Vera Paster Award 

The Vera Paster Award recognizes a graduate student, post-graduate resident, or fellow in a behavioral health or social justice program who is engaged in work that contributes significantly to the social, education, physical, or psychological well-being of persons of color, thereby promoting their empowerment and ameliorating disadvantage from oppression and its effects. Nominees may be a current or prospective member of the Global Alliance.   

The Award recognizes the work of Vera S. Paster, PhD, president of the American Orthopsychiatric Association from 1986-1987. In 2000, the Award was redesigned to recognize the extraordinary work of trainees engaged in poor and ethnic minority communities.  Nominations of persons organizing or doing "hands-on" or "applied" work are particularly encouraged.  The recipient of the Award will be designated as the Global Alliance Paster Fellow and be invited to present his or her work at a Global Alliance meeting and/or for publication.  The Award recipient will receive travel expenses to the meeting and a stipend to be used to advance the Fellow's work.  

Persons selected as Global Alliance Paster Fellows exhibit several or all of the following criteria:

  • Exhibits unusual creativity, initiative and commitment to serving communities of color,
  • Engages in actions that exceed typical expectations of students or trainees,
  • Displays a thoughtful and progressive understanding of the context of communities of color,
  • Designs, organizes or implements activities that advance mental health and social justice,
  • Contributes significantly to the social, educational, physical or psychological well-being of persons of color,
  • Promotes empowerment and ameliorates disadvantages from oppression and its effects.  

Call for Nominations  

Nominations for the 2019 award are currently closed. Please watch this site later this year to make a nomination for the 2020 award.

Letters of nomination should describe the nominee's qualifications including relevant work experience and personal qualities that match the award criteria.  Please limit letters of nomination to no more than 800 words.  Self-nominations are welcome.  Please also provide the names of two additional persons, their titles and contact details, who know first-hand the nominee and his or her work.  The nominee's curriculum vita or resume should be attached to the nomination.  Nominations can be made on the form below or emailed to:  [email protected].  

Nominations Form for Vera Paster Award

Award Recipients   


2019       Jillian Fish

Jill Fish is a PhD Candidate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  Jill is a member of the Tuscarora tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy.  Jill’s research is focused on mental health, education, and discrimination among Native American college students. 



2018             Andrew Gadaire

As a community psychology Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Drew Gadaire is interested in conducting applied research and evaluation to better understand the experiences of marginalized populations, the systems that influence the developmental trajectories of disadvantaged youth, and the interventions designed to benefit these groups. Furthermore, Drew works with community partners to build capacity and increase the effectiveness of interventions targeting low-income families and historically disempowered populations. For example, Drew has taken on leadership roles in applied projects focused on early childhood education, dropout prevention, community engagement, and in-school supports for recent immigrant youth. Drew’s work seeks to engage stakeholders at multiple levels and empower participants in order to design, implement, and evaluate interventions that facilitate sustainable change.

singer2017             Rebecca Singer

Rebecca is a student in the Advanced Population Health Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Rebecca came to nursing driven by a keen desire to do global health work and to prove wrong the idea that where you live will determine if you live. Since 2005, Rebecca has worked in humanitarian response work with Doctors Without Borders. She has been instrumental in developing comprehensive and appropriate response services, including mental health, psycho-social and legal services, for survivors of sexual violence in countries including Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Chad, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. The common thread throughout Rebecca’s nursing career, which continues with her current training and education, is a commitment to community engagement to create change. She engages directly with patients, community members, health care workers, community leaders, elected officials and other service providers to understand the needs of each community and assist in solving the problems facing the community.

Sara Buckingham

2016             Sara Buckingham, PhD 

Dr. Sara Buckingham received the Vera Paster Award for her creativity, initiative, and drive to positively impact the lives of Latina/o individuals, families, and communities and her work in leading a local chapter of RESULTS, which pushes for specific policies and legislation to address poverty and empowers people to become powerful voices for the end of povertythrough grassroots advocacy.  


 Sannisha Dale

2015             Sannisha Dale, PhD

Dr. Sannisha Dale received the Vera Paster Award for her research exploring the relationship of gender-related coping styles, HIV status, trauma history, and health among women.   



Andrew Case


2014             Andrew Case, PhD

Dr. Andrew Case was recognized for his research on social determinants of health disparities affecting ethnic minority populations and counterspaces.  Counterspaces are settings (e.g., faith communities, cultural organizations, peer network(s) that promote wellbeing under socially oppressive conditions such as discrimination.  

2013             Courtney Jones

2012             Tichianaa Armah, MD

2011              Matthias Seisay, MAPS

2009             Arelis Moore de Peralta, MD, MPH, MEd

2007             Sherri Simpson, MD

2006             Kelly D. Taylor-Richardson, MSW, MS

2006             Janice D. Cho, MSW

2005             Rapaleem Bhuyan, MA