Editors Note: The following was submitted by James Bray, APA President 2009 and represents the last installment in his APA Presidential Travels series.


Presidential Travels:  A Very Good Year

James H. Bray, President, American Psychological Association

December 2009


Travel Log—December 16, 2009, on the way home for the holidays.  After traveling over 175,000 miles, wearing out two suit cases, traveling around 3 continents, and having more trips through airport security than I ever imagined, I am ready to pass the gavel to Carol Goodheart and enter life as past president—aka president-neglect.  This has been an amazing year, full of highs (Summit on the Future of Psychology Practice), lows (huge budget cuts and layoffs) and transformative changes (our 1st ever strategic plan). 


APA Board of Directors, Washington, DC, December 4-6, 2009.  The entire board agenda seemed like a “hot issues” meeting and much of the time was spent in double and triple executive sessions (triple is the elected board only and double is the elected board and CEO).  We had so many agenda items, that we were unable to finish all of them.  The December Board meeting is unusual as we say goodbye to off-going board members and welcome new ones.  Alan Kazdin and Michael Wertheimer rotated off the board.  Barry Anton was re-elected Recording Secretary and Melba Vasquez, member at large, was elected president-elect.  This was a time to finish our work for the year, celebrate our successes and enjoy our friendships.  This year’s Board functioned very well and we worked hard and enjoyed our time together—we had spirited discussions on some issues, but after we finished an item we moved forward and came together to support our decisions.  Alan Kazdin’s humor and joking made my experiences the past two years much more fun and enjoyable.  He will be sorely missed in 2010. 


We had good news that APA is ending the year with a positive financial picture, due to the budget cuts and unexpected sales of the new edition of the Publication Manual.  We expect to earn over $2.5 million in revenue, even though we had to budget $1 million for returns of the Pub Manual because of some errors.  Because of a new marketing plan to professions outside of psychology, the Pub Manual has become the style manual in many professions (social sciences, nursing, etc.).  We are grateful to those psychologists who donated their time and energy in revising the Pub Manual.  The Board decided to use the safety margin funds in the 2009 budget to give staff end of year bonus money and to fund the 2010 fall consolidated meetings.  The remaining money will be put in long-term investments and assets. 


Hot Issues.  The editors of APA journals wrote a letter to the Board about cuts in their 2009 budgets.  They were very upset with how this was done and felt devalued and unappreciated by the way this was handled.  The Board discussed this with APA staff and decided to make the funds that were cut available to the editors and to send letters to each journal editor thanking them for their outstanding service and contributions to our field.  Without the hard work of our editors, our publications would not continue to be the leading psychology journals in the world.  We are deeply appreciative of the editors’ many contributions. 


The Board continues to work with the APA Insurance Trust to hopefully craft a new business arrangement that will better meet the needs of both organizations.  There is a subgroup of the Board (Bray, Goodheart, Carter, Anderson, and Archie Turner) that is meeting with a subgroup of the APAIT board (Cantor, Martin, Bennett, and Fox) to develop these plans.  Our next meeting is January 22, 2010.  We are continuing to progress with the lawsuit and we hope there will be a summary judgment given in early 2010. 


Federation of Associations of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS) annual meeting, Washington, DC, December 6-7, 2009.  FABBS is an advocacy organization that educates the Congress and federal agencies about the importance of funding for behavioral and brain sciences.  It is made up of over 30 independent organizations, APA Divisions, and universities.  The APA is the major contributor to FABBS and they play an important role in our advocacy efforts.  We had presentations from Howard Moss, Associate Director for Clinical and Translational Research at NIAAA, Myron Gutmann, Assistant Director, Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences, of NSF, Ivy Estabrooke, Program Manager, Human, Social, Cultural and Behavioral Sciences, Office of Naval Research, and Allison Smith and Darren Wilson Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.   We heard an exciting presentation from Jeremy Berg (bergj@mail.nih.gov), Director of NIGMS, on OppNet.  The NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) will fund cross Institute research in basic behavioral sciences.  


Hot Issues.  There was considerable discussion about the decrease in emphasis and funding for behavioral and psychological science at the National Institute of Mental Sciences.  OppNet appears to be a new opportunity that will provide additional funding in basic behavioral science research.  We also discussed how we can work with the Obama administration and Francis Collins, the new NIH Director, to increase funding for behavioral science.  There is a belief that the Obama administration is strongly supportive science in general and friendly to behavioral science in particular. 


Presidential Task Force on Psychology as a STEM Discipline, Washington, DC, December 15-16, 2009.  Jack Dovidio is the chair and he is doing a terrific job with the other TF members: Frank Durso, David Francis, David Klahr, Jennifer Manly and Valerie Reyna.  This task force is jointly staffed through the Science (Steve Breckler and Howard Kurtzman) and Education Directorates (Cynthia Belar and Rena Subotnik).  The TF is working on a report to document how and why psychological science is a core STEM discipline and the future needs of psychology STEM scientists.  The report will be used by APA to educate the Congress, federal agencies and other groups about the importance of psychological research in basic science endeavors. 


Hot Issues.  The TF addresses one of the APA strategic initiatives and the report from the TF will be used to advance the strategic plan. 


Fun Times as APA President.  I loved calling people who were selected for presidential citations for their innovative practices—actually it was wonderful to present all of my presidential citations.  I also enjoyed making random phone calls to our members.  I sometimes got an ear full of concerns and issues about APA—but it was the best way to hear from the members about their likes and dislikes about APA and the field.  I hope our governance leaders will do this on a regular basis. 


Travel Highlights for the Year.   Many people have asked what was the highlight of my year—my response is that there are too many to limit it to one.  These are my top 5 personal favorites. 

  1. The Summit on the Future of Psychology Practice was a transformative event and the most exciting conference I have been to in years.  Remembering the thought provoking keynote addresses combined with professionals from outside psychology, working with psychology thought leaders to create a new future for psychology practice still gets my heart racing.  You can see the keynote addresses on the APA website. (http://www.apa.org/practice/leadership/summit.aspx)
  2. Opening session at the APA Convention and dinner in the Royal Suite.  The session was great fun, with wonderful music from Funkedesi, presentation of awards to Pat DeLeon and Alan Kazdin and a stimulating keynote address by Congressman Brain Baird.  We had a reception after the opening session in the suite and then dinner for a smaller group of friends, mentors and Congressman Baird. 
  3. APA reception at the National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology and the Carlos Merida Museum of Modern Art during the Interamerican Congress of Psychology in Guatemala City.  The beautiful setting, spectacular musical performance and interactions with colleagues from around the world facilitated important connections, and was a grand event. 
  4. Visit to the Australian Psychological Society.  The Aussies are wonderful people and my visit to their central office, annual convention and doing workshops for local psychologists was informative and enlightening.  They are very successful in getting psychology into primary care and their national health care reforms.  I liked it so much I plan to return next July to the International Congress of Applied Psychology in Melbourne. 
  5. Dinner with the Ambassador of Chile. As part of our ongoing efforts to partner across the globe, I arranged a dinner with the Ambassador of Chile for the APA Board of Directors.  The dinner was held at the Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC and hosted by the Deputy Chief of Mission, Fernando Varela Palma, and other embassy officials.  We discussed world politics, health care and psychology and drank some great Chilean wine. 


Many thanks, Muito Obrigado, Tak, Cheers, Tika hoki, Muchas Gracias, Adeus, Au revoir---Thank you for this incredible opportunity to serve as your president.