Counseling@Northwestern Interview with Dr. Kimberly Frazier, President of the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development

The Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development provides a space for people of color to meet, have their ideas heard and conduct research. AMCD is one of the largest divisions of the American Counseling Association. Counseling@Northwestern has strong ties to AMCD, with core faculty member Dr. Michele Kerulis serving as treasurer.

At the ACA Conference in March, we sat down with the President of AMCD, Dr. Kimberly Frazier, to talk about the organization’s history, successes, and presence at the ACA conference this year. 

What is your role as president of AMCD? How did you get involved in this organization?

Dr. Frazier: I’ve been involved with AMCD since 1998 when I was a master’s student. I’ve had various roles in the organization, but prior to my role as president, I served as the mentoring program chair for 10 years, which involved gathering students of color together for various events, such as a research symposium where we provided students with mentors.

 In my role as president, I am the face of the organization, leading almost 900 members into the world of social, political, and cultural issues for multicultural counselors. I want our members to look at how we, as a group of counselors, look at the marginalization and intersectionality of the current space and think, “What should be we doing? Why is this important to counselors?” I also have an executive board that helps me enact initiatives that the membership wants me to take 

Becoming president of this organization has really come full circle for me. I went to Louisiana State University for school, and now I am back in New Orleans working in a role that reflects my education.

What presence did AMCD have at the ACA Conference?

Dr. Frazier: The ACA Conference is the culminating event for our organization. During the conference, we are presenting everything that we have done in the past year, and determining if what we have done is in line with what our members think we should be doing. We have our banquet, which serves to highlight all the wonderful things that AMCD did, as well as gives homage to our past presidents, who serve as guiding hosts for the next group of incoming members. At the end of the week, we have our mixer, where we meet to discuss what we have done this past year and what we should be focusing on moving forward.

AMCD was involved in many sessions at the ACA conference this year, including on microaggression and mentoring, as well as a town hall. I think that, during this particular time and climate, we are doing something that is getting people energized. I am hopeful that the energy I have seen from other people, the “we have to do something” attitude as opposed to the “we’ve done enough” attitude, will inspire people to do more to help their community. The ACA conference is heading to Atlanta next year, which is a historic city for multicultural populations, and I think our sponsored events at ACA will fill a need for people looking to get involved in many different types of advocacy. Knowing you can do little things to be an advocate, not just large things, makes a difference.

At the AMCD banquet, Chris Stewart, civil rights and advocacy attorney, awarded scholarships to students in your organization. What do the scholarships mean for the students and AMCD?

Dr. Frazier: The scholarships are named after Asa G. Hilliard, who’s phenomenal in the world of culturalism, and a leader in how we study ourselves and look at ourselves as people of color, especially African people of color. I asked my friend Chris Stewart, who I’ve known since college, to be a speaker at the banquet, and he surprised me with these scholarships. He has actually known Dr. Hilliard’s children since childhood, and wanted to honor him and our friendship by enlarging the scholarships offered and donating additional money to the organization in memory of Dr. Hilliard. I am still floored; I am still pinching myself today. The news is spreading like wildfire. After people heard about the donation, they have also offered to donate additional money, including Dr. Hilliard’s son.

The scholarships will be given to master’s and doctoral-level graduate students who are specifically focused on research or service or a combination of both in the African American community. We will find 11 students who are giving back to the community on that level.

What are some of the other successes that the AMCD has had this year that you want to highlight?

Dr. Frazier: We are now a continuing education provider, so we can provide continuing education credits to our members directly from our organization, a first for AMCD. This has been really important to me as president, because our clinical members really wanted this added benefit. Another major initiative we completed was my presidential initiative to create white papers. We had the vice presidents of various groups complete a white paper that outlines: “What are the issues that you see faced by your particular constituents and what are the recommendations for how the AMCD can help with them?” These white papers include African American Concerns, Latino/Latina Concerns, Native American Concerns, Asian and Pacific Islander Concerns, as well as Graduate Student Concerns. We spoke about these white papers at our town hall at the ACA conference, but we will also highlight them at an upcoming town hall where we will discuss advocacy within AMCD. We are going to be having a webinar where all the vice presidents who wrote the white papers will discuss them with members, answer questions, and solicit feedback, while also providing continuing education credit. The goal is to have a strategic plan for each group moving forward.

The Counseling@Northwestern program has a focus the psychodynamic perspective which is related to intersectionality. How could we incorporate more of that into the work our counseling students are studying? What should they know about intersectionality that maybe someone who isn’t coming from a person of color perspective wouldn’t know?

Dr. Frazier: I think that the number one thing that people should know, anybody who is going to work with clients or really just engage with people, is that there’s going to be intersectionality, and you should expect that interaction. People have all of these identities that are operating when you meet them, and this will affect who they are and how you counsel them. Also, it is important to be a global consumer, to be globally literate about the things that are going on in our world, so you are able to counsel objectively while still being aware.

Is there anything else you want us to know about AMCD?

Dr. Frazier: I also wanted to highlight a big moment for the AMCD’s journal, the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, which made its Oscar debut this year, which is pretty cool. Viola Davis mentioned one of our articles about imposter syndrome when she was accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress in the film Fences. People are now trying to find that article, so it’s an interesting fact to share with people that we are proud of.

We also had three woman of color presidents in a row, Dr. Katerina Chang, myself, and Dr. Diana Stratus will come after me. We are also all of different ethnicities, so I think that really shows the diversity and power of women in the AMCD.

For more information on the ACA Conference, read our previous blog posts.