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TPMF Inaugural Awards Gala: Closing the Cultural Competence Gap for Mental Health in Communities of Color

Prepare to kick off the new year with passion and purpose at The Preventive Measures Foundation’s Inaugural Awards Gala, set to dazzle the nation’s capital at the prestigious Auto Shop venue in Washington, DC, on Thursday, February 29, from 6 PM to 10 PM. Brace  yourself for an unforgettable masquerade ball-themed event entitled, “Unlocking Hope: Removing the  Mask of Mental Health Stigma.” This event will spark a revolution in mental health care as it addresses a  crucial concern—the underrepresentation of African-American mental health providers—while celebrating the resilience and innovation of mental health champions within our community. 

Hosted by Gala Co-Chairs J.R. Clark, Esq., Partner, Squire Patton Boggs and Robin McCrear, TPMF Board  Secretary, the “Unlocking Hope” masquerade ball promises a memorable night of celebration and acknowledgment paying tribute to outstanding individuals and organizations at the forefront of mental health advocacy. The TPMF Inaugural Awards Gala will provide scholarships, mentorship programs, and educational resources that empower historically black college and university (HBCU) scholars to become mental health providers. Supporting the Gala empowers individuals to boost African American mental health representation, enhance culturally responsive care access, strengthen therapeutic relationships,  and improve outcomes, while also aiding HBCU scholars in their mental health career pursuits.  

As a trusted provider of Mental Health Services in the District for over a decade, Preventive Measures has been at the forefront of supporting the community. The PM Foundation was founded as the philanthropic extension of Preventive Measures, dedicated to improving the mental health of individuals and communities through services, investment, and support. Chairman/CEO, Dwayne L. Jones states,  “We believe that healthcare is a basic human right and should be available, coordinated, and provided in a compassionate way. We envision a world where mental health is a priority, and individuals with mental illness find support on their path to recovery. This event was developed to help amplify the voices of  aspiring mental health professionals from HBCUs, fostering diversity and inclusivity in mental health  while making the journey truly transformative.”  

In the US, the demand for culturally competent mental health care has never been greater. A glaring disparity exists between the growing need for services in the African-American community and the limited presence of African-American mental health providers. This discrepancy hinders access to appropriate care and perpetuates a cycle of unmet mental health needs. 

Key statistics highlight the urgency of this issue: 

  • Over 7 million Black people identified as having mental illness. 
  • The percentage of Black therapists is less than 8% compared to over 75% White. •The percentage of Black psychiatrists is 2% vs. 64% White. 
  • 1/5 Black families are below the poverty level. 
  • This population is 2X likely to report serious psychosocial distress than those living 2X  over the poverty level. 
  • 40% of prison inmates are Black compared to being only 13.40% of the US population. 

Paula Gonzalez, Executive Clinical Coordinator of the Foundation, highlights the vital role HBCU scholars play in bridging mental health disparities: “Mental health challenges affect individuals across all communities, but access to culturally competent care remains limited. By investing in the education and  training of HBCU scholars, we can contribute to closing the gap in mental health services and ensuring  that underserved populations receive the support they deserve.” 

In addition to raising funds for HBCU scholars, the evening will shine a spotlight on those who have relentlessly championed the cause, leading the charge towards a stigma-free future uniting dedicated individuals determined to transform the mental health landscape. The awards carry profound meaning and purpose, each reflecting a unique aspect of dedication and service within the mental health space. 

The Circle of Excellence Award recognizes those who have demonstrated exceptional leadership,  expertise, and innovation, elevating the quality and accessibility of mental health care.

Recipient: Kurt D. Newman, M.D., President & CEO (retired), Children’s National Hospital 

Community Impact Award celebrates individuals who have made substantial positive changes in their communities through their mental health initiatives, leaving a lasting legacy of well-being.

Recipient: Dr. Hasshan Batts, President, Batts Development Group and Founder, Promise  Neighborhoods 

The Courage Award pays tribute to those who pursue mental health legislation against the odds, for the greater good. 

Recipient: The Honorable Stacey E. Plaskett (D-USVI), U.S. House of Representatives 

Pandemic Warrior Award is a special recognition for those who have gone above and beyond during the challenging times of the pandemic, working tirelessly to support mental health needs.

Recipient: Dr. Laquandra Nesbit, Executive Director of the GW SMHS Center for Population  Health Sciences & Health Equity, Sr. Associate Dean for Population Health, and Health Equity at  George Washington University 

Youth Advocate Award honors young individuals who have shown exceptional dedication to promoting mental health awareness and support among their peers and in their communities.

Recipient: Addison E. Rose, Teen Mental Health and Social Justice Advocate, 2021/2022 &  2022/2023 DC Youth Mayor, and 2022/2023 Eastern Region Teen President, Jack & Jill of  America, Inc.  

These awards symbolize inspiration, emphasizing the importance of ongoing dedication to mental health and individuals’ profound impact, while also encouraging others to follow suit. 

The Gala unites stakeholders, thought leaders, and philanthropic organizations dedicated to mental health and educational equity. It sparks a movement addressing African American community mental health, nurturing wellness, and promoting support through investments and education. For tickets,  sponsorships, and information, visit our website at or contact The PM  Foundation at 


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