The Division on Filipinx Americans (DoFA) of the Asian American Psychological Association is a community of students and professionals committed to understanding the social, cultural, emotional, political, and personal factors affecting various aspects of Filipinx American psychology and creating a space to improve Filipinx American mental and behavioral health. DoFA’s mission is to become a source of authoritative information regarding the psychological experiences of Filipinx Americans, by fostering the creation of psychological products (e.g., theory, research, services, clinical interventions, assessments, etc.) that are sensitive to and appropriate with the Filipinx American experience. DoFA also aims to

  1. unite and recruit Filipinx American psychologists and mental health practitioners;
  2. provide resources and support for the Filipinx American community in psychology; and
  3. advocate for research, competent practice, and culturally informed policies in working with the Filipinx American community.

AAPA DoFA Executive Committee

Claire Reclosado-Baclay, PsyD,
CMPC, Co-Chair

My name is Claire Reclosado-Baclay, pronouns (she/her/siya), and I am proud to serve as one of your DoFA Co-Chairs. Outside of being a clinical sport psychologist, my time is spent with my family — likely traveling or attending sporting events. My interest and awareness of my Filipina American identity started in the 4th grade when I spent 10 months in the Philippines and then moved to the Bay Area, CA. In my homeland, I didn’t feel like I fit in; moving back to the U.S., I again didn’t fit in. I was in constant search of a space that felt comfortable. As a generally shy person, I would avoid having to network. While in graduate school, I stumbled across DoFA and instantly knew I wanted to be a part of this movement. I pushed myself to keep showing up, as I knew this was where I belonged. As Co-Chair, I’ll continue to show up, give back, and welcome others in our community.

Gregory Desierto, PsyD
My name is Gregory Desierto (he/him/his). I am a cis- gendered gay Filipino Psychologist and one of your DoFA Co-Chairs. The culmination of my experiences of immigrating to the United States, struggling to master English, reconciling with my Catholic faith, navigating my gay identity, being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, being the ‘bunso’ amogst five boys in my family, negotiating my racial identity in predominantly white spaces, and wanting to be scholarly-ish led me to become a Clinical Psychologist. Simultaneously, these experiences made me feel left out and feel that I was not Filipino enough. I don’t want that experience for you. As your DoFA Co-chair, I would like DoFA to be as much of a professional home, resource for mentorship, a hub for Filipinx psychology scholarship, and healing space for you as it was for me.

Krystel Salandanan, PsyD
My name is Krystel Salandanan (she/her/hers). When I am not working as a clinical neuropsychologist and professor in New York City, I am a mom of three kiddos under the age of 4 just trying to survive until naptime. It is one of my deepest honors to be one of your 2023- 2025 DoFA Co-Chairs. With that said, I stand on the shoulders of some of the most giant names in Fil-Am psychology and hope to continue our founding intentions to unite, support, and advocate for our community.

Lou Felipe, PhD
Financial Chair

Mabuhay! My name is Lou Felipe (she/they), and I currently serve as the DoFA finance officer. I am a queer, non-binary clinical psychologist, living and working in Denver, CO. I was born on the ancestral lands of the Ohlone people, which is now known as the San Francisco Bay Area. I am a descendant of the Tagalog people with ancestry stemming from Batangas and Cavite, Philippines. My proudest life roles are as a spouse to Miranda and parent to our three children – D, Z, and X (yes, their nicknames are simply letters). In my professional life as a psychologist, I serve as a trauma therapist with a focus on families, couples, and individuals who have experienced complex forms of childhood trauma, and personal experiences with the child welfare system largely inform my work. I am a clinical consultant, supervisor, and trainer for those working with children and families where child abuse and negelct are of concern. My research and writing focuses on addressing internalized oppression, Filipinx Psychology, and LGBTQ+ mental health. I love teaching courses on trauma and crisis treatment and multicultural psychology. I aspire to integrate more rest and art into my life.

Jeannie Celestial, PhD, MSW
Co-Mentorship Coordinator
Hello, Kapatid/Siblings! I’m Jeannie Joyce Estella Celestial-a licensed psychologist & psychotherapist at Sweet Mango Therapy Group. I descend from the land, sea, & peoples of Cebu (mom) & Cavite (dad), Philippines, was born on Guahan/Guam, & currently reside in the San Francisco Bay Area (Miwok land). I’m excited to serve with Christine as your new Mentorship Co-Coordinators! I wouldnt be where I am today without kind, inspiring people who informally & formally mentored me throughout my life. I’m looking forward to curating experiences where we can grow in community & learn from one another. Let’s chat about decolonizing mental health, Filipino food, later-in-life (40s) parenting, & intergenerational healing! Find me at drcelestial.com & instagram.com/jeanniecelestial.

Christine Melendres, LCSW
Co-Mentorship Coordinator
Hi there! My name is Christine R. Melendres and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and sychotherapist in the state of California, and the Founder of Sweet Mango Therapy Group, Inc. I was born in Iba, Zambales, home of the sweetest mangoes in the world confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records. My family and I immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when I was 3 years old. I am the eldest granddaughter from both sides of my family, the first to graduate college in the United States, and the only licensed therapist in my family. I grew up in Daly City, California and have been involved in community work since the age of 12. My interest in the mental health field stems from my own immigration experiences and bicultural identity. I specialize in providing psychotherapy to high-achieving BIPOC women who struggle with burnout, anxiety, and imposter syndrome. Some fun acts about me: I enjoy playing with my two young children, watching comedy shows with my husband, listening to podcasts, and indoor cycling.

Kevin Yabes, M.S., APCC
Student Representative

Hi everyone! I’m Kevin Yabes (pronouns: he/him) and I’m the student representative for DoFA. I’m currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Counseling Psychology at New Mexico State University and I’ll be a psychology intern with I Ola Lahui Rural Hawai’i Behavioral Health this upcoming academic year. I joined DoFA to get connected with other Filipinx Americans in psychology/mental health. As the DoFA student representative, I plan to create space for students to feel welcome in DoFA and get the support needed to sustain ourselves as we work towards our degrees.

Julianna Bianes, M.A.

Membership Coordinator

I am currently a student pursuing my Psy. D. in clinical psychology at the Wright Institute. When I first started my psych program I found myself struggling to find my home in academia. In joining DoFA I found so many mentors and found a family that supports me both professionally and personally. I have the honor of serving as the next Membership Coordinator and I hope o connect with you all soon!

Julie Kittleman, M.A.
Communications Coordinator

Hello to all! It’s nice to meet everyone my name is Julie (pronouns: she/her). I am currently a doctoral student at Capella University for Clinical Psychology, PsyD. I work in crisis counseling, behavioral intervention, and research. I always struggled trying to see individuals who look like me in the field. I am inspired every day by the individuals within this community. I want to help bring members of the DOFA community together. Filipinx need to know we are in this together!