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Dr. Michael Cunningham to Chair LPA Diversity Committee

Dr. Michael Cunningham will chair the newly created Diversity Committee for the Louisiana Psychological Association.

He is Professor of Psychology at Tulane University, and holds a Joint Appointment as Provost in the African and African Diaspora Studies Program at Tulane. His research focuses on resilience and vulnerability in adolescent populations and context specific phenomena associated with mental health and academic outcomes among African Americans. 

“Dr. Cunningham is an outstanding leader in our community in the area of diversity, an African American, a psychologist, educator and scientist who epitomizes excellence and service to his community,” said Dr. Julie Nelson, current President. “At the same time, Dr. Cunningham is a gracious and generous colleague willing to aid others with his knowledge.’

“In fact, he was just recently named for his mentoring of young people to leadership roles in STEM sciences, by Insight into Diversity Magazine.”

Dr. Cunningham serves on his university’s President’s Commission of Race and Tulane Values, as Co-Chair for Black Caucus of the Society for Research in Child Development and as the Task Force to Study the role of racial/ethnic caucus relationships to the Society.

He has published papers that focus on gender and context specific phenomena associated with mental health and academic outcomes among African Americans.  His research examines numerous themes, such as precursors to bravado attitudes in African American males, parental monitoring and social support as buffers to stressful situations, and the relation of racial identity to academic and mental health outcomes. His research is supported by local and regional collaborative relationships with schools and community organizations.

Representative examples of his research are: “School and community-based associations to hypermasculine attitudes in African American adolescent males,” in American Journal of Orthopsychiatry; “The relations of stressful events and future expectations in African American adolescents: Gender differences in parental monitoring,” in Journal of Negro Education; and “Personal characteristics: A situational filter for adolescent development (chapter 4),” in G. Creasy, & P. Jarvis (Eds.), Handbook of Adolescent Development in Urban Communities: Resilience in the Neighborhood.

His work is uniformly esteemed and he was honored in 2013 with the Distinguished Contributions Award from the prestigious Society for Research in Child Development, among others. He is Editor forResearch in Human Development (2018-2024), Associate Editor for Child Development (2007 – present), and on the Editorial Board Member Journal of Negro Education (2011 – 2017), among many other scholarly activities where his expertise in the psychology of racially diverse individuals is utilized.

“Dr. Cunningham has led a personal and professional life at the intersection of the science of psychology and issues of diversity, especially of racial issues of African Americans, a topic of great importance to the state of Louisiana, where children still exist in third generation poverty in some areas.”

The committee was created in January with the goals to work with organizational partners within LPA to help recruit new members of diverse backgrounds over the next year; work together with the I-O Psychology Committee to conduct a needs assessment survey of racially and ethnically diverse psychologists relevant to creating programs within LPA; and participate in discussions with members and non-members to engage and collect focus group information to guide program development.

Working with the Legislative Affairs Committee, the new committee members will help monitor state legislation having to do with Louisiana’s African American citizens and other diverse groups and where appropriate offer scientific support or clarification to the authors.

The committee will also work with the Conventions/Education and the Public Education committees to develop two programs related to diversity initiatives for the on-going educational programs.

photo by J. Nelson