American Psychological Foundation

Giving back has always come naturally to Beth Rom-Rymer, PhD. As an undergraduate at Princeton University, she helped create an intervention to reduce conflict between African-American and white high school students in the town of Princeton, N.J. In graduate school, she advocated for better sewer and water services and policing in an unincorporated neighborhood. During her internship year at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Rom-Rymer pushed for better housing for a transitional, low-income community in Nashville, Tenn. As she was finishing her doctoral dissertation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she took on the job of directing the Victim-Witness Assistance Unit in the Florida state attorney's office in Tallahassee, where she trained law enforcement throughout the state on how to work with victims of violence and abuse, and directed crisis intervention counseling for families coping with domestic violence, sexual abuse and other violent crimes.

Now, after 30 years of clinical and forensic practice, Rom-Rymer is continuing to give back, this time to the American Psychological Foundation for its Violence Prevention and Intervention Grant program in the form of a $25,000 gift. Given her early and continued commitment to violence victims, it was an easy choice for Rom-Rymer to support the grant, which has funded six projects since it debuted in 2003, including a sexual assault prevention program and a bullying intervention for middle school students.

"It's a great joy to see ideas materialize into solid projects and programs that benefit, not only our individual clients, but our larger society," says Rom-Rymer.

APF had more than 300 applications for the grant this year alone, says APF Executive Director Elisabeth Straus.

"Dr. Rom-Rymer's gift will enable us to continue awarding grants in an area where psychology can truly make an impact," she says.

In Chicago, where she has lived for over 25 years, Rom-Rymer has frequently lent her expertise to the city, serving on the Mass Molestation Task Force of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, as vice president of the Board of Directors of the Greater Chicago Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse, and as a consultant to city officials on issues of violence. She's also a leader in the national movement to win prescriptive authority for psychologists in order to improve care for the underserved.

She hopes her gift will help emerging psychologists make their own mark in the area of violence prevention.

"As Rabbi Hillel so memorably asked, 'If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? If not now, when?'"