The Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) has had a long tradition of engagement with its urban neighbors. For more than 50 years, GSEP has been preparing teachers, administrators, and mental health workers for service in the Greater Los Angeles area. Building on that history of service, the Urban Initiative was developed to deepen the link between GSEP professional preparation programs and the education and mental health needs of those in urban settings.
To launch the joining of GSEP’s current work and future projects under this new initiative, GSEP celebrated the Urban Initiative Inaugural Event on October 7 on the rooftop of the Union Rescue Mission, one of the Urban Initiative’s partner organizations. The evening included a reception and program, attended by GSEP faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as community leaders from Los Angeles’ urban centers.
Alma Salazar, director of education and workforce development at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and UNITE-LA, hosted the event, which featured two keynote speakers, Faye Washington, chief executive officer, YWCA of Greater Los Angeles and Rhonda Brinkley-Kennedy, Psy.D., MFT, newly-appointed director of the Urban Initiative. The program was enhanced by testimonials from GSEP alumni and current students working in urban settings.
Dr. Brinkley-Kennedy shared her vision of how the Urban Initiative will continue to build knowledge, inspire service, and create change: “GSEP is in an individual position to take a leadership role in both developing research and training to assist mental health professionals, administrators, and educators for the unique challenges that exist in urban areas. We aim to give our students the tools not only to serve, but to empower under-resourced families and communities.”