With the assistance of a Community Catalyst Grant, SPSP members Brittany Torrez, Lyangela Gutierrez, and Amanda Perez organized the ¡PODER! (Psicologxs Orgullosxs Derrumbando El Racismo) network, with the intent of building connections and collaborations among Latinx scholars through the SPSP conference.

In response to a noted lack of community-building opportunities amongst Latinx SPSP members, we wanted to create a virtual space where Latinx graduate students could meet before the SPSP convention. SPSP can be challenging to navigate alone, even more so as the conference was virtual this year.

The virtual retreat, which occurred over a span of three days, invited 32 Latinx graduate students to participate in a mix of social and professional development activities online.

We began with a panel of Latinx faculty answering questions generated by our attendees. Our wonderful panelists included: Drs. Rudy Mendoza-Denton (UC Berkeley), Mary Murphy (Indiana University Bloomington), Miguel Unzueta (UCLA Anderson), Kathy Espino-Pérez (Western Oregon University), and Corin Ramos (Catalyst, Inc.). The panelists provided helpful advice on graduate school issues, faculty life, and financial planning that our attendees really appreciated. As one attendee mentioned:

I think my favorite part was the panelist talk because it was encouraging to know that individuals who were once in our shoes were able to navigate academia and created very productive research labs. I think having role models in this field can really help aid belonging.”

After that we had an introduction activity to get everyone acquainted followed by a low-stakes research blitz for people to present their research ideas:

I liked how the research blitz was low stakes in that everyone was so supportive and so excited. I really love spaces that make you feel that your research is important and the way we affirmed everyone's work was amazing.”

Finally, we ended our first day with a happy hour dinner and game night to get to know each other. One PODER attendee commented in the feedback survey:

I loved the game night. I haven't laughed so hard in so long. It's been hard being out in [the Midwest] miles from my family and being isolated from my friends. I felt so full leaving the PODER retreat and I hope that we continue to have movements like this.

Across the following two days, we had sessions on writing & responding to reviews, tips on presentations, and statistical analysis. In addition, to provide a foundation for community building and professional development, we created a virtual networking space via Slack. Dedicated channels allow members of our community to interact around specific topics, such as well-being, advice, resource sharing, and celebrating accomplishments. Throughout the conference, we used Slack to shout out our fellow scholars’ presentations.

Based on participant’s feedback, the first iteration of the ¡PODER! Retreat has contributed to the goal of community building:

“I really enjoyed being able to connect with other Latinx graduate students. I did not realize that there were this many of us in the field.”

“A Latinx community is something that we need so much and it's so great to see it starting to grow strong.”

“I really appreciated the care and love that was put into creating such a supportive and welcoming environment by the PODER organizers/facilitators. I wasn't sure how the event would go, but I was drawn in by the idea of being a part of a community of Latinx psychologists and that's exactly how this retreat was...”

“Especially for having to be virtual, I was really impressed with the way the retreat seemed to foster community so quickly!”

"[There were] lots of great parts [of the retreat], but I really liked feeling connected to other Latinx scholars...”

The organizers look forward to expanding this retreat and network in the future, hopefully next time in-person. We also strive to implement the wonderful feedback we got from our retreatants, and encourage other Latinx graduate students to get involved. Please contact Brittany Torrez (torrezbrittany4@gmail.com) to be added to our online community on Slack!


In 2020, Community Catalyst Grants were also awarded to:

  • SPSP Network of Multiracial Scholars (NOMS)
  • Flourish: A retreat for pre-tenure faculty of color
  • Southeast Asian Social and Personality Psychologists Meeting
  • Connecting Undocumented Social & Personality Psychologists (CUSPP)

Submissions for 2021 Community Catalyst grants are now open (June 1, 2021 deadline): https://spsp.org/awards/community-catalyst-grant-program