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The Art of Effective Allyship: Learning to Step up and Step Back

Presented by The DEAR (Dialectical Engagement in Anti-Racism) Project
Natalie Watson-Singleton, Co-Founder
Danyelle Dawson, Co-Founder
Yara Mekawi, Co-Founder

This keynote is sponsored by Microsoft.

Engaging in antiracist work can be complicated. Many White allies often feel stuck, confused or uncomfortable when the topic of “what to do” about racism comes up. Our goal is to help you navigate antiracist tensions that, when left unresolved, can undermine your efforts to support Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) and hinder your growth, journey and commitment to antiracist work. This 90-minute training is designed to help you acquire the fundamental DBT-informed antiracism skills necessary for effective allyship. Specifically, the training will focus on: (1) increasing your ability to cope with intense emotions that come up when discussing racism and privilege, (2) enhancing awareness of major barriers that can undermine and stagnate your antiracist efforts, and (3) strengthening your commitment to engaging in effective actions that can disrupt systemic racism. Whether you're just starting your antiracism journey or you have been engaged for a while and feel “stuck,” this training can help build your capacity to engage in effective and sustainable antiracist action.

Natalie Watson-Singleton, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, assistant professor of psychology at Spelman College, diversity and inclusion education director with the Nia Project at Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, founder and executive director of NWS Wellness and Consulting, and co-founder of the DEAR project. She received her PhD in clinical-community psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and completed her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Watson-Singleton strongly identifies as a clinical-community psychologist, which is reflected in her scholarship, teaching and clinical/community work. Her program of research includes two lines of inquiry. The first focuses on understanding how racism-based stressors influence African Americans’ health disparities, with special attention to African American women. Her second programmatic line examines best practices for culturally modifying interventions to enhance engagement and reduce adverse health among diverse populations. Dr. Watson-Singleton has published numerous empirical research papers related to these topics, and her research program has resulted in approximately $1.2 million worth of grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. Her work has been recognized by the American Psychological Association, the Association of Black Psychologists, the Association for Women in Psychology, and the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology. Overall, Dr. Watson-Singleton aims to produce research that is translational and that can bridge science and practice to improve the lives of marginalized communities.

Danyelle Dawson, MA, is a doctoral candidate in clinical-community psychology at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and co-founder of The DEAR Project. Prior to pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical-community psychology, she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and social and economic justice from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her master’s degree in psychology from North Carolina Central University. As a researcher trained in both clinical and community psychology, Ms. Dawson’s program of research is comprised of two broad arms examining (1) the biopsychosocial and intergenerational impacts of racism and oppression on Black Americans' mental and physical health and (2) individual and community engagement in resistance and collective care practices that promote resiliency and healing across online and offline settings. Through research and practice, Ms. Dawson's work aims to both promote radical healing amongst marginalized communities and enhance individual- and systems-level capacity to resist and challenge oppressive contexts and realities. She has published numerous empirical papers related to these topics and has won several awards recognizing her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in her research and applied community-engaged work. Ms. Dawson’s research and applied work in these areas have culminated in her ongoing commitment to the antiracist goals and efforts of the DEAR Project. 

Yara Mekawi, PhD, is licensed psychologist, co-founder of the DEAR project, and clinical postdoctoral resident at the Emory School of Medicine. She earned her bachelor’s degree in applied psychology at the University of Illinois Chicago and her doctorate in clinical and community psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work focuses on examining racial discrimination and racial prejudice at the intersection of affect and cognition. Using interdisciplinary and multi-method approaches, she pursues three main lines of inquiry: (1) What are the cognitive and affective factors that maintain racially prejudiced behavior and attitudes of majority group members? (2) What are the cognitive and affective mechanisms through which racial discrimination is associated with distress in racial and ethnic minorities?  and (3) What are the most effective strategies to reduce racial prejudice and increase commitment to antiracism? Dr. Mekawi has published over 30 empirical research papers spanning various domains, including dehumanization, racial colorblindness and the perpetration of racial microaggressions. Dr. Mekawi’s approach to clinical work is consistent with an empirically driven, functional-contextualist orientation that emphasizes culturally informed assessment, contextually driven hypothesis generation, collaborative goal setting and implementation of evidence-based, culturally informed intervention. Administratively, Dr. Mekawi is interested in the assessment and integration of diversity practices within organizations and the implementation of interventions designed to reduce racist practices and increase access for underrepresented minorities.


Thema Bryant-Davis

Professor of Psychology
Director of Culture and Trauma Research Lab
Pepperdine University

Thema Bryant-Davis is a licensed psychologist, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, and director of the Culture and Trauma Research Lab. She is a past psychology representative to the United Nations and a past president of the Society for the Psychology of Women. Dr. Bryant-Davis has published and presented on the cultural context of trauma recovery including the societal trauma of racism. She is author of the book, Thriving in the Wake of Trauma: A Multicultural Guide and editor of the book Multicultural Feminist Therapy: Helping Adolescent Girls of Color to Thrive. The California Psychological Association honored Dr. Bryant-Davis as Distinguished Scholar of the Year. The Institute of Violence, Abuse, and Trauma has honored her for excellence in mentorship within the field of trauma psychology and in media contributions to advancing the public's knowledge of trauma. The American Psychological Association has honored her for contributions to the public good for her work in trauma psychology. In 2020 the International Division of APA honored her for contributions to the psychological study of women and gender with a focus on Africa and the African Diaspora. Dr. Thema, a psychologist and trauma survivor, is host of the Homecoming Podcast which empowers listeners on the journey home to themselves.  


Pim Cuijpers

Professor of Clinical Psychology
Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology
Amsterdam Public Health research institute
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Pim Cuijpers, PhD, is full professor of clinical psychology at the Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in The Netherlands. He is also director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Dissemination of Psychological Interventions in Amsterdam. He specialises in conducting randomised controlled trials and meta-analyses on prevention and psychological treatments of common mental disorders across the life span. Much of his work is aimed at prevention of mental disorders, psychological treatments of depression and anxiety disorders, and Internet-delivered treatments. He has also published on several other research topics, including global mental health, student mental health and psycho-oncology. Pim Cuijpers has published more than 950 peer-reviewed papers, chapters, reports and professional publications, including almost 750 papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has been on the Thomson-Reuter Web of Science lists of "highly cited researchers" since the first edition of this list in 2014 and is the second-most-cited researcher in the field of psychiatry and psychology.


Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru

Founder, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF)
OBGYN Specialist

Kemi-Dasilva-Ibru.jpgAnita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, MD, MPH, is a specialist health care physician who is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls through medical practice, social activism and wider public advocacy against gender-based violence. Professionally, Dr. DaSilva-Ibru is a consultant specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as a public health physician, with over 20 years’ experience in private practice. She is also the founder of the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), a nonprofit organization that addresses the prevalence of gender-based violence, rape and the trafficking of young girls and women across Nigeria. Through this work, she has become a recognised thought leader in the field of women’s health internationally, and her 2020 TED talk on the “shadow pandemic” has gained a global audience.

Dr. DaSilva-Ibru’s medical and academic career has spanned across three decades and three continents. She graduated from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos before completing her postgraduate training in OBGYN at Howard University, Washington, D.C., and obtaining a master’s from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. She has also taken other postgraduate medical courses in various specialties and is an alumna of the Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos. She is currently undertaking a PhD in gender-based violence at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

WARIF is one of Nigeria’s foremost organisations tackling sexual violence. In addition to drawing the world’s attention to rape and gender-based violence, WARIF takes a holistic and survivor-centred approach to helping affected girls and women, as well as launching preventative initiatives to successfully tackle the issue’s root causes. Dr. DaSilva-Ibru’s goal is to bring about a world in which all women and girls can live their lives free from gender-based violence.