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Board Minutes

Executive committee minutes from August 6, 2009 meeting

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes
Society for Humanistic Psychology (APA Division 32)
Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, Toronto
August 6, 2009

Present:  Maureen O’Hara, Sara Bridges, Louise Sundararajan, Thérèse Laferrière, Kathleen Wall, Susan Gordon, Shawn Rubin, Louis Hoffman, Erik Craig, Art Lyons, Krishna Kumar, Brent Robbins, Miraj Desai, Scott Churchill, Richard Bargdill, Judy Kuriansky, Ilene Serlin (9:00), David Rennie, Fred Wertz (Minutes).

President’s Welcome (Maureen O’Hara).  Maureen welcomed the board members to the meeting and thanked Scott Churchill for the focus on social activism and research methodology in the successful convention program.  The student presentations have been outstanding, and the Hospitality suite has been wonderful and very smooth.  The Society has had a good year and is proceeding well.  The Newsletter, Website, and division overall are in good shape.  The executive board has been full of energy, introducing new initiatives and building on recent work and on long-standing traditions.  The current process for selecting award winners is more systematic than it has been in the past.  The division lost members this year, and we will discuss that when we get to membership.  Maureen welcomed the gift of Louise Sundararajan as the Society’s President-Elect—it’s her time, and Shawn Rubin and Krishna Kumar are also bringing their talent onto the executive board. 

Continuing need to upgrading of communication services. Maureen reported that the listserv has been the only problem for the Society over the last year.  During the mid-winter meeting, the executive board had decided as a group to change division’s listserv to an “announce only” forum and to move the Society’s conversational forum to another medium that would offer interested members in more selective access to the communications.  Since that time, Sheena Demery has asked to be relieved of her responsibility as listserv coordinator and Steve Hendlin volunteered to take over if necessary. 

Board members recounted the unanimous resolution of the board this past January to restructure communications and to set up a discussion board with flexible email capability.  The progress made after the meeting was recounted, including work on the architecture of new technologies and the preparation of a letter to the division membership explaining the changes and new services that would be made available. The events that impeded implementation of this decision were reviewed, and board members expressed their regret and apologies about the delay in implementation.  Knowledgeable board members stressed that a discussion board is a good technology capable of allowing selective, voluntarily entry and postings that would not have to automatically go out to all members, as current listserv does.  Most importantly, the board agreed that the goals of the message board as a scholarly and professional communication medium need to be defined and upheld.   All communication must be moderated and toxic messages cannot be posted.  As decided in January, the Society needs an announcements-only listserv for the purpose of disseminating relevant information to all members and a moderated discussion board on which an acceptable standard of professional decorum is maintained.  The current listserv experience has shown that the division cannot allow unmonitored communication. 

The board discussed an efficient timeline for the implementation of January’s resolutions.  The needs of the members of the current listserv were discussed and technologies that would fulfill the communication needs of division members were examined at length and in detail.  APA’s Division Services office would have to be contacted in order to work out the details of the new communications technologies, which should be made available as soon as possible.  When the new technologies go live, the communication that had been prepared should be distributed to the full membership though the new announcement-only listserv, at which time the former listserv would be replaced by the new discussion board.  It was hoped that this could be done as soon as the Monday after the APA convention.  Fred Wertz was charged with bringing up to date the letter that had been prepared for distribution and with distributing it to the division president, president-elect, past-president, and Brent Robbins for their feedback and approval.   Keith Cooke of APA Division Services would then be enlisted in order to work on the implementation of the changes.  Although the board voted unanimously to implement the new communication systems on August 10, another vote was taken reaffirming the resolution to undertake this course of action as quickly as possible. 

Vote:  9 yes, 0 no, 0 abstention.

Treasurer Report (Thérèse Laferrière)
Thérèse handed out the Treasurer’s Report and called to the board’s attention on page 2, under Membership, where the recent decrease in the number of division members is reported.  She also pointed out that although revenues are expected to be generated through workshops and conferences over the next year, their ability to offset the decline in income due to membership loss is unknown, and therefore, fiscal prudence is warranted.  Consequently, Thérèse prepared a conservative budget.   Sara Bridges reiterated that conference income cannot be counted on due to its past inconsistency and short track record.  In addition, another major question concerns the expenses of the division’s journal.  Sara spoke to representatives of the publisher, Taylor and Francis, which is distributing a brochure to market the journal, and this initiative may help the publication’s finances.  Thérèse noted that the division’s restricted funds (on the last page of report) have been hurt and in particular have undergone a 20% decrease due to the past year’s financial market crisis.  It was proposed that $1000 be taken from the restricted funds in order to cover the costs of the hospitality suite.  Financial limitations may require that  the hospitality suite is reduced to 2 rather than 3 days at next year’s convention in San Diego, but that decision will be discussed and finalized at midwinter meeting when the income from the conference is known.  After discussion, the board agreed that the funding for the midwinter meeting would have to await certainty regarding income generated by the October conference, on which the reimbursements would depend. If the conference does not make generate enough income to comfortably support a mid-winter meeting held in person, then a virtual midwinter meeting will be conducted by the board.  Finally, it was noted that considering the widespread effects of the recent financial crisis, the board’s conservative investments of the Society’s funds have actually been very effective. 

Membership. (Richard Bargdill)
Richard reported that the recent focus in the area of division membership has been on student recruitment.  He cited the evidence of strong membership in the recent acquisition of our second Council Representative.  Richard announced his new initiative of a Facebook page for the Society.  In addition, he plans to post great books in humanistic psychology.  A depressed economy is currently hitting all non-profit organizations and the Society is no exception, as is evident in the recently declining membership.  We must recognize we are in dire financial times, so we may have to tighten our belts.  One workable goal would be to retain 20% of our student membership on an annual basis, thereby building a strong base of younger members whose continuity will safeguard division membership numbers long into the future.  Finally, Richard stressed the importance of making membership materials available in the Hospitality Suite and in all division’s sponsored meetings at the Convention. 

Awards (Susan Gordon)
Two new members have joined the Awards Committee: David Lukoff and Mark Stern.  Susan constructed a guide to evaluating nominees for the various awards.  The guide will serve as a scoring method, to be combined with more open ended questions about nominees.  Candidates scoring 80% or higher will be automatically held over for reconsideration for two years.  These procedures are in place for the coming year.  She suggested that it might be helpful to have a volunteer to serve as a 3rd rater which would allow Susan herself to oversee committee rather than participate in rating herself.  Those who will be receiving awards and delivering lectures in San Diego in August, 2010,  include Leslie S. Greenberg (Carl Rogers Award); the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, and Dave Mearns (Charlotte and Karl Bühler Award); and Jeffrey H.D. Cornelius-White (Carmi Harari Early Career Award).  Clark Edward Moustakas is receiving the Award for Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Humanistic Psychology, and his daughter Kerry will accept on his behalf and read a short acceptance speech from Clark in the Hospitality Suite.  The committee was $200 under budget, having saved money on plaques.  An announcement for divisional awards will be placed in Monitor in October.  Susan reviewed the schedule for nominations, evaluations, and decisions for the upcoming year.  The final decision on awards is made at the midwinter meeting. 

The board thanked Susan for her excellent work on the more structured and fair set of procedures for evaluating nominees. 

International Psychology Representative to APA (Judith Kuriansky).  Judy Kuriansky will be chairing a Committee on International Relations (CIR).  She suggested that we could invite the most relevant APA staff person to meet with our board in order to discuss common interests and to link the Society’s committee with APA’s initiatives and activities.  The board suggested that this could be done in Washington DC at midwinter meeting, which will take place in APA headquarters.  Judy has prepared a 45 minute DVD lesson on international psychology for students, and she handed out a 6-minute trailer that can be seen.  Sara suggested that we post a write up about this on our website.

October Conference (Brent Robbins and Louis Hoffman)
The Society’s conference is set up to be held at the University of the Rockies, with 3 great keynote speakers, 4 workshops from leading experts, and other invited speakers.  The agenda is an attractive one that promises bring in a lot of attendees.  The conference fee will be $100 per attendee.   If the presenters themselves register, the Division will make $15,000.  This good revenue is due to the benefit of holding the conference in a university and utilizing its free resources as well as that of utilizing local connections with hotels.  This conference contrasts with the previous one in Boston, where we had no local resources.   The hotel for the upcoming conference is very interested in maintaining good relations with the university and has therefore offered special rates.  This year, more than half the presenters are females and there will also be more people of color than ever, enabling the fulfillment of the Society’s long held values.  The board discussed offering discount membership in the Society to attendees and the importance of attracting students to the division’s activities.  This conference is designed to be very student friendly, with many poster sessions.  Bob McInerney is active in building student organizations and interests.  Louis emphasized that the Society’s leaders should attend poster sessions and discuss students’ work with them in order to support their work and help them network.  Maureen emphasized the need to offer valuable experiences for non-research students--ones interested in humanistic practice.  Brent said we need to revisit the nature of the conference and to reconsider its past focus on therapy and on CE credits.  A broader focus may be in order.  Maureen responded that the Society needs to have a broad vision of the future, and psychotherapy may not be main direction.  For instance, there may be greater focus on community mental health, and we need to help students see and prepare for broad career pathways.  Fittingly along these lines, at the end of the conference there will be a symposium on the “The Futuring of Humanistic Psychology.” 

Student Representative (Miraj Desai)
Miraj is still engaged in an initiative to network with other student representatives.  He has been in contact with the Division 24 representative and has communicated about humanistic graduate programs and internship opportunities.  An expanded network including student representatives of other divisions in which the Society has a strong presence may be valuable in future.  Miraj added that he is also currently working on the development of ideas for the Society’s website  that will make it more student-friendly and useful for students.   Brent mentioned that he needs student help to respond to queries on website.

Fellows Report (David Rennie)
David reported that the past year has been a thin one for fellows.  There were no applications for new fellows.  One potential candidate was encouraged to apply but did not follow through with an application.  There has been a dearth of nominations for fellow.  David encouraged board members to nominate fellows and familiarized the board with the annual cycle.  The Fall newsletter is scheduled for dissemination in September, when an announcement calling for fellow nominations and applications is made.  Applications are due by the end of the year.  The APA Fellows Committee reviews the applications in Winter and the Council Representatives ratifies their recommendations at the convention.

Gratitude for Maureen’s Leadership
Maureen was thanked profusely for her outstanding leadership of the Society over the last year, and she was given a hearty round of applause.

President Elect (Sara Bridges)
Sara indicated that Frank and Krishna have agreed to be the co-chairs for next year’s APA Convention program.  Because Louise was the sole nominee for president-elect, the Society has an open position for Presidential Runner Up on the executive board.  Sara suggested Frank Farley to serve in this role, and the board unanimously agreed.  Sara shared an idea for her presidential year concerning “The Untold Heroes of Humanity” project.  This project and the related convention program theme, aims to recognize and celebrate the acts of humanity on the part of ordinary people that all too often goes unacknowledged-- the humanity in the unheroic.  One aim of this project is to develop a story and picture book celebrating people’s engagement in humanitarian acts.  This book will be a coffee table volume.  This idea is a further development of the Society’s themes of the past two years that move humanistic psychology out of the ivory tower, and hopefully the fruits of this year’s focus, including the book volume, will bring humanistic psychology into the people’s homes.  The proceeds from the book could go to help fund students attendance at the APA convention.   The volume will show the world how a heartfelt commitment to humanity is lived on a daily basis.  The aim and time-frame of this project is to assemble the material by the APA Convention in 2010.  Judy Kuriansky mentioned that she is the series editor for Praeger, and although they don’t do coffee table books, they may be interested in a volume of this sort. Sara reported that she will also meet with Taylor and Francis during the time scheduled for the incoming board meeting, and other board members who are interested in attending are welcome to join the meeting, which will take place in the Society’s Hospitality Suite. 

The meeting was adjourned.