Distinguished Contribution to the Chapter: Alissa Barber Torres, FAICP, Ph.D.

The Distinguished Contribution to the Chapter Award recognizes an APA Florida member who has contributed to the goals and objectives of the chapter and to its development plan through an extraordinary effort.

This year’s recipient is Alissa Barber Torres, FAICP, Ph.D., for her leadership and work over the past two years with the Florida’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Alissa began working with from its inception in August 2019 when she initially served as co-chair and spearheaded the drive to survey Florida’s chapter members to get input on how diversity and inclusion were perceived and improvements that could be made. This survey formed the basis for the committee’s strategic plan, workplan, resource list, and the chapter’s EDI webpage.

Thanks to Alissa’s leadership, EDI Committee members have evolved both personally and professionally over the last two years. They have had to tackle some uncomfortable conversations in and outside of their meetings while doing this hard work. Alissa has handled these instances with grace, understanding and patience yet with the firmness needed to move such hard work forward. The accomplishments of the EDI committee in such a short time would never have happened without Alissa’s relentless drive and passion to realize the goals of this committee as expressed by APA Florida members in the survey.

Accomplishments attributed to Alissa’s leadership in addition to the survey, strategic plan, workplan and resource list are: conducting EDI forums, producing several newsletter articles, issue statements and a policy statement, creating an outreach calendar, developing standard operating procedures, engaging with four national divisions, producing the first Lessons from Leaders videos, and collaborating on multiple conference sessions and events with close to 400 attendees. She has worked in partnership with the APA’s Florida’s Executive Committee on a variety of steps to take the EDI Committee from an ad hoc committee to a standing committee and bringing an EDI perspective to both FPC20 and FPC21 conference sessions.