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Pepperdine Professor Thema Bryant-Davis (MDiv '16) Named President-Elect of American Psychological Association

Thema Bryant-DavisThema Bryant-Davis (MDiv ’16), professor of psychology and director of the Culture and Trauma Research Lab at the Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP), has been voted president-elect of the American Psychological Association (APA), the leading scientific and professional organization representing the field of psychology in the United States. The 2021 election was open to APA members—which includes more than 122,000 clinicians, consultants, educators, researchers, and students—from September 15 through October 29, 2021.

“This historic vote means a lot to me as it is an endorsement of my platform, which centers around addressing trauma, loss, and inequities,” said Bryant-Davis. “As a trauma psychologist, I felt this was the right time for me to lead as we seek to address both COVID-19 recovery and racism, as well as other forms of oppression. This is a significant moment for Pepperdine because of its foundational values of seeing faith and scholarship in partnership rather than in opposition, especially as I continue to highlight the role that faith, spirituality, and religion play in the realm of mental health.”  

As the organization’s next president, Bryant-Davis will serve as chair of the APA Council of Representatives and the Board of Directors. Under the guidance of her presidential platform, “Thriving in a Post-Pandemic World: Applying Psychological Science to Enhance People's Lives,” her leadership will focus primarily on addressing trauma and loss; attending to inequities and injustices; rebuilding communities; promoting holistic psychology in relation to the body, culture, and spirituality; and incorporating the expressive arts.  

“I am thrilled that the members of the APA have voted for Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis to become the association's incoming president-elect,” expressed Robert deMayo, associate dean of the Psychology Division and program director of the master of arts in psychology program at GSEP. “Those of us who are fortunate to be her friends and colleagues at GSEP have seen firsthand her capacity to lead and inspire those around her. She is an outstanding teacher, scholar, and clinician with a deep commitment to social justice. I am confident that she will lead APA with the same passion and dedication that she has brought to GSEP. Her election is a wonderful reflection on the quality of our faculty and their impact on the profession of psychology.”

As a nonprofit organization founded in 1892 and chartered in Washington, DC, the APA strives to advance the creation, communication, and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve lives through its 54 psychology subfield divisions. With affiliations in 60 states, territories, and Canadian provincial associations, the goal of the APA is to advance psychology as a science, a profession, and a method to promote human welfare.

At Pepperdine Bryant-Davis is involved in the master of arts in clinical psychology with emphasis in marriage and family therapy program and the doctor of psychology in clinical psychology program. She teaches courses in multicultural psychology, social psychology, and trauma in diverse populations. Bryant-Davis holds bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from Duke University and a master of divinity degree from Pepperdine University.