In This Issue

Council of Representatives Report


By Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, and K. Warner Schaie, PhD, ABPP

The APA Council of Representatives met in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 6 and Aug. 8, 2014. Following up on the earlier actions by Council in the restructuring of governance, the majority of this meeting was spent on recommendations put forward by the Implementation Working Group (IWG) over the past several months.

The IWG, through its own meetings and virtual discussions with Council, proposed alternative models that would reshape Council, making it somewhat smaller and therefore more “nimble.” The work of IWG followed from the Good Governance Project (GGP), which was an outgrowth of the APA Strategic Plan focused on optimizing organizational effectiveness. A core issue at this meeting was exactly what size Council would be and how its membership would be determined. The model that we supported proposed that the current apportionment system be retained along with adding several seats to ensure participation by under-represented groups. The alternative model proposes that each Division and State, Provincial, and Territorial Psychological Association (SPTA) be entitled to one seat and that additional seats would be allocated based on organizational needs. With the current apportionment system, all APA members (not just members of divisions or SPTA's) decide on how many seats to allocate for each group. In the one unit-one seat proposal, all units would get equal voice, whether the unit is made up of 10 members or 4,000 (or more, in the case of larger divisions).

Council did approve a change in the composition of APA's Board of Directors. Under the change, the board would have six member-at-large seats open to election from and by the general membership. In addition, the board would have a public member, as well as student and early career psychologist representation. Two seats would also be reserved for members of a newly created Council Leadership Team (CLT), in order to ensure a bridge between the APA board and council. The CLT will manage the work of council, determine the process for council to select topics for discussions, and provide recommendations on agenda items that council would consider. The CLT will have 12 members, all of whom would be current or past council members.

In either case, changes to the board's composition require a Bylaw change and therefore need approval by the APA membership; the Bylaw amendment ballot is expected to be sent to members next year. Ultimately, changes in council's structure will also require a Bylaw change.

Toward the end of the meeting, there was a sentiment emerging that the question of whether council's structure should follow its form. As of now, most of the discussion was on structure not form, and a number of representatives expressed frustration at not having the opportunity to focus on these underlying policy issues. However, President Nadine Kaslow (who did an admirable job getting us through this difficult process) promises to form a group from within council to tackle this problem, starting early in the fall. This seems to provide a compromise between moving ahead too quickly (in our opinion) by voting now, and not making any changes at all to a system with which many people have expressed displeasure. It would seem wise that any changes proposed by council (which will require Bylaw amendment votes) should be arrived at through a consensus-building process, and that has not happened yet.

On less controversial matters, council was in general agreement to receive reports from the IWG on making better use of technology in governance, on delineating financial oversight responsibilities within the new governance structure (council has already voted to turn this over to the board for a 3-year trial period), a plan for developing a leadership pipeline, and a plan for how professional and disciplinary issues would be marshalled through governance.

A broad change involving practice was approved by council by voting in favor of a change in the oversight functions of the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP). The committee will now be wholly a committee of the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) and will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day oversight of APAPO in advocating for the c-6 professional and marketplace interests of practitioners in legislative, legal, and regulatory arenas. CAPP will now report directly to the APAPO Board of Directors. This change will also add a voting member from the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) to CAPP, which already has a designated early career psychologist member. The Board of Professional Affairs will continue to oversee the work of the Practice Directorate, including policy formulation; the development of both professional practice and clinical practice guidelines; public education and disaster response; and advocacy for access to quality mental health services.

Another major change approved by council is a new rule that will now require all boards and committees to have at least one member who is an early career psychologist. Along related lines, we voted to approve a new policy that supports the inclusion on all governance boards and committee members who have not previously served in governance. Such members running for governance will be given the option to have the fact that they are new to governance service noted by an asterisk on the election ballot. We also adopted a resolution aimed at stemming false confessions and wrongful conviction and adopted as APA policy a resolution on gender and sexual orientation diversity in children and adolescents in schools.

Regardless of these governance changes, votes for Boards and Committees will still be held this year. We want to urge you, once again, to nominate yourself and others for these slates. Please let us know if you are interested in doing so and, if you are put on a slate, we can help you prepare your caucus support materials. The feature article in this issue of Adult Developing and Aging News on Getting Involved in Governance provides some details about how to become part of both divisional and APA structures.

As always, we appreciate your support in allowing us to represent you at these meetings. We are honored to serve you during these times of change for APA's future governance and encourage you provide your input and suggestions. This is Susan's last council meeting (after 4 terms!), and I wish to thank you for your interest and input. Pat Parmelee, who will now be serving as your representative, along with Warner, will continue to keep “aging's voice” heard in APA!