CSPP Alumnae Spotlight: Dr. Kelley Haynes-Mendez
Director of the Ethnicity, Race and Cultural Affairs Portfolio
American Psychological Association
Dr. Kelley Haynes-Mendez received a PsyD degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, and is a licensed psychologist in the state of Texas, USA. Dr. Haynes-Mendez is currently the Director of the Ethnicity, Race, and Cultural Affairs portfolio and the Acting Director of the Human Rights Team. at the American Psychological Association. Within her portfolio, she provides leadership and support for several groups, including the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs and the Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology.
Dr. Haynes-Mendez has also worked in academic settings for 20 years. Her scholarship and teaching interests have primarily included topics of multiculturalism, intersectionality, and the teaching for global citizenship in higher education. She has also served in leadership roles at the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (American Psychological Association, Division 2) – as a member of the Diversity Committee, Chair for the International Relations Committee and Vice President for Diversity and International Relations (2019-2021). As Vice President for Diversity and International Relations of APA Division 2, Kelley led organization-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and international partnerships. Her international endeavors have included a guest lectureship in Cape Town, South Africa where she taught topics on family and intercultural studies. She also completed a Diploma in Social Innovation with the UN Mandated University for Peace (UPEACE), Centre for Executive Education in Costa Rica in 2017 and continues to collaborate with the UPEACE to foster professional development for higher education faculty, staff, and administrators.
CSPP is honored to highlight Dr. Haynes-Mendez as one of its distinguished alumni. The questions below were posed to her regarding her life and career trajectory that led her to the current position as Director of Ethnicity, Race, and Cultural Affairs portfolio at APA.
CSPP: My Impact Blog
Kelley Haynes-Mendez, PsyD Class of 2001, CSPP-LA
- Please tell us about background and upbringing.
In my early years, I attended K-12 schools in a small rural town in Texas. Upon graduating, I attended Baylor University in the Bachelor of Arts program in psychology. The program at Baylor had a very strong, foundational psychology focus, but it wasn’t until my very last semester that I was introduced (briefly) to the concept of multicultural psychology. One of my professors – in order to explain bias in testing – asked students to respond to several items from the Black Intelligence Test in Children. It introduced the concept of culture and psychology which became a larger focus when I attended graduate school at the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. I received a PsyD in clinical psychology from CSPP in 2001. Soon after, I began teaching graduate level courses in clinical psychology (PsyD) programs. My focus was teaching psychology trainees how to effectively interact better cross culturally with their clients.
The relationship between teaching, professional psychology, and cross cultural and diversity issues was the major focus of my teaching career. I became active in Society for the Teaching of Psychology in 2006 and served on the Diversity Committee, International Relations Committee, and later as the VP for Diversity and International Relations.
Currently, I serve as Director for Ethnicity, Race, and Cultural Affairs in the American Psychological Association Human Rights Team, which is a part of the Public Interest Directorate. In this role, I contributed to a project team that helped coordinate the development of the APA racism apology resolution.
- What made you choose the field of clinical psychology and, in particular, CSPP?
I wanted to be a “counselor” for as long as I can remember. My young friends would often come to me in order to help them resolve conflict – even in elementary school. So, I grew up knowing this was the field I wanted to pursue. As I approached graduation for my undergraduate degree, I explored the differences between PsyD and PhD, selecting PsyD because of its clinical focus. CSPP had the type of program that incorporated clinical training with the types of multicultural, family and child focus that I was aiming for.
- Describe any significant or important events that impacted who you are today.
I was raised by two very hardworking, working class parents – Irene and Jimmie Haynes - in a very small, rural community. I was brought next door to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. So, we were a very tight knit group. There is something about that type of upbringing that inspires a sense of community and kinship – at least for me. At the same time, my immediate environment was fraught with overt racism and discrimination. This may have also influenced my interest in cultures/cultural diversity and led me into my current field. Overall, though, there is something remarkable about Black parenting in that type of environment. I felt deeply loved and supported in my family and in my small community of Holly Springs, Texas.
- How did your career path lead you to your current position?
Once I completed graduate school, I started teaching in a clinical PsyD program. My teaching career has primarily focused on issues of multiculturalism and diversity – and I’ve taught mostly in programs at professional schools of psychology. Over time, I also became involved with APA Division 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology), first as a member of the diversity committee, as chair of the international relations committee, and then finally as the Vice President for Diversity and International Relations. I started developing workshops for teachers of psychology to learn about global citizenship education in collaboration with the University for Peace in Costa Rica. Now at APA, I am learning a new skillset as an administrator of programs.
- Please tell me about your current position at the American Psychological Association (APA).
The APA Public Interest Directorate has a mission to apply the science and practice of psychology to the fundamental problems of human welfare and the promotion of equitable and just treatment of all segments of society through education, training, and public policy in the areas of aging, AIDS, children, families, disability, ethnic minority affairs, LGBT concerns, socioeconomic status, violence prevention, women's programs and work, stress and health. The Human Rights Team, which is a part of the public interest directorate, consists of three portfolios: Women’s Programs, Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, and Ethnicity, Race, and Culture. I am Director of the Ethnicity, Race, and Cultural Affairs portfolio. In that role, I provide staff support to APA’s Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training and the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs. I also work with other areas of the organization on initiatives that reach across various directorates, such as the dismantling racism initiative.
- What is(are) your hope(s) by being in your current position?
My ultimate desire is to bring human rights to the forefront of APA and to psychology in general. APA Council of Representatives passed a human rights resolution in February, 2021 and several related resolutions pertaining to racism and health equity. I see all of these topics as very interrelated, especially the human rights piece. Human rights are essential and pertinent to psychology. The 5-connections framework developed by the APA Task Force on Human Rights talks about the connections between psychology and human rights at 5 specific intersections –
- Psychologists possess human rights by virtue of being human as well as specific rights essential to their profession and discipline;
- Psychologists apply their knowledge and methods to the greater realization of human rights;
- Psychologists respect human rights and oppose the misuse of psychological science, practice, and applications and their negative impact on human rights;
- Psychologists advance equal access to the benefits of psychological science and practice; and
- Psychologists advocate for human rights.
My goal is to hone in on these areas in my role at APA.
- In reflecting back on your career, what are important qualities in being successful?
I think that humility and genuineness – alongside being competent in my abilities - are central components to being successful. I have (hopefully) stayed true to my roots and upbringing and not walked too far outside of my core values and beliefs. I also believe that finding a passion early on for cultural psychology and diversity has been helpful throughout my career. While I have worked in different settings throughout my career, the common thread of interest in cultures and diversity has always remained.
- What advice and/or lessons learned would you want to give if someone wanted to do the work that you are doing now?
My recommendation is to follow your own intuition and trust the things you feel passionate about. In my experience, multiculturalism and diversity were areas that I just really felt passionate about. Whether I’m teaching about them, conducting psychotherapy with individuals from various racial, ethnic groups, or in an administrative role – the desire to promote equality and celebrate diversity is still at the center.
- Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share?
I believe that I was provided with a very unique and special educational experience at the CSPP LA campus. From my colleagues to faculty members, I gained a lot of knowledge about psychology (and life!) that I have applied in many areas. Having attended a professional school of psychology – and especially gaining the PsyD degree - has encouraged me to explore lots of different areas where clinical psychology skills can be useful and impactful.