Three positions are up for election for the 2015 APAGS election cycle. The member-at-large positions are for two-year terms; the chair-elect is for a three-year term. The election period will open on April 1, 2015, and close on April 30, 2015, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

All APAGS members who have provided APA with their email address will be sent an email with a unique link that directs automatically to the elections ballot. If you do not receive an email on April 1, 2015, please check your email spam filters and junk box to see if the email arrived there. If you still do not receive an email, please contact Garnett Coad, the APA Director of Elections.


The chair-elect serves on the APAGS Executive Committee (EC), which, led by the chair during his/her tenure, works as a unit to advise, guide and consult with the full APAGS Committee. The EC acts as a steering committee for APAGS and is responsible for developing priorities and charges to committee members consistent with the goals of APAGS. The executive committee presides over the full APAGS Committee and acts on behalf of the full committee.

Chair-elect Tasks
  • Participates in all EC activities to prepare for chair year.
  • Serves as the EC liaison (for more direct mentoring/oversight) for one-third of the APAGS committee members, subcommittee chairs, task force chairs and work group chairs.
  • Serves in prescribed liaison roles reserved for the APAGS chair-elect.
  • Serves as an official liaison for some of the established APAGS relationships; sometimes the chair-elect will take on relatively more of these liaison roles to help acclimate him/her to the work of the committee.
Subcommittees, Task Forces and Working Groups
  • Reports on chair-elect and official liaison activities to the full APAGS Committee via the committee email list and at APAGS business meetings.
  • Will prepare to serve during his/her chair or past-chair year as the APAGS voting member on the APA Council of Representatives and voting member on the APA Board of Directors. This requires attending four to six meetings per year, often in Washington, D.C.

Ian Gutierrez

Graduate students in psychology continue to struggle with educational debt, insufficient research support, poor working conditions and the ongoing internship crisis. These issues are complex, but I am confident that we can find solutions to these challenges through collective action in APAGS. My zeal for student advocacy and the support of my colleagues within APA inspire my candidacy to serve as your next APAGS chair-elect.

The passion that students bring to their work as clinicians, researchers and teachers drives my commitment to student advocacy. As a graduate student in clinical psychology at the University of Connecticut, I have served as an officer in graduate student government; represented teaching and research assistants as a member of the bargaining committee of my university’s graduate employee union; supported graduate student research as a member of the APAGS Science Committee; and, alongside colleagues in APAGS, lobbied Congress to increase funding for predoctoral internships. In these roles, I have fought for affordable student health care, fair workplace practices for graduate assistants and funding for predoctoral training in clinical work, research and teaching.

If elected, I will pursue the following initiatives:

  • Internship Crisis: I will support APAGS's ongoing initiatives to address the internships crisis, hasten the accreditation of quality training sites and lower application costs.
  • Training in Integrative Care Settings: I share APA President-elect Susan McDaniel’s commitment to integrative care, and I will work with Dr. McDaniel to create new predoctoral training opportunities in medical and primary care settings.
  • Graduate Labor Rights: I will advocate for the recognition of student employee rights and a higher standard of living for graduate research assistants and instructors in psychology.
  • Student Debt: I will support APA’s efforts to lobby Congress for educational loan forgiveness programs and interest rate reductions.

Please visit to read more about my candidacy for APAGS chair elect.

Michael Williams

As graduate students in psychology, we have to manage many roles and responsibilities. APAGS is among the primary sources of support available to us during this challenging time. I am eager to share my skills and experience to advance the aims of student advocacy associated with APAGS. My experience representing peers, mentoring and working with a wide range of community and academic groups serves as a solid foundation to communicate student perspectives and work within APA to continue the outstanding work of APAGS leaders.

For the past two years, I have been a student representative on the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology, a national organization designed to promote the advancement of graduate education in clinical psychology. At Wayne State University, I served as vice president for the Graduate Student Organization of the psychology department. This organization represents clinical, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, and industrial/organizational psychology students. I have also served on multiple national and state panels representing student perspectives on the needs and future of graduate education.

As chair of APAGS, I would focus on the following initiatives:

  1. Graduate Funding: Promoting additional sources of funding for students to complete their graduate studies and engage in related educational opportunities in efforts to minimize the amount of debt incurred in the training process.
  2. Internship Crisis: Continuing support of efforts to increase the number of APA-accredited sites and other strategies to reduce the match imbalance and financial burden of the application process.
  3. Collaboration and Community Leadership: Developing ways to showcase the benefits of psychology within our communities while promoting peer networking, mentoring and professional development via involvement in service-related activities.

I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of me as your chair-elect of APAGS. I would be honored to represent your interests and concerns.

Member-at-large, Communications Focus

The member-at-large, communications focus has the following specific duties:

  • Assist the APAGS Central Office staff with APAGS publications and publicity in a variety of ways that may include: recruiting and training students to write articles for the APAGS website; identifying topics for the APAGS magazine gradPSYCH, as well as APA Monitor on Psychology articles, and communicating these topics and ideas to the associate executive director.
  • Develop and implement various marketing and publicity initiatives to promote APAGS and to recruit new APA student affiliates.
  • Assist with compiling information for the quarterly Campus Representative Bulletin.
  • Establish relationships and joint projects with the APA Public Affairs Office to promote graduate student publicity.
  • Develop outreach programs to strengthen the link between APAGS and allied student and professional groups, to facilitate effective information exchange and updating.
  • Assist with facilitating the APAGS Division Student Representative Network (APAGS-DSRN) that brings together the student leaders of divisions to help them develop new student leaders within divisions, connect to APAGS and support APAGS initiatives.

Christopher DeCou

I am a doctoral candidate in the clinical psychology program at Idaho State University. I have served in multiple leadership roles, as a member of the Div. 45 Student Committee, the Div. 56 International Committee, the Psychology of Women Quarterly Student Advisory Board and as president of the ISU Psychology Graduate Students Association. I hope to build on these experiences as a member-at-large, communications focus, of the APAGS Committee. As the member-at-large focused on communications, I would pursue initiatives to expand the geographic and disciplinary diversity of APAGS to best represent the needs of students nationwide. This would include focused recruitment efforts in rural and frontier states, including students of indigenous heritage.

Students are the future of our profession, and it is essential that APAGS serve as an effective point of connection between students and the APA. As member-at-large I would work to grow existing partnerships between APAGS and APA divisions, as well as establish new partnerships that would empower APAGS members to be involved at the national and divisional levels. Furthermore, I would seek to expand the exceptional work of APAGS concerning diversity issues by emphasizing the importance of multiple intersecting domains of culture, including rurality and indigenous heritage. As a former law enforcement officer, I can offer a unique perspective concerning the implications of mental health services, and appreciate the importance of professional diversity. My experiences as a student leader, student clinician and law enforcement officer motivate me to pursue this opportunity to effect change, and connect students with the ongoing efforts of APAGS. Students are the future of our profession, and I would be honored to connect students with APAGS as member-at-large, communications focus. 

Yolanda Perkins-Volk

I am a third-year doctoral student at the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology, at Argosy University–Twin Cities. I am in my second and final year as the student representative for Div. 18 (Psychologists in Public Service), and in this role I have initiated the start of several social media sites for the division, advocated for and helped develop student-interest webinars, appointed many students to committee/section leadership positions and spearheaded a student newsletter and mentorship program, all while maintaining weekly email communication with students. This experience has taught me what it means to be assertive and reach out to others to ask their involvement, generate ideas that support growth and evolution and envision the future needs to best serve students.

I have a strong interest in service, both professionally and personally. I find importance in working towards a common goal, to the benefit of all. What I have learned while working as a part of a team or as an individual in either a group or leadership position is invaluable. Through my service in the military and volunteering I have learned how much we are capable of when we work together using the talents of each person to the fullest, and that a strong work ethic best supports success.

In 2014 I participated in the APAGS think tank devoted to the internship crisis, became a member of the publications committee for Div. 12 (Section 10), and wrote an article on advocacy of the profession of psychology from the graduate student perspective in The Register Report.

Through my experiences serving in APA and APAGS, I have had the fortune of working with professional psychologists and employees of APA who demonstrated for me the importance of leadership and dedication. I hope to apply those lessons is the role of member-at-large. communications focus.

David Zelaya

As graduate students in psychology we share a student identity that can be challenging to navigate. I strongly believe the major role of APAGS is to empower students' voices within APA and prepare students for life after graduate training.

I have demonstrated my commitment to graduate students’ issues through my involvement in leadership and advocacy. Nationally, I am currently a member of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CARED), where I have played an active role in advocating for the Minority Fellowship Program on Capitol Hill. Additionally, I served as co-chair of the International Student Subcommittee for the Planning Committee of the Counseling Psychology in Action Conference.

At a university level, I am currently serving as president-elect of the Counseling Psychology Organization and I served as the graduate assistant of a Multicultural Resource Center/Diversity Committee for the college at my institution. Currently I am a student member of APA divisions 17, 35, 44 and 45. My professional involvement in various divisions and APAGS has shaped my development as a trainee and emboldened me to find information relevant to the unique needs of graduate students. Our shared identity as students is the driving force underlying my desire to run for member-at-large, communication focus.

If elected to serve, I will collaborate with APAGS to ensure we attend to all student voices from all divisions, with sensitivity to diverse identities including students in nonpractice-oriented programs. Furthermore, I will continue and enrich the APAGS tradition of programming and professional development to enhance the graduate school experience so students can successfully navigate graduate school and transition to becoming early career professionals.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope I can count on your vote. For more information, please visit me online .  

Member-at-large, Education Focus

The member-at large, education focus has the following specific duties:

  • Establish relationships and joint projects with staff members of the Education Directorate.
  • Represent internship and training needs of students to relevant boards and committees.
  • Monitor the climate of training environments and advocate for advances in the quality of education and experience for graduate students.

Jacob Nota

Psychology was founded as an interdisciplinary field. Now, more than ever, our training needs to emphasize an integrative approach in order for students to continue to succeed as scientists. Applied and basic scientists have much to gain from greater collaboration. So, as the member-at-large, education focus I will advocate giving students opportunities for transcending traditional discipline boundaries in their mentorship and training. I believe that such an approach will foster students’ innovative individual research and career goals. Further, this will foster valuable collaborations that can expand psychology’s impact and address training bottlenecks. I will pursue this goal while employing an empirical approach to improve our training programs. Specifically, I will aim to identify predictors of student satisfaction and success by gathering and examining data from students, faculty and internship/hiring coordinators, using surveys, publicly available datasets and social media. I will work diligently with the APAGS Committee to use these data as guides for our education systems and help students work with their educators to achieve their goals

I will serve the APAGS community with experience and passion. For the last eight years I have been both a student and an educator. Coming from a liberal arts background, I know the value of an interdisciplinary approach. Education is a personal and professional focus of my own training. I have worked in academia and the community and learned firsthand about effective education methods in both the classroom and in practicum. In the course of my career as a scientist and educator I have developed my ability to collaborate and lead. My hope is to now apply my skills and energy to improve the experience of the students in the APAGS community and thus empower the future leaders in the field of psychology.

Eric Samuels

The APAGS member-at-large, education focus advocates for student interests in educational and training settings. My name is Eric Samuels, and I would be honored to serve in this position.

A chief focus of the member-at-large, education focus is to increase the match rate to accredited internships each year and to end the internship crisis. While the match rate to accredited internships has improved (66 percent in 2015 in comparison to 62 percent in 2014), more needs to be done. At the APA convention in 2014, I served on a presidential panel that advocated for creative solutions to the internship crisis. This experience taught me a lot about the internship crisis, and I believe that this experience makes me well-suited to serve in this position. If elected, I will push APA to create more accredited internships, which will give students more opportunities to match to an accredited site.

I have also worked to make educational and training programs more inclusive of diverse students. As a member of the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity from 2012 to 2014, I created resources and programming that sought to assist LGBTQIQA2S graduate students. At my school, The Wright Institute, I led the LGBTQIQA2S Student Support Group and successfully advocated to make restroom spaces more inclusive of transgender/gender nonconforming students. Furthermore, my dissertation explores the experiences of psychology students with disabilities. If elected, I will continue this work so that diverse students have the best experiences possible in their educational and training settings.

In addition to my past experience, I also currently serve as the chair of the California Psychological Association of Graduate Students and as the APAGS state advocacy coordinator for Northern California. Overall, I believe that I am highly qualified for this position. I ask for your vote.

I welcome any questions or comments at Thank you.

Blaire Catherine Schembari

Our graduate training experiences are perhaps the most valuable aspects of our careers as psychologists. They lay the foundation for our future employment and help shape the people we become. As demand increases for our level of competency, we need support structures that enable us to meet these demands. As your education member-at-large, I will devote myself to accomplishing three main goals: increase student financial support; establish a mentoring infrastructure; and advocate for students’ involvement regarding internship training experience and needs.

I am a fourth-year clinical psychology PhD student. I have trained in a variety of settings, including a university counseling center, inpatient hospital, outpatient VA and on a mobile crisis team. Through these experiences I have learned the value of quality training, as well as observing opportunities to enhance the support graduate students currently receive.

If elected, I will focus on the following:

  • Increase student financial support: I will advocate for more training grant opportunities for students. I will assist the Education Directorate in their continued push for fairer graduate student loan rates. I will advocate for grant opportunities to help cover the costs of applying to internship.
  • Establish a mentoring infrastructure: I will design and implement an undergraduate-graduate mentorship program, which will promote leadership among graduates and increased undergraduate involvement in APAGS. I will establish a database of licensed psychologists who are willing to supervise students in training environments that do not provide supervision by licensed psychologists.
  • Advocate for students’ involvement regarding internship training experience and needs: I will advocate for students’ evaluations of internship sites to impact their accreditation. I will enhance graduate programs’ awareness of students’ needs in preparation for internship.

I would be privileged to have the opportunity to represent you as your education member-at-large.