Chair's Corner

I am writing this column having just returned from APAGS's first comprehensive strategic planning meeting. Over the course of three exhausting yet exhilarating days in November, APAGS committee members and staff set out to forge a clear path for APAGS and began to develop an action plan to help better meet your needs. We evaluated our mission, values and goals in light of both the changing environment and our present organization.

We considered a variety of marketplace issues-such as changes in education, training and employment, rising costs, funding limitations, increasing competition, salary trends, demands for accountability, the changing demographic and social environment and effects of emerging technologies.

The strategic planning process allowed us to identify key issues and evaluate our strengths and areas in which we sometimes fall short as a membership organization. APAGS has been particularly effective at developing a variety of resources to meet student needs, gaining representation and influence within APA governance and affiliated groups, presenting high-quality convention programming and integrating a broad view of diversity into our activities. Additionally, we have excelled at informing you of important legislative issues, providing leadership development, helping integrate students into state and provincial psychological associations, and recognizing outstanding contributions through our grant, awards and scholarship programs.

Despite these many successes, we identified several areas in need of development. Only a fraction of our membership is actively involved in the many initiatives and opportunities APAGS offers. Although we have a strong history of resource development and offer most of these materials to members at no charge, we want to make them more accessible. Similarly, we want to better communicate the breadth and depth of our activities and opportunities.

In 2004, we will begin the initial implementation of our strategic plan. We will increase reciprocal communication with students on your campus. We will use multiple communication pathways to ensure that APAGS is accurately and effectively representing students and to improve your access to information and resources.

The APAGS Central Office continually enhances our Web site (www.apa.org/apags) and we use many listservs to facilitate communication with and among students. Another new communication tool, the APAGS Campus Bulletin, should already be posted on your campus and contains highlights of the breadth of APAGS activities. It also includes information about opportunities to get involved and contact information for elected APAGS officers and APAGS Central Office staff. If the bulletin is not posted on your campus, it is available here.

We emerged from the strategic planning meeting with a clear vision for APAGS and a framework for crafting steps needed to accomplish our goals, but we need your help.

First, we need a direct link to students on your campus. If your program does not have an APAGS campus representative, you are not receiving essential information. To get connected as an APAGS campus representative, or for more information, e-mail APAGS. Please indicate what state you live in and what program you attend.

Second, we need your feedback. Members of the APAGS Committee and the APAGS Central Office staff want your feedback about our current initiatives and what you would find helpful. This helps us effectively advocate for you and take steps to meet your emerging needs.

Finally, take advantage of us. APAGS has a lot to offer, but you have to access the resources to benefit from them. This is the beginning of a new era for APAGS, one that is characterized by a more deliberate course of action and driven by a focus on quality, innovation, collaboration and enhanced communication. Together, we can take the profession into an exciting and prosperous future.