May 2010 Policy Update

Leadership Changes Announced for APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO

PI-GRO and APA staff regretfully said goodbye to former PI-GRO Associate Executive Director Annie Toro, JD, MPH, whose last day at APA was April 26.  Toro spent over 7 years serving APA’s government relations team, working first as the point person on advocacy related to children, youth, and families and ethnic minority affairs, before taking the reins in early 2007 at PI-GRO.  She also served for 5 years as co-director of APA’s Congressional Fellowship Program, and APA expresses its deep gratitude to Toro for her dedication and service.  In her new position, Toro will lead government relations efforts at the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit dedicated to public health and prevention.

Diane Elmore, PhD, MPH, Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, currently is serving as acting Associate Executive Director of PI-GRO; APA is extremely grateful to Dr. Elmore for taking on this role.

PI-GRO Welcomes New Staff, Stefanie Reeves, MA

Stefanie Reeves, MA, joined the staff of PI-GRO as Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer in late March.  Reeves came to APA after serving for 10 years as Director of Political Advocacy at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).  Prior to her position at ASHA, she served as Political Action Committee Coordinator for 3 years at the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association.  She began her career in government relations at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.  Reeves holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from The George Washington University and a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University.  Also, she recently earned a CAE, or Certified Association Executive, from ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership.

In her new capacity at APA, Reeves will be responsible for issues impacting individuals with disabilities and LGBT persons; she also will work on some issues involving PI-GRO’s ethnic and racial minority portfolio.

PI-GRO Leadership Results in Introduction of Healthy Media Legislation

PI-GRO facilitated the introduction of the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925) with the Girl Scouts of the USA.  Sponsored by Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R- WV), the legislation includes recommendations from the 2007 APA Sexualization of Girls Task Force report and calls for media literacy and youth empowerment programs, as well as additional research on this critical issue.

APA Applauds Defense Department for Policy Change Concerning Sexual Orientation

In an April 2010 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, APA expressed its appreciation for a recent change in policy that extends the psychotherapist-patient privilege to homosexual conduct fact-finding inquiries and separation proceedings.  APA first made the request for this policy change back in 2007 out of concern for service members who may forgo mental health services based on their sexual orientation.  Despite this change, APA continues to advocate for full repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

APA Advocates for Association Priorities in Reauthorization of K-12 Education Law

In preparation for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, last reauthorized as No Child Left Behind, APA’s Education GRO and PI-GRO worked in close coordination to develop comprehensive, association-wide priorities for this critical law.  Sent to the House of Representatives in late March and the Senate in late April, this set of recommendations addresses critical issues for APA in federal education policy, including:

  • promoting school mental health and preserving existing programs, including Elementary and Secondary School Counseling and Grants for the Integration of Schools and Mental Health Systems;

  • improving school climate and reducing the use of zero tolerance practices;

  • increasing the use of bullying prevention, threat assessment, social and emotional learning programs, and school-wide positive behavior supports;

  • defining "teaching skills" within the law;

  • addressing the underreported problem of violence against teachers;

  • using core knowledge from psychology in teacher professional development;

  • promoting sound educational research and the dissemination of research findings;

  • supporting research on media sexualization of girls;

  • encouraging the use of growth models in assessing student achievement;

  • ensuring the use of research to guide English language acquisition programs;

  • maintaining gifted education programs;

  • supporting student learning in after-school programs;

  • providing guidance on the effective involvement of parents in schools; and others.

Education GRO and PI-GRO continue to work with congressional committees and members to secure the inclusion of these concepts within reauthorization legislation.