Feature Article

Presidential Column

Div. 7 President Jacquelynne Eccles discusses the role of Div. 7 and the upcoming 2016 APA convention.

By Jacquelynne S. Eccles, PhD

Last year, 2015, was a busy and very controversial year at APA. In the summer, the Hoffman report was released. It concluded that APA had implicitly condoned our national security agencies' use of extreme measures in their interrogation techniques. Lead by our two council representatives, Kang Lee and Suniya Luthar, our Executive Committee had lengthy and highly productive discussions about the many possible responses we should make as a division to this information, ranging from all of us resigning, to boycotting the 2015 convention, to hoping APA Council would take care of the situation in an appropriate manner. Suniya, in particular, played a major role in getting the APA leadership to hold a town hall meeting at the convention and creating more transparent processes for replacing the several APA officials, including its CEO, who either retired or resigned as a consequence of the report. Suniya says more about this whole affair in her column in this newsletter. Let me say, all of us were embarrassed to be part of an organization that had not strongly protested against the use of torture. In the end, we decided it was better to remain members and to fight for change in APA from within. Our division played a very active role in the discussions that grew out of this report and our council representatives are continuing to play a major role in its aftermath. Hopefully, APA will emerge a more transparent organization that better represents the ethics of its membership.

Over the years, APA has tried to reform the convention so that it better meets the needs of its membership and the more general community. It has tried several different formats. In 2015, it introduced much greater emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-division collaborative sessions. Under the leadership of Sandra Simpkins and Jennifer Fredricks, we participated in several collaborative sessions in Toronto, most of which were very well attended. Jenny Fredricks has carried on this tradition for our 2016 convention program. Again, she was able to create several collaborative sessions, all of which look very interesting. I encourage you to attend. Colorado is spectacular at that time of year and the convention program looks great.

One of the issues we discussed a great deal this past year is exactly what should be the role of Div. 7 for its members as well as for the APA and our profession more generally. Div. 7 was one of the very first APA divisions. Over the years, through its Executive Committee, other committees and its APA Council Representatives, we have played a very active role in APA, making sure that children's interests and developmental scholarship were supported. We remain one of the strongest scientific-research-focused divisions in APA and have done our best to keep the interests of our research communities salient in APA. But over the years, many research psychologists have shifted their professional focus to APS and various other more specialized, research-focused professional organizations. Several of the more research-focused divisions have broadened their membership beyond APA and started hosting their own journals and conferences in order to better meet the needs of the members.

Should Div. 7 try similar strategies to better meet the needs of our membership? Our membership numbers continue to fall. How should we respond to this decline? Beyond the conference, our newsletter, our awards and the journal Developmental Psychology®, what are we providing for our members? What should we be providing? Over the last year, we have had several discussions about these questions and failed to reach a consensus about exactly what our future mission should be. Developmental psychologists are fortunate to have several quite strong and active professional international and national organizations. These organizations already hold major international conferences and offer a variety of smaller, more focused conferences and training retreats. Do we want or need more of these kinds of professional development opportunities?

There are also several APA divisions interested in developmental issues at various points across the life span. Should we try to integrate activities across these various divisions beyond the integration that is already occurring in collaborative sessions at the annual APA convention and the various collaborative task forces in which we participate? We would like more input on these issues from our membership as we develop our long-term plans. Please email me your suggestions.

Each year we elect members to several different positions, including president elect, secretary, treasurer, members at large on the EC, members of the fellow selection committee, student representatives and early career representatives. We also appoint people to our various committees. We would like to include more of our members in these activities. To do so, we need volunteers and nominations for the elected offices. Please contact me if you would like to nominate someone for one of our elected offices or if you would like to participate on any of our committees.

In closing, I want to thank the several wonderful people whose terms of office ended on Dec. 31, 2015. These include:

  • Treasurer: Andrea Greenhoot
  • APA Council Representative: Kang Lee
  • Fellows Committee Chair: Bennett Bertenthal
  • 2015 APA Program Chair: Sandra Simpkins
  • Membership Chair: Bonnie Klein-Tasman
  • Education and Training Committee Chair: Judith Becker Bryant
  • Early Career Psychologists Network Representative: Angela Evans
  • Newsletter Editor: Kate McLean

All of these people have done wonderful wok for our division. We run entirely on volunteer service and without these folks, we would not be where we are today. Thank you for your outstanding contributions.

I also want to thank Gail Goodman for the outstanding job she has done as division president. I now know how much work this job is and there is no way I am going to be able to fill her shoes.

I want to welcome aboard our new officers, committee chairs and newsletter editor. These include:

  • Treasurer: Kristen Alexander
  • APA Council Representative: Sarah Friedman
  • Fellows Chair: Ross Thompson
  • 2016 APA Program Chair: Jennifer Fredricks
  • Membership Chair: Sonja Brubacher
  • Early Career Psychologists Network Representative: Thanujeni Pathman
  • Newsletter Editor: Lindsay Malloy

We are looking forward to working with you over the next year and beyond.

Finally, I want to thank the continuing officers and committee chairs. These include:

  • Both Gail Goodman and Michael Lamb as the past and incoming presidents, respectively.
  • Kali Trzesniewski our tireless secretary.
  • Elizabeth Gershoff, Susan Rivera and Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant as members-at-large of the EC.
  • Suniya Luthar as our tireless APA Council representative.
  • John Hagen as our historian.
  • Louis Manfra as our Web master.
  • Lindsay Malloy as our Early Career Psychologists Network representative.
  • Sue Hobbs as our graduate student representative.
  • Adam Winsler as our listserv administrator.

We could not do our business without all of these wonderful volunteers.

I look forward to working with all of you this year and hope to see many of our members at the convention in Denver in August.