The Black Psychiatrists of America (BPA) was created in 1969. The struggles, social conditions of Black Americans, professional experiences and the barriers faced by black psychiatrists provided the thrust for its creation.
Since the graduation of Solomon Carter Fuller from Boston University School of Medicine in 1897, and for the next eight decades, black psychiatrists have persistently struggled to impact and effect change in American psychiatry. In the 1960’s it became increasingly evident that the traditional government and professional organizations were not responsive to the ever-evolving priorities of the African American community and their mental health needs. Recognizing the condition of our people within the United States and the context of their existence demanded an action-oriented organization to holistically address the pervasive ills faced by African Americans.
The founders of the BPA understood the importance to move progressively to insure the emotional and psychological development of African Americans, affording them the tools to cope and succeed in the face of persistent racism. The BPA, from its inception, realized its special obligation to emphasize the mental health and emotional development of African Americans, and formulated objectives addressing requisite interdisciplinary action and definition of problems.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in response to the demands of the BPA, established the NIMH Center for Minority Group Mental Health Programs. The American Psychiatric Association (APA), the major psychiatric professional organization, was tenaciously challenged by the BPA for its apathy and neglect of psychiatric and social ills confronting African Americans. The political arena continues to be a major focus of concentration for the BPA.
The direction of the BPA is dictated by the growth of our organization and the present dilemmas facing African Americans. The initial and continuing philosophy is to effect change in American psychiatry for the betterment of African Americans and the country as a whole.
SAMUEL OKPAKU, M.D., Ph.D.
Sam O. Okpaku MD, PhD is the Executive Director, Center for Health, Culture, & Society. He was former Clinical Professor, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Senior Fellow Vanderbilt Public Policy Institute, and Chairman and Professor Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN. He has written or edited several books. His latest book-Essentials of Global Mental Health was released by Cambridge University Press in May 2014.
WILLIAM B. LAWSON, M.D., Ph.D.
William B. Lawson, M.D., Ph.D., DLFAPA, Associate Dean for Health Disparities, Dell Medical School University of Texas at Austin; Professor, Houston-Tilloston University and formally Chair of the Dept. of Psychiatrists, Former president of the Black Psychiatrists of America and now serves as the Treasurer of the Black Psychiatrists of America and its Editor-in Chief of the BPA Newsletter. He is also a member of the Council of Elders for the association. Dr. Lawson is currently Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Howard University School of Medicine & Health Sciences (Washington, DC). He is also a professor in the graduate faculties of psychology and pharmacology. He is the President of the DC Psychiatric Society, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the American College of Psychiatrists. He is the past chairperson of the Section of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the National Medical Association and currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of NMA’s newsletter as well. Dr. Lawson is a published author having over 180 publications to his credit. He has won numerous awards and citations throughout his illustrious medical career. He has been a former Black Psychiatrists of America Distinguished Andrea Delgado, M.D. Memorial Lecturer. He has been the recipient of the American Psychiatric Foundation Award for Advancing Minority Mental Health, the Solomon Carter Fuller Award in 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association, which honors African-American citizens who have pioneered in an area which has significantly benefited the quality of life for Black people in the USA. He has received the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Outstanding Psychologist Award, the Jeanne Spurlock Award from the American Psychiatric Association, the E.Y. Williams Clinical Scholar of Distinction Award from the National Medical Association Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Section, the Multicultural Workplace Award from the Veteran’s Administration for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of diversity and multicultural understanding, the Howard University College of Medicine Research Award, the Faculty Senate Creativity & Research Award and the Profiles of Courage Award. Dr Lawson has been twice named as one of “America’s Leading Black Doctors” by Black Enterprise Magazine, a “Super Doc” by the Washington Post on numerous occasions and “Top Doctor” by US News & World Reports Magazine many times as well. He has been inducted in Sigma XI Scientific Honor Society and Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He is the recipient of numerous federal, industry and foundation funding to study and treat severe mental illness, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS.
WELTON C. WASHINGTON, M.D.
Welton Washington, M.D. is currently serving as a Regional Trustee (Midwest Region) for the Black Psychiatrists of America. He is an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and an attending psychiatrist at Washtenaw County Community Support and Treatment Services. He is a member of the American Psychiatric Association and is the 2014 recipient of the Nancy C.A. Roeske, M.D. Award for “Excellence in Medical Student Education”. He is also an active member of the NAACP. Dr. Washington completed his undergraduate education at Morehouse College and completed both is medical school and psychiatric residency at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).
TIFFANI L. BELL, M.D.
Tiffani L. Bell, M.D. is the Eastern Region Trustee of the Black Psychiatrists of America. She recently completed her fellowship serving as an APA/SAMSHA Minority Fellow. She was an active participant in the Psychiatry & Law Council of the American Psychiatric Association and is a member of the American Medical Association’s Minority Affairs section governing council. She has completed a general psychiatry residency training program in 2014 from Wake Forest University’s general psychiatry program and completed a one year Child & Adolescent Psychiatry experience at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Treatment Center for Children. Dr. Bell is a graduate of Norfolk State University, a HBCU academic institution in Richmond, VA. She is passionate about serving the underserved and reducing mental health stigma in minority populations. Dr. Bell’s professional interests include research fellowship focused on religion and mental health, women’s mental health, eating disorders and obesity prevention.
DANIELLE HAIRSTON, M.D
Danielle Hairston, M.D. is the chief resident for the general psychiatry residency program at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. She earned her medical degree at Howard University College of Medicine. She attended Rutgers University for her undergraduate education. Dr. Hairston was selected as a 2014 American Psychiatric Association (APA)/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Minority Fellow. She was named the Black Psychiatrists of America (BPA) Outstanding Trainee of the year for 2014. With the support of the APA Minority Fellowship Program, Dr. Hairston has started the Right Mind, Right Body project which facilitates a partnership between ministries and mental health professionals. Her interests include psychosomatic medicine and collaborative care.
ALTHA STEWART, M.D.
Altha J. Stewart, M.D., a former President of the Black Psychiatrists of America, now serves as the Co-Chair for the BPA Council of Elders for the Association. She was recently elected as Secretary for the American Psychiatric Association and is the current Executive Director for Just Family Care Network (Memphis, TN), a federally funded System of Care program for children with serious emotional disorders and their families. She also serves as Director for System of Care for the Shelby County Juvenile Defender Unit (Memphis, TN). Prior to working in this capacity, Dr. Stewart served as Executive Director of the SAMSHA funded National Leadership Council on African-American Behavioral Health (NLC). She worked for over a decade as the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency, one of the largest public mental health systems in the USA with a budget of over $500 million. Prior to this, she worked for over two decades as CEO and Executive Director in large public mental health systems in Pennsylvania and New York while overseeing the management and development of programs for persons with mental illness and substance use disorders. She has worked for over three decades as a physician and administrator in public sector health and human services. Dr. Stewart is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the “Welcome Back Award in Psychiatry” (Eli Lily and Company), “Exemplary Psychiatrist Award” (NAMI), “Pathfinders in Medicine Award” from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) and the American Psychiatric Association’s “Alexandra Symonds Award”. She has been a frequent guest on media and public affairs programs discussing mental illness and psychiatric treatment in the African-American community. Dr. Stewart is the past president of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation and the Association of Women Psychiatrists. She is a graduate of Christian Brothers University and completed her medical school education at Temple University (Philadelphia, PA). Her residency training in psychiatry was also done in Philadelphia at Hahnemann University Hospital. Dr. Stewart was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Regis College in Weston, MA and was the Black Psychiatrists of America Distinguished Andrea Delgado, M.D. Memorial Lecturer in 2013.
GLORIA PITTS, D.O.
A native Detroiter, in every sense of the word, Dr. Gloria Pitts has spent her entire professional life responding to the challenges of improving the lives of the people she touched.
As a teacher in a public school district and an instructor she led in the movement for bettering the educational programs and the delivery process. Continuing holistically she transitioned seamlessly to the Department of Civil Rights, a constituted mandated state agency, as an investigator and subsequently a conciliator. In these positions she addressed, individual and systemic, claims of discrimination involving race, creed, color, national origin and religion.
Seasoned with experiences and knowledge from years at the community based level, Dr. Pitts pursued a formal career in medicine. She is a graduate of Michigan State University - College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSU-COM). Continuing her medical pursuits with an integrative mind, body, social and environmental emphasis she completed her residency program at Detroit Psychiatric Institute/Wayne State University. Her development has been further enhanced by the fellowships received; National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), APA-Executive Leadership Program, Kellogg Community Leadership Management Program for Minority Women, and 2006 Health Policy Fellow-Ohio State University.
Now in private practice, following having held several local and national program directorships of agencies in Michigan, Dr. Pitts has not slowed down. She continues to serve as lecturer and mentor to colleges, universities and hospitals where she spreads her knowledge, history and experiences with students and colleagues alike.
MICHAEL INGRAM, M.D.
Michael Ingram, M.D. is the current President of the Black Psychiatrists of America and the current Medical Director of the Inpatient Mental Health Unit for McLaren Bay Psychiatric Associates where he once served as the Vice President for this group which is one of the largest medical groups north of metropolitan Detroit, MI. He has been a former Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at McLaren Bay Regional Medical Center at Lafayette Clinic and the current chairperson of the Education Committee there in Bay City, MI. He is a graduate of Lyman Briggs College after attending courses at Michigan State University. He received his medical degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and completed his residency training in Psychiatry at Lafayette Clinic and Wayne State University. He is board certified in neurology and psychiatry. Dr. Ingram is active in his church and held leadership positions in the Boys Scouts of America. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Dow City YMCA during the planning and completion of a 19 million dollar new building. He is a Marathon runner having completed more than five Marathons both in the USA and abroad. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He and his wife, Lisa, travel frequently in the USA and on an international level having visited China, Europe, South Africa, Egypt, Israel and Jordan. Prior to becoming BPA President he served as the Regional Trustee to the association’s executive committee from the Mid-west region.
GILBERT R. PARKS, M.D.
Gilbert R. Parks, M.D. is the President-Elect of the Black Psychiatrists of America. He is a member of the Council of Elders of the Association and the recipient of the Lloyd Elam, M.D. Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served as a past Chairperson of the BPA Program Committee. Dr. Parks is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and has also been awarded twice "Physician of the Year" award for Region V of the National Medical Association. Dr. Parks is in the private practice of Psychiatry in Topeka, KS and Oklahoma City as well as Tulsa, Oklahoma, He has participated in research and clinical trials in the Ziprasidone Observational Study of Cardiac Outcomes. He is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson Medical School (Philadelphia, PA) where he received his medical degree in 1973 after having done undergraduate studies at the University of Central Oklahoma in 1967 with a B,S. Degree in chemistry and minor in mathematics and biology. Dr. Parks completed his psychiatric residency training at the Menninger School of Psychiatry (Topeka, KS) and prior to going into private practice worked at several hospitals in the Topeka, KS area including Topeka State Hospital, Memorial Hospital, St. Frances Hospital and Stormont-Vail Hospital). A native of Oklahoma, Dr. Parks has traveled and lectured extensively globally in the Caribbean, Ethiopia, Senegal, The Gambia, Benin and Ghana where he also worked with traditional healers in West Africa. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust Committee, The Institute of the Black World 21st Century facilitate Dr. Paror working in Haiti and is the recipient of the "Merit Award" from the government of Haiti for his service to that country under the leadership of then President Aristide. Dr. Paks has always been a leader and activist since his days of medical school as a member of the Student National Medical Association and then went on to become Chairperson of the Board for the parent organization, the National Medical Association. He has been a member and served on the Executive Committee of the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and continues to be a tireless advocate against the dealth penalty wehre he currently serves on the Board of the Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Prior to the transition of his wife in 2015, he had been married 50 years and the proud father of 4 children and 9 grandchildren. Dr. Parks is the official "Black Cowboy" of the BPA having participated in numerous rodeos and other Western events and contests.
KIMBERLY GORDON, M.D.
Kimberly Gordon, M.D. Is the Southern Region Trustee Region II Kimberly Gordon M.D is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Tulane University School of Medicine. Dr. Gordon is interested in developing programs to eliminate disparities in mental health care that disproportionately affect underserved and minority communities. She is also interested in research in the areas of addiction, trauma and resiliency for women and children with mood and anxiety disorders. She has extensive experience working in community and public psychiatry where she serves as co-director and supervisor for an outpatient complicated ADHD and Trauma Specialty Clinic in New Orleans, in addition to serving as clinical supervisor for an outpatient public school based program
Dr. Gordon is active in organized psychiatry on both the state and national level. In addition to other leadership positions in adult and child psychiatry, she serves the American Psychiatric Association as the Early Career Psychiatry Representative for the Black Caucus, member of the Council for Children, Adolescents and Their Families and the Membership Committee. She also serves the Louisiana Psychiatric Medical Association as Secretary and Early Career Psychiatrist Representative.
Dr. Gordon’s professional honors include serving as chairperson of the APA/SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program and Board of Trustees Representative in 2011-2012. Dr. Gordon’s academic interests include teaching pediatric and psychiatry residents how to practice evidence-based culturally informed care in minority and underrepresented communities. Dr. Gordon has developed and facilitated a culturally informed curriculum for pediatric and child psychiatry trainees at Tulane University School of Medicine.
SHERYL D. JONES, M.D.
Sheryl Jones, M.D. is the Secretary of the Black Psychiatrists of America. She is a Board Certified Adult, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist who has been practicing in the Memphis, TN, her hometown. She completed her medical training at Meharry Medical College (Nashville, TN) and her Psychiatric Residency Training in Adult, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatry at Emory University (Atlanta, GA). Dr. Jones currently has a private practice, works as an Associate Medical Director with United Health Group.
Dr. Jones has been a member of the Black Psychiatrists of America since her residency and received the Atlanta Chapter Fellows Award in 1999 for dedicated service to the Atlanta Black Psychiatrists Group. She has a special interest in cultural issues and while at Emory as a psychiatric resident in training created a cultural conference for other trainees while serving as a SAMHSA Fellow. She has been a mentor to early career psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals. She has years of experience in administration, policy building and prides herself in her "visionary ideas". She has served as a medical director in the past at a variety of public and private medical settings. She is a strong advocate of social media and electronic communications and brings these skills to bear to the Association.
BRIGITTE BAILEY, M.D.
Brigitte Bailey, M.D. is a member of the Black Psychiatrists of America Executive Committee and Trustee from the Western Region. Dr. Bailey is the Training Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She received her undergraduate degree and her medical degree from the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque). She completed her residency in General Psychiatry and a fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at UTHSCSA. She is board certified in both General as well as Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Bailey is heavily involved in clinical, teaching and research activities with clinical duties including work at the Clarity Child Guidance Center, UTHSCSA, the KCI Children’s Shelter Residential Treatment Center and serves as a consultant with the San Antonio Independent School District. She is heavily involved in her teaching duties with medical students and psychiatric residents. Dr. Bailey also provides consultation to the Medical Director of the Texas Youth Commission as Co-Director of Psychiatric Services and teaches Ethics and Cultural Psychiatry for residents in general as well as child and adolescent training. She serves as a mentor for medical students throughout their matriculation in medical school at UTHSCSA and a mentor to several ethnic minority residents across the USA. She provides psychotherapy and career supervision to residents in training as well. Her clinical practice focuses primarily on assessment and treatment issues of childhood mental disorders. She uses a family systems approach, which involves the education of the family, community referrals, and the school system as well as her index patients. Her expertise is in psychosocial issues and the influence on psychiatric illnesses. Dr. Bailey’s research interests include domestic sex-trafficking of minors and she would like to expand her research experience into community psychiatry as well.
PATRICIA A. NEWTON, M.D., MPH, M.A.
Patricia A. Newton, M.D, MPH, M.A. is the Executive Director, a past President of the Black Psychiatrists of America (BPA) and serves on its Council of Elders. Dr. Newton is a past Distinguished Andrea Delgado, M.D. Memorial Lecturer for the Black Psychiatrists of America and has been the recipient of both BPA’s Isaac Slaughter, M.D. Memorial Award for “Outstanding Leadership” and the Lloyd Elam, M.D., Memorial Award for “Lifetime Achievement”. She is also the conference coordinator for the BPA serving in that capacity for over a decade. Dr. Newton is a psychiatrist and behavioral scientist specialist who is currently the President and Medical Director of Newton & Associates and President of Newton-Thoth, Inc. International Meeting Planners. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff where she received her undergraduate degree and received a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN). She completed her medical school education at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO) and her psychiatric training at the same institution followed by receiving her Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology from Vanderbilt University Peabody College (Nashville, TN) and a Master’s Degree in Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health & Hygiene (Baltimore, MD). She served on the academic faculty for over sixteen years at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine while becoming the first female chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry at Provident Hospital (Baltimore, MD). Dr. Newton has won many awards and citations including Essense Magazine’s “Woman of the Year in Health & Medicine”, Baltimore Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Women in Baltimore” and Towson State University’s “Distinguished Black Marylanders”. She was one of the first American Psychiatric Association APA/NIMH Fellows as a psychiatric resident that permitted her to attend the inaugural meeting of the BPA’s Transcultural Psychiatry Conference in Haiti in 1979. She holds membership in numerous organizations and has pioneered work with traditional healers in Africa and Brazil. She has worked internationally with psychiatrists and other health care providers in Africa, South America, the Caribbean as well as here in the USA, pioneering techniques for the chronic mentally ill and cultural competency relative to culturally competent mental health delivery globally in HIV/AIDS. Her innovations include culturally competent holistic treatment in chemical dependency and prevention having her work embraced internationally in Africa, the Caribbean and in Great Britain with a community based clinic named in her honor there. Dr. Newton is an internationally acclaimed lecturer and published author of several. She is an Ashanti Royal having been enstooled as both a queen mother and female king (Divisional Chief) in Ghana, West Africa where she is known as “Nana Dr. Akosua Akyaa” with full rights and privileges that this esteemed position holds. Her clinical psychiatry focus involves anxiety disorders with special emphasis on PTSD, depression, chronic mental illness and transcultural psychiatry encompassing the interface of Western and Traditional African healing systems.