President's Column

I feel privileged to have served as APA's president during this historic year when APA's Council of Representatives voted to make the association's governance structure more nimble and more able to fully engage all members (see an overview of the Good Governance Plan). But moving forward with those changes was just one accomplishment from the last year.  I am also happy to report that we have made a significant impact with the three presidential initiatives I described in my January column: helping military service members, veterans and their families; recognizing psychology programs that foster diversity; and developing plans to attract and retain academicians and scientists as APA members.

With regard to the military initiative, from many proposals, I selected 21 hours of programming on innovative and evidence-based interventions to help service members, veterans and their families as part of last summer's APA Annual Convention in Honolulu (see the articles related to this theme). I am pleased that the presentations were well-attended and well-received. Also during the convention, I honored three psychologists who provide innovative services to military personnel and veterans. I gave a presidential citation to Dr. Jon Nachison, who started Stand Down in San Diego, a program that provides physical and mental health services to homeless veterans. I gave a presidential citation to Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, the founder of Give an Hour, through which psychologists and other mental health professionals donate counseling and therapy services to military personnel and veterans. Last, I presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Antonette Zeiss, who recently retired as the head of mental health services for the Veterans Administration, the first woman and first psychologist to assume that role.

My second initiative — the creation of the Cultural Diversity Awards — was stimulated by my concern that psychology may be ill-prepared to serve clients from South and Central American, Middle Eastern, Asian, African and Caribbean cultures. The Cultural Diversity Awards recognize up to three innovative programs that admit, retain and graduate students from diverse cultures. From among 19 nominated programs or departments, I honored the following three awardees with a plaque and a check for $2,500: the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Clinical Psychology Program; the University of Missouri, Columbia, Counseling Psychology Program; and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Department of Educational Psychology.

Each program brought a number of faculty and students to the awards presentation, where positive feelings ran high. It turned out to be one of the emotional highlights of my presidency.

For the science initiative, in April I invited six eminent scientists to meet for a full day with APA's Board of Directors to discuss the needs of APA's science members. To use diplomatic language, we had a full and frank discussion of APA's advocacy and support for science. We developed a number of suggestions for enhancing APA's role in science and APA science staff members are working to make these recommendations concrete.

Among my proudest moments from the past year was serving as APA's ambassador at international conferences. I was pleased to represent the association at a meeting of the Norwegian Psychological Association, the European Congress of Psychology in Stockholm, the Society of InterAmerican Psychology in Brazil, and the Colombian Psychology Association in Bogota.

One quite pleasant revelation that I gleaned from these visits is how admired and respected APA is throughout the world. The presence of APA and its president at international conferences is of utmost importance in promoting APA as an international entity and in enabling APA to learn from other countries.

Finally, I would like to thank the APA Board of Directors and APA staff for all of their guidance and support during this past year. Without their help, any success I have had would not have occurred.