Candidate Statements

Candidates for president

Read statements from Elissa Jelalian, PhD, and Sean Phipps, PhD.

Elissa Jelalian, PhD

Jennifer Verrill Schurman, PhDElissa Jelalian is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior and pediatrics at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Her NIH-funded research focuses on innovative weight control interventions for youth, dissemination of evidence-based treatments, and evaluation of policy initiatives to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity.

Jelalian has served as a clinical and research mentor for pre-doctoral and postdoctoral trainees in pediatric psychology at Brown for nearly 20 years. She is strongly committed to training and was the recipient of a departmental award for outstanding mentor in 2004 and the Martin P. Levin Mentorship Award in 2010.

Jelalian is a Fellow in both Division 54 and the Obesity Society, and has served on more than 20 ad hoc and special emphasis review panels for the National Institutes of Health. She is also on the editorial boards of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and the Journal of Family Psychology and was recently appointed an associate editor of Health Psychology.

Jelalian received her PhD in clinical psychology from Miami University. She completed her internship at the University of Rochester and a postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric psychology at Brown.

Candidate statement

I am truly honored to be nominated again for the position of Division 54 president. In reflecting on this nomination, I was struck by the extent to which the landscape of health care and pediatric psychology has evolved during the last five years.

Pediatric psychologists are uniquely positioned to respond to the significant changes in health care and policy impacting the wellbeing of children. Whether it is informing the discussion on the impact of trauma on children’s psychological and physical health, advocating for health insurance reimbursements, or debating the benefits of policies to improve the health of children, we serve as an informed and compassionate voice.

A powerful tool in these discussions is our ability to develop, implement, and interpret relevant research. Researchers, clinicians, and educators all play a critical role in this process. Consistent with our rich tradition, it is incumbent on the leadership of Division 54 to remain at the forefront of informing policy and providing state of the art treatment to provide the best care for children. If given the opportunity, I would work closely with our colleagues in other divisions to put forth our agenda. It would be a privilege to serve as Division 54 president.

Sean Phipps, PhD

Sean Phipps, PhDSean Phipps is chair of the Department of Psychology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, and holds secondary appointments in the Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, and the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis. He obtained his PhD in psychology from Case Western Reserve University followed by postdoctoral training in pediatric psychology at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

Phipps has maintained an active research program, with over 18 years of consecutive NIH funding for his work. His interest is in the area of children’s coping and adaptation to stress, particularly that associated with life-threatening illness. His current focus on psychological resilience applies positive psychology models to identify pathways and mechanisms for healthy outcomes in seriously ill children.

In 2011, Phipps received the Logan Wright Distinguished Research Career Award from Division 54. He serves on the editorial board of several journals, including the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Candidate statement

It is an honor to be nominated as president of SPP, which has been my professional home throughout my career. Our organization has flourished, thanks to the enthusiasm of its members and the guidance of past and current leaders. My goal would be to maintain and build on this strength moving forward.

According to colleagues, my statement the last time I ran for president ensured that I would not be elected. Regardless, I feel it necessary to raise the same issue: I believe a significant problem for our group is the paucity of young men that have been entering our specialty. In recent years, female applicants for our pediatric internships and postdocs have outnumbered males by 20 to 1 or more. As a clinic director, I have experienced the pragmatic challenges that ensue from a shortage of male clinicians (because we all recognize clinical circumstances where gender does matter). The contributions of women to our field have been enormous, and we will undoubtedly remain a specialty where women are the majority, but I believe we must find ways to encourage more young men to view pediatrics as a viable career option early in their psychology training. Ensuring that a critical mass of talented male clinicians and researchers continue to enter our field will help to maintain the vitality of our specialty. I hope that none of my female colleagues are offended by this spin on “diversity.” I welcome the support of all members, regardless of gender.