International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Meet the Diversity Committee

Posted 1 May 2008 in StressPoints by Elisa Triffleman

An important step forward in addressing diversity within ISTSS was taken during the most recent ISTSS Board of Directors meeting in November, 2007, when the Board voted to formally create the ISTSS Diversity Committee. The creation of the Diversity Committee, a permanent body reporting to the Board and the Executive Committee, resulted from the culmination of efforts by its predecessor, the ISTSS Diversity Task Force.

From 2002-2007, the Task Force was involved in a number of efforts within the organization, including initiating the Diversity and Cultural Competence Special Interest Group (DCC SIG), running the English-language Orientation Meeting held every year during the Annual Meeting, and providing on-request pre-submission peer review of potential presentation proposals. The Task Force also organized diversity-themed presentations during the Annual Meeting, such as those addressing disparities in access to care among ethnic minorities, and the association of homophobia and traumatization in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons. However, Task Forces within ISTSS exist on a time-limited basis and are meant to complete single, focused tasks. The decision by the Board to create a standing Diversity Committee means that a broad array of issues can potentially be addressed through long-term continuing efforts, in addition to continuing many of the projects noted above.

One of the priority issues for the Committee concerns the need for accessible and identifiable leadership. Towards that end, below are brief biographies of each of the current Diversity Committee members. Collectively, we span a spectrum of professional settings, interests, and experiences, mirroring one of the best aspects of ISTSS as an organization. We welcome comments, questions and concerns from interested others, including those from the US and from the international communities who might wish to join the Committee.

Laura S. Brown, PhD is the director of the Fremont Community Therapy Project, Seattle, WA. Her interest areas are in cultural competence in clinical trauma practice and training trauma therapists. She recently wrote Cultural competence in trauma therapy: Beyond the flashback (published by American Psychological Association Books in 2008).

Mylea Charvat, MA is a research health science specialist with the San Francisco VA and will be moving to Bronx VA and Mt. Sinai Medical Center in July, 2008. Mylea’s interests are in women’s health and trauma, and treatment outcome research. She also serves on the board of Conard House, an organization that provides supportive housing and services to homeless individuals living with SMI.

Bita Ghafoori, PhD is an associate professor and assistant chair of California State University in Long Beach. She is an award-winning educator and has received funding to develop a disaster mental health curriculum for Marriage and Family Therapy masters-level students. Her interest areas have included disaster mental health, anxiety disorders in primary care, PTSD treatment and the protective effects of altruism and love and human attachments in PTSD.

Carolyn Greene, PhD is a clinical psychologist and health research specialist at the VA National Center for PTSD, Pacific Islands Division. She currently serves as a co-investigator, clinical supervisor and project director for a large federally funded clinical effectiveness trial of telemental health treatment for PTSD in largely Pacific Islander and Asian American veterans living in remote rural areas. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in research design, psychopathology, diagnostic assessment and psychotherapy.

Russell T. Jones, PhD is a professor of psychology at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA. Dr. Jones is a consultant for the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center and a member of the Terrorism and Disaster Branch of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. He has served as a reviewer for NIMH and SAMSHA for close to 30 years. His recent research interests concern the impact of fire-related disaster. Dr. Jones is a former member of the ISTSS Board of Directors.

Chalsa Loo, PhD is currently in private practice. She has made significant contributions to the field of diversity and trauma through her work documenting treatment for and exposure to race-related stressors in Asian American and Pacific Islander Vietnam veterans.

Nnamdi Pole, PhD (Co-Chair) is currently an assistant professor at University of Michigan and will be an associate professor at Smith College in July, 2008. He has served as an ad hoc reviewer for US Dept. of Defense grant applications and is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Anxiety Disorders. His research areas include psychophysiology in PTSD, effects of trauma on police officers, trauma-related outcomes in Hispanics and psychotherapy process research.

Elisa Triffleman, MD (Senior Co-Chair) is a general clinical psychiatrist in Port Washington, NY. She was the founding member of the Diversity and Cultural Competence SIG and was the senior Co-Chair of the Diversity Task Force from 2002-2007. Her research interest areas include psychotherapy process and outcome research and diversity and trauma. While on extended maternity leave, Dr. Triffleman remains active in the field through consulting, writing and editing.