Dr. Wanda Bethea looks toward the future of Brevard County and envisions a number of key persons and groups working together to create a multi-faceted synergy that keeps the Space Coast on the cutting edge.
“I see a number of similar-type groups, such as Chambers of Commerce, working closely together to provide to the very best in terms of professional development and opportunity,” says Dr. Bethea, a Melbourne-based psychologist and executive and personal coach. ” I see a greater understanding and intermingling of various disciplines like law, government, business, education, really coming together and figuring out how to provide a service to all the citizens of Brevard.” She adds, “I want to be a part of that, to be a bridge.”
At the same time, however, Dr. Bethea is concerned by a lack of diversity that is usually obvious whenever key business and civic groups come together across the community. “When I look around I’m just one of very few African Americans. But I’m not just talking about African Americans, but Asians, Haitians, Caribbean, Hispanics… I don’t see the kind of diversity I know is needed in order to build communities,” she says. “Diversity pays off.”
To address this concern, Dr. Bethea suggests that leaders in Brevard adopt a model program she read about called the “World Café.” The concept involves a diverse group of persons from across the community coming together for a series of table discussions. Tablecloths serve as writing pads, and lots of brainstorming and idea generation takes place.
“You invite everyone to talk about issues and what they want for their community,” says Dr. Bethea. “You have people move from table to table. One person remains behind and revamps for the new group what the previous group said, and the ideas just build and build. It’s a neat concept.”
But not content to wait for others to take action steps toward bridging racial and cultural gaps, Dr. Bethea is placing herself in strategic situations. “I’m taking a risk and stepping outside of the box. I’m partnering with people I never said I would partner with, to get a step further toward where I think things ought to be in our community.”
This month, she is schedule to be prominently featured on the cover of Space Coast Woman Magazine, and profiled in the publication’s “Woman to Watch” section. She also recently has begun co-presenting a seminar entitled “Finding Shelter From the Storms of Stress” with GreenBrevard editor John M. De Marco.
Dr. Bethea earned a Doctor of Psychology from New York’s Columbia University, and is certified by the College of Executive Coaching in Ventura, California. Her psychology practice provides an array of services to a number of different individuals, from children through adolescents and adults, including marital and family therapy. She also offers psychological testing and assessment.
In addition, Dr. Bethea is a diplomate forensic examiner, providing competency evaluations that can include whether someone is fit to stand trial, serve as a guardian, receive child custody, and so forth. She also serves as an expert witness for the court system.
Her executive and personal coaching business involves her functioning as a “thinking partner” for her clients. “I help them set goals in their business, to increase and generate return on investments. I look at their blind spots and missed opportunities.”
Before moving to Brevard County a few years ago, Dr. Bethea worked at Indian River Memorial Hospital’s psychiatric institute and outpatient clinic, where she supervised doctoral students and medical residents. After leaving the hospital she hosted a radio program in Indian River and St. Lucie counties titled “All About You,” a call-in show that involved people “educating, inspiring and motivating each other for the betterment of human kind.”
“It was probably the first talk show where we actually played music, from Elton John and Louis Armstrong,” she recalls with a chuckle.
As a person perhaps just hitting her stride in life and beginning to realize her greatest potential, Dr. Bethea is a woman of passion and concern. “I’m passionate about justice. I’m passionate about spirit. I’m passionate about inventions and wisdom. I’m passionate about newness and innovations.”
She adds, “I get passionate about people having courage… who walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and fear no evil.”