconscious Bias Training Team, including conducting trainings for Rady Children's Developmental Services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Nguyen Williams hosted online community discussions about mental health issues caused by racism and social injustices, and in her Psychology Today parenting blog she has highlighted important topics, such as how to talk to kids about race and racism, supporting transgender youth during the pandemic, and sharing her own story as a refugee during the Vietnam War. Her nominator has expressed that “Dr. Nguyen Williams is a true Champion of Diversity throughout every aspect of her clinical work, community outreach, and volunteering over many years.”

Alexandra Clark, PhD

alexander clarkDr. Alexandra Clark, a graduate of the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and recent postdoctoral trainee in the Interprofessional Postdoctoral Fellowship in Polytrauma and TBI Rehabilitation at VA San Diego and UCSD, has been selected as the 2021 Department of Psychology Trainee Champion of Diversity. Dr. Clark has worked tirelessly to improve anti-racism efforts across research, clinical, and training/teaching spheres. She has also taken her efforts to the national stage as she proactively works with key leaders around how to intentionally create a welcoming environment and inclusive, welcoming culture in science. Notably, she generously gives of her time in order to meet with trainees, local and national neuropsychology experts to develop DEI programming, including sharing valuable training opportunities in diversity for faculty and trainees. She has tirelessly amplified diverse voices and programming in our training programs and within research and clinical contexts here and elsewhere.

Among her many achievements throughout her nearly 8-year tenure here at UCSD, Dr. Clark made important local and national DEI contributions, including her recent writings in the journal Nature where she highlighted concerns that the National Science Foundation’s proposed change to restrict science foci would further drive inequity in grants awarded to underrepresented minority trainees. She also spearheaded the creation of the often-cited “Call to Action” document that has enjoyed wide circulation here and elsewhere across the country. Her action letter has sparked considerable national interest as it has served as an important roadmap for how academic settings can better promote and support diversity in order to move closer to achieving inclusive excellence. Dr. Clark was also instrumental in helping revamp the UCSD/VA Clinical Neuropsychology Seminar (CNS) to include lectures on race-based stress, disparities in neurocognitive outcomes, and LGBTQIA+ considerations in assessment. Her input on this Diversity Series was not only instrumental but also essential to the improvement of education in cultural neuropsychology at UCSD/SDSU/San Diego VA, and because of her specific contributions, the CNS Diversity Series is becoming nationally recognized as an example of how others might improve DEI education in our field.

Dr. Clark now champions others as she begins her own laboratory at the University of Texas Austin Department of Psychology and teaches critical courses focused on the appreciation of diversity and the importance of cultural considerations in research and clinical contexts. Her nominators stated that “there is no one more suited for this year’s Trainee Champion of Diversity Award, as Dr. Clark has emerged as a true leader for several DEI initiatives here and elsewhere. Her inspiring work has had a powerful impact toward the creation of a culture that is more inclusive, fair, and representative.”

2020 Winners

Karen Hanson Bondi, PhD

karen hansonbondi Karen Hanson Bondi, PhD, was selected as the recipient of the Faculty Champion of Diversity Award for 2020.

Dr. Hanson Bondi is a UCSD Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor and a VA San Diego Healthcare System Clinical Psychologist. As a long-time member of the Diversity Committee, Dr. Hanson Bondi helped to lead efforts to develop a follow-up climate survey for Department faculty. In the past year, her work as part of the Anti-Racism Actions Workgroup’s Clinical Training Subcommittee was particularly notable. She met with trainees, local and national neuropsychology experts, the Joint Doctoral Program neuropsychology faculty/directors, and several other groups in the Department of Psychiatry to develop diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programming, including creating and sharing more training opportunities in diversity for faculty and trainees. Specifically, she asked all of the speakers on all neuropsychology topics to make sure they address diversity in their talks and added an item to the teaching evaluations to rate them on their attention to this request.

Dr. Hanson Bondi revamped the Clinical Neuropsychology Seminar (CNS) to include a lecture on race-based stress, disparities in neurocognitive outcomes in the Latinx community, and LGBTQIA+ considerations in assessment, as well as a focus on diversity readings to accompany lectures. She worked with the California Psychological Association (CPA) Div. 8: Neuropsychology to share the CNS Diversity Series talks more widely and support the CNS Diversity Series by offering honoraria for the diversity speakers. Recordings of these talks are now available on UCSD Dept of Psychiatry website. Her nominator notes that “she is committed to making real and lasting changes in our neuropsychology program and continuing to grow, learn, and evolve her DEI efforts” and “she is committed to making real and lasting changes in our neuropsychology program and continuing to grow, learn, and evolve her DEI efforts.”

Wei-Ming Watson, MS

wei-ming-watson.jpgWei-Ming Watson, MS, was selected as the recipient of the Trainee Champion of Diversity Award for 2020. Wei-Ming is a doctoral candidate in the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and an NIH T32 fellow at the HIV Neurobehavioral Program. Wei-Ming’s advocacy centers around the LGBTQ+ community. She has sought out training experiences with LGBTQ+ patients and served as a consultant to other trainees at the SDSU clinic and VA PTSD Clinic in Mission Valley, providing resources and education, including creating a “Gay and Queer Women Resource Guide” of films, television shows, youtube documentary series, and sexual health resources for the clinic. Wei-Ming’s research has included a qualitative project analyzing focus group interviews with trans/non-binary individuals on their perspectives on PrEP and how to improve access in their communities, as well as papers on (1) cultural adaptation of an ART adherence intervention for African Americans with HIV; (2) predictors of memory performance in ethnically diverse older adults with very low educational attainment; and (3) disparities in longitudinal neurocognitive function among Latinos with HIV. She is a member of the LGBTQ+ subcommittee of the Chair’s Advisory Committee on Diversity Issues and the JDP Student Diversity committee’s Training subcommittee. Wei-Ming also is a member of both the Asian Neuropsychological Association and Hispanic Neuropsychological Society, and an informal member of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network. Her nominator praises her “outstanding commitment to diversity, particularly for LGBTQ+ communities” and contributions to “training infrastructure for the benefit of trainees at all levels and faculty.”

2019 Winners

Brian Buzzella, PhD

brian buzzellaBrian Buzzella, PhD was selected as the recipient of the Faculty Champion of Diversity Award for 2019. He is an HS Clinical Assistant Professor in our Department and Director of the Family Mental Health Program and Director of Training for the Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Residency Program in the Mental Health Care Line at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. His research has focused on developing, tailoring, and evaluating clinical interventions for same-sex couples and has led to numerous grants, publications, presentations, and posters on the topic of improving access and care for same-sex couples, as well as training manuals to guide other clinicians. Dr. Buzzella has been very involved in training in the area of diversity and inclusion. Along with Autumn Backhaus, he expanded the Diversity Seminar from an 8-session to a 22-session component of the VA postdoctoral trainee seminar series, and partnered with Rebecca Williams to design, implement, and evaluate a diversity-focused mentorship program in the VA. He has served on the VA Postdoc Diversity Committee throughout his tenure at VA San Diego and is now guiding implementation of a VA-specific trainee climate survey. His nominator admires Dr. Buzzella’s “whole-hearted yet humble support of other’s efforts to promote inclusivity and belonging for all individuals: his is that role model whom many of us aspire to be.”

Anny Reyes, MS

anny reyesAnny Reyes, MS is the winner of the Trainee Champion of Diversity Award for 2019. She is a student in the Joint Doctoral Program working in the laboratory of Dr. Carrie Bearden. Under a NINDS Diversity Supplement, she has been exploring the role of bilingualism and cognitive reserve in temporal lobe epilepsy. She has received the American Epilepsy Society Grass Young Investigator Award and an NRSA from NIH for this novel and important work. In the realm of mentorship, Anny has helped guide under-represented undergraduate students prepare for graduate school and frequently offers support to her peers. In the words of her nominator “She has not just invested time from her busy schedule to help mentor peers, but does so while continuously offering support, attention, and kindness along the way.” In addition, she is on the Ethnic Minority Affairs Subcommittee of the APA Division 40 Public Interest Advisory Committee and Professional Development Officer of Division 40’s Association of Neuropsychology Students and Trainees. She also serves as a Trainee Liaison for the International Neuropsychology Society’s Epilepsy-Neuropsychology special interest group, among other activities. Closer to home, Anny has been part of efforts at the SDSU training clinic to expand services to Spanish-speaking clients and serves on our Chair’s Advisory Committee on Diversity Issues, working to develop a trainee-focused diversity survey.

2018 Winners

Neal Swerdlow MD, PhD

neal swerdlowNeal Swerdlow, M.D., Ph.D., was selected as the recipient of the Faculty Champion of Diversity Award for 2018. Dr. Swerdlow was selected because of his commitment to promoting diversity at UCSD through numerous activities in his leadership roles as Director of the Research Residency Track and Vice Chair of Education and Training in the Department of Psychiatry. For example, in his role as the Vice Chair for Education in our Department, he has helped to sponsor and encourage the development of programs that improve our Department climate and enhance the diversity of our training programs. Further, Dr. Swerdlow’s commitment to promoting diversity is exemplified in his work increase the pipeline of under-represented medical students interested in pursuing academic research careers. As an example, Dr. Swerdlow designed and directs the Summer Research Fellowship for Under-Represented Medical Students, which is supported by an NIMH R25 that was recently renewed with a perfect score for another five years. The Department appreciates, as stated by his nominator, “the amount of dedication, creativity, resourcefulness and sheer effort that Dr. Swe

Kiara Wesley, PhD

kiara-wesley.pngKiara Wesley, Ph.D. is the winner of the Trainee Champion of Diversity Award for 2018. Dr. Wesley is a graduating post-doctoral fellow at the VA in the Mood Disorders and Behavioral Health Integration clinics. She has an impressive track record for promoting diversity through scholarship, teaching and clinical work. Prior to her training at UCSD and the VA for her clinical internship, Dr. Wesley completed her doctoral dissertation from Rutgers University entitled, “The Impact of Sociocultural Factors on Relationship Quality for African American Couples.” She has delivered numerous presentations at scientific conferences and published both articles and chapters in this area based on her work within the Black Couples Research Project led by Dr. Shalonda Kelly. As both a clinical psychology intern and a postdoctoral fellow at the VA San Diego Healthcare system, Dr. Wesley has demonstrated her commitment to culturally competent care and addressing health disparities. As examples, Dr. Wesley has developed new programs (including a brief psychoeducation intervention for couples) and designed and delivered a diversity workshop to VA trainees that was well-received by peers and colleagues. In addition, Dr. Wesley’s supervisors, colleagues and patients have been particularly impressed by and grateful for her attention to each veteran’s personal story and history as she delivers mental health care to veterans in the Mood Clinic, Family Mental Health Program, and BHIP program in the VA.

2017 Winners

David Grelotti MD

david grelottiOur 2017 Champion of Diversity Award is Dr. David Grelotti. Dr. Grelotti joined our faculty in 2015 and serves as the Director of Mental Health Services at the UCSD Owen Clinic, and, both before and since his appointment, he has been making significant contributions to diversity in the realms of scholarship, patient care, teaching, and University and community service. His research activities include work that expands mental health research and services to under-served groups in Haiti. As part of these studies, he developed a depression screening tool in Haitian Creole. He also has a grant to study substance abuse of a drug called whoonga in South Africa in the variety of racial and ethnic groups who are affected. A recent paper of his examined how to treat depression among HIV-infected and homeless individuals many of whom are members of the LGBTQ community. Clinically, Dr. Grelotti plays a crucial role in serving the diverse community seen at the Owen Clinic, and he has promoted the use of the concept of “syndemics” at the Clinic, in which care is grounded in social determinants of health. Dr. Grelotti mentors a diverse set of trainees, including clinicians in Haiti and medical students here through the PRIME Health Equity program, and has participated in the UCSF AIDS Research Mentorship workshop that focuses on mentorship of those from diverse backgrounds. Finally, Dr. Grelotti has given of his time as a member of our Diversity Committee, serving on the LGBTQ and Clinical Services Diversity subcommittees, and has worked with local organizations such as the LGBT Center to promote health issues. For all these reasons, we consider David a true Champion of Diversity.