Serving as president of APA would be a continuation of my life’s work, which has been promoting psychology and breaking down silos. While in continuous practice as a clinical psychologist, I have held leadership and advocacy roles in science, practice, education, public policy, and communications. Throughout my career, I have been recognized for skills to work at a systemic level while building strong relationships with individuals, and I believe that I am the only candidate who has led collaborations across psychology subfields, other disciplines and professions, organizations, and countries. This has included work with Congress, federal and state policymakers, federal funders and private foundations, insurers, business, and advocacy groups. I am poised to promote both APA and the field of psychology effectively, and to continue and expand both national and international collaborations as APA president.
It is fair to say that the culture of public service is an embedded part of my personal and professional development. As a first-generation student from a working-class family, I learned very young that a community becomes stronger when people come together. Public service was viewed with reverence in my neighborhood, and we were proud of my father and other relatives who worked for the city of Boston. I have family, friends, and neighbors (and, as a certified Tricare provider, patients in my clinical practice) who are retired and/or disabled military, receiving services through the Department of Veterans Affairs. During my work both within and outside APA, I have had the opportunity to become familiar with several of the systems in which public service psychologists work and to collaborate on issues of shared concern with them.
I have learned that in every crisis there really is opportunity, and we have several before us. The pandemic year has focused our attention on many urgent problems that are not new, yet are impelling action: rising rates of mental health conditions, substance use disorders, suicide, and domestic violence, with inadequate and inequitable access to care; health, mental health, and educational inequalities; systemic and structural oppression and intergenerational trauma; discrimination against BIPOC, AAPI, LGBTQ+, disabled, and older people; a crisis for public trust in police; unequal economic fallout and access to career advancement, with women and minoritized people especially impacted; universities and research threatened, alongside a student debt crisis; employers and employees trying to adapt to new ways of working; climate change and extreme weather events that displace communities; mistrust of science and political divides; and immigration chaos and global refugee crises. Never in our lifetimes has psychology been poised to make such significant contributions to public wellbeing. I am both hopeful and certain that we are primed to make lasting progress to address these challenges.
Psychology and mental health need to be part of the public health safety net. Across my priority areas, my emphasis is to start early and set long-term goals for sustainable change. If I am elected, my leading initiative will be to advance evidence-based and culturally responsive prevention across the lifespan. This will be directly relevant to the work of many public service psychologists. Based on our science, we know that what happens earlier in life – both positive and negative - affects lifetime health, families, communities, and equity. If, together, we leverage psychological science, we will enable a new generation where racism and bias are mitigated in early childhood, and early education disrupts inequalities. Mental health, relational health, and health behaviors will be laid down early, and individual resilience will be built while systemic barriers are addressed. Climate change will be slowed by behavior changes, and psychology will be recognized as essential for the wellbeing of all people, organizations, and communities. It is within our reach to enable a new generation to live healthier lives in a safer world.
We must address several things at the same time. The crises facing society right now provide both public appetite and demand for science and practice in all the subfields of psychology. We need to showcase psychological science and practice that contributes to public wellbeing. APA has begun the hard work of dismantling racism within the association, the discipline, and the profession. I pledge to continue to lead this work; it will be a marathon. I commit to leading psychology, and bringing psychology to bear, in combatting all forms of discrimination based on race, country of origin, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, ability status, religion, and age. We need to integrate mental health in police and criminal justice reforms, and frame public safety as part of public health. In 2020 APA established a Presidential Task Force on Police Use of Force Against African Americans; I expect that enacting its recommendations will draw heavily upon the expertise of leaders in public service psychology.
We will also need continued advocacy regarding clinical practice, such as enforcement of parity, continued reimbursement for telehealth, interjurisdictional practice, and equitable access to mental health care. We need to reinforce collaboration with SPTAs and continue to grow the network of advocacy needed for psychologists across our states and territories. We need to set the standard for training that centers cultural humility and trauma-informed practice. Likewise, we will need continued advocacy regarding science, including elevation of psychological science as a hub discipline and collaboration across disciplines to promote science literacy. We need to continue advocacy for funding basic and applied psychological science and innovation. As we move increasingly to emerging technologies and artificial intelligence, psychological science and practice need to be at the forefront.
I have several priorities for education and training that emphasize starting early for sustainable change. I am committed to cultivating a more diverse psychology workforce and leadership pipeline and measuring our progress. I am steadfast in promoting the representation of early career psychologists in governance. And I believe we should promote psychology as a STEM field in PreK–12 education and expose students early to the full range of subfields and careers in psychology.
The role of the president of APA is to be of service to the members and the organization. I will support APA in continuing to become nimbler and inclusive, engaging members to meet the current sense of urgency and applicability of our work, sustaining our recent progress and taking a longer view. All the subfields of psychology will be addressing the issues facing us, and I firmly believe we will be “Better Together.” My uniquely broad leadership experience fits this moment for APA, and my passion for equity and health promotion fits this moment in history. I have earned a reputation as someone who is collaborative, hard-working, strategic, and who demonstrates integrity and respect for others. If I am elected, I am prepared to lead, eager to listen, and ready to work on behalf of all of psychology. To learn more about my work, vision, and endorsements, please visit this website