2022 Multicultural Council Award for Leadership in Diversity

October 24, 2022

The AUCD Multicultural Council Award for Leadership in Diversity is presented to an Association member or group in recognition of:

  • their exhibited leadership and commitment to advancing programs and practices aimed toward increasing the diversity, cultural, and/or linguistic competencies (in curriculum, services, supports, research, and recruitment) within a Center and the AUCD network as a whole
  • exemplary programs and practices addressing the areas of diversity, cultural, and/or linguistic competencies (in curriculum, services, supports, research, and recruitment) within a Center and the AUCD network as a whole
  • significant contributions in furthering the cause of diversity understanding for the needs of families seeking disability services.

Sylvia J. Acosta, PhD

Center for Development and Disability, University of New Mexico: Albuquerque, NM

"Dr. Acosta’s commitment to cultural awareness and diversity is evident in all that she does. She pushes trainees to adopt a culturally aware practices and reflect on how cultural awareness influences every piece of their work. As our CDD-track training director, who oversees our Autism and Early Childhood Predoctoral Internship program and our Post-Doctoral Psychology Fellowship program, Dr. Acosta’s leadership in supporting culturally competent practices is pivotal. Dr. Acosta spearheads seminars and trainings of topics relating to serving culturally and linguistically diverse populations and supports trainees in understanding the importance of understanding how one’s own cultural values, preferences, characteristics, and circumstance impact the interaction between the clinician and child/family. Dr. Acosta also pushes faculty to approach their supervision of trainees with a commitment to culturally competent practices and to directly address issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity in supervision. For example, she frequently initiates discussions on these topics into our training meetings and supports faculty around accessing professional learning opportunities in this area to ensure that training across faculty incorporates reflection on cultural and linguistic diversity. As a result of Dr. Acosta’s leadership within our training program, our training program has developed a diverse group of trainees and potential/future workforce who are better able to serve diverse population."


Sylvia J. Acosta, PhD is a bilingual (English/Spanish) psychologist at the University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability (CDD). She earned her degree in counseling psychology at Colorado State University. Sylvia has been a part of the AUCD network since her internship and postdoctoral fellowship training at the USC UCEDD and LEND program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (2007-2010). Since then, Sylvia has contributed to clinical, scholarship, educational endeavors at the UCEDD and LEND in her home state of New Mexico.

Her clinical work has focused in neurodevelopmental disabilities, specifically culturally and linguistically diverse children with autism spectrum disorder. She has been passionate about serving the Spanish-speaking community in New Mexico. Sylvia developed a bilingual diagnostic assessment clinic and has conducted bilingual intervention services for Spanish-speaking families, providing increased access to underserved families. She has served as the program manager for parent training programs and implemented telehealth services to increase access to families living in rural areas. As part of the NM LEND program faculty, she has incorporated diversity, cultural and linguistic competencies into the curriculum. Sylvia is the Director of Psychology Training, where she has worked to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of clinical training and supervision. Since her participation in the Georgetown University Leadership Academy, Sylvia has been a leader for infusing cultural and linguistic responsiveness at the local and national levels.