The UC Office of the President (UCOP) has awarded UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School a $295K grant for the project “Building the Pipeline for African American Faculty whose Research Is Centered on Ameliorating the Disparately Negative Health Effects of Racial Trauma in Black Communities.” The funding is part of the Advancing Faculty Diversity (AFD) program that supports development of innovative and focused campus projects designed to increase faculty diversity in selected pilot units.
The project—with Dr. Alison Cerezo as PI—will help the Gevirtz School recruit and retain faculty who are desperately needed in a critical area of scholarship to address a local, state, and national need for expertise in addressing the trauma of racism. The funding will support the hiring of two faculty members in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology (CCSP) who will research issues related to racial trauma, health disparities, and intervention science among Black and African-American communities.
In particular, the Gevirtz School hopes that these faculty will build a strong foundation of research and practice with the Black community in Santa Barbara and beyond. Finally, the need for mentors for Black undergraduate and graduate students is clear, as CCSP looks toward building a pipeline between HBCUs, UCSB, and both research and clinical positions post-doctorate.
Dr. Cerezo is currently the faculty advisor for the Healing Space, a specialty clinic that provides psychological services to Black-Identifying clients of all ages. This clinic began in fall 2020 in direct response to the killing of George Floyd and other police violence against Black Americans and with the impetus of the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition to general stressors and life issues, the Healing Space acknowledges the effects of racial trauma, marginalization, and injustice on social and health disparities among Black communities. All services are provided by Black therapists who have an interest in addressing the negative toll of anti-Black racism on Black residents in our local community. The faculty to be hired through this funding will help the Healing Space take the next step of its growth and leadership.
Alison Cerezo is a licensed psychologist and a faculty member in UCSB’s Department of Counseling, Clinical & School Psychology. She completed her doctoral training in Counseling Psychology at the University of Oregon, her predoctoral internship at UC San Diego, Counseling and Psychological Services and her post-doctoral training at the Psychological Services Center in Oakland, CA. Cerezo has provided clinical services to individuals, couples and families in community clinics, university counseling centers and k-12 settings. Her research and clinical work are centered on the links between stress, trauma, mental health and substance use in communities that have faced interpersonal and structural barriers. Cerezo maintains a private practice where she serves BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.