Assistant Professor of the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program, Dr. Minsun Lee, has been awarded the Post-Doctoral Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) Leadership Fellow. The Post-Doctoral AAPA Leadership Fellows program provides mentorship and professional development for early career psychologists. It also seeks to demystify leadership and provide access to leadership opportunities by creating more pathways for psychologists from diverse groups (including demographics, disciplines in psychology, career trajectories) and access to Asian American mentors.
The Leadership Fellows program consists of monthly professional development conference calls with the Leadership Fellows co-chairs and invited speakers, individual and group mentoring from experienced leaders in AAPA and Past Fellows, and the opportunity to observe and participate in AAPA Executive Committee sessions. Each Fellow completes a Fellows' Project by the end of their second year and presents their project at the AAPA conference.
Dr. Lee returned as a faculty member in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program in Fall 2020, after previously holding a faculty position from Fall 2015 to Spring 2019. In addition to mentoring doctoral students, Dr. Lee conducts research on the intersectional experiences of Asian Americans and racial/cultural factors in psychotherapy. She also teaches classes on theories and techniques in counseling psychology, practicum, qualitative research, and race/ethnicity in multicultural counseling. Outside of her role in the Counseling Psychology program, Dr. Lee is a per diem psychologist at Hackensack University Medical Center.
When asked what made her interested in applying for The Leadership Fellows program, Dr. Lee shared, "As an early career psychologist (typically defined as up to 10 years post-doctorate), I have been focusing on training students/future psychologists and working with diverse individuals in practice. As I near the end of the early career stage, I have been wanting to get more involved in service to the profession and broader communities, especially in ways that can effect change to the training community and communities at large." Dr. Lee serves as an active forerunner of leadership and development in the Counseling Psychology program. Many of her students and advisees continually turn to her for her valued insight and guidance. In her role as a mentor and leader, she embraces fostering her student's development in academia and ways in which allow turn thought into application and promote change in their communities.
It is evident that in her leadership role, Dr. Lee exemplifies leading by example. Just as she continually challenges her students and advisees to reach their utmost potential, she actively engages in the same process herself. "I am seeking to be more actively involved in leadership positions within the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA), the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs (CCPTP), and Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP). The AAPA Leadership Fellow Program was a way for me to connect to Asian American/Pacific Islander academics, practitioners, and advocates, and learn from the elders in the field as I develop my leadership skills."
Dr. Lee views the leadership fellow program as an opportunity to become more deeply involved in AAPI psychology and mental health. She notes that the program allows her to engage in more formalized learning or training, which she is excited about, as she has not had this type of opportunity since completing her doctorate and licensure. She states, "I will get to develop a project that can benefit AAPA and AAPI communities as well as learn from the executive board of AAPA about how to represent our communities and advocate for our needs."
The Post-Doctoral AAPA Leadership Fellows program is a two-year pipeline program. Fellows from the 2021 cohort become Past Fellows and further develop into a leadership role by mentoring incoming fellows for the 2022 year. For Dr. Lee, being in a leadership position means embracing the opportunity to formalize mentorship programs and fostering community advocacy through research by connecting researchers to communities and community organizations. "I have some ideas about projects I would like to work on within AAPA as well as goals for work within counseling psychology. For example, within AAPA, I would like to develop a more formalized mentoring program that pairs students with professionals and early career psychologists with more senior psychologists, based on interests and goals."
Dr. Lee values relationships and understands that relationships are a crucial component of healing. For Dr. Lee, the Leadership Fellow Program offers her the opportunity to develop work that connects researchers and communities to help better identify and elicit change on the communal level. "I am also interested in fostering community advocacy through research by connecting researchers to communities and community organizations, so that participatory action research that actually stems from and meets the needs of communities can develop that lead to concrete changes and benefits for the communities."
Dr. Lee's passion for serving as a leader is evident in her work, relationships, and being awarded the Post-Doctoral Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) Leadership Fellow. However, this award represents her passion for continuing to develop as a leader and a provider. "Outside of AAPA, I would like to work to increase training in advocacy in counseling psychology doctoral programs, which could result in more formalized advocacy work for BIPOC and other marginalized communities." Dr. Lee emulates the true essence of a mentor. She embraces this award as the opportunity to develop herself as a leader to give back to and advocate for others. As well, she seeks to educate and provide others with the opportunity to develop into their leadership role to continue fostering communal change.