Committee on Psychology in the Public Interest Awards

The five-person Committee on Psychology in the Public Interest Awards selects up to three award recipients annually for:

The intent of the awards program is to recognize psychologists who have made distinguished contributions to the Public Interest that advance psychology as a science and/or a profession.

Staff Liaison

Donnie Graham (email)

Members

  • Chair: Allen M. Omoto, PhD

  • Thema Bryant Davis, PhD

  • Douglas C. Haldeman, PhD

  • Derald Wing Sue, PhD

  • Karen F. Wyche, PhD

2014 Award Winners

The 2013 Committee on Psychology in the Public Interest Awards chose the following recipients to receive the Public Interest Awards at APA's 2014 Annual Convention, Aug. 7-10, in Washington, D.C.: 

Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest — Senior Career
Gary B. Melton, PhD
Gary Melton was appointed to the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect under the presidency of George H. W. Bush.  He became a major architect in conceptualizing a system that, if accepted and instituted, would remake State and County child welfare programs nationwide. Melton developed a plan for the production of the report, including an ambitious background research effort to support changes in our child welfare so that children would be safer. His record (in the area of publications focused on law, psychology and public policy as applied to child and family issues) qualifies as the most distinguished among living psychologists. Melton has published nearly 350 chapters, articles or books on diverse topics of child and family policy and psychology. He has compiled a remarkable record of accomplishment in advocacy for children and families of great depth and substantial international scope.

Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy
Lonnie R. Snowden, Jr., PhD
Perhaps more than any other psychologist, clinical/community psychologist, Lonnie R. Snowden, Jr. has addressed disparities in access and quality of mental health care from a mental health policies, systems and program perspective.  Snowden is Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the School of Public Health’s Health Policy and Management Program. Snowden’s 135 publications include two articles published in the American Psychologist, one cited over 300 times, as well as two chapters in the Annual Review of Psychology and one in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. Snowden’s research of the financing and organization of mental health services has important implications for current health care reform policy. Snowden represents the best among psychologist doing research with critical public policy implications.

2013 Award Winners

The 2012 Committee on Psychology in the Public Interest Awards chose the following recipients to receive the Public Interest Awards at APA's 2013 Annual Convention, in Honolulu: 

Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest — Senior Career

Derald Wing Sue, PhD
Sue began his five-decade career as one of the first psychologists to explicitly identify the harmfulness of culturally incompetent practice. His call to the field to address racial-cultural bias was revolutionary for its time, and subsequently, Sue chaired a 1981 Div. 17 committee charged with the development of multicultural counseling competencies. Under his leadership, the committee submitted a final report that was eventually adopted as the APA's Multicultural Guidelines (APA, 2002). This watershed document helped pave the way for psychologists' subsequent examination of all forms of identity and intersectionality throughout research, theory and practice.

Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest — Early Career

Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD
Bryant-Davis has conducted socially relevant research and published countless articles and book chapters on overarching topic of trauma recovery, and on global issues of HIV/AIDS and human trafficking. As president and past-president of the Society for the Psychology of Women, she undertook a bold initiative: production of a video on human trafficking that illustrates the connection between trafficking and slavery, the persuasiveness of the problem internationally and within the U.S., and best practices for working with trafficking survivors.

Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy

Michelle Fine, PhD
Fine has made substantial, long-term contributions to psychology that support the solution of intransigent social problems, improving our understanding of educational inequalities, the impact of prison experiences and violence against women. From this research, he has authored countless articles and books. His research in these three areas also includes a strong focus on the ways that gender, race and social class operate within education and prison settings, and are played out in the context of violence against women. Fine has contributed expert and other forms of testimony with the legal system, and has worked closely with an enormous number of community organizations and institutions in each of these areas.

2012 Award Winners

The 2011 Committee on Psychology in the Public Interest Awards chose the following recipients to receive the Public Interest Awards at the 2012 APA Convention in Orlando:

Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest — Senior Career

Bernice Lott, PhD
There are few more intransigent social problems in the world today than poverty, and through her 50 years of scholarship and activism, Lott has led psychology in aligning itself explicitly with action to end poverty. Lott's commitment to social justice has been a guiding force within her career from the beginning, as her groundbreaking research on gender, ethnicity, race and multiculturalism demonstrates.

Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest — Early Career

Marguerita Lightfoot, PhD
Lightfoot, a counseling psychologist by training, has made extraordinary contributions to advance HIV prevention among urban at-risk adolescent populations. She is currently a full professor at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center where she serves as the co-director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. Lightfoot is a trailblazer in the use of social media as a way to deliver effective HIV preventions to youth.

Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy

Dan Olweus, PhD
For four decades, Olweus has led an extraordinary international program of research on the requisites for prevention of violence. Olweus is consensually recognized as the world's leading expert on bullying and its prevention. His approach to bullying is consistent with his multifaceted approach to the study of aggression: societal, institutional, familial, situational and psychological.

2011 Award Winners

The 2010 Committee on Psychology in the Public Interest Awards chose the following recipients to receive the Public Interest Awards at the 2011 APA Convention in Washington:

Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest — Senior Career

Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD
Department of Psychology and Social Behavior
University of California, Irvine
Silver's research concerns responses to traumatic life events. She is one of the country's leading experts on psychological reactions to trauma. Her research has addressed the reactions and adjustment of people facing a broad array of crises, including medical illnesses, sudden infant death syndrome, divorce, the Vietnam War, AIDS, fires, school, violence and most importantly, the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest — Early Career

Edward Delgado-Romero, PhD
Department of Counseling and Human Development Services
University of Georgia
Delgado-Romero's research has addressed racial/ethnic issues in psychology and has applied multicultural psychology to clinical practice. In addition to his research productivity, he has also been committed to training the next generation of culturally competent psychologists and to increasing the pipeline of the Latino/a psychology professionals.

Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy

Richard Rogers, PhD, ABPP
Department of Psychology
University of North Texas
Rogers casts a long shadow over the realm of psychological research with important public policy implications. Following the public outcry over Hinckley's acquittal for the attempted assassination of President Reagan, Rogers' development of the R-CRAS provided an empirical basis for addressing these controversies. His American Psychologist article and other contributions intelligently and influentially informed public policy and successfully countered calls for outright abolition of the insanity defense. The aforementioned policy-related achievements are important and lasting, but Rogers' most uniquely impactful contribution to public policy is his enhancement of our understanding of constitutional protections embodied in Miranda rights.