Myisha Driver, PhD’19 and Elizabeth Speck, PhD’11 are the recipients of the 2021 Dianne Kipnes Social Innovation Award

We congratulate Dr. Driver and Dr. Speck on receiving the 2021 Dianne Kipnes Social Innovation Award. The Dianne Kipnes Endowed Fund for Social Innovation was established in 2016 by Clinical Psychology alum Dianne Kipnes, PhD, ’98, to support alumni research and projects that lead to lasting change across sectors and social issues. Previous Award recipients include alums Carrie Arnold, PhD’17, Larry Gebhardt, PhD’00, and Kate McAlpine, PhD’15.

Dr. Driver’s project is titled Nurturing Psyches of Color. The project will support parenting Black and Latinx teens and young adults as they face ongoing racial, ethnic, health, mental health, socioeconomic, and demographic disparities. The program will meet youth where they are by primarily utilizing digital means (e.g., social media platforms, online communities, video conferencing) to provide support and psychoeducation related to mental health and parenting in a culturally relevant manner.

Myisha Driver, PhD’19

Myisha Driver, PhD’19

In collaboration with Psyches of Color, Inc., the Nurturing Psyches of Color aims to positively impact the lives of parenting Black and Latinx teens/young adults and their babies by providing resources and prevention-based psychoeducation on parenting and mental health-related topics from a strength-based, culturally sensitive framework. The project also aims to reduce feelings of isolation by creating opportunities for teen/young adult parents to make meaningful connections with other parents.

Dr. Driver shared: “I believe wholeheartedly in the power of relationships. Infants’ relationships with their parents provide them with the foundation for emotional health, learning, and overall development that they will build upon throughout their lives. As a psychologist and a Black woman, I understand the negative impact of race and racism on families and want to take action to help meet some of their specific needs.”

She further said: “I have been profoundly impacted by the pandemic and continue to witness the impact of racism on our society. Although I have worked with very young children and families in various capacities for almost 20 years, I decided that I want to be even more intentional and develop my own programs to highlight resiliency and support people of color. I committed to challenging myself and others to move towards anti-racism in practice and policy.”

Myisha J. Driver-Woods earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Fielding Graduate University in 2019 and completed APA accredited internship and two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) in the Early Childhood Mental Health Program. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a California Endorsed Infant Family Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist, and Reflective Practice Facilitator II. Her research interests include the influence of fathers on early development and integrating infant mental health into medical settings. She is a proud native of Compton, California, and uses her personal and professional experiences to educate others and advocate for social and racial justice. She currently works at CHLA as part of two grant programs developing and delivering training content focused on infant mental health and addressing disparities.

Dr. Speck’s project is titled Organizational Change for Fair Chance Hiring in an Era of Racial Reckoning. This project will partner with hiring managers to shape attitudes and skills necessary to increase employment of working-age adults with criminal records. In collaboration with MindOpen Learning Strategies and M.A.D.E. Transitional Services, consulting efforts will focus on adopting Fair Chance Hiring with an explicit anti-racist focus. Dr. Speck will work with Tarik Greene, Founder of the MindOpen Learning Strategies. The project aims to contribute to the shifts in power necessary to change structural inequality at its roots.

Elizabeth Speck, PhD’11

Elizabeth Speck, PhD’11

Elizabeth Speck is the Principal of MindOpen Learning Strategies. This organizational development firm provides engaging training, coaching, and consulting services to help nonprofits, businesses, and governments move toward a more equitable and just world. Founded in 2017, MindOpen leverages Elizabeth’s three decades of diversified experience working within and across New York City’s complex public service systems, including leading large-scale organizational and systemic change efforts.

Dr. Speck shared: “This project is a direct extension of my Fielding dissertation completed in 2011, which explored the lived experiences of people who had been formerly incarcerated as they pursued careers in human services. The narrative that formerly incarcerated people unilaterally come to the workplace at a deficit is a myth: my research highlighted strengths in innovation, adaptiveness, and ability to hold multiple perspectives—capacities that are sought after in 21st-century work. The missing link is organizational readiness to fully include this population.”

Dr. Speck holds a PhD and MA degrees in Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University and is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist with an MA in Drama Therapy from New York University. As a community member, scholar-practitioner, and entrepreneur, Elizabeth is active in multiple networks working towards racial justice and equity in education, health, employment, and economic opportunity.

We wish Dr. Driver and Dr. Speck success in their projects!

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