Substantive change is in the air

APAPO State Leadership Conference signifies “changing of the guard.”

By Patrick H. DeLeon, PhD

If one needed an incentive to become involved in one’s state psychological association, the opportunity to attend the annual American Psychological Association Practice Organization State Leadership Conference (SLC) would be paramount. The SLC consistently has been the highlight of the APA year, and this spring, 400-500 dedicated colleagues heard inspirational messages from Executive Director Katherine Nordal and psychologists Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. Strickland was the first psychologist elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently running for the U.S. Senate. Early career psychologists (ECPs), first-time attendees and graduate students were visibly evident. The “changing of the guard” is upon us. A former chair of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students announced his candidacy for the APA presidency, and the Div. 31’s Le Ondra Clark Harvey, PhD, received an APA presidential citation from Susan McDaniel, PhD, highlighting her passionate commitment to mentoring ECPs engaging in important social justice agendas. David Ballard hosted the 11th Annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards ceremony. Special congratulations to our Ohio colleagues for their numerous accomplishments.

It was particularly moving to see Interim APA CEO Cynthia Belar, PhD. Belar is one of the profession’s gifted visionaries who has long fostered the interaction of science and practice for the public interest, which is critical for psychology’s future. This year the Interprofessional Education Collaborative accepted nine new members, thereby expanding its representation of associations of schools of the health professions to 15 professions. Established in 2009 by six organizations, the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) is committed to advancing interprofessional learning experiences and promoting team-based care (a fundamental element of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). The founding members include the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Dental Education Association, Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. The newest members are the APA and the training leadership of podiatric medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, veterinary medicine, optometry, allied health, social work and physician assistants. IPEC’s mission is to ensure that our nation’s health care professionals become proficient in the competencies essential for patient-centered, community and population-oriented, interprofessional collaborative practice. For psychology, this represents “integrated care.”

The SLC training sessions for the subsequent visits to Capitol Hill stressed the critical nature of constituent presence. Currently, 54 senators and 36 percent of the House of Representatives have law degrees, with business backgrounds being popular in the House. We would suggest that each state association seriously explore developing collaborative activities with their local bar associations, perhaps with their family law sections. Nordal stated the following: 

This year 30 percent of SLC attendees are Early Career Psychologists. SLC is a major training ground for leadership and advocacy for students, ECP and our diversity delegates. You are our future leaders and we trust that you will lend a hand to those coming behind you to help groom another cohort of psychology’s leaders. We have brilliant psychologists doing brilliant things, thinking outside of the box, and trying new and innovative ways to practice. We are building a positive future for professional psychology.

In keeping with this exciting evolution, Neal Morris, president of Div. 55, noted that his convention program co-chairs, Joanna Sells and Omni Cassidy, are graduate students at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Mahalo to Dan Abrahamson, PhD, and Susan Lazaroff, JD, for their truly inspiring SLC. Aloha.