Susan M. Swearer, PhD: Nominee for President

Meet and learn about the candidate Susan M. Swearer, running for Division 16 President

Susan M. Swearer, PhD: Nominee for PresidentI am honored to be considered as a candidate for Division 16 President. Division 16 is an extremely important Division within the American Psychological Association (APA). As Division 16 members we are dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth, parents, and teachers across a variety of contexts: families, schools, agencies, neighborhoods, and communities. I have been fortunate to serve the Division for the past three years as Division secretary and I would be honored to continue to serve the Division as president.

Division 16 has been fortunate to have a very strong Executive Committee comprised of psychologists who are leading the field of school psychology. If elected, I would continue the important work that so many Division 16 leaders have contributed to in terms of their expertise, time, and energy over the years. Specifically, Division 16 leaders have been instrumental in working with APA governance to made sure that school psychology was an important voice in the Model Licensure Act (MLA); Division 16 leaders have ensured that our collective school psychology voice has been included within the larger infrastructure of APA; and our Division 16 leaders have been models of collaboration, working with the National Association of School Psychologists, International School Psychology Association, as well as with other professional organizations (i.e., Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs, Trainers of School Psychologists, Society for the Study of School Psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology, American Board of School Psychology, Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, and Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers) dedicated to the pursuit of science informing psychological practice.

If elected president of Division 16, I would continue the strong trajectory of leadership, promoting the mission of our Division: (1) to promote and maintain the high standards of professional education and training within the specialty, and to expand appropriate scientific and scholarly knowledge and the pursuit of scientific affairs; (2) to increase effective and efficient conduct of professional affairs, including the practice of psychology within the schools, among other settings, and collaboration/ cooperation with individuals, groups, and organizations in the shared realization of Division objectives; (3) to support the ethical and social responsibilities of the specialty, to encourage opportunities for ethnic minority participation in the specialty, and to provide opportunities for professional fellowship; and (4) to encourage and effect publications, communication, and conferences regarding the activities, interests, and concerns within the specialty on a regional, national, and international basis.

My current role as Division 16 secretary has laid a solid foundation for the leadership necessary to lead the Division. In the past two years the Executive Committee has embraced 21st century technology, using Dropbox and Skype to enhance communication among the EC and across the Division. We have also developed a Division 16 Facebook page as well as a Division 16 Twitter account. As an EC we are exploring ways to further communicate with our membership as well as ways to increase visibility within APA and across Divisions. As Dr. Shane Jimerson has noted, the Division has embarked on a multi-faceted and multi-year strategic plan. In order to maintain the strong visibility and leadership of the division, our strategic plan must be maintained and we must partner with state, national and international organizations dedicated to the betterment of children, youth, and families.

If elected, I will continue our efforts to maintain our strategic plan and I will also focus on enhancing internships opportunities in School Psychology, both at the EdS and PhD levels. The Match imbalance is a major problem facing professional psychology, and a problem facing the field of school psychology. We need to work with school districts and with agencies that provide psychological services to children, youth, and families and support them in seeking APA-approval for internship training programs. This year, 29% of prospective interns who went through the APPIC match did not match; if we factor in EdS-level school psychology students and students who did not go through the formal match process, this number is in all likelihood, higher. It is imperative that we provide accredited and high-quality internship experiences for our future leaders, school psychology graduate students. Our future as a profession depends on this.

It would be an honor to continue toserve Division 16 in a leadership capacity and to continue the important mission and foci that so many distinguished leaders in the field have developed and supported. Together, Division 16 will continue to be a national leader dedicated to improving the lives of our most important stakeholders: children, youth, parents, and the teachers and psychologists who work tirelessly to make our schools, families, and communities safe and thriving places.


I completed my BA in Psychology from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Penn.; earned a MS in Special Education from the Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA; and completed my PhD in School Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. I completed my predoctoral internship with the Nebraska Internship Consortium in Professional Psychology (NICPP) at Boys Town in Omaha, NE and was hired in 1997 as an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL). Currently, I am a Professor of School Psychology at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln; Co-Director of the Bullying Research Network; and Co-Director of the Nebraska Internship Consortium in Professional Psychology. I am a licensed psychologist and a supervising psychologist in the Counseling and School Psychology Clinic at UNL.

My research has focused on bullying prevention and intervention and through the Target Bullying Project at UNL, we have developed and implemented a data-based decision-making model for responding to bullying behaviors in elementary, middle, and high schools, with the goal of helping school personnel establish cost-effective and data-based strategies to reduce bullying. I am the co-author of the recently published book, Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools (Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano, 2009) and co-editor of the books, Bullying in North American Schools, 2nd edition (Espelage & Swearer, 2011) and Handbook of Bullying in Schools: An International Perspective (Jimerson, Swearer, & Espelage, 2010). I have authored over 100 book chapters and articles on the topics of bullying, depression, and anxiety in school-aged youth. I am passionate about translational research and the importance of communicating research findings to the general public. To this end, the Target Bullying Intervention Program was featured on CBS Sunday Morning in February 2011; I was an invited presenter at the White House Bullying Prevention Conference in March 2011; and I was a panel member at Harvard University of the launch of the Born This Way Foundation along with Lady Gaga, Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius in February 2012. Additionally, in March 2012, I co-edited the 3rd edition of an on-line special issue, “Bullying @ School and Online” on Education.com and this work was featured on Anderson Cooper’s show, “Anderson.” School psychologists are the leading mental health professionals in our nation’s schools and our work bridges research, practice, and policy in very significant and meaningful ways. We need to make sure that our voice is part of this national conversation.