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Delores L. Parron-Ragland



Pioneering Contributions: Parron-Ragland championed the social welfare and health concerns of underrepresented communities in a series of trailblazing initiatives.  As the first person to fill the legislatively mandated position of Associate Director for Special Populations with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Parron-Ragland became a guiding force in the creation of policies to correct shortfalls in mental health research and service offerings for diverse populations. Her office was referred to as the “mother cell” because it was the source of so many ground breaking inclusion guidelines for research and practice. Parron-Ragland played an instrumental role in the formulation of Public Law 103-43, the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, which created inclusion requirements for subpopulations and women in clinical research and trials supported by the National Institutes of Health. This law aided in drawing attention to the health needs of underrepresented populations and also helped strengthen efforts to encourage women and minorities to pursue careers in health and behavioral science professions and research. She had a key role in forming the Culture and Diagnostics Group, which authored the publication Culture and Psychiatric Diagnosis: A DSM-IV Perspective. Through her leadership and strategic use of the Office for Special Populations of the NIMH for support and funding, the research yielded in the publication led to revisions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV (DSM-IV) that better assure culturally specific and appropriate services and treatment for ethnically diverse communities.


Career Highlights: Parron-Ragland began her career in child welfare, first as a social worker for the Spence-Chapin Adoption service in New York, NY,  then as Adoption Selection Social Worker for the Child Welfare Division of the District of Columbia Department of Human Resources, and as a Psychiatric Social Worker at Hillcrest Children’s Center in the Children’s Hospital of the National Medical Center in Washington D.C. From 1971-78 she was Assistant Professor and Co-director of the Division of Behavioral Science in the Howard University College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry. Upon completion of her PhD at the National Catholic School of Social Services in 1977, Parron-Ragland worked as Senior Staff for the Study Panel on Special Populations: Minorities, Women and the Physically Handicapped as part of The President’s Commission for Mental Health (1977-1978).  From 1978-1983, Parron-Ragland was the Associate Director of the Institute of Medicine’s Division of Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine for the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. In addition to heading the Office of Special Populations at NIMH (1983-1999), her Federal Government positions included Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1999-2001), and Scientific Advisor for Capacity Development in the Office of the Director at the NIH (2001-2007). She held academic appointments as Lecturer for the Department of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation at the University of the District of Columbia (1973-1975) and for the Doctoral Program of the National Catholic School of Social Service, Catholic University of America (1974-1982).


Biographical Data: Parron-Ragland graduated with a B.A. from Georgian Court College in Lakewood, New Jersey in 1966, and earned her Master’s of Social Work (1968) and PhD (1977) from the National Catholic School of Social Science, the Catholic University of America, in Washington D.C.


 Significant Achievements and Awards Received: Georgian Court University inducted Parron-Ragland into the Court of Honor, recognizing her as a Distinguished Alumni in 2008, and awarded her with the Alumni Service Award in 2011.  In 1993, the school established the Dolores Parron Scholarship, a 4-year full tuition award for minority women in the top 10 percent of their graduating high school class. Parron-Ragland received Special Recognition Awards from the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1992 and 1993.  In 1998  she was honored by the American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellowship Program Advisory Committee with the Distinguished Achievement Award, and, in the same year, was recognized as a Distinguished Leader for Women in Psychology by the APA Committee on Women in Psychology. The APA also awarded her with the Meritorious Research Service Commendation in 2003.  Dr. Parron-Ragland was elected Fellow by the National Academy of Public Administration in 2001.


Significant Publications 

Health and behavior: Frontiers of research in the biobehavioral sciences. Hamburg, David A. (Ed); Elliott, Glen R. (Ed); Parron, Delores L. (Ed) Washington, DC, US: National Academy Press. (1982). xiii 359 pp.


The Place of Culture in DSM-IV.  Mezzich, Juan E. M.D., Ph.D.1; Kirmayer, Laurence J. M.D.2; Kleinman, Arthur M.D.3; Fabrega, Horacio Jr. M.D.4; Parron, Delores L. Ph.D.5; Good, Byron J. Ph.D.3; Lin, Keh-Ming M.D., M.P.H.6; Manson, Spero M. Ph.D.7



Watanabe, Myrna. "From Internal Guidelines To The Law." The Scientist. LabX Media Group,6 Mar.1995. <>.

Social Work Pioneer® 2012




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