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Brigham and Women's Hospital
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University of Missouri
Members-At-Large of the
Bob Cook (09-12)
Nancy Dess (09-12)
David Washburn (08-11)
Jeremy Wolfe (08-11)
Mark Bouton (07-10)
University of Vermont
Nora Newcombe (07-10)
Graduate Student Representative
Representative to APA Council
Randy Engle (10-12)
Emanuel Donchin (08-10)
University of South Florida
Janet Duchek (Awards)
Wash. U., St. Louis
Lisa Savage (Fellows)
John Wixted (Program)
Charles L. Brewer
Early Career Psychologist
California State U. at Fullerton
Part 3: APA Convention
James H. Bray, President,
Contributed by Sarah Jordan
Travel Log—August 17, 2009.
Getting back into my day job after a wonderful APA Convention. My one trip
this month was for the APA Annual Convention in
Many people, including me, had travel
challenges getting to the convention. My wife and I secured seats on an
earlier flight out of
What’s it like to be President at the APA Convention? —It’s great fun, lots of meetings and appearances, and little time for anything else. You are ON all of the time and going from about 6:30 AM until midnight everyday—oh how I wished I would have worked out more before the convention. As Past-president Alan Kazdin said, you are so busy you don’t have time for bathroom breaks—they just give you a catheter.
Board of Directors Meeting, Tuesday August 4, 2009
The BOD has a half-day meeting to discuss issues and get ready for the Council meeting the next day. We had a very packed agenda that included passing our strategic plan, reviewing our budget and financial situation, discussing changes to the APA Ethics code regarding rules 1.02 and 1.03, accepting reports on global climate change and on whether sexual orientation can be changed through therapy, and discussing of whether to continue to have delegates from the four ethnic minority psychological associations at Council meetings. In the background was the lawsuit between APA and the APA Insurance Trust and the ongoing saga of psychologists and the interrogation issues. Any and all of these could easily take up an entire session of Council, so the BOD discusses how to manage the issues and accomplish our agenda.
For me it was a special day—celebrating our second wedding anniversary with my wife, Elizabeth. So I skipped most of the Council caucus meetings that evening, to spend time with my dear wife.
Council Meeting, Wednesday August 5, 2009
The Council meeting starts with presidential citations and an update on my Presidential initiatives. I gave citations to Ken Sher, Janet Swim, and APA staffer Randy Phelps. I am excited that we passed our strategic plan—the first ever for APA in its 117-year history. We still have some work to do on our core values, which will be handled at the February 2010 meeting.
Running a meeting with over 170 people who have strong opinions and who like to talk (we are after all psychologists) is challenging. We have parliamentary rules to follow and my parliamentarian, Andy Benjamin, was constantly writing notes to help me deal with requests and rules that apply. It is multi-tasking to the max, keeping the agenda moving forward, recognizing speakers, watching for others who want to speak, and keeping order all at the same time. I did not learn this in graduate school, but after the February Council meeting, I felt comfortable in the role. Now that I am experienced—I am done.
The budget discussion was difficult and gut wrenching, as we had to lay off a number of employees, cut some very valuable programs and governance activities, such as dropping our Fall round of board and committee meetings in 2010, cut APA’s funding for the Archives of the History of Psychology, and other programs. No one was happy with these changes and it is a difficult part of being a leader to keep APA in solid financial shape.
After such a long and stressful day, I was
ready for some fun—and it came in the next set activities. The Association
of Practicing Psychologists caucus honored the Board of Directors by making
us action heroes based on the Pirates of the
Then it was time to convene the Dance Caucus
in my suite. The Royal Suite at the
Convention Day 1, Thursday August 6, 2009
There were two big highlights of the first day of the convention. The day started with APA’s first “Community Day.” I believe that we should give back to the cities that we visit for convention. APA co-sponsored with the National Institute of Mental Health and the Ontario Aids community day of programming for local community workers, titled "Family Front and Centre: The Role of Families in Adapting to and Preventing HIV/AIDS.” We had over 200 people attend to learn the latest research findings and interventions to help families with the HIV/AIDS.
In between I hosted meetings with delegations from the Canadian Psychological Association and Australian Psychological Society. We signed a memorandum of understanding between APA and APS to work more closely together.
Opening session. The opening session was terrific and great fun. We started with music by Funkadesi (www.funkadesi.com), who is a band with musicians from all over the world, including a few psychologists. It is hard to characterize their music, but it got the crowd on their feet—including our keynote speaker Congressman Brian Baird.
We honored Pat DeLeon and Alan Kazdin with the APA’s highest honor—the Life-time Achievement Awards and the film, “The Soloist,” with a special award for its sensitive depiction of homelessness and serious mental illness.
Congressman Brian Baird gave the opening keynote address. He is a psychologist, former department chair (said he was revising his textbook) and an outstanding speaker. He gave us an inside look at what is happening on Capital Hill in regards to health care reform and how psychology is contributing to many areas, including climate change research and our defense operations.
Between the opening session and a reception in my suite, I had to make appearances and presentations at several places. We stopped by the Division 45 “Links and Shoulders” social hour to present a presidential citation to Stanley Sue for his lifetime contributions to Asian psychology and multi-cultural work.
That evening we had a special reception for Congressman Baird and then 13 of us joined him for dinner in the Royal Suite. Before dinner I gave Margy Heldring and Hank Taylor Presidential citations. Hank for his outstanding contributions to aviation psychology and Margy for our great work as co-chair of my Task Force on the Future of Psychology Practice.
Congressman Baird had to step out to do a media appearance on the Rachel Maddow MSNBC show and then he returned. It was a special evening with old friends, honored guests and Brain. He entertained us with stories of Capitol Hill and all of the good work he is doing in the Congress. What a great way to end the first day of convention!
Convention Day 2, Friday August 7, 2009
Day 2 started with 2 breakfasts and then presentation of Karl F. Heiser Awards for professional advocacy at the Division 31 ceremony. Heiser awards started as presidential awards by long-time friend, Jack Wiggins, to honor people who made major contributions to advocacy. Division 31 took over these awards a few years ago.
I had two major programs today. First was a
symposium and town hall meeting on the Future of Psychology Practice Task
After a cold hotdog in the convention center (only thing to eat nearby), I gave my Presidential Address, The Future of Psychology Practice and Science. There will be a summary of the talk in the October APA Monitor. I then chaired a session on methodology by Scott Maxwell. Presidential citations were given to Scott and George Howard for their many contributions to APA and psychology. Scott and George were my mentors in graduate school—it was a special treat to have them at the convention to celebrate my presidency.
The rest of the afternoon was spent giving awards at the APA and American Psychological Foundation ceremony, where many of APA’s highest awards are presented. Some of my dear friends, like Bob Reznik, received awards.
After a brief stop at this reception, I had to run upstairs to the suite for a reception honoring the speakers from the NIMH who presented in the Convention Within the Convention. I also presented Ellen Garrison, NIMH staff, with a presidential citation for her long-time contributions to psychology and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Too many places to be and the APA cloning
machine was broken, so my fellow APA board members presented presidential
citations to David Baker for his innovative practice and Neil Pliskin for
his long-time work with APA. I was thinking—after a cold hotdog for lunch,
when was there time for dinner at one of the great
My wife was kind enough to serve as host, as I had to leave early to attend several other events—the big one being the APA’s first “Speed Mentoring” at the Hockey Hall of Family. Around 240 graduate students and early career psychologists had the opportunity to talk with 4 famous psychologists and former APA presidents and interact with their peers. It was lots of fun. I wondered around for awhile as my schedule had the wrong room in the wrong hotel for my next event, which was to present a presidential citation to Jim Alexander at the Society of Family Psychology reception. Finally it was time for some relaxation as I headed back to my suite for wine tasting with friends. This is a hobby of mine and a group of us shared some outstanding bottles of wine to end the evening. I would love to have a wine tasting as part of the next APA convention.
Convention Day 3, Saturday August 8, 2009
Up early for two more breakfasts—the Education Advocacy breakfast and the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs breakfast—do you hear me clucking after all of those eggs?
Next stop was another Board of Directors
meeting. This meeting was to discuss hot issues that were happening at the
convention and to prepare for the Sunday Council meeting. The hot issues
were the APA and APA Insurance Trust dispute and an issue around funding for
the Archives of Psychology at the
With barely time to eat lunch, it was off to make a presentation. Last year I won the research award from the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers and this was a talk about my work. Following this was the annual town hall meeting for members to discuss anything with the president, president-elect and CEO. Last year, this was a high stress meeting with tough questions regarding the interrogation issue, concerns about APA’s position about therapy for GLBT, and a number of other hot issues. By comparison, this year was mild and a friendly discussion about a range of issues from the budget to health care reform.
Next was the symposium on psychology’s
contribution to ending homelessness—this is one of my presidential
initiatives and we had a great presentation and discussion about these
issues. Then off to present a presidential citation to Frank deGruy, MD for
his contributions to collaborations with psychology and primary care. Frank
came to the
I had 30 minutes to visit the exhibits and see my new book, The Handbook of Family Psychology at the Wiley booth. Several people spotted me and wanted to talk about their concerns and issues, so I told them that we needed to speed walk the exhibits and talk—more multi-tasking.
Back to the suite to freshen up for the evening. Next up was the Division 42 social hour, where innovative practice presidential citations were presented to Michael Enright, Michael Cuttler, David Fisher, and Dave Driscoll and a presidential citation to Frank Froman. Next stop was the APA Science Directorate social to present a presidential citation to Linda Bartoshuk for her research on taste (her work influenced the way wine is rated and evaluated) and to present the Brain Bee winners trophies. Dinner tonight was the food at the reception. After a brief stop at the Division 55 social hour it was off to the Association for the Advancement of Psychology reception to honor Congresswoman and psychologist, Judy Chu. Dr. Chu is the newest member of Congress (D-CA--she had been in less than 2 weeks). She is going to be a terrific Member and supporter of psychology.
It was time to get ready for the President’s
party and dance. We had a bit of wine tasting before the party. We were
fashionably late, but kicked into gear for some great fun and dancing. The
band was an outstanding dance group and the floor was packed. We closed
them down about mid-night and then back to my suite for a few more hours of
after party fun with friends and guests from
Convention Day 4, Sunday August 9, 2009
At this point I was running on diet coke and
adrenalin. The big task for the day was the second session of the APA
Council meeting. We had some difficult issues to deal with that included
discussing the APA Insurance Trust issues and funding for the Archives of
Psychology. About an hour into the meeting I did not think we would make it
through the agenda, so we started to scramble. Working with the staff we
were able to postpone a couple of items and then we started to roll. We
finished the agenda with a few minutes to spare. After an ovation for the
good work we all did---it was all over—hard to believe we had been in
Little did we know that bad weather and a
mix-up in my wife’s ticket was about to throw a wrench into our otherwise
pleasant day. It was like a repeat of the beginning of the journey—hurry up
and wait. Many colleagues had been at the airport for hours before we
arrived, so I had no place to complain—in fact it was a great opportunity to
have some more good-byes. Once on the airplane, we waved good-bye to
Home for a month. After traveling so much this year, it is odd to be home for so long, but it is well needed, as there are many household tasks to complete (we returned home and our air conditioning broke—98o and no AC is not fun) but our dogs were very happy to see us back home.
No travel, but still lots of APA business to deal with everyday. Lots of positive comments from the convention and issues to deal with after the Council meeting.
What’s next?—two trips to DC for meetings and
then off to
Happy Trails. Thanks for the wonderful convention. I hope you will write and share your experiences of the convention with me.
James H. Bray, Ph.D.
Department of Family & Community Medicine
President, American Psychological Association