President's message

Behind the curtain: What makes Div. 20 tick

The Div. 20 president thanks his executive committee members for their contributions to the division throughout his tenure.

By Bill Haley

In considering what I should write about in the final president's message of my term, I reflected on all that I have learned about the division during my past two years as president-elect and president. I've been a Div. 20 member for over 30 years, but these past two years have been my first glimpse “behind the curtain.” I've learned that there is no wizard, magically pushing buttons and making things happen. Div. 20 is more like a handmade watch, one that runs very well and has a lot of diamonds in it, but that requires a lot of fine tuning. The division works through a complex and interconnected network of people who are dedicated to the division. The president's job is mainly to make sure that this watch is well-oiled, well-maintained and that things stay on schedule. The president also faces the challenge of recycling the parts, often replacing perfectly good gears with new ones as terms of office expire and members move in and out of their roles.

So, I would like to tell you a bit about these parts, how they work and how they connect. The column is not long enough to mention everyone, but I'd like to highlight some people who make outstanding contributions.

I've learned that the mainspring of the Div. 20 watch is a group including the past president, president and president-elect. That group is in constant interaction and assures that the operation continues smoothly, with continuity over time. When I was president-elect, Carolyn Aldwin was past president, and Pat Parmelee was president. This year, Pat has been past president, and Sara Czaja joined the group as our president-elect. The president gets called on to provide input to APA, work with members of the Div. 20 committees and try to make Div. 20 as effective as possible. I found that input from the past presidents was vital to me in learning the culture of the division, the personalities involved, and in understanding its history and maintaining continuity. The president-elect has a key role in providing input as well. To provide an example of how engaged we are with each other, a quick count of my sent mail files showed that I have sent Pat over 250 emails since assuming the office of president in August 2013. (Sorry Pat.) It's been amazing to get to know Carolyn, Pat and Sara over the past two years, and I am extremely grateful for their engagement in the business of Div. 20 and their personal support.

Two other key leaders who keep things going in Div. 20 are our secretary, Lisa Soederberg Miller , and our treasurer, Joe Gaugler . Lisa is ending her three-year term, and she has not only done a splendid job on keeping track of minutes of our meetings, and updating our directory (which changes frequently as we appoint and shift committee members), but also as serving as wise counsel on division issues given her long-time involvement in the division. Joe has tackled the very challenging job of helping the division take a sober look at our financial status and come up with a plan to eliminate a trend toward deficit spending.

The Program Committee is a huge undertaking. Joann Montepare and Chris Rosnick managed this major effort and have been models of vision and conscientiousness. Div. 20 is well-represented in interdivisional programming this year due to their efforts. Joann deserves special applause because she also serves as one of two email list managers, along with Lori James . Lori and Joann assumed this duty over the past year and have kept things running smoothly. Michael Marsiske deserves special attention for his work as our webmaster. Michael has done this thankless job for years, first through a site at the University of Florida, and more recently working through a very bureaucratic system at APA. Michael is rotating out of this position this year, and all of us in Div. 20 should be grateful for his efforts.

Becky Allen has chaired our Elections Committee for two years. As I noted in my last column, Becky has had a very challenging time in recruiting Div. 20 members to run for election in some offices. Becky deserves special praise for her persistence and congratulations as she rotates out of this vital position.

Warner Schaie and Sue Whitbourne have been extremely dedicated in their role representing Div. 20 on the APA Council of Representatives. Thanks to them, Div. 20's interests are well-represented, and we can count on them to keep us all updated on APA business. Sue rotates out of this position this year, and her many years of hard work for Div. 20 are much appreciated.

Tina Savla and Julie Boron have co-chaired our Education Committee. This year marks a major accomplishment from them, the posting of a newly updated Div. 20 Graduate Studies Directory. Tina and Julie encountered many challenges in getting replies from 132 programs included in this listing. Well done. And thanks to student members Liz Handing, Kristen Condeelis and Beth Hahn for their efforts in support of this committee.

Finally, Grace Caskie has continued to do a superb job as newsletter editor. This year has been challenging for Grace, as we have shifted to a completely Web-based newsletter. Besides putting together great material for the newsletter, Grace is working diligently with APA to assure that they give us the quickest possible turnaround for publication on the website.

Space limitations don't allow me to individually thank the many other members of our committees, task forces and our liaisons to other groups. These groups work to choose award winners and fellows, recruit and retain members and assure that we offer great CE programs.

Div. 20 is fortunate to have so many busy and talented people who are willing to give time and effort to our organization. When you see them, thank them. And if you are approached to run for an office or serve on a committee, please consider saying yes and being a part of as fine a group of people as you will ever meet.