Women of Color


Women of Color Empowerment Group:
Surviving and Thriving in the Ivory
Fall 2021

Feion Villodas, Ph.D., MPH; Nola Butler-Byrd, Ph.D.; Arianne Miller, Ph.D.


Space is Limited

Women of Color (WOC) represent brilliance, care, vitality, love and strength to the SDSU community and beyond.  We frequently extend ourselves beyond what should be humanly possible to serve our students, families, and communities. We do all of this while trying to achieve the dream of tenure and promotion, similar to our colleagues.

But our journey is different, isn’t it?      

We are tasked with providing support to students at increased capacity. We keep our doors open and return late-night phone calls to our students because we will make sure they succeed by any means necessary. Our multilayered invisible work allows our students to conquer, overcome, and defeat the ubiquitous cultural barriers on their academic journey to graduation. We keep the candle burning at both ends because the struggle is oh so familiar. 

We continue to do this work but at what cost?

We pour so much into everyone around us until there is nothing left.  We think about throwing in the towel, but the superwoman complex kicks in again and again. We tell ourselves that we must stay vigilant and remain strong—loyal to our students, family, and friends.

This labor of love also leaves us bruised, torn, worn out with invisible scars and much-needed healing.   So what is the cost?  WOC who are overwhelmed, burned out, exhausted, and yes, anxious, depressed or traumatized. 

Come rest; I say come rest….

We are extending a warm embrace, and offer for you to rest, be fed, and get replenished. While some of us have searched for this type of healing, it is difficult to find given the lack of culturally competent health professionals in San Diego. For the first time at SDSU, we are offering a women of color empowerment group led by WOC mental health professionals. The group will address the multiple oppressions we face and intersecting identities we inhabit, our role in dismantling power and privilege at SDSU, and how to thrive in our careers by strategically addressing work/life balance.

We invite you to join us (virtually) for 8 weeks of healing and revitalization.  Group members will learn practical tips on successfully navigating the ivory while promoting mental and physical well-being.  

Topics will include:

  • Getting real about our mental health as Women of Color
  • Healing the wounds of racial trauma, racial battle fatigue and multiple oppressions
  • Developing “sanctuaries”: Cultivating social support, community, and a sense of belonging       
  • Navigating the Ivory part 1: Hidden resources on campus
    Navigating the Ivory part 2: Unspoken rules of academia
  • Surviving and thriving in toxic environments 
  • Taking care of us: Cultivating and maintaining well-being 
  • Honoring your self-worth: Empowering self-expression and uplifting our voices


Feion Villodas

Feion Villodas, Ph.D., MPH (PI and Co-facilitator)

Feion Villodas, Ph.D, MPH is a faculty member in the Department of Psychology and the Director of Graduate Student Diversity at SDSU. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and serves as a clinical supervisor for the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, one of the top Clinical Psychology programs nationally. As the Director of Graduate Student Diversity, she develops and facilitates training on diversity, equity, and inclusion for SDSU graduate students and faculty. She also supports faculty and staff engaged in hiring, diversity planning, and other diversity initiatives. Her research focuses on mental and behavioral health disparities among Black and Latinx populations. She is particularly interested in acculturation, cultural competence, community-based participatory research approaches, and the adaptation and implementation of effective treatments for culturally diverse populations. She has extensive training in multiple evidence-based treatment modalities.


Arianne E. Miller

Arianne E. Miller, Ph.D. (Co-facilitator)

Arianne E. Miller, PhD is an Assistant Professor and Licensed Clinical Psychologist at San Diego State University. She is core faculty in the Community-Based Block Program, a Multicultural Counseling and Social Justice Education Master’s Program in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology. Her research addresses ways to improve self-care among students, clinicians, patients and the general public as well as making visible the ways race, gender and sexual orientation are frequently conflated in research and everyday life. Miller’s current projects are focused on developing conceptual and culturally inclusive models of self-care, examining student and faculty perspectives on practicing self-care; and investigating transdisciplinary approaches to improving self-care among patients and the public. Miller also studies the ways gender, race and sexual orientation are often misunderstood and conflated with one another, such as in the phenomenon known as “gaydar.” Her clinical specialties include Multicultural and LGBTQ Psychology and Eating Disorders. 

Nola M. Butler-Byrd

Nola M. Butler-Byrd, Ph.D. (Consultant)

Nola M. Butler-Byrd, Ph.D., LPCC is a multicultural counselor educator, social justice activist and psychotherapist. Affiliated with SDSU for over 20 years, sequentially as a graduate student, part-time lecturer, full-time visiting professor, and currently as a tenured faculty member and university senator, she has an intimate knowledge of SDSU and the CSU system as an institution and culture. She is currently an Associate professor and director of the Community-Based Block (CBB) Multicultural Counseling and Social Justice Education Program. The 47-year-old CBB Program has prepared over 1000 counselor/change agents who serve diverse, marginalized communities. Additionally, Dr. Butler Byrd has served for many years on the SDSU University Senate as a member and chair of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, and currently as Vice Chair of the SDSU Senate and a member-at-large on the Academic Senate of the California State University System. Dr. Butler-Byrd is immediate Past President of the California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors and a past-president of San Diego Chapter of the Association for Black Psychologists. Her teaching, research and service are in the areas of community-based multicultural counseling and social justice education, culturally responsive teaching and supervision, and deliberative democratic processes.

For questions, please email [email protected]


This project is funded by CSU Chancellor’s Office.