Miriam Vega, Ph.D.
Job Title: Executive Director
Company / Organization: AIDS Project of the East Bay
City, State: Oakland, CA
BA, Vassar College
MA, University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
What are your primary duties in this position? I am the chief executive officer and run the agency. I write grants, and I develop programs. I cultivate new partnerships. I evaluate programs. I ensure we are meeting our deliverables and are having a positive impact on the health of the community.
What do you enjoy about your work? What are the perks and drawbacks? Everything. I enjoy meeting community members. I enjoy designing programs that I believe will help address health disparities. I enjoy mentoring staff. It is a lot to juggle and you have to be disciplined or you can burn out.
Career path: how did you land this position? What do you see in your future career plans? I took a post-doctoral position with ATPM that had me rotate through a CBO, CDC and a health department. I worked on social marketing plans for the country in terms of syphilis awareness campaigns and HPV. From there I became behavioral science director at the Latino Commission on AIDS helping to disseminate and teach the HIV workforce about best practices and evidence based interventions.
What career advice would you like to share with graduate students seeking careers in your field? Seek post doc positions in community based agencies. Seek out community based participatory research projects to work on as a graduate student. Don't just do research with psych 101 students. Get involved at the community level.
Ways I am involved with SPSSI: Read newsletters / mailings / website; Contribute writing for newsletter / mailings / website; Apply for scholarships, fellowships; Recommend scholarships, fellowships to others; Network with other members; Attend conferences / workshops; Plan conferences / workshops; Hold office or provide leadership; serve as the main representative for the SPSSI NGO group at the United Nations.
What is the importance of SPSSI for psychologists working outside of academia? SPSSI is a wonderful organization that helps bridge academia with non-academia and ensures we have an impact at the application level. It was through SPSSI that I first got involved in advocacy around health issues.