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. 

Chair: Geraldine Palmer, Adler University       Chair-Elect: Jesica Siham Fernández, Santa Clara University


CERA Member Spotlight

VPHS1.jpgEach month CERA will bring to the "spotlight" one of our members to highlight the great work they are doing on campus and in our communities. This month, we showcase: Van Phan

Affiliation: University of South Carolina

Status: Graduate Student

Research Interests:

  • I am a second-year graduate student in the University of South Carolina’s Clinical-Community psychology doctoral program. I am interested in researching risk/resilience and protective factors behind the disparities of disadvantaged and under-served populations, the acculturation of refugee and immigrant groups, meaning-making after major life disruptions, civic engagement and responsibility, and the balance of social justice, activism, and academia.

Areas of Research Focus & Engagement:

  • Outside of being a graduate student and my academic responsibilities (e.g., going to class, doing coursework, working on milestones, etc.), I am currently a graduate assistant for Children’s Trust of South Carolina’s Research and Evaluation team. As a part of that team, I spend most of my time doing literature review, data analysis, report and academic writing, developing and giving presentations, and assisting in the development of evaluation instruments, process, and infrastructure. As a second year clinical-community student, I have also begun clinical work, which takes up most of my evenings. Additionally, I am continuing several projects I have headed as a part of the research lab I joined – mainly a Photovoice project that examines the contexts of recovery of those in the wake of the South Carolina floods of 2015. I spend most of my week balancing my different roles, spending an entire day at Children’s Trust one day and the next at school and the clinic. In whatever free time I have, I try to progress with my academic milestones.
  • I hope to graduate in 2021. Ideally, after I graduate, I would like to have begun my career in academia. My career goal is to become a clinical-community psychologist employed as a tenure track faculty member conducting applied, community-engaged research and supervising clinical work.
What are some lessons you've learned from your work?
  • I think one of the most valuable insights I have gained from my work so far as a graduate student is realizing just what is important to me and what I need to prioritize, both as an academic and an individual, as I work to balance the different roles I have. Not only am I balancing the roles I have as a graduate assistant, I am constantly switching hats as a Vietnamese-American in a predominantly White institution. As I continue to navigate through academia, I learn more about myself and what I would like to do in the future.

How does your work push forward or contribute to CERA’s mission and agenda?

  • While I am stretched in my different roles as a graduate student, my values do align with CERA’s mission and agenda and I attempt to reflect these values in my work whenever possible. I am continuously educating myself, challenging and highlighting issues of cultural diversity, and promoting the concerns of people of color. As an academic, I always attempt to steer the research and work I am doing to involve minority groups. I am also a member of Children’s Trust’s Race, Equity, and Inclusion team, advocating for racial and ethnic minority families in South Carolina. I would like the research that I do and the roles I play in the future to more explicitly involve racial and ethnic minorities and reflect my values.

Words of Wisdom & Inspiration to our CERA members!

"As a graduate student, I’m not sure how much weight any words of inspiration or wisdom would hold, but I would just like to say something to those who are currently struggling through graduate school alongside me, specifically those at predominantly White institutions – you are not alone! While it may feel that way at times, it’s just a matter of finding “your people,” not necessarily those that understand your struggle as a graduate student (although that certainly helps), but those that are willing to support you through your struggles for all that you are – as a graduate student, as a person of color, as a woman, as a sexual minority, or any other identity you may have. The research that you want to do and the contributions you make to the field are important, no matter how those in the majority may dismiss them or not understand, so just keep doing your thing. There is always a space for you somewhere in academia and, if not, perhaps you could create that space!" - Van Phan

Thank you for sharing with us your passions & commitment to social justice!


CERA has completed calendar year 2017 making great strides in our efforts to advance out mission! We are pleased with the progress we made. Key highlights include:

  • Received approval to become a council 
  • The adoption by SCRA of a position paper denouncing white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism and the like, authored by Jesica Siham Fernandez and Nellie Tran, with input and feedback from CERA members
  • Revised CERA webpage
  • The distribution of CERA E-newsletter that has featured a number of students, faculty and practitioners in community psychology and related disciplines. The newsletter highlights the wonderful work CERA members are doing in academia and the community. If you would like to be featured, please let Jesica or Geri know by email at; and
  • Awarded six mini-grants to advance the great projects and research undertaken by CERA members

2018 GOALS

With 2017 behind us, we look forward to pressing forward in 2018. Our major goals include:

  • Surveying members to better understand their needs and ways to support those needs
  • Providing member services including mentoring and professional development workshops and seminars
  • Authoring a chapter in an open-access, undergraduate introduction to community psychology textbook, edited by Lenny Jason and Olya Glantsman
  • Raising funds for travel grants and registration fees for CERA members
  • Starting initial conversations and brainstorming on presentations for SCRA Biennial 2019; and
  • Awarding mini-grants


Our first CERA meeting of 2018 will be held February 9th at 1:00PM EST (12:00 CST or 10:00am PST)

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Telephone: 1-408-638-0968 (US Toll)

Meeting ID: 375 758 797

To join a meeting by telephone, use the number below and enter the meeting ID. This is a toll number, so anyone without free long distance will want to join the meeting online. The first time you use a Zoom meeting online you will be prompted to download the software. For more information, please click here:

Please make a note on your calendar for future meeting dates: March 23 and April 6.  A Doodle Poll will be sent out at the end of March to determine additional dates for 2018. 


 We are always on the look out for new members! For more information or how to join, contact


More Info on the Racial Justice in Praxis Conference - May 18-19, 2018 - National Louis University, Chicago

See You In Ghana! Click for more information 

See You in Chile! International Community Psychology Conference

Information on DACA

Making Caring Common 

Communicating with Competence

Race and Ethnicity-Psychology Today