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Cynthia A. Telles


Cynthia A. Telles, PhD is the Director, UCLA Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. She has dedicated her professional career to expanding access to high-quality health and mental health care, especially to underserved communities.  For over three decades, Dr. Telles has been the Director of the UCLA Spanish-Speaking Psychosocial Clinic at the Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital. The SSPC is a model program that provides training in the provision of socio-culturally competent, comprehensive mental health services to the rapidly growing and underserved Latino community. She has been on the faculty of the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry since 1986, and a Clinical Professor there since 2016.

Dr. Telles has served on Boards of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. since April 2003, where she is also Chair of the Community Health Committee. Dr. Telles serves on the boards of MALDEF; the National Alliance for Hispanic Health; the Pacific Council on International Policy, a non-partisan international affairs organization; and the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles. She is a founding Board member of the Public Policy Institute of California and previously chaired the boards of the California Endowment (on the board from 2001 to 2010, board chair 2004-2006 and vice-chair 2002-2004), and the California Community Foundation (on the board since 2004, chair 2013-15), and served on the boards of General Motors Co., Sanwa Bank/United California Bank, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, and Americas United Bank. 

Dr. Telles was appointed by President Obama to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars (2010-2017) and by Mayor Eric Garcetti to the Los Angeles World Airports Commission (2013-present). She formerly served on the Mental Health Task Force for the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, on the National Advisory Council to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Department of Health and Human Services) during the Clinton administration, and as chair of the board of the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Service Organizations in Washington, D.C. In addition, Dr. Telles has served 18 years as Commissioner of the City of Los Angeles, including serving as Vice-President of the City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission, Vice-President of the Los Angeles Board of Library Commissioners, President of the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women, and as a member of the Los Angeles Commission on Children, Youth and Families. 

Dr. Telles received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College and doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Boston University. She has published extensively in the area of mental health, particularly with respect to the socioculturally proficient assessment and treatment of Hispanics and psychiatric epidemiology of underserved populations.

Awards and Commendations

Throughout her career, Dr. Telles has received many awards and commendations from organizations and governmental entities across the nation, including:

First Annual Achievement Award for Mental Health Public Service, American Psychological Association MFP

Mexican American Bar Foundation Pioneer for Justice Award

Leadership Award from the National Hispanic Medical Association/National Hispanic Health Foundation

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Community Service

YWCA Silver Achievement Award

Coro Foundation Public Affairs Award

Women of Courage Award from the City of Los Angeles

Visionaries Award/Excellence in Community Leadership from the Los Angeles Region Chamber of Commerce

Women of Achievement Award from “Women For”

Latino Leader’s Maestro Award for Professional Achievement

Trustee of the Year Award, National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, New York

Community Service Award, Hispanics in Philanthropy

Civic and Community Leadership Award, National Network of Hispanic Women

LULAC Community Service Award

Humanitarian Award, East Los Angeles College

Recognition of dedicated service to the community and numerous contributions for the benefit of all, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Community Service

Business and Community Service Recognition from the California State Legislature

Proclamation for Outstanding Contribution to the City of Los Angeles by the City Council

Selected as one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the Nation in 2006 and again in 2010

Cynthia A. Telles




Presented by Kaiser Permanente