Legacy, what is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.
—Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Asked about the legacy her new gift will leave, Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda was quick to point out that her own career as a psychoanalyst in community-based practice is a legacy of Bernard “Bernie” Kalinkowitz (1915–1992), the visionary founder of NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, the program she completed in 1998.
“Bernie was strongly committed to student diversity and engagement with social issues,” she said. “There is a Hamilton lyric about building a legacy we might not get to see. Bernie was ensuring that diverse students filled half of each class when Luis [Towns-Miranda’s husband Luis Miranda Jr.] and I met in our doctoral training at NYU in the early 70s You could even say that without Bernie, there would be no Hamilton! I am thrilled to be able to enrich this legacy, serving the community through the Postdoc Program I know so well.”
The Miranda Family Fellowship will support students in the Graduate School of Arts & Science’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (the “Postdoc Program”) with a substantial annual commitment over three years. In addition to demonstrating financial need, Fellows will be bicultural and speak Spanish. Importantly, Fellows will have a history of working in underserved communities, and an ongoing commitment to improving access to mental health care for disadvantaged populations in community-based settings. Preference will be given to students with a deep and abiding interest in the culture and people of the Caribbean region.
Conceived and developed by Towns-Miranda, the Fellowship is a gift of the Miranda Family Fund, from which the adult members of the Miranda family develop philanthropic projects around their interests and expertise. “The entire family is supportive and very excited about this initiative,” said Towns-Miranda. Included in that number are Towns-Miranda’s daughter Luz Miranda-Crespo (Stern ’03), and son-in-law Luis Crespo (Stern ’12), also NYU alumni.
The Graduate School of Arts & Science’s Postdoc Program and its faculty are renowned for contributions to psychoanalytic theory and practice, and publications of faculty and graduates rank among the most cited worldwide. The Program combines didactic coursework with personal analysis and intensive clinical psychoanalytic training for doctoral-level mental health practitioners. One of the very few university-based psychoanalytic programs, it is unique in its commitment to humanistic values, pluralism and dialogue, rather than emphasizing any particular theoretical perspective. Since completing her postdoctoral training, Towns-Miranda has remained engaged with the Program through participation in the Trauma Specialization Program, Child Track, and ongoing involvement with the Committee on Ethnicity, Race, Culture, Class and Language, which facilitates clinical and theoretical engagement on these factors throughout the Postdoc Program and its community of faculty and students.
Towns-Miranda can relate to the students the Fellowship will assist. She spent nine years completing the Postdoc Program, which she entered several years after earning her doctorate from NYU and becoming a licensed psychologist. “I feel a real sense of camaraderie with students facing the significant costs involved in analytic training, especially for people from disadvantaged communities, without disposable income, perhaps raising children. I know it was a stretch for me. My daughter was in college, and I took on part time consulting work to supplement the tuition and costs.”
“Luz’s gift is generous and timely,” said Spyros D. Orfanos, Director of the Postdoc Program. “High-quality mental health care delivered by clinicians with deep cultural and linguistic connections to underserved communities is far from common. By giving postdoctoral students who wish to bring their training back to their community the practical means to accomplish that, the Miranda Family Fellowship will be a lifeline for people in need.”
“I’m very concerned about the absence of psychoanalytic thinking and work in community mental health clinics, where the need for quality care is so dire,” said Towns-Miranda. “I’ve spent my career in public settings: in mental health clinics, and training family doctors in the nuances involved in their care of people in the South Bronx. Private practice was never a goal of my training. The focus of the Fellowship is about getting people back into the community so that the people they serve are in a better place to help others. It’s the ripple effect. And having individuals with very rich training in community mental health centers can have its own ripple effect: impacting not just the patients directly, but helping the staff who interface with them recognize the value of psychoanalytic interventions in addition to more common short-term interventions. Postdoc training prepares clinicians to manage care for anyone who walks through the door—from mild to moderate to severe cases.”
“Increasingly,” she added, “the profession is seeing the need for greater inclusion among faculty and students—addressing issues of culture, class, language, ethnicity and religion, how they are embedded in our lives, and how they impact our internal worlds as well as our external worlds. By intentionally recruiting diverse individuals who intend to work in the community, The Miranda Family Fellowship will be raising these issues in a way that will resonate through the very influential Postdoc Program.”
Orfanos added, “The ethos of the Postdoc Program tends to attract people who want to give back. With Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda, that drive to do good in the community has come full circle. On behalf of the Program, the Graduate School of Arts & Science, and all the people the Miranda Family Fellowship will impact, I am deeply grateful.”