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The 2022 SPSSI Policy Workshop Preconference
Learning from Puerto Rico: Policy Lessons for Advocacy-Minded Psychologists

Thursday, June 23, 2022  |  8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Royal Sonesta San Juan  |  Palmar Ballroom A (Third Floor)


8:30 – 9:00 am: Breakfast will be available in the Palmar Foyer, just outside of Palmar Ballroom A. Arrive at 8:30 am sharp to ensure that there’s plenty of time to eat.

9:00 – 9:15 am: Welcoming remarks from SPSSI President Linda Silka, PhD, SPSSI Policy Committee members, SPSSI Policy Director Sarah Mancoll, and SPSSI Conference Program Co-Chair Eduardo A. Lugo-Hernández, PhD.

9:15 – 10:30 am: Panel I. The role of professional organizations in public policy: Dialogue with La Asociación de Psicología de Puerto Rico. This panel discussion will be moderated by SPSSI Council member and Policy Committee Co-Chair Patrick Grzanka, PhD and will feature two panelists: SPSSI Conference Program Co-Chair Eduardo A. Lugo-Hernández, PhD (Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez; and David Pérez Jiménez, PhD, Interim Director of the Instituto de Investigación Psicológica at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras and Past President of the Asociación de Psicología de Puerto Rico.

10:30 – 10:45 am: Break

10:45 am – 12:00 pm: Panel II. Impact of colonial politics in Hurricane Maria: The role of community action and advocacy. This panel discussion will be moderated by SPSSI Conference Program Co-Chair Eduardo A. Lugo-Hernández, PhD and will feature two panelists: Lic. Adi Martínez, PhD, JD (Director of Operations at University of Puerto Rico Resiliency Law Center); and SPSSI Conference Program Co-Chair Eduardo A. Lugo-Hernández, PhD (Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.

12:00 – 1:00 pm: Networking Lunch outdoors on lobby-level poolside terrace (Plazoleta – Pool level) alongside attendees of the Graduate Student Committee-organized Preconference and SPSSI Council members.

1:00 – 1:15 pm: Break

1:15 – 2:30 pm: Panel III. Learning from Puerto Rico’s diaspora and Puerto Rico’s connections to the diaspora. This panel discussion will be moderated by SPSSI Policy Director Sarah Mancoll and will feature three panelists: SPSSI Council Member Luis Rivera, PhD (Associate Professor of Psychology, Rutgers University); Melany Rivera Maldonado, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Safran Center for Psychological Services, The New School for Social Research); and Ana Laura Miranda (Program Officer, ConPRmetidos).

2:30 – 2:45 pm: Break

2:45 – 3:30 pm: Small-group discussions. Attendees will gather into small groups around discussion tables synthesize what they’ve learned and discuss how themes from the Policy Workshop apply to their own research and policy interests.

3:30 – 3:45 pm: Reporting back to the larger group. Small discussion groups will report back to the larger group on what they discussed, highlighting key take-aways.

3:45 – 4:00 pm: Closing remarks from SPSSI President Linda Silka, PhD, SPSSI Policy Committee members, SPSSI Policy Director Sarah Mancoll, and SPSSI Conference Program Co-Chair Eduardo A. Lugo-Hernández, PhD.


Dr. Linda Silka is SPSSI’s current President and a Senior Fellow with the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine. Dr. Silka’s training is as a social and community psychologist and much of her work has focused on building community-university research partnerships. Prior to moving to the University of Maine, she was a faculty member for three decades at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she directed the Center for Family, Work, and Community; served as the Special Assistant to the Provost for Community Outreach and Partnerships; and was Professor in the Psychology Department and then University Professor in the interdisciplinary Department of Regional Economic and Social Development.

Dr. Eduardo A. Lugo Hernández is Co-Chair of SPSSI’s 2022 Conference Program and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. He possesses a PhD in Clinical-Community Psychology from DePaul University in Chicago. Dr. Lugo’s work centers around child and youth civic engagement through the use of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR). He has led projects in schools in Puerto Rico where he has developed violence prevention initiatives with youth as partners. He has also worked with community members to train them on CBPR, research methods, and ethics. Dr. Lugo was awarded the Distinguished Psychologist in Public Policy or Public Service award from the Puerto Rico Psychological Association in 2015 for his policy work. The Interamerican Society of Psychology also recently honored him with the Award for the Professional Development of Psychology in the Americas-José Toro Alfonso-2021.

Dr. Patrick Grzanka is a member of SPSSI’s Council, Co-Chair of SPSSI’s Policy Committee, and an Associate Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He conducts research on complex inequalities at the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality, and his next book (under contract with Cambridge University Press) traces the “born this way” wars—fierce debates about the etiology of sexual orientation—in science, law, and the lives of sexual and gender minorities. Dr. Grzanka received SPSSI’s 2018 Michele Alexander Early Career Award, and a 2016 Local- and State-Level Policy Work grant to study the effects of Tennessee’s “conscience clause” law, which enables counselors and therapists to deny services based on their “sincerely held principles.” He is active in various social movement organizations in Tennessee and currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood.

Dr. David Pérez Jiménez is a social-community psychologist working as an Assistant Research Scientist and as the Associate Director of the Professional Services Unit of the Institute for Psychological Research of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. He is also a Past President of the Puerto Rico Psychological Association. His areas of research include HIV/STI prevention with heterosexual couples, intimate partner violence, problematic alcohol use and traffic psychology. In 2010 he was awarded as Distinguished Researchers of the Year by the Carlos Albizu University and as Distinguished Psychologist of the Year by the Puerto Rico Psychological Association. He is currently a member of the Evidence-Based Board for Puerto Rico. In 2014 he was accepted as member of the National Hispanic Science Network, and in 2006 he served as Co-Chair of the First International Conference on Community Psychology.

Dr. Sheilla L. Rodríguez Madera is an Associate Professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. Her research is related to structural oppression and health outcomes in Latino populations. For more than 20 years she has conducted research on trans health. Currently, her research is focused on contexts marked by disaster (e.g., economic, natural). She addresses topics such as migration, access to health care, and the role of communities in developing health-related resilience strategies, among others.

Dr. Adi Martínez-Roman is Director of Operations at the University of Puerto Rico’s Resiliency Law Center. She has a PhD in Fundamental Rights and the Philosophy of Human Rights and a doctorate in law. Prior to joining the UPR Resiliency Law Center, Dr. Martínez-Roman served as the Senior Policy Analyst on Puerto Rico for Oxfam America in Washington, DC. The mission of the UPR Resiliency Law Center is to shift the balance of power toward local communities and to ensure that disaster recovery and rebuilding in Puerto Rico is effective, fair and resilient, and that climate change issues are taken into account.

Dr. Luis Rivera is an Associate Professor of Psychology and the Principal Investigator of the Rutgers Implicit Social Cognition (RISC) Lab at Rutgers University, Newark. He is also one of SPSSI’s Representatives to APA’s Council of Representatives. Dr. Rivera earned his PhD in experimental social psychology. His research focuses on the implicit social cognitive processes that underlie the expression of stereotyped attitudes and how these processes shape stigmatized individuals’ self-concept, identity, and health. In 2019-2020, Dr. Rivera served as an APA/AAAS Congressional Fellow in the Office of Senator Ron Wyden, who represents Oregon.

Dr. Melany Rivera Maldonado is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Safran Center for Psychological Services at the New School for Social Research in New York. She is a licensed bilingual-Spanish psychologist whose career has focused on promoting the professional and personal development of psychology students, as well as developing programs that serve immigrant communities. Her clinical work integrates multicultural issues, psychoanalytical and psychodynamic theories, and the impact of early relationships across the lifespan. Connected with the community and committed to social justice initiatives, Dr. Rivera Maldonado participates in the several immigration advocacy groups, and provides consultation and workshops to non-profits on topics such as equity, diversity and inclusion, child development and trauma-informed care. She is the current Chair of the Early Career Committee for the New Jersey Psychological Association and served in the past as a Member-at-Large for the Latinx Mental Health Association of New Jersey. In 2020, she received the NJPA's Distinguished Teacher Award.

Ana Laura Miranda is a Program Officer at ConPRmetidos, where she works on El Comeback. ConPRmetidos is an organization that connects those on the Island with those living abroad and works as a bridge between professionals overseas and the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem on the ground. Their driving force is building a stable, productive, and self-sufficient Puerto Rico where people have growth opportunities and a good quality of life. The organization runs El Comeback, a platform that connects professionals with job opportunities in Puerto Rico, helping to move Puerto Rico's economy forward by retaining and bringing back talent to the Island.

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