President's column: Recap of a busy year
By Michael L Hendricks, PhD, ABPP
As we approach the upcoming APA Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., I want to share at least some of the significant events that occurred over the past year within Div. 44 and within APA that had an impact on Div. 44. While some of these were not anticipated, others were. All of them prompted those of us on the governing body of the division to reflect and make some decisions that ultimately moved us forward.
Perhaps the most surprising event—and the one that caused the most reflection—was the resignation last fall of Chad Rummel, who had been our executive director, from APA. Chad had set a model for what we had hoped that the division would have in its executive director, and his leaving had a direct impact not only on Div. 44 and the other handful of divisions for which he served in this role, but also for APA's Division Services Office (DSO). Chad had been instrumental in securing a number of contracts with APA divisions that allowed DSO to provide executive services, particularly to divisions that had never before had an executive director. He performed his tasks well, which meant that when he resigned those divisions felt the void created by his absence immediately. For Div. 44, it led us to a months-long process of determining how we might best obtain the services Chad had provided to ensure the health of the division in its growth, both in membership numbers and in its reach.
Because Chad was an overachiever who served the divisions to which he was assigned very well, Chad's resignation made clear to the remaining staff at DSO that they would not able to continue to provide these services in the same way he had done. As a result, Div. 44 examined its own needs and conducted an exploratory search for executive services, so that we could consider what options might be available to us. After a few months (during which DSO also searched for a replacement for Chad), we ultimately decided to continue our contract with DSO and to monitor how well their new model for the provision of executive services meets the needs of the division. As we approach the second half of the calendar year, we will once again examine this question, so that we may secure the best contract for services that will meet the division's needs.
During this same period of time, Div. 44 also underwent a planned migration of our website from our old server to the APA platform. While this migration was planned, there were bumps along the way that could not be anticipated. This resulted in both a delay in launching our new website and a transition that was less smooth than any of us had hoped for. At this point, we are maintaining our space on the old server, with plans that this will ultimately house the researcher database that has been developed by the Science Committee. The primary reason for this is that this database is written in a program that the APA platform is incapable of supporting. However, we had accumulated a great deal of material on the old site over the years, and re-formatting it and storing it on the APA platform has taken a great deal of time. We want to ensure that we do not lose any of that material, such as old newsletters, and the wonderful historical look-backs that Doug Kimmel had written over many years. We do hope to have the researcher database up soon and Jonathan Mohr and Stephanie Budge—the co-chairs of the Science Committee—are working hard to make this a reality. Please visit our new website.
In the course of the migration to the APA platform, we had also envisioned a new format for the division’s newsletter that would be entirely electronic, navigable on the division’s website and somewhat interactive. Partly in anticipation of that move, Doug Kimmel had signed off as editor of his last issue of the newsletter last fall. Richard Sprott, our communications director, agreed to step into the role of newsletter editor on a temporary basis, just until we had produced at least a couple of issues and knew what exactly was required of the newsletter editor with this new format. With the delay and extra work needed to get the new website up and running, however, we were unable to produce a winter issue of the newsletter. We hope that we are now back on track to produce the newsletter more frequently, even while the exact format is still in formation.
All of these have resulted in what I believe are good directions for Div. 44, even if the “growing pains” of having to endure these changes has not always been what we had hoped or anticipated.
In the last year, the governing body of Div. 44 promulgated a number of changes to the way we govern the division. Some of these changes happened almost exclusively within the division’s governing body; others required ratification from the membership of the division.
In recognition of the fact that the role of treasurer requires a specific knowledge and skill set, we have for the first time put on the ballot a vote for treasurer with more than a year left in the current treasurer’s term. This change will allow the newly elected treasurer to “shadow” the current treasurer for a full year before having to assume the responsibilities of this crucial role.
Two other changes required the ratification of the membership, which was obtained this spring. The first of these was to change the name of what had been called the executive committee to the executive board, and to create a new executive committee that consists of the presidential trio (the president, president-elect and past president), the secretary and the treasurer. The new executive committee is now charged with conducting the business of the division between the twice yearly executive board meetings, while the board remains involved at all times in setting policy, approving contracts and making significant financial decisions. This change, which is consistent with the way many other nonprofit organizations operate, will allow the governing structure of the division to respond more effectively and efficiently than had been previously possible.
The other change, also approved by the membership, was to give our students a vote on the executive board. This is consistent with recent changes in other divisions. In the case of Div. 44, voting privileges are now granted to the senior student representative (we have two at all times), unless that person is not available (in which case the vote will pass to the junior student representative). The student representatives, who had traditionally been appointed in alternating fashion by the president each year for a two-year term, will now be elected by those with voting privileges on the board (including the voting student representative) from a rank-ordered short list presented by the Student Committee. Div. 44 has always been a student-friendly division; this move gives that reputation more legitimacy.
I had described in my column in the newsletter issue last fall my vision of how to better facilitate the flow of information and collaboration between Div. 44 and the host of other (primarily LGBT) organizations who share a common mission with Div. 44. This need arose in large part because of the increasingly rapid changes occurring in our society with respect to research and advocacy around LGBT issues. I had received communications from a number of organizations who had finally reached me with requests for critical information after several attempts to determine who to contact within the division. It became clear that this process was inefficient at its very best. With changes that affect LGBT individuals occurring with increasing frequency, it was clear that a new system was desperately needed.
Originally, I had envisioned a group of individuals who would serve as points of contact with these various organizations, with each person appointed to one such organization. In this way, each organization would have a stable contact person, which would, at least in theory, decrease the frustration and time delay that had been experienced. These individuals would then all report to our new outreach coordinator, Gregory Sarlo.
As this plan unfolded, it became clear that two changes to this vision were necessary. First, once this group of individuals was formed, maintaining these connections would prove to be a bit unwieldy and would add to the burden borne by the president, having to find individuals who could maintain these appointments in addition to the other appointed positions we already have. It also became clear in discussions about this vision with Clinton Anderson, who is the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns office (LGBTCO) and with Judith Glassgold, who is director of the Public Interest Directorate’s Government Relations Office (PI-GRO) and a past president of Div. 44, that true facilitation and coordination needed to substantially include at least both of those offices as well.
Therefore, the refined proposal currently before the executive board for approval is that the outreach coordinator (currently Gregory Sarlo) would be the point person for various organizations who might be seeking information about research and advocacy work from Div. 44 to assist them in their own endeavors. The outreach coordinator would be a member of both the Science and Public Policy Committees, which would give that person the quickest access to this information. The outreach coordinator would also coordinate her or his efforts with the respective Directors of LGBTCO and PI-GRO, both to ensure that the loop is closed and to help to avoid any potential conflicts between the activities of Div. 44 and of APA. The outreach coordinator will also report directly to the president of Div. 44 and will be an appointed position, with a non-voting seat on the executive board.
In our ongoing effort to provide useful information to practicing psychologists, we have continued the project initiated by Arlene Noriega last year of producing “fact sheets” for clinicians on various topics that practitioners are likely to encounter. Two fact sheets were completed last year and are now available on the division’s website: one on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming (TGNC) children; the other on TGNC adolescents. This year, three fact sheets are currently underway: one on issues related to aging in LGBT individuals, one on intersex adults and the third on intersex youth. Each of these fact sheets undergoes a rigorous review process, including review by the APA Practice Directorate and the attorneys at APA, as well as content experts within Div. 44. The objective of providing these fact sheets is not to give clinicians all of the information that they need to provide expert services, but to know where to start when they encounter someone in their practice who presents with issues with which they may be unfamiliar. Each fact sheet includes online resources by which clinicians may obtain additional information.
This year, we are also bringing back what had been a long-standing tradition of Div. 44: the pre-convention workshop. This year’s workshop is entitled “Beyond Trans 101: Psychological Practice and Advocacy with Transgender and Gender Non-Confirming (TGNC) Clients.” It is a three-hour workshop that is designed primarily for those psychologists who have a basic understanding of transgender and gender nonconforming people and problems they encounter, and provides a more in-depth training that will help clinicians, in particular, to better serve their TGNC clients. The workshop, which conveys CEU credits, is hosted this year by the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University’s Washington, D.C., campus in Arlington, Virginia, and is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 6, from 3 to 6 p.m. The venue is accessible by Metro from the Convention Center area and parking is also available for those who elect to drive. Access the registration form.
Our fundraiser dinner this year, which we hold on the Saturday night of convention, will be located at the HRC Building. This year, we are adding a silent auction to the dinner. We will have a small number of items (we are not trying to make this primarily an auction) for bidding during the cocktail hour and the early part of the dinner. The items will be posted on the website for preview in the next few weeks and a link to this preview will be sent out via the division’s email list and announce-only list. The past two or three years, we have had between 120 and 140 attendees at the dinner. This year, we have a firm cap of 130. So I encourage you to obtain your tickets now, before the dinner sells out. View information and registration for the dinner. I encourage each of our members and fellows to consider sponsoring a student and/or becoming a special donor at the dinner. These donors will be recognized at the dinner.
I hope to see many of you at convention in August.