Volume 52   Number 1 Winter 2019

Regional Network News

Edited by Scot Evans – Regional Network Coordinator

We have the better part of a full year ahead of us and as Judy Garland once said: “wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, a little more loving, and have a little more empathy, and maybe, next year at this time we'd like each other a little more.” The new year is a great time to be a little gentler and a great time to check out your SCRA region information on the website and contact the regional coordinators to see what is going on in your region ( There are a lot of great things happening in our SCRA regions across the globe – check out the latest news from the Western and Midwest regions of the U.S.

News from the Midwest Region U.S.


Amber Kelly, National Louis University; Melissa Ponce Rodas, Andrews University; Tonya Hall, Chicago State University


Naz Chief, National Louis University


Announcements and information for inclusion in future Midwest updates should be sent to Melissa Ponce- Rodas (


The Chicago Anti-Community Violence and Recidivism Program: A Fresh Start

Written by Tonya Hall, Chicago State University

The Chicago Anti-Community Violence and Recidivism Program, which is also referred to as Anti-Violence Recidivism Program, is designed to establish a model that may be used across neighborhoods in Chicago beginning in Woodlawn, and ultimately, nationally and globally. More specifically, the program will identify the effects of establishing collaborations among several partners (viz., individuals reentering society (IRS), faith-based organizations, high schools, universities, family members, researchers, community organizations and stakeholders, governmental agencies, and policy makers) with expertise on the reduction of community violence and recidivism rates and empowerment of IRS, who are African American and 16 to 24 years of age, to promote healthy urban environments and positive social behaviors among their peers.

This research program was established due to the author attending church at the Apostolic Church of God of Chicago (ACOG) located in Woodlawn, which has historically been rooted in collaborating with community organizations to facilitate social change including seeking to reduce community violence and recidivism rates. Approximately two years ago, Dr. Byron T. Brazier, the senior pastor of ACOG, created the ACOG Research Ministry, which the author joined. One of their first assignments was to partner with the 1Woodlawn community organization to determine the most exigent needs of community members residing within four assigned quadrants of the Woodlawn neighborhood. One quadrant leader inquired of the team about ways to reduce the recidivism rates of young African American males who are 16 to24 years of age who reside in her community. The remaining three quadrant leaders formed an unhesitating agreement that this is a primary issue for Woodlawn. Similarly, this is a key issue in several urban communities nationwide and globally. A preliminary research literature search was conducted and a PowerPoint presentation, Understanding Reentry and NE Woodlawn (Hall & Jones Lewis, May 2017), was provided to 1Woodlawn community members highlighting key finding. This Anti-Violence Recidivism Program is an extension of those faith-based and community partnership experiences.

This program will address the following research questions:

1)    What can IRS do to reduce community violence and recidivism rates of young African Americans in urban neighborhoods?

2)    What can partnerships among IRS, faith-based organizations, high schools, universities, family members, researchers, community organizations and stakeholders, governmental agencies, and policy makers do to reduce community violence and recidivism rates?

3)    What factors are required to empower IRS, who are African American and 16 to 24 years of age, to promote healthy urban environments and positive social behaviors among their peers?

4)    What are the most appropriate strategies to disseminate the results of the Anti-Violence Recidivism Program in ways that will serve to support a reduction of community violence and recidivism rates?

In summary, this research program seeks to establish a faith- and community-based, participatory action research program focused on reducing community violence and the recidivism rates of young African Americans who are 16 to 24 years of age residing in urban environments. This will be achieved by 1) conducting an extensive review of the literature, 2) identifying partners in the aforementioned categories, 3) scheduling meetings of partners to discuss problems and solution required as well as useful resources, 4) informing the community and policy makers of findings, 5) implementing prevention and intervention strategies, and 6) hosting follow-up meetings to build upon what was established at previous meetings and actions. The action step that will be undertaken is to establish a faith-based, Community Psychology conference that will gather diverse partners as think tanks to identify problems and solutions including ample resources identified within the Anti-Violence Recidivism Program, form additional partnerships, and disseminate key resources to partners and their constituents.


“Transforming communities, changing lives” 2018 Midwest ECO Conference

Written By: Luz Torres and Andrea DaViera, University of Illinois at Chicago

 This years’ Midwest ECO Conference took place at the University of Illinois at Chicago on October 26 - 27, 2018. We had a remarkable turnout of over 200 attendees! We had the opportunity to meet a variety of people from all parts of the Midwest region. Some of the institutions and organizations that were represented included DePaul University, National Louis University, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Roosevelt University, Rush University Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of South Carolina, University of Toledo, University of Washington, Vanderbilt University to name a few.

 As part of a larger series of regional conferences, including the Southeast and the Northeast Conference, the purpose of these events is to provide a space for community psychologists to exchange ideas, discuss current issues and share their knowledge amongst other like-minded people in their region. One key aspect of these regional ECO conferences is that they are organized by current graduate students in community psychology programs. This year’s Midwest ECO Conference can be attributed to the incredibly hard work of Luz Torres, Andrea DaViera, Marbella Uriostegui , Christen Park, Teresa Borowski, Catherine Pichardo, Carlos Rosas Morales, and Callie Silver.

The theme of this year’s ECO conference was around transforming communities and changing lives, by promoting equity and justice through research and action. Presenters were able to showcase their work in the form of a roundtable presentation, oral presentation, poster, as well as a workshop. We had a variety of themes across these formats including: psychological home, youth and education, immigrant and refugee studies, methods with community partners, health behavior intervention, experiences among people of color, arts, food social justice, among other engaging discussion topics.

We believe that our diverse and dynamic group of speakers, panelists, and presenters provided in-depth insight, as well as, actionable and practical tools on how this may look at a variety of levels as well as how we can further promote change. Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar addressed in her keynote the importance of using theory to inform research for the purpose of improving the lives of people in marginalized communities. Additionally, we learned about participatory action research and what it means to truly engage community partners in developing culturally informed programs that address pressing problems. We had a panel including representatives from The Ounce, Cure Violence, and The Saint Anthony Hospital Community Wellness Program, that are currently engaging in multiple modes of research and action. They were able to share their experiences with us, as well as issues and suggestions to further improve collaborative research with our communities. This event was met with great success and the presenters’ enthusiasm helped make our time both productive and fun.

Community_Organizations_and_Institutions.pngCommunity Organizations and Institutions that were represented at the conference were:

  • Adler University
  • After School Matters
  • Apostolic Church of God
  • Chicago State University
  • City Colleges of Chicago
  • Community Asset Builders Association
  • Curie High School
  • DePaul University
  • Heartland Alliance: Social IMPACT Research Center
  • Illinois Department of Human Services
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Kankakee Community College
  • Loyola University at Chicago
  • Metropolitan State University
  • National Louis University
  • Pacifica Graduate Institute
  • Roosevelt University
  • Rush University Medical Center
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Toledo
  • University of Washington
  • Vanderbilt University


News from the Western Region U.S.


Greg Townley, Portland State University; Mariah Kornbluh, California State-Chico; Rachel Hershberg, University of Washington Tacoma


David Gordon, University of California Santa Cruz; Sam Larsen, University of Washington-Tacoma 

Welcome New Western Region Coordinators!

We are excited to welcome a new West Regional Coordinator, Dr. Rachel Hersherg, and a new Student Regional Coordinator, Sam Larsen.  Learn more about Rachel and Sam below.

Rachel_Hersherg.jpgRachel is excited to join the SCRA regional coordination team for the PNW! Rachel is a fourth-year Assistant Professor at UWT. There, she and her Community Psychology Research Group have been exploring critical consciousness development in young adults from different backgrounds as they progress through their college educations. In addition, she is engaged in community-based and participatory research that examines how detention and deportation practices are impacting migrant and refugee families in the South Sound as well as local efforts to redress such practices. Rachel teaches courses in community and developmental psychology, and mentors undergraduate and graduate students in qualitative, mixed-methods, and community-based and participatory research.

Sam_Larsen.jpgSam is a SCRA West Student Regional undergraduate community psychology research assistant and has been working with Rachel Hershberg since first coming to UWT as a freshman four years ago. In addition to studying critical consciousness development as a member of the Community Psychology Research Group (CPRG), Sam also has conducted research on the role of empathy on critical consciousness processes as a Mary Gates research scholar. Currently, Sam is continuing to conduct research with CPRG while working on applying to graduate school, where he hopes to continue conducting research on interpersonal skills such as empathy, ways to improve research methodologies, and social justice.Coordinator, and senior at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Sam is a passionate 

Pacifica Graduate Institute Newsletter

Hearing Voices is a publication of the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology specialization of the M.A./ Ph.D. program in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Carpinteria, CA. 

Check it out here!

New Portland State University Research Center on Homelessness

Portland State University recently announced the creation of a new research center focused on addressing the challenges of homelessness in Portland, the west coast, and beyond. The Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC), directed by Marisa Zapata, Associate Professor of Urban Studies & Planning, and Greg Townley, Associate Professor of Community Psychology, will work to support individuals experiencing homelessness while also crafting long-term solutions focused on the prevention of homelessness. The HRAC brings together the expertise and skills of faculty and staff from a range of disciplines and will collaborate with people experiencing homelessness, advocates, service providers, city and county policymakers, and other stakeholders. Specific planned activities include studying and reducing homelessness among students and staff at Portland State University; creating a public education campaign to help reframe how community members think about and act to end homelessness; and documenting the health impacts and associated costs of homelessness. Find out more about the Center here: