In this issue

Council of Representatives meeting

Report from the February 2016 meeting.

By Patricia A. Parmelee, PhD

The APA Council of Representatives (COR) held its regular meeting Feb. 19-21, 2016. Div. 20’s senior council representative, K. Warner Schaie, was unable to attend the meeting; Patricia Parmelee was present.

Council business continued to focus heavily on the independent review (IR or “Hoffman Report”) on the involvement of APA and individual psychologists in national security interrogations and its sequelae (see August 2015 report). Briefly, the IR was commissioned to investigate allegations that APA colluded with the Bush administration to support torture during the war on terror. The review, led by Sidley Austin principal David Hoffman, concluded that key APA officials had colluded with Department of Defense (DOD) officials to ensure that APA’s ethical guidelines conform to DOD practices at that time. It also identified problems within APA regarding composition, process and adoption of the resolutions of the Presidential Task Force on Ethics National Security. Sequelae of the report include termination, retirement or resignation of several key APA leadership personnel.

Council approved motions to establish work groups addressing:

  • Organizational best practices relevant to governance (e.g., checks and balances, fiduciary duties, oversight of governance members, transparency, power differentials, governance-staff relationships).
  • Reducing bias and increasing diversity in selection of members for APA task forces.
  • Aspirational principles and procedures for civil communication among persons representing APA, in response to the tone of communications among Council representatives both online and in face-to-face meetings. 
A fourth motion amended Guidelines for Council Resolutions to include consideration of relevance to the field and to society as a whole, basis in empirical findings, consistency with APA’s core values regarding human rights and ethics, and potential impact on public opinion or policy. Another approved COR’s prioritizing ethics, human rights and social justice in the next strategic plan.

Council also met twice in executive session to discuss new developments, consequent to the IR, that will require ongoing attention of both the Board of Directors (BOD) and COR. Because this was a closed session, details cannot be reported at this time, but will be related to Div. 20 membership as soon as they are made public.

Among other items approved during the regular meeting were timing of sharing of agenda items between COR and the BOD; establishment of the journal, Evidence-Based Practice of Child and Adolescent Mental Health; adoption of a policy opposing HIV criminalization; adoption of a resolution regarding collecting research data on sexual orientation and minor changes to bylaws approved in previous sessions.

Council received an address from the new interim CEO Cynthia D. Belar, PhD, and a detailed financial report from CFO Archie Turner, documenting an anticipated small budget deficit for the current fiscal year. APA President Susan McDaniel awarded presidential citations to Anne E. Kazak and Ronald H. Rozensky.

The Sunday session was originally slated for review of a report on Council organization and process by Malachi O’Connor, PhD, representing the organizational consulting firm CFAR. O’Connor, an anthropologist, had been invited to observe and prepare an ethnographic analysis of August 2015, COR meetings and related sessions. His written report portrayed an interdependence of trust, transparency and accountability that had been damaged by the events surrounding the IR. However, before O’Connor could begin his oral presentation, delegates from the National Ethnic Minority Psychological Associations (NEMPA) pointed out an erroneous reference in the document to the American Indian “Western Apache tribe.” An apology was demanded and received, but a number of NEMPA delegates and female COR members joined to express concerns regarding general disrespect of minority and women’s voices on Council. A number of impassioned speeches were made, and the remainder of the Sunday session was spent in small group discussions of how the incident had affected members and how minority and women psychologists can be given fairer voice within the organization.