Feature

Elegance. Professionalism. Wisdom. Warmth.

Those are the words people use to describe Judy Strassburger, executive director of APA governance affairs who retired from APA on March 6.

It was Strassburger's job to oversee the operations of APA's Board of Directors and Council of Representatives, as well as the association's 33 committees and boards. Her tenure overlapped with six chief operations officers, 39 APA presidents and thousands of council and other governance members. She also directed APA's Annual Convention, division services, elections and special projects.

"I compare it to being an air-traffic controller—trying to keep things from running into each other, keeping people informed and making good decisions," Strassburger says.

Even in the midst of what seemed like storms, Strassburger was "the calm in the midst of the chaos, the one who knew how to get things done. And always with such grace and kindness," says APA council member William E. Foote, PhD.

APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, says that Strassburger could always be counted on to be "absolutely on top of things, very detailed and always thinking several moves ahead."

"She always challenged me in a way that helped me to become a better employee," adds APA Election Office Director Garnett Coad, who worked with Judy for nearly 14 years. "She was a boss and a mentor, but even more importantly she became a trusted friend."

Strassburger began her APA career in 1969 as a secretary to then-CEO Kenneth B. Little, PhD, who had joined the association just two weeks before she did. "We were both terribly new," she remembers. She enjoyed the job right from the start. "It was like a family, and there was always a new challenge," she says.

Working with the presidents was the part she most enjoyed. "I liked knowing that I helped to make their presidential years better and in the process gained good friends," she says.

APA 2008 President Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, says he was always impressed by Strassburger's guidance laced with wisdom, her ability to disagree gently and effectively, and, perhaps most important, her patience.

"We presidents have such diverse personalities, foibles, ranges of grandiosity and more," says Kazdin. "Some of our blood relatives have trouble taking many of us …. Job would have called it quits; Mother Teresa would have kicked many of us; and Gandhi would have rethought his views of violence."

What is next for Strassburger? Many people have asked her if she had another job, not believing she was really retiring, so she took to responding, "Mud wrestling."

But actually, she says she's mostly just interested in "living life on my own schedule" after dedicating 70-80 hours a week to her career. Her definite plans include a month in Paris with her fiancé, French lessons and tai chi classes.

She will, though, miss the people she got to know along the way, particularly her dedicated staff. "We all know that we are only as good as our staff," she says, "and I had the best."

"APA is a great place to build a career," she says. "I just wish everyone had as good a time at their jobs as I did."

Judy Strassburger compares her position at APA to being an air-traffic controller, "trying to keep things from running into each other, keeping people informed and making good decisions."

APA hires new governance chief

As of May 1, Nancy Gordon Moore, PhD, will be APA's new executive director of governance affairs, charged with overseeing the association's board and committee operations, elections, division services and the annual convention.

Moore comes to APA after serving as executive director of the Kentucky Psychological Association since 2000.

"Governance Affairs houses one of the most important portfolios of activities for the association, and it was critical that we have a multitalented manager," says APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD. "She brings a high degree of creativity and innovation to her work, coupled with strong collaborative, intellectual, problem-solving and interpersonal skills."

During Moore's tenure at KPA, the organization doubled its membership and more than doubled its revenue. Moore also developed a popular public education project in 2005 with the city of Louisville called "Heads up Kentucky!" The project featured 50 fiberglass painted head sculptures displayed throughout the city atop information about the connection between physical and mental health, such as how behavior changes can improve outcomes for those with obesity or diabetes. Moore modeled the project after similar urban art displays, such as Chicago's colorful cows.

Moore served on APA's Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice in 2007, and as chair of the Council of Executives of State and Provincial Psychological Associations in 2005. She has also been active in APA's Div. 31 (State, Territorial and Provincial Psychological Association Affairs).

Before her time at KPA, Moore was part of a small private practice in Louisville.

—J. Chamberlin