Dr. Joseph Orlando Prewitt Diaz

Chief Executive Officer at (CPSS) Center for Psychosocial Support Solutions, National Capitol Region
American Red Cross - MS Region

Focus Areas

Social Justice
Religion / Faith / Spirituality


Joseph Orlando Prewitt Diaz, PhD is Chief Executive Officer at (CPSS) Center for Psychosocial Support Solutions and former President & CEO of the Research Center on Psychosocial Support in Disasters and Volunteer Partner to the Disaster Executive Difrect, Mid Atlantic Division, American Red Cross. A Humanitarian Psychologist, Prewitt Diaz is the recipient of the International Humanitarian award from the American Psychological Association and one of the world experts on disaster mental health and psychosocial support programs. He studied in the public school system of Puerto Rico. He obtained his bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, followed by a PhD from the University of Connecticut. He completed post-doctoral studies at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. He holds degrees in religious studies and pastoral counseling. In 1973, with a World Education Fellowship and a position as a psychologist, he was able to study how displacement and community empowerment affected the quality of life of Puerto Ricans in Connecticut. He obtained a PhD in 1979. In the mid 70’s, as a result of a Northeastern storms, many Puerto Rican people were caught unprepared. Prewitt Diaz reported to the Greater Hartford Chapter and so begun his life as an active volunteer of the American Red Cross. He has worked small house fires, large natural disasters, and served as a DMH Coordinator during the recovery of United 83 in Somerset, PA. He realized that the most impacted were persons that had not received timely information, and limited access to health and social services, and those “invisible” to the community. As chance would have it, the 80’s gave Prewitt Diaz the opportunity to study migrancy, community mobilization and community empowerment in various settings. A grant from the U.S. Office of Education allowed him and his partners to conduct an ethnographic study in the three migrant streams in the United States, resulting in a book entitled “The Effects of Migration on Children” with R. Trotter III and Vidal Rivera. As a recipient of a Kellogg National Fellowship, he visited Brazil, Argentina and Mexico exploring the role of community health in improving the quality of life of the resource poor communities. He understood first hand the power of community education and re-learned the value of voluntarism. A Woodrow Wilson Hispanic Fellowship resulted in the first draft of a monograph entitled “The Psychology of Puerto Rican Migration”. This decade lead Prewitt Diaz to consider service to the resource poor people after a disaster. For his community services and advocacy he earned the Pennsylvania Governor’s Heritage Award in 1988. In the 90’s Prewitt Diaz worked in Chester and Philadelphia, PA, with children that were experiencing difficulties in the school and communities. He worked closely with the parents of those children to create safe communities. This effort marked the beginning of the community based psychosocial support model. His worked was recognized by the Government of Pennsylvania where he received the Governor’s Award for Voluntarism in 1997, and the National Education Association Civil Rights Leadership Award in 1998. He was invited to become an International Delegate with the American Red Cross in 1999. The last ten years he has served the role of Health Delegate (Psychosocial Support) in Central and South America as well as South Asia, where he has dedicated his efforts to the development, implementation and evaluation of community based psychosocial support programs after natural disasters. He was awarded the ARC Lifesaving Award for his actions. Along with James Randy Ackley and Anjana Dayal, he developed, planned, and implemented the psychosocial support response to the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. In recognition of his efforts he was awarded the “Tiffany Award”, the highest award given to an employee by the American Red Cross. He served as the Head of Programs for India of the American Red Cross. He directed two integrated community based health programs providing services to about half a million people. Both of these programs used psychosocial support as the platform for services. He has dedicated most of his adult life in humanitarian endeavors. As a result of his work in India he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Indian Red Cross Society (first time a foreigner received such high distinction).