Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT

LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color Mentorship Program

01/31/2024 9:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

Keonna Robinson,

Perla Hollow,

LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color Mentorship Program: Expressing Gratitude and Sharing Our Collective Successes in 2023

The leaders of the TOC Mentorship program would like to take a moment to express its gratitude and share our collective successes in 2023. My name is Perla Hollow, and I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist of Lebanese/Middle Eastern descent. As a member of the TOC Mentorship Program Committee, participating mentor, and Co-Founder and Co-Facilitator of the LA-CAMFT MENA Therapist Community group. I am so honored to share with readers our successes in 2023.  

Since the First LA CAMFT Anti-Racism Roundtable, the mentorship committee was formed, The committee began the arduous work of creating the program including outlining the timing of our cohort periods, constructing mentor and mentee applications, generating outreach, and even creating and refining the matching process. 

From our launch in 2022, the TOC Mentorship Program has had three cohorts of Mentees of Color being Matched with Mentors of Color totaling 118 mentees and 55 mentors. No one was left without an opportunity to receive mentorship, as we added 2 group mentoring sessions for mentees awaiting a mentor match. The committee has ensured that the program continues to evolve with the succession of each mentoring cohort as we invite feedback from participants through Mentor/Mentee surveys and Mentor Wrap-Up sessions. 

The best way to make sure the program continues to be successful and sustain its impact, is to invite all who participate to collaborate on its growth and development. From the feedback we collected in 2022 we were able to host a virtual Mentor Orientation, create a Mentor Handbook, and provide goal setting worksheets designed specifically for therapists of color. 

WOW!! So much has already been accomplished in such a short period of time!! This speaks to the passion, commitment, and dedication the committee has towards the mission of the TOC Mentorship Program.  

As we continue prepare for the 4th cohort, the hope and desire of the TOC Mentorship Program aims to: (1) continue providing representation, support, and inclusion for future therapists underrepresented in their professional positions (2) be an example for other therapist organizations to provide similar representation for therapists of color (3) and establish a sound legacy for this program moving forward. 

The committee encourages past mentees to pay it forward and become future mentors or future committee members so we can keep this vital and important work of equity and inclusion for Therapists of Color advancing. As the author and Ghanian youth mentorship advocate Lailah Gifty Akita writes, “With careful guidance and mentorship, you will reach your highest self.” We emphasize how cultural representation coupled with careful mentorship will lead us to our higher selves, and in turn will lead us to healing ourselves and our communities. 

Well said my friend! Keonna Robinson, here —your TOC Mentorship Program Chair—and as Perla beautifully outlined above, how can one not get excited about the direction of this program. 

I would like to jump in and take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude for all the hard work of my committee members over the past year. The dedication and commitment of Tina Cacho Sakai, Leanne Nettles, Margareth Gomez, Perla Hollow, and Mayra Diaz has been truly inspiring, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to work alongside each and every one of these ladies.

Throughout the year, they have gone above and beyond to help our mentees and mentors develop their skills, achieve goals, and grow both personally and professionally. Their guidance and support has made a significant impact within the program and has helped shape the future of our field. I also want to acknowledge their time and effort put into organizing events, creating resources, and establishing connections within our community. Your contributions have made our mentorship program one of the most successful and effective programs within LA-CAMFT.

Towards the end of 2023, we hosted our first Mentorship Bonfire sponsored by Newport Healthcare. This event was inspired by our newest committee member, Margareth Gomez, LMFT. She joined our committee and hit the ground running with her innovative ideas, all while still serving as a mentor and practicing clinician. 

As I reflect back on that day, I recall having a conversation with a mentee who expressed some of the hardships they were battling with their new employer. They described feeling unheard and undervalued for their unique cultural contributions as a clinician of color. They expressed sincere gratitude for the opportunity to sit fireside with other clinicians of color to share their story and failed to realize how much they needed to hear someone simply say “I hear you and you didn’t deserve that.” As tears welled up in their eyes, we hugged and shared a warm embrace. It was in that moment that I felt a tear also roll down my face as the power of fellowship and connection flowed through us both. 

As we look ahead and prepare for the next cohort, I have no doubt that we will continue to build on the foundation that we have established and make an even greater impact on the lives of our community. I am excited to see what the future holds and the formidable connections that will be fostered. Make no mistake, none of this is made possible without our generous and extremely supportive mentors who graciously donate their time to share their experience and knowledge within the mentoring community. 

While my family and I just finished celebrating Kwanzaa, I am in awe of how each mentor embodied the third principle of Ujima, understood as one’s collective work and responsibility to give back to its community in order to build and solve problems collectively. This is the true essence of the TOC Mentorship Program and I am humbled to be a piece of the puzzle. 

As we bravely marching forward and make our imprints on this field, let us not forget to grab someone’s hand along the way as we inspire, support, and motivate each other to reach our mark.

With gratitude.

LA-CAMFT Therapists of Color (TOC) Mentorship Program Committee

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