Jessica Henderson Daniel was born in San Antonio, TX (J. Daniel, personal communication, June 10, 2011). The daughter of a crew chief in the Air Force, the family moved frequently. Living in different parts of the world, she had the opportunity to learn about a variety of cultures, something which was later influential. While her father was stationed at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, she attended the now Fayetteville State University, then known as Fayetteville State College and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in history. Daniel planned on pursuing an advanced degree since a memorable experience in the fifth grade. At the time, the family was stationed in Bermuda where she witnessed the hooding ceremony of her elementary school principal who received his Doctorate in Education from Harvard University. Daniel recalled thinking at the time that all doctors have to study math or science and was relieved to learn from Dr. Robinson that one could study something else. Some years later after earning her PhD, she returned to Bermuda to thank him and to let him know what an inspiration he had been (J. Daniel, personal communication, June 10, 2011).
Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Dr. Daniel decided to pursue a graduate degree in psychology at University of Illinois, Urbana where she was awarded a research assistantship (J. Daniel, June 10, 2011). In her second year of graduate study, she was awarded a Carnegie Fellowship and in 1969, she earned her PhD in Educational Psychology. Daniel relocated to Oregon, where she taught for two years at the University of Oregon and worked on a project that included both Head Start and Follow Through Programs. In October 1972, she began her affiliation with Children’s Hospital, Boston where she remains working in the Department of Psychiatry, the Division of Adolescent Medicine, and on the Child Protection Team. She also serves as chair of both the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance and the Black History Month Observance Committees. Beginning in 1988, she became an adjunct faculty member in the clinical program at Boston University where she also serves as a mentor for the Minority Collective (J. Daniel, personal communication, June 10, 2011).
Over the course of her career, Daniel has primarily focused on mentoring, instruction and training, with a particular interest in cultural diversity (J. Daniel, personal communication, June 10, 2011). In 1993, as Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration, she initiated regulations that require both instruction and training about people of color for licensure in the Commonwealth (APA, 2011). In 2006, Dr. Daniel was awarded the Bonnie Strickland Distinguished Mentoring Award, which was thereafter renamed the Strickland-Daniel mentoring award in recognition of Dr. Daniel’s exceptional efforts in developing psychologists’ careers (J. Daniel, personal communication, June 10, 2011). In particular, she believes that increasing the number of researchers who are from underrepresented group will positively impact both psychological science and practice. She was successful in securing funding for the Next Generation Program, a program she designed to mentor early career Black female psychologists who have an interest in research on adolescents (APA, 2011). The program participants have received career development awards, been employed in research agencies and worked at academic research centers (J. Daniel, personal communication, June 10, 2011).
In 1998, she was the first woman, the first person of color and the first psychologist to receive the very prestigious Harvard Medical School A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award(APA, 2011). Dr. Daniel’s many other awards include: the 1999 APAGS Kenneth and Mamie Clark Award; the 2001 Distinguished Alumni Award – University of Illinois, Urbana; the 2002 APA Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training Award; the 2003 APA Division 45 Charles and Shirley Thomas Award for Training and Mentoring Students of Color; the 2006 Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers Award for Excellence in Psychology Diversity Training (APA, 2011); the 2008 APA Committee on Women in Psychology, Distinguished Leader for Women in Psychology Award; the 2010 Harvard Medical School Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award and the 2010 APA Division 12 Toy Caldwell-Colbert Award for Distinguished Educator in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Daniel’s current positions include: Director of Training in Psychology at Children’s Hospital; Associate Director of the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Training Program (CHB), and Adjunct Associate Professor at Boston University’s Clinical Psychology Program (APA, 2011). Her most recent research focuses on obesity in adolescence (J. Daniel, personal communication, June 10, 2011).