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Cheryl Grills - Loyola Marymount University. Los Angeles, CA, US

Cheryl Grills

President's Professor, Psychology | Psychological Science | Loyola Marymount University


Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts


Dr. Cheryl Grills is a Clinical Psychologist with a current emphasis in Community Psychology. A President’s Professor and Full Professor in the Department of Psychological Science, she has been on the faculty of LMU for 36 years and is Founder and Director of its Psychology Applied Research Center. She also founded Imoyase Community Support Services, a 33-year non-profit organization providing action research, program evaluation and strategic technical assistance to social justice and social service community-based organizations.

Dr. Grills is a national Past President of the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi). In her leadership role in the ABPsi, she was a founding member of the Alliance of National Psychological Associations for Racial and Ethnic Equity. She co-designed the racial stress and trauma Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circles—a community self-help model established by The Community Healing Network and implemented in partnership with the Association. As the lead of the EE Circles Training Team Dr. Grills has trained people of African ancestry around the world to facilitate healing circles that address the stress and trauma associated with anti-Black racism. In 2019, using community based participatory practice, she co-created and continues to support the South Los Angeles Healing Circles, a community-based healing circle effort designed for City Council District 8 to disrupt violence in South Los Angeles.

Dr. Grills served on the CA Reparations Taskforce, appointed by the Governor of CA (2021-2023) and is a commissioner on the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC). She also serves as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles County Sybil Brand Commission for Institutional Inspections, which focuses on conditions and practices within County jails and correctional facilities. She was Co-Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection whose work led to significant reforms in LA County’s approach to child welfare, including establishment of an Office of Child Protection. Most recently, Dr. Grills was appointed to the Governing Council of the Global Pan African Movement and is member of the International Planning Committee for the 8th Pan African Congress to be held in 2024. Dr. Grills has also recently been appointed as commissioner on the 400 Years of African American History Commission, a federal commission under the Department of the Interior.

Education (3)

University of California at Los Angeles: Ph.D., 1985

University of California at Los Angeles: M.A., 1982

Yale University: B.A., 1980

Areas of Expertise (9)


Racial Stress

Positive Youth Development

Community Psychology

African-Centered Psychology

Reentry and Recidivism in Criminal Justice

Mental Health Disparities

Program Evaluation


Accomplishments (4)

Drum Major for Service Award (professional)

Awarded by President Barack Obama (2013)

Certificate of Special Recognition

Awarded by the Honorable Maxine Waters, 35th Congressional District (2011)

Honors for Excellence in Turning Research into Action

National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI Urban LA (2011)

Faculty Recognition Award

Kente Graduation, Loyola Marymount University (2011)

Affiliations (9)

  • Association of Black Psychologists
  • Psychology Applied Research Center (PARC@LMU)
  • Imoyase Community Support Services (ICSS)
  • Community Healing Network
  • Alpha Sigma Nu
  • CA Reparations Task Force
  • National African American Reparations Commission
  • Los Angeles County Sybil Brand Commission
  • Department of the Interior – 400 Years of African American History Commission

Research Grants (4)

California Reducing Disparities Project

California Department of Public Health 

Statewide evaluator for the California Reducing Disparities Project

California Community Foundation

LA County Office of Violence Prevention 

Evaluation of the trauma prevention partnership with the LA County Office of Violence Prevention

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 

Evaluation of the national People, Parks, and Power Initiative

CRDP II Statewide Evaluator

California Department of Public Health 


As the statewide evaluator for Phase II of the California Reducing Disparities Project , PARC@LMU will use a CBPR integrative mixed methods multi-year approach to discern best practices associated with the implementation of culturally defined evidence practice, as well as CRDP Phase II’s achievement of its objectives.

Articles (4)

"Applying culturalist methodologies to discern COVID-19’s impact on Communities of Color"

Journal of Community Psychology

Grills, C., Carlos Chavez, F. L., Saw, A., Walters, K. L., Burlew, A. K., Randolph Cunningham, S. M., Capielo Rosario, C., Samoa, R., & Jackson-Lowman, H.


In this article, we describe our culturalist methodologies for designing and implementing a multi‐ethnic, interdisciplinary national needs assessment developed in partnership with CoC. Instead of a typical western‐centric social science approach that typically ignores and perpetuates structural racism and settler colonialism, the research team implemented culturalist and community‐partnered approaches that were further contextualized to the context of structural racism and settler colonialism.

"African psychology and the global movement for freedom from the lie of Black inferiority"


Grills, C., Aird, E., Frierson, P.


This paper examines the role of African Psychology in healing the trauma caused by the 'lie' of White superiority and Black inferiority, the root cause of the devaluing of Black lives and the underdevelopment of Black communities around the world.

"Enhancing patient and organizational readiness for cardiovascular risk reduction among Black and Latinx patients living with HIV: Study protocol"

Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases

Hamilton, A. B., Brown, A., Loeb, T., Chin, D., Grills, C., Cooley-Strickland, M., ... & Wyatt, G. E.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an increasingly important cause of morbidity and mortality among people living with HIV (PLWH) now that HIV is a manageable chronic disease. Identification and treatment of comorbid medical conditions for PLWH, including CVD and its risk factors, typically lack a critical component of care: integrated care for histories of trauma. Experiences of trauma are associated with increased HIV infection, CVD risk, inconsistent treatment adherence, and poor CVD outcomes. To address this deficit among those at greatest risk and disproportionately affected by HIV and trauma–i.e., Black and Latinx individuals–a novel culturally-congruent, evidence-informed care model, “Healing our Hearts, Minds and Bodies” (HHMB), has been designed to address patients' trauma histories and barriers to care, and to prepare patients to engage in CVD risk reduction.

"Analyzing the Landscape: Community Organizing and Health Equity. Journal of Participatory Research Methods"

Journal of Participatory Research Methods


In this paper we describe landscape analysis, a participatory research method for public health scholars interested in identifying and elucidating trends, opportunities, and gaps in the field. We used this method to understand the environmental and social conditions of primarily under-resourced communities of color, and identify key organizing strategies and practices used by community organizers to fight for policy and systems change around childhood health equity issues.