How our flock continues to fly smoothly

Being a leader of SEPCP is like being the lead in a V formation of geese where the lead position, over time, is shared

By Janet K. Swim

With many of us interested in animals, I thought comparing leadership to geese might be appreciated. Being a leader of SEPCP is like being the lead in a V formation of geese where the lead position, over time, is shared among group members. The lead goose flies for a while and is then replaced by fresher members of the flock. This means that the group shares leadership and as a result the flock can continue their journey fully supported.

I have been the lead Goose for almost a year now. I have learned much from being in this position. I have gotten to know the organization and many of the members better. Moving the flock is not always smooth but it does happen and we have strengthened our flock along the way. We updated bylaws, instituted monthly phone conference calls with the executive committee, fully incorporated representation of the student committee within the executive committee, worked on a manual of operation, added new web resources to the group, and built bridges with other organizations. It was great to have interactions with others to improve the organization, with all of us working together on our journey.

The four seasons of the year have now come full circle and Sally Augustin will be taking my position in our V. I have learned over the year that Sally is an upbeat, responsive, and thoughtful person. I look forward to seeing where she leads our flock next year. In addition to being president-elect, Sally has continued and will continue her role as editor of the newsletter. As our flock continues to fly there will be other reshuffling along the way. Two other changes in our flock will be that Harold Takooshian will be replacing Christie Manning as secretary and Thomas Doherty will be replacing Sally Augustin as president-elect.

There are flocks of geese that often fly over my neighborhood because a large pond is located nearby. The geese often are not flying in one simple story-book V shape. Rather, there are often multiple interlocking Vs, each with its own lead goose but still nested within the larger V.

As such, it seems appropriate to indicate that I am not the only goose leaving its lead position in our flock. Bijan Kimiager, our student committee chair, will be replaced by Stacia Dreyer. Plus, consistent with our new bylaws, the leaders of our committees will be rotating. Thus, Beth Karlin will be replaced by Irena Feygina as chair of the membership committee, Ann Devlin will be replaced by Terry Maple as chair of the fellows committee, and Toni Faldo will be replaced by Jennifer Veitch as chair of the awards committee. I would like to take the opportunity at this point to thank these lead geese for their efforts, particularly Ann and Toni, who have been in their lead positions for several years.

Just as lead geese do not leave their flocks, Beth, Ann, and Toni are not leaving their committees. Our chairs become past chairs of committees so their expertise can be a resource to the committees. There will be other re-orderings in the committees as the flock shifts with new leadership: Our president- elect will be appointing chair-elects and there may be new members of the committees as well with new leadership. Plus, Coral Bruni will become president-elect for the student committee.

I would like to point out some particularly supportive geese in our flock. One goose to recognize is Susan Clayton. As you know, Susan is our division representative to APA. This is a time-taking task which she has done faithfully. In addition to this, she has been one of the prime reasons we were able to get and implement the interdisciplinary grant from APA that supported our work with the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). She helped write the grant, recruit our guest speakers, select award winners, and kept us on track of planning for the integration of SEPCP with the SPSSI conference in June 2012. Susan is one of the most wellorganized and efficient people with whom I have worked.

A second goose to recognize is Thomas Doherty. Thomas took charge of our APA programing. In past years the president took on this responsibility. Although I was co-chair of the program committee, Thomas did nearly all of the work. I asked Thomas to do this so that I would be able to focus efforts on updating and coordinating other aspects of SEPCP. Thomas did a marvelous job keeping on top of the tasks needed to be done to make the APA conference successful.

A third goose to recognize is Beth Karlin. Beth took on one of the most important aspects of our organization, its membership. This is important to address because we have been an aging and shrinking organization losing members faster than we gain them. Beth and her committee went full force recruiting members this year. They updated our membership brochure and created buttons to help with recruitment efforts. They organized a networking session at the Behavior Energy and Climate Change Conference in DC. They were one of the major forces behind a Sustainability Psychology pre-conference at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference (SPSP). They helped organize and promote our support for the SPSP preconference and kept on top of follow-up activities such as posting videotapes of several of the presentations of these events on our webpage. They managed our cosponsorship of the Behavior and Energy Efficiency Retreat (BEER) at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) conference. They supported recruitment efforts at the SPSSI conference noted above, where we were able to have an environmental track included in their conference. They held small coffee hours at conferences for the following organizations: Western Psychological Association conference (WPA), Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA), American Psychological Science (APS), and the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP). They sent out multiple letters to people including those who have left the organization, inviting them back, and those who are prominent in our field but are not members.

A fourth goose to recognize is Christie Manning. Christie has been our secretary for three years. In addition to her regular responsibilities as secretary, including managing the elections, she has been working to develop our operation manual. This is important particularly as we have members moving into new roles each year. It will help provide continuity as people take on new positions and will help keep us on track for our various responsibilities. This will be a living document that is in constant revision not only as we come to realize the tasks that we do but as the tasks adjust over the years.

There are others to thank as well during this transition. I would like to thank the members of the committees who have supported the chairs which included the already-mentioned chair-elects. There are also those who served SEPCP last year and are staying in their elected positions: Mary Gregerson as treasurer and Joseph Juhasz, Britain Scott, and Ethel Tobach as members-at-large. We have several people in appointed positions that I would also like to thank for their continued work over the year: Stephanie Paidasdukarm, who served as our APA community site coordinator; Pat Winter, who served as our web manager; and Robert Gifford, who has served as our listserv manager. Finally, I would like to thank all of you who have represented us either directly as a member of SEPCP or indirectly through your work.

Thank you all for a great year. May our flock continue to fly smoothly on our yearly journey.