Candidates for APA President

Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, ABPP, is an APA fellow and distinguished research professor at Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine. She received her BA in psychology from Cornell University and her PhD in clinical psychology from SUNY at Stony Brook. She was director of the Center for Pediatric and Family Studies at the University of Florida Health Science Center until 2002, when she became the chair of the department of medical humanities and social sciences at FSU College of Medicine, the first new medical school to be established in 25 years. For more, see SBJforAPA.com.

Science. With 30-plus years of research funding from the National Institutes of Health, her work has focused on medical regimen adherence, childhood diabetes, pediatric obesity, and the psychological impact of genetic screening on children and families. She received awards for her research contributions from the Society of Pediatric Psychology, the Association of Medical School Psychologists and the American Diabetes Association.

Practice. A licensed psychologist and ABPP, for 30-plus years she saw children and families in a pediatric diabetes clinic as part of an integrated multidisciplinary care team. She worked with the American Diabetes Association to develop standards for the psychological care of patients with diabetes and worked with the APA Practice Directorate to establish the Health and Behavior CPT codes, permitting psychological services to be reimbursed as part of the medical benefit.

Education. She has chaired 56 completed master’s theses and doctoral dissertations and has been instrumental in developing an innovative, integrated biopsychosocial curriculum for FSU’s new College of Medicine. She received awards for her mentorship from both the McKnight Foundation and APA’s Div. 54 (Society of Pediatric Psychology).

International. As co-chair of the psychosocial studies committee of a NIH’s The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study, she is responsible for all psychological components of this international study. The National Academy of Science’s report on International Collaborations in Social and Behavioral Research was a product of her work as chair of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Psychological Science. She is currently a member of the International Union of Science’s Planning Group on Health and Well-being in the Changing Urban Environment.

Leadership and Service to Psychology. She served as president of the Society of Pediatric Psychology, president of Div. 38 (Health) and was an APA Council Representative for Florida and Div. 38. She chaired APA’s Board of Professional Affairs and its Board of Scientific Affairs and is currently a member of APA’s Board of Directors. Her leadership and service have been acknowledged by awards from the Florida Psychological Association, Div. 38 and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Health Policy/Advocacy. Serving as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow for Sen. Hillary Clinton, she helped developed Sen. Clinton’s response to the mental health needs of New York City children after 9/11. The Lifespan Respite Care Act, which Johnson wrote during her fellowship, became law in 2006.

Johnson’s candidate statement

For the first time in its 118-year history, APA has a strategic plan, with three goals. I am committed to these goals and will work to make them a reality.

1.) Maximize organizational effectiveness. Years of service to APA in many capacities provide me the multiple perspectives needed to address this goal. APA membership is aging; it is critical that we make APA a viable home for younger psychologists. Without the next generation, APA will no longer be the strong force it is today.

2.) Expand psychology’s role in advancing health. My work as a practitioner and educator in medical settings and my experiences in Sen. Clinton’s office are particularly relevant to this goal. With the passage of mental health parity and health-care reform, APA has the opportunity to make psychology an integral part of health care. We need to both advocate for psychology and train psychologists to take their rightful place in health care.

3.) Increase recognition of psychology as a science. Advocating for psychology as a science on NIH interdisciplinary research teams has been the hallmark of my research career. I think psychology is an awesome science and as good as any of my biomedical colleagues’ sciences. Yet, psychology does not get the recognition it deserves. I want to use the APA presidency to address this issue on a larger scale than I have been able to do in my own scientific work.

Why now? Why I am seeking the APA presidency now? After 35 years in academia, I have given up my administrative duties to devote my time to research and service. I am grateful for my career as a psychologist and service to psychology is my way of giving back. I would be honored to serve as APA president and ask for your support.