I am honored to be endorsed as No. 1 by Div. 31 for APA President. Div. 31 represents a group of psychologists who are working hard to support and promote psychologists and psychology in their respective states, provinces and territories. I want to help further these efforts.
A good friend of mine (and a psychologist) asked me why I was running for APA president, knowing that this role was never on my bucket list. As I see it, APA is at an inflection point—a critical moment of transformation where we can make positive, effective decisions for and about the future. Or we can make choices not to transform ourselves and face a certain, dwindling future.So, I see many of the challenges and opportunities facing APA as organizational, cultural and process issues, where we must come together and chart a consistent and collective way forward, learning tough lessons from our recent past, leading to mobilize in the present, and committing ourselves to changing and creating a thriving future for psychology. I have decided that, because so many of these critical issues are organizational, cultural and process focused, I have something I could contribute as APA president at this particular time, given my career experience in international organizational and leadership development and consultation (and behavioral healthcare). I have realized that I would most regret not trying, rather than whether I would win or lose, because I see the potential for psychology to contribute positively to science, practice and to the human condition, and I don't ever want to look back and regret not making the effort.
But the APA presidency is not a solo act or a job for one person. It is about mobilizing the talent in psychology to address the behavioral challenges of our time and to help psychologists thrive in the 21st Century. Div. 31 members are vital to the future success of psychological science, practice and healthcare.So, I am grateful for your help. Please see some of the information I have provided to get a better idea who I am, what I have accomplished and what I hope to do as APA president.
I have spent most of my career actively engaged with SPTAs, including my home state's Ohio Psychological Association (OPA), where I have served in many leadership roles, including president; finance officer; council representative; federal advocacy coordinator: public interest chair; strategic planning chair and faculty for the OPA Leadership Development Academy. At the national level, I have worked as a practice advocate on the APA Board of Directors and have worked with the State Leadership Conference/Practice Leadership Conference (SLC/PLC) and the Practice Directorate as a speaker, consultant, facilitator, panelist and frequent advocate for psychology on Capital Hill. Over many years, I am proud to have been recognized with the Outstanding State Leader Award, The Heiser Advocacy Award and the SLC Diversity Recognition Award (for my work on faculty and curriculum development for the Div. 31 Diversity Leadership Development Program and other work on facilitating difficult conversations). In 2012, I was honored with the APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Independent Practice.
What do I perceive as the issues of greatest concern to SPTAs as organizations?
Most legislation affecting psychologists and psychology either happens at the state level or is best advocated for within the home states of Congressional members. Our SPTAs are the bedrock of advocacy efforts for much of psychology, particularly for practitioners. In recent years, a number of SPTAs have struggled to maintain membership and related operational resources. Based on this perspective, I view the biggest issues of concern to SPTAs as organizations as follows:
- Keeping the doors of every SPTA open.I have been a longstanding supporter of programs such as the Small State Grants historically. We need to help SPTAs maintain or enhance their membership and other resources, so they can retain a significant presence in their respective states, provinces or territories.
- Clarify and strengthen the relationship between APA and the SPTAs. The relationship of SPTAs and APA is not based on a chapter model. Further, the APA Practice Directorate has been the singular point of connection for SPTAs to APA for many years. As a result, there is a longstanding inconsistency or disconnect in the relationship and perceived relevance of APA to the SPTAs for many members. While some SPTAs focus almost exclusively on psychological practice and practitioners, some SPTAs focus more broadly across psychology. SPTAs are not just practitioner organizations, yet they provide much support to the practitioner community. SPTAs are not generally well connected to other areas of APA even though there may be ongoing needs related to other areas.
- There is some concern among SPTAs about the significance of the change from the SLC to the PLC conference. Many SPTAs do not see themselves as solely practitioner organizations and see the shift as possibly diminishing the perceived importance of SPTAs at APA. This can be perceived as a lack of deep understanding of what SPTAs do (or could do) as psych organizations. There is also a concern that the PLC might not exist in the future as most other leadership conferences have been discontinued.
- Many SPTAs, like APA, have had difficulty attracting and/or retaining ethnic minority psychologists and ECPs. There must be a priority put on encouraging, supporting and engaging ECPs and diverse psychologists from many demographic backgrounds and identities to join and be actively and meaningfully involved with both SPTAs and APA. The less relevant we appear to both the public and potential members, the less relevant we will be.
- The membership of most SPTAs is quite disconnected from both APA and other SPTAs, so that the organizational experience is siloed. This can result In SPTA members feeling that APA may not be a viable or important option for their professional development, especially when SPTAs themselves may offer local, more affordable and accessible continuing education for psychologists who might otherwise attend the APA Convention. Many SPTAs also have had difficulty recruiting and retaining academic and science-focused members and leaders, despite the significant presence of major academic institutions and psychology programs in their membership areas.
Although concern exists for some SPTA members about the implications of the APA (C)(3)/(C)(6) integrated advocacy strategy and the continuation of leadership training via the PLC, I believe this is our best option to leverage advocacy and to continue to strongly support SPTAs at all levels.
If elected, what would I do to address these SPTA issues?
- Increase the frequency of two-way interaction with SPTAs and Div. 31. It is not just about the president or APA imparting information to Div. 31 and SPTAs; it is also about the president and APA continuing to learn what is going on in psychology around the U.S. and identifying/prioritizing key needs.
- Ensuring PLC continues to adapt to current and changing needs, with additional emphasis on diversity. Given the significance of SPTAs in advocacy for both the public and psychologists, PLC represents a significant opportunity to solidify and strategically focus the efforts of SPTA and APA leadership to advocate for both the public and for psychology and psychologists
- Create a workgroup to develop a line of communications from APA as a whole, meaning all directorates, with the division and its member SPTAs. Div. 31 could play a critical role in the new integrated (C)(3)/(C)(6) integrated advocacy process.
- Develop and maintain a coordinated data base of SPTA legislative initiatives and legislative challenges on an ongoing basis to make it easier to coordinate and support integrated advocacy efforts. The (C)(3)/(C)(6) integration needs to build a strong data base foundation to make it work effectively.
- Establish and grow a coordinated data base and data access to support Div. 31 and SPTAs. Create a virtual data base and platform for regular information and data mining both between APA and SPTAs and amongst SPTAs with each other. A commonly established platform could be helpful to struggling SPTA organizations who have difficulty maintaining strong administrative infrastructures and help more robust associations accelerate their impact.
- Work with Div. 31 to clarify and enhance the relationship of APA to both 31 and the member SPTAs. Without using a chapter model, we can still build a tighter collaborative model for collective benefit to psychology and psychologists.
- The most significant and comprehensive initiative would be for APA to broaden and redefine its relationship with SPTAs so that SPTAs could broaden their membership and focus to appeal to all their resident psychologists, while retaining longstanding ties with the Practice Directorate.
Thank you again for Div. 31's No. 1 endorsement. Please give me your No. 1 vote. I look forward to working with you in the future to promote the growth and effectiveness of psychology.
Sandra L. Shullman, PhD
Sandy Shullman For APA President 2020