PGI Leadership Attends the Association of Black Psychologists’ 54th Annual Conference

Pacifica Graduate Institute Leadership Attends the Association of Black Psychologists’ 54th Annual Conference, “Homecoming: (Re) Claiming our Divine African Knowing, Being, Doing, and Belonging”


The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) holds the mission of liberating the African Mind, empowering the African Character, and advancing the profession of African psychology. Their 54th annual conference, held July 19th-22nd, furthered this mission with the theme of “Homecoming: (Re) Claiming our Divine African Knowing, Being, Doing, and Belonging.” Dr. Thema Bryant, president of the APA, energized the conference with her presence and voiced the sentiment shared by many that “We are surviving but shattered—disconnected, unfulfilled, and fragmented. Many of us are thirsty and exhausted. I see us living a life in response to the atrocities instead of in spite of them. But we desire to be made whole.”

Pacifica’s leadership and scholars, among them Dr. Leonie Mattison (CEO and President of Pacifica Graduate Institute), Dr. Rica Toribio (Vice President of Enrollment Management), Dr. Loraine Devos-Comby (Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs), Norma Mesa (Director of Human Resources), and Loralee Scott (Senior Director, Pacifica Extension) were delighted to attend the conference. As Dr. Mattison summed it eloquently, “The ABPsi 54th conference created an energetic, psychologically safe, and culturally responsive healing space to breathe, listen, learn, connect, and reflect on the work Pacifica is doing to make depth psychology, education, and services affordable and accessible to everyone. In this moment of onward expansion, I appreciated the opportunity to be with the right people at the right time and in the right place doing the right thing with grit, gratitude and grace.”

All who attended found the conference both inspiring and an important reminder. Dr. Devos-Comby felt the conference offered her an opportunity “to further reflect on the experiences of our African American colleagues who have been marginalized in the field of Psychology. This felt particularly relevant as we want to bring more diverse faculty to Pacifica. ABPsi reinforced my conviction that Pacifica has a critical role to play in social justice.” And Dr. Toribio relates that the conference “concretized my sentiments that it is imperative that Pacifica be more inclusive in its reach as there is no deficit of BIPOC academics and professionals who could inarguably contribute to our discourses but are not converging towards our campuses. It is, therefore, exigent that Pacifica pivots and makes Depth Psychology accessible to all, so that the institute can have a multitude of voices needed to properly tend soul in and of the world.”

For Loralee Scott, the conference was transformational:

“I was grateful for the privilege of attending the ABPsi conference. While it held much of what I expected: excellent speakers, engaging clinical workshops, diverse and creative perspectives, the piece that spoke most deeply was an opportunity to walk into the closing moments of an African drumming session, where a group of drummers was beating out a rhythm as groups of people, some dressed in traditional African garb, some in yoga wear, danced their way across the expansive floor while onlookers clapped to the rhythm and cheered them on. The ancestors were palpable in that room and they were dancing with us. I walked out of that room smiling at the transgressive perfection of dancing to drums at a clinical psychological conference.

“In many cultures the drum is seen as a sacred tool connecting heaven and earth and maintaining the rhythm of the world order.  Following the sound of the drums reminded me of the critical importance of making space for soul to show up and remind us that even in the most academic of settings, we need to kick off our shoes and join in the dance in order to truly learn.”

Angela Borda is a writer for Pacifica Graduate Institute, as well as the editor of the Santa Barbara Literary Journal. Her work has been published in Food & Home, Peregrine, Hurricanes & Swan Songs, Delirium Corridor, Still Arts Quarterly, Danse Macabre, and is forthcoming in The Tertiary Lodger and Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Vol. 5.