*Dr. Altha Stewart has been named the president-elect of the 37,000-member American Psychiatric Association (APA), reports the Memphis Business Journal.
The South Memphis native will be the first African-American and fourth consecutive woman to lead the 173-year-old organization, which sets policy, establishes practice guidelines and represents the field of psychiatry nationally and internationally.
Her tenure as president-elect begins in May and transitions to president in May 2018.
“My role will be standing at the intersection of race and gender in a national organization,” Stewart said. “It’s a unique position. … It’s an honor. I’m humbled and I’m happy to serve.”
The Temple University Medical School grad is the chief of Social and Community Psychiatry at University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). She was among the first class of women enrolled in what is now Christian Brothers University.
Stewart is considered a national expert in public sector and minority issues in mental health care, as well as in the effects of trauma and violence on children. She came to UTHSC in 2015 to lead the Center for Justice Involved Youth. Last September, UTHSC and Stewart took the lead on Defending Childhood Shelby County, a community initiative to improve the lives of children in the area.
As APA president, Stewart said she will strive to improve communication among members and across medical specialties to promote collaboration and access to care, as well as work to increase mentorship and encourage leadership opportunities for the next generation in the profession.
Stewart has also served as president of the Association of Women Psychiatrists and president of the Black Psychiatrists of America.