In Alumni Resources, Faculty Voices, Featured, Messages from the Executive Board, News & Announcements

Important Message from the Board of Trustees and President/CEO

February 12, 2022

Greetings Pacifica Graduate institute community. I’m Dr. Thyonne Gordon, representing the Board of Trustees in my capacity as Chair. I’m here today to share some important information about the future of Pacifica.

Over the past 5 years we have had our share of world challenges but regardless of what arises you — the Pacifica Community — face forward with a steadfast pace matriculating as scholars with positive progression. Your work informs and impacts with solution-based messaging like that of Sarah Maria Acosta Ahmad in our CLIE program.

Drawing from the roots of Nahua Indigenous medicine-making, Sarah worked with a group of youth on Three Fire Nations land in Pontiac, MI on a community social justice mural and healing garden for immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The healing garden is a living-breathing art installation made up of native medicinal plants, corn elders, and protest yard signs. It is accessible to low-income BIPOC families centering and healing generational traumas. It speaks to the fact that If the land can heal, so can we. Sarah is a change-maker.

And then there’s the service of our Wendy Davee Awardee, Melvin Allen, whose servicere presents a life of engagement and advocacy. At an early age he organized one of the first African American boy scout troops in the inner city and was the first African American male to volunteer for work with female inmates through the Freedom to Choose Foundation. Now, as a hospice volunteer for 15 years with Trinity Care, Melvin is a “midwife to the soul.” It’s no surprise he helped coin the current Alumni Association motto, “Stronger Together in Community.” Melvin is a change-maker.

The list of Pacifica Community change-makers goes on and on and this board is continually grateful and humbled by your work. You hold space in our community, and in the world, where our motto of tending soul’s manifests and sparks the change, we need to see. And in a world of change-makers, we are ever changing.

It is in this spirit that we embrace transition and acknowledge the apprehension and opportunity that it holds. Therefore today, the board mourns and celebrates the decision of our CEO, Dr. Joseph Cambray, to enter into retirement.

Dr Cambray has served Pacifica eloquently with grace and grit for over 12 years — starting as adjunct faculty in 2010 and becoming Provost in 2015. As Provost, he demanded academic rigor and instituted policies in which faculty could bring their best and most creative selves. During that time, we gained national and international recognition; won awards for our programs and Pacifica was made an allied organization through the International Association for Analytical Psychology. When Dr. Cambray transitioned into the role of President and CEO, he proved to be ambidextrous with academic and business savvy.

He also had a strange propensity to manage and lead in the face of adversity. Yes, Dr.Cambray guided us safely through the fires; the floods and a double pandemic of COVID and racial unrest sweeping the nation.

During these most trying times, many might have been tempted to throw in the towel or run for cover, but Dr. Cambray guided with a calm spirit — finding and utilizing the best of talent to weather tumultuous terrain. As we continue to come through this most recent round of COVID, Dr. Cambray finds ways to encourage academia offering new programs and certifications that are practical for the times we are living in.

My mother used to tell me on visiting others, “leave the place better than you found it,” And I can say, that even though most of Dr. Cambray’s years as CEO have been marked with natural catastrophes, he has managed to lead Pacifica such that it is stronger and better positioned for the future. This year, we hit a record-breaking number for Winter enrollment and continue to work towards enhancing the institution.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr Cambray and part of how we pay the debt is to gracefully accept his resignation with celebration and praise for a job well done.

As a board, we want the community to know how we will move forward in light of thisannouncement.

First, we have begun to formulate a search committee comprised of board members and the faculty and staff representatives that are part of the board. Secondly, we have hired a search firm — one that we have used before — and are looking into securing another to assure we have a broad outreach. Finally, our transition planning will begin with anticipated meetings with our stakeholders including upper management, faculty, alumnae and the community at large.

I am committed to assuring you are part of this process by communicating regularly on the steps we are taking and learning from you what steps we might take to make even more informed decisions. Board members will be readily available to hear from you via the email posted in this message.

Mostly, I am excited for the next chapter for Dr. Cambray and for Pacifica because I already see what this community does in the face of adversity… we rise.

In parting, I share a poem by Wendy Videlock entitled CHANGE:


Change is the new, 


word for god, 

lovely enough 

to raise a song 

or implicate 

a sea of wrongs, 

mighty enough, 

like other gods, 

to shelter, 

bring together, 

and estrange us. 

Please, god, 

we seem to say, 

change us. 



Thyonne Gordon,
Ph.D.Chair, Board of Trustees
Pacifica Graduate Institute

Dear Pacifica Community, 

Let me first express my gratitude and deep appreciation to Dr. Gordon and Pacifica’s Board of Trustees for the belief and trust shown me in my initial role as Provost and then as President-CEO. Their valuable support has made all the difference in my having been able to successfully fulfill my duties and to personally thrive at Pacifica. Our shared passion for the school has made these years a labor of love and joy. Retiring from my leadership role is the correct course for me as I wish to spend more time with my wife and family; it is also bittersweet. I look forward to engaging in several projects and pursuits I have not had time for but shall deeply miss my daily engagements with this extraordinary community. 

As Dr. Gordon mentioned, it has been my privilege and honor since 2017 to serve as of Pacifica’s President-CEO, taking over from our beloved Founding President and Chancellor-Emeritus, Dr. Stephen Aizenstat. And what a time those years have been: my appointment was inaugurated by a ritual honoring the four elements of the ancient western world (fire, water, earth, and air). Then, within months, we faced challenges of the Thomas Fire, closely followed by the Montecito Debris flow, the COVID-19 pandemic, and cultural tragedies of systemic racism. Throughout these events, my goal has been to guide the school to a recovery which would position it in a more vibrant and dynamic state than I found it. To the extent I have succeeded in t, it has not been my work alone, but that of an entire community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni working together to create a new, emergent whole, greater than sum of its valuable parts. With our reopening, hopefully this spring, we shall have achieved much of what I hoped for, even though in an unanticipated manner. The enrollment is robust. What we offer is being regularly updated, remaining highly relevant to the contemporary world and much in demand. We are in the process of hiring more faculty and instituting a number of diversity, equity, and inclusion measures to ensure everyone who come to Pacifica receives the supportive services needed to optimize opportunities for success. 

Even as I step down from my role over the next number of months, I shall be available including for consultation throughout the transition to the new President-CEO. Beyond that I shall also continue to teach on occasion and remain available to undertake specific projects for the Board. You can count on my enduring friendship. 

As Pacifica elder James Hillman discussed, individuation requires longevity for most of us to learn to express the dimensions of our souls. Retirement at my age allows a full-on non-pursuit of the intangible realm of no-thing-ness, exploring the margins of the psyche as they disappear into interconnectedness and paradoxically transform our world. And so, I shall leave you to more deeply join you. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the privilege of having served as your President-CEO these past five years. 

Warmest wishes, 

Joseph Cambray
Pacifica Graduate Institute 

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