In this issue

President's message

The Div. 20 president provides an update on recent division activities.

By Sara Czaja

This year has been an exciting time for Div. 20, and we have made some great strides with some new initiatives. As is our tradition, we held an executive committee meeting at the Gerontological Society of America. For many of us, this was our first meeting as division officer holders. The meeting was quite lively and generally positive with respect to the “state of the union” of our division. Our division leaders have been exerting great efforts to keep the division prospering.

On the budget side, because of initiatives instituted in the past year such as moving to an electronic newsletter, the division's financial status has improved. We have also had a slight increase in paying memberships. This is especially positive, as memberships in most divisions have been declining. We have instituted some other strategies to help defray our costs such as minimizing hotel's costly food services at our meetings and rethinking forums for our social activities.

One of our major activities has been developing initiatives to increase student involvement in the division. Our overall approach is to highlight Div. 20 as the home for gerontology that provides a wonderful opportunity to meet others in the field and foster future collaborations.

We have instituted a student mentoring program and have commitments from some of our members to serve as mentors. I would strongly encourage others to do this. Fostering future careers in gerontology is one of the most important contributions we can make to the field. We also decided to highlight students in our newsletter as a way to recognize student accomplishments. In addition, we will sponsor a Student Poster Award at this year's annual meeting. Of course, there will also be a student social hour to provide our students with an opportunity to mingle and find out about the activities of others. Our hope is that these initiatives will increase student membership and involvement; our students represent the future of our division and the field.

Another of our major initiatives has been focused on increasing our interdivisional collaborations. We are making great strides in this area. The division was awarded Committee on Division/APA Relations funding. The funding is related to developing a resource guide for LGBTI seniors. The guide is to help LGBTI seniors connect with resources, information and support services related to social, health and legal issues. Div. 20 (with tremendous effort on the part of Wally Boot) led this effort and Div. 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues) and Div. 21 (Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology) are collaborative partners. We also have also had several interdivisional collaborative symposiums accepted for the upcoming annual meeting. This is a great benefit to Div. 20 as it broadens our exposure and representation at the meeting at no cost to our programming hours.

We have also been actively involved with Deborah DiGilio in planning for the upcoming White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA). This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our division and the importance of psychology to issues confronting current and future populations of older adults. In this regard, we have submitted white papers describing what psychology has to offer and recommendations for action related to each of the four WHCoA focus areas: retirement and security; healthy aging; long-term care services and supports; and financial exploitation, abuse and neglect. We will be presenting a summary of these white papers in a symposium at our upcoming annual meeting. The WHCoA Executive Committee is also considering APA's request to have a listening session/webinar related to these four focus areas in late March.

In keeping with developments in technology, under the leadership of Sue Whitbourne, we now have an active presence on Facebook, and we have more than 100 members. Anthony Sterns has been successful in transitioning the management of our website to APA. We determined that this transition is more efficient for the division. Becky Allen has been successful in establishing geropsychology as a specialty area of the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Thanks to the efforts of Wally Boot and Chris Rosnick, we have an exciting program scheduled for our upcoming annual meeting. This year we are changing the format a bit in our efforts to increase the involvement of our members in division activities. We will be holding the business meeting late afternoon on Friday as opposed to early Saturday morning. The presidential address and the social hour will follow the business meeting. We thought this might increase attendance at the business meeting. As noted, we have several symposia accepted for the meeting, which are addressing a number of cross cutting issues. We also have two invited presidential addresses. One is by Dan Morrow (University of Illinois at Champagne Urbana): “ Technology as a Bridge Between Primary Health Care Systems and Older Adults With Diverse Cognitive/Literacy Abilities.” The other is by L ynn McDonald, PhD (Institute for the Life Course and Aging, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada): “ Research From the Institute for the Life Course and Aging to Address the Needs of an Aging Population.”

We are, of course, continuing to face some challenges. One is our slate of nominees for the Div. 20 elections. We still have difficulty in identifying individuals who are willing to run for the office of Div. 20 president. Once again, we have adopted a pragmatic approach and asked Manfred Diehl to run unopposed for office. Manfred has accepted, and we are excited that he has agreed to serve in this position. He will do an outstanding job. We hope that in upcoming years more people will be willing to take on this leadership role. It is a wonderful opportunity and service to the field. We also need to continue to bolster our membership and keep our division active and viable.

Finally, the deadline for nominating colleagues for divisional awards is fast approaching. I encourage you to acknowledge the contributions of your colleagues by nominating them for these awards. I also hope that you will make plans to attend the annual meeting in Toronto. We have an exciting program planned, and I look forward to seeing you there.