40 Under 40 Class of 2022

Whitney Dodds

CEO, Wellness for the Culture; Age 32

Whitney Dodds is on a mission to shift the narrative on mental healthcare in black and brown communities. And she told BusinessWest that her inspiration was her own life experience.

“My lived experience as a black woman living here in the city of Springfield was such a traumatic background, and I didn’t really have an understanding of what therapy was and how to utilize it,” she recalled, adding that, if she had such an understanding of what was available and how safe it was, her early life would have been different — and better.

Dodds earned a degree in psychology from UMass Amherst and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from American International College. It was during her college years that she questioned why she didn’t have therapy and why she didn’t know what therapy was. It was then that she realized things needed to change; she knew not only that something needed to happen, but that she needed to be the one to make it happen.

And that’s exactly what she’s doing as the founder of Wellness for the Culture, a mental-health organization in Springfield.

“We offer individual and group therapy services — that is the meat of what we do,” she explained. “We also provide educational training and workshops to professionals. We have an internship program where we offer education for them as well to get into the field.”

On top of that, Wellness for the Culture offers wellness-track education, which includes things like yoga, mindfulness, and “just anything involved with healing — generational healing,” she explained.

Wellness for the Culture caters to marginalized populations, specifically black and brown populations, who are often apprehensive in seeking out therapeutic services based on safety and the history of abuse in therapeutic techniques and practices against people of color.

Outside of work, Dodds has three “amazing” boys to whom she enjoys being a soccer mom, basketball mom, and piano mom. She loves reading, as well as date nights with her husband. She adds that what keeps her sane is anything that she can do with her hands — particularly gardening. She also values the importance of self-care so that she can continue to do the important work that goes on at Wellness for the Culture.

 

— Elizabeth Sears

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