Meet APA staff: American Psychological Foundation

Division Services Office Director Sarah Jordan spoke with Lisa Straus, executive vice president and executive director of APF, about her work.
Elisabeth R. StrausJordan: Can you tell me a little about your background?

Straus: I became APF's first executive director in 1991. Since that time, thanks to the generosity and commitment of so many psychologists, APF has grown from a foundation that had a little more than $990,000 in its coffers, to one that gives away more than $725,000 in annual grants. It’s been an amazing experience. 

Prior to joining APF, I served as director of placement and communications at the Human Resource Research Organization’s (HumRRO) Technical Education Center. And, before that, I was a writer and educator. I wrote materials for the Carter White House on the Equal Rights Amendment, and I taught writing and english literature for several years. 

I received my BA from the University of Pennsylvania and my MA from the University of Wisconsin. 

Jordan: Tell me about the mission of the American Psychological Foundation. 

APF seeks to broaden the knowledge base of psychology and to help launch the careers of talented psychologists to improve society. APF does that by providing financial support to psychologists whose innovative research and programs lead to discoveries that can change the way we live our lives.

Our grantees embody our mission. If you go on APF’s website and watch the short video in which the grantees tell their stories, you will see the power of what grants can do — both in making the world a better place and in providing encouragement to psychologists committed to making a difference through their work. (The APF video is located on the APF website.)

Jordan: Tell me about how a division might work with the APF. What are the benefits? 

Straus: APF is an effective way for APA divisions to support the next generation of psychologists. A division fund through APF can provide scholarships and early career grants to psychologists who are just starting their careers or to mid-career psychologists who are making contributions to the specialty area of the division. When a division establishes an APF fund, it has access to APF’s granting and fundraising expertise. The division’s funds are invested in APF’s portfolio, which is guided by an investment advisor listed as one of Barron’s top 100 investment advisors in the country. The division fund and the work it supports receive national exposure. And possibly most appealing for divisions, there is freedom from administrative tasks, accounting responsibilities and reporting requirements required in raising money and awarding grants. Additionally, APF handles the fundraising requirement to register in all 50 states. APF handles all those duties.

Jordan: I am aware that some divisions have already established awards and grants through the APF. Which divisions have done that and what sort of projects are they funding?

Straus: APA Division 13 (Society of Consulting Psychology), Division 16 (School Psychology), Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology), Division 29 (Psychotherapy), Division 37 (Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice), Division 39 (Psychoanalysis), Division 42 (Independent Practice) and Division 49 (Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy) all have funds with APF.

Most of these divisions have devoted their funds to ensure the future of psychology in the division’s subject or interest area. Division funds support research, programs and scholarships that perpetuate the division’s work. The funds support early career projects and research, and some provide funding for students to attend conferences, in particular, the convention.

Jordan: Tell me what a division would need to do to start a fund through APF.

Straus: Any division interested in starting a fund (PDF, 258KB) should give me a call and together we can determine how to best meet the wishes of the division and the steps to start an APF Fund.

Lisa Straus can be reached at (202) 336-5824.