Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD

2012 APA Convention Opening Session


Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhDWelcome to the website of the American Psychological Association (APA) and particularly to my past presidential page. APA is the world’s oldest and largest organization of psychologists, and I was deeply honored to have served  as the 2012 APA president.

The issues facing psychology today are diverse, complex and numerous; selecting which issues to address was no small task. The APA continually struggles with the multiple needs and demands of its members and the public as it seeks to make the best use of its resources. The recent economic downturn put even greater stress on the association, as it tried to do more with less. 

Strategic Plan

In response, the APA embarked on an effort to develop a strategic plan for the first time in its 100+ year history. The process was inclusive, involving input from many components of the organization, including the elected members of APA’s governing bodies: the Council of Representatives, APA’s boards and committees, and its Board of Directors. The objective was to focus APA’s resources more strategically on high priority goals that were identified by inclusion and consensus. As a member of the APA Board of Directors, I was very fortunate to participate in this process; in my opinion, it was an outstanding success. APA’s strategic plan has three goals:

  1. To maximize organizational effectiveness;

  2. To expand psychology’s role in advancing health; and

  3. To increase recognition of psychology as a science.

I believe the strategic plan captures some of the most important issues facing psychology today. Drawing on my unique and varied experience and perspective, I focused my presidency on helping to make it a reality.

Presidency: 2012

After 35 years in academia, I stepped down as chair of my medical school department to devote my time to research and service. I am grateful for my career as a psychologist. Through my APA governance experiences, I have met many committed fellow psychologists. I have enjoyed the rewards of patient care and mentoring students, and the intellectual stimulation of legislative advocacy and the scientific enterprise. I have been blessed, and service to psychology has been my way of giving back. I was honored to serve as 2012 president of the American Psychological Association.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF, 143KB)


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 the State University of New York 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.


Thanks to continued research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bennett Johnson’s work has focused on medical regimen adherence, childhood diabetes, pediatric obesity, and the psychological impact of genetic screening on children and families. She has received awards for her research contributions from the Society of Pediatric Psychology, the Association of Medical School Psychologists and the American Diabetes Association.


A licensed psychologist certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) for more than 30 years, she has seen 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.


Bennett Johnson has chaired 56 completed master's theses and doctoral dissertations and has been instrumental in developing an innovative, integrated biopsychosocial curriculum for Florida State University's College of Medicine. She has received awards for her mentorship from both the McKnight Foundation and APA's Div. 54 (Pediatric Psychology).


As past co-chair of the psychosocial studies committee of The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study for NIH, she was responsible for all psychological components of this international study. The National Academy of Science report on International Collaborations in Behavioral Social Sciences Research was a product of her work as chair of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Psychological Science. She was previously a member of the International Union of Science Planning Group on Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment (PDF, 2.4MB).

Leadership and Service to Psychology

Bennett Johnson has served as president of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (Div. 54), president of Div. 38 (Health Psychology) and an APA Council Representative from Florida and Div. 38. She chaired the APA Board of Professional Affairs and Board of Scientific Affairs and was a member of  the APA Board of Directors. Her leadership and service have been acknowledged by awards from the Florida Psychological Association, Div. 38 and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

Health Policy/Advocacy

Serving as a Robert Wood Johnson health policy fellow for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, she helped develop 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.
2012 Initiatives