On Monday, November 28th, 2022, Dr. Blair Simpson shared the following announcement with the Columbia Department of Psychiatry:
It is with great pleasure that I write to announce my appointment of Dr. Justin Richardson as the next Director of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. A highly distinguished educator, clinician, and author, Dr. Richardson has been a valued contributor to our Department for nearly 30 years, most recently as Chair of Training and Senior Associate Director of the Psychoanalytic Center. His term as Director begins today.
Dr. Richardson began his career in psychiatry as a resident at Harvard’s McLean Hospital where he was named Chief Resident. He received his B.A. in Biology with honors, M.A. in Medical Anthropology, and M.D. from Harvard. His pioneering work in the advancement of LGBTQ mental health includes his founding in 1994 of the nation’s first University hospital-based mental health program for the community–The Columbia Center for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Mental Heath–and his national program of public education regarding children’s sexual development, including his book Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask). Dr. Richardson's efforts to counter the bias experienced by LGBTQ youth later inspired his children’s book, coauthored with Peter Parnell, And Tango Makes Three. Published in 11 languages on four continents, the multiple award-winning book has reached millions of children as a part of early school curricula, library collections, and bedtime story hours across the globe.
Dr. Richardson’s work as a dedicated and inventive educator and a leader is well known to our faculty and trainees who have honored him with the Alexander Beller, Lionel Ovesey, Howard Klar, and Roger MacKinnon Awards. Most recently, Dr. Richardson played a crucial role in leading several key innovations at the Center, including the transformation of the system of candidate assessment and advancement, the creation of an educational pathway for training and supervising analysts, the swift adaptation to remote training, and the Center’s response to the racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd.
Mental health and human rights are inseparable. It is my ambition to create a department where all members feel valued and at home and where excellence in teaching and scholarship is paired with a deep commitment to advancing the mental health of all, particularly those who have been marginalized. I know that Dr. Richardson shares that commitment. His deep knowledge of the Center, its members, and its mission; his devotion to providing the highest quality education to our adult learners; and his ability to meet challenges with equal parts data, imagination, and kindness make him an ideal next leader for the Center. I look forward to partnering with him and to the future successes of our extraordinary Psychoanalytic Center under his able watch.
I wish to thank the many members of the Center and the Department who contributed to the search that resulted in Dr. Richardson’s selection; I listened carefully to their voices. In particular, I want to commend the extraordinary efforts of Dr. Sharone Ornstein, elected by the Center faculty to chair the search committee, in shepherding an extensive, rigorous, and highly thoughtful process evaluating seven excellent candidates and welcoming the voices of a wide range of community members. My thanks also to the members of the search committee: Shirin Ali, MD, who was appointed by Dr. Ornstein and Dr. Susan Vaughan; Alison Brown, PhD, elected by the Executive Committee; Bernadine Han, MD, elected by the psychoanalytic candidates; Alicia Rojas, MD, elected by the Center’s faculty; Eduardo David Leonardo, MD, Associate Director of Residency Training in Psychiatry; and Richard Younge MD, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine.
Thanks also to those members of the wider Department of Psychiatry who interviewed the final candidates: Jean Marie Alves-Bradford, MD, Associate Dean for Medical School Professionalism in the Learning Environment; Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, MD, Director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence; Marisa Spann, PhD, Interim Director, Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Oliver Stroeh, MD, Associate Director, Child and Adolescent Residency Training Program; and Chief Residents Christopher Magoon, Kyu Oh, and Shayna Ratner. I’m also grateful for Melissa Arbuckle, MD, PhD, Vice-Chair for Education, to whom the Center reports within the department, whose input was instrumental in this process.
H. Blair Simpson, MD, PhD
Interim Director, New York State Psychiatric Institute
Interim Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Interim Psychiatrist-in-Chief, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital