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Diversity Committee

Responsibilities: The Diversity Committee focuses on and addresses both content and process issues in diversity and trauma. It does so in order to, first, enable ISTSS as a whole to become more representative of, and more welcoming to the many groups and communities which make contributions to the field of traumatic stress studies and allied fields. This aspect of the Diversity Committee’s purpose is consistent with Strategic Goal #1, to “provide a unique forum for respectful exchange among a diverse membership,” in order to, “create the perception and reality of the ‘right professional home.’” 

The Diversity Committee’s second purpose is to provide leadership to the field by disseminating scientific information regarding the overlap between the fields of diversity studies and traumatic stress studies. This purpose overlaps several of ISTSS’s strategic goals, most directly, Strategic Goal #1, by fostering further exchange within a membership who are themselves diverse and/or who are interested in diversity,  and Strategic Goal #4, by, “[engaging ISTSS] members in advancing traumatic stress science and [using] research to improve prevention, and clinical care, promote resilience, and inform public education and public policy.”  

In addressing diversity both on an organizational level and within the realm of scientific endeavor, the committee recognizes the importance of such historically and currently relevant group- and community-level factors as race, ethnicity, tribal/cultural group, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status and nationality, among others.

Composition & Designated Chair or Members: The Chair selects 10-14 ISTSS members in good standing in order to allow the Committee to be as fully representative as possible across the lines of gender, ethnicity and race, primary language, tribal/cultural group, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, nationality, experience in the field, and experience within ISTSS. There is no set length of term for members of the Committee.

Authority (including limitations): The committee may present recommendations to the Board of Directors for approval in their endeavors to represent the Society.

Limitations on authority (what committee/task force/position does not have authority to do): The committee cannot change their mission or efforts without approval of the Board of Directors.

Society Policies Impacting Function: The committee must adhere to any written or spoken Society policies.

  • 11/2007: The Board authorized the creation of the Diversity Committee to supplant the long-running Diversity Task Force.
  • 11/12/08:  At the request of the Diversity Committee, the Board authorized and approved returning to collecting information about member characteristics on a continuous basis through the online new-member application and Member Directory portions of the ISTSS Web site, as outlined by Dr. Elisa Triffleman.
  • 02/2009: Items in the member characteristics’ questionnaire were finalized, and the staff were directed to begin development of the associated software.

Interactions with other committees: The committee will interact with the Executive Committee liaison, Executive Director and/or other headquarters’ staff.

Products: The committee may propose and work on diversity activities which produce demographic informational requests, orientation meetings, various means of disseminating information about diversity and trauma, improvements in the ISTSS website, etc. See below in item 12.

Staff resources available (from Sherwood scope of work): The committee works with assigned staff and the Executive Director.

Financial and other resources available: Although conference calls may be held, any other expenditures must be presented to the Executive Director in the form of a resource request which will be submitted to the Finance Committee.

Processes/procedures:  Meetings
Discussions will be held either via e-mail and/or conference call(s), as necessary. Unless circumstances do not permit this, the  Diversity Committee shall meet in person every year at the ISTSS Annual Meeting., to discuss the previous year’s activities and to plan future activities.

From 2003-2006, the work of the Committee when it was a task force concentrated on improving the climate of the Annual Meeting and the organization as a whole through: the provision of ribbons for first-time attendees, to emphasize their importance to  the organization; development of a Meeting Mentor program; development of multi-lingual Orientation Meetings at the Annual Meeting;

Collaboration with the Membership Committee in developing the new ISTSS membership pamphlet, in order to ensure inclusion of images and graphics representing an internationally diverse membership, and in order to ensure wording commensurate with same;

In collaboration with the Membership Committee, the Task Force organized a  “Meet A Member” table during the ISTSS 2006 and 2007 Annual Meeting.

Along the lines of outreach, the task force created a listserv and established communications with Howard University’s trauma researchers and clinicians. In terms of internal process, the committee created the diversity and Cultural Competence SIG, which together with the task force and subsequently the Committee, has organized, supported and endorsed diversity-themed presentations at the Annual Meeting and provided critiques of potential presentations proposals on request from ISTSS members, among other things.

Starting in 2006 and continuing through the current time, the committee has also organized its own presentation proposals.

From 2007 forward, in addition to continuing the Orientation Meetings and the provision of ribbons for first-time attendees, the Committee also has engaged in the following

In line with the goal of disseminating information about diversity and trauma, the Committee has actively sought and created special opportunities for ISTSS members and others to publish manuscripts furthering the science of diversity and trauma, including in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy. These activities have occurred at little-to-no cost to the organization.

In line with the goal of disseminating information about diversity and trauma the Committee has also continued to organize on an annual basis 1-2 diversity-themed presentations at the Annual Meeting per year.

In creating the “right professional home,” the Diversity Committee and its progenitor, the Diversity Task Force, has created two Special Interest Groups, the Diversity and Cultural Competence SIG in 2002; and in 2009, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and  Transgendered SIG. The Diversity Committee continues to actively provide support and personnel to enable these SIGs to function.

In creating the “right professional home,” the Diversity Committee continues to liaison with and provide support to other committees’ activities within ISTSS in order to forward the Diversity Committee’s goals, including the Membership Committee, the Web Editorial Committee, and others within ISTSS. As necessary, the Diversity Committee also creates projects within its own purvey in coordination with other committees, such as reviewing, monitoring and writing portions of the ISTSS Website to further promote and support ISTSS as a diversity-sensitive organization; providing feedback as an informal focus group for new revisions in the membership brochure, and so on.

In addressing the need for a diverse membership, the Diversity Committee continues to revise and analyze the results of the on-going member-characteristics’ questionnaire, in order to fully characterize ISTSS’s current membership and to monitor for relevant changes and trends.



Diane Elmore Borbon - Staff Person