One of the privileges of serving as APA president is being able to attend numerous psychology functions—and the best part of attending these meetings and other events is the opportunity to meet and interact with APA members. I learn a lot from these interactions, including the fact that many of you are not aware of all that APA offers or does on your behalf. In fact, APA does so much that it is difficult for any one of us to track all that our association does for us and for society.
As an association, we need to do a better job keeping members informed of APA's activities. In this column, I will share with you some insights on how APA's Board of Directors works and spends its time. I spent almost three decades in APA governance before being elected to the APA Board of Directors (first as a board member, and then as president-elect). When I joined the board, I thought I had a good understanding of its work. I was wrong. Even for someone who considered herself an "old hand" at APA governance, the complexity and work pace demanded of board members was surprising.
Serving on the board is challenging and time-consuming, but it's also exhilarating for the opportunity it gives you to give back to the discipline and help other psychologists succeed in their work environments.
The Board of Directors is the administrative agent of the Council of Representatives and has authority to act on behalf of the council when it declares an emergency. The board also serves as the Board of Directors of the APA Practice Organization, although business for APA and APAPO is always handled separately.
The board develops the meeting agenda for council and transmits all motions from governance boards, committees and individual council representatives to the full council, typically with a recommendation for action—but council has the final say on all policy matters. Individual board members also serve as liaisons to APA's many boards and committees. Such liaison roles are an important conduit of information from these governance groups to the board and back again.
Board members need to think globally about the discipline, not just a piece of it as you often do in other governance roles. Although each board member's history, expertise and experience facilitate the ability to give voice to particular issues and concerns, ultimately, as a board member, you advocate for decisions that you believe are in the best interest of all members and the association itself. Board members have important fiduciary responsibilities to the association, including monitoring APA's budget and other business issues, such as HR policies and making recommendations to council on an annual budget, APA investment policies and our real estate holdings. The pace of board work can be demanding—daily if not hourly email and frequent conference calls are the norm.
The board handles a portfolio of issues as diverse and complex as our discipline. A few examples of issues the board has dealt with during the past two years are APA strategic planning, psychology's role in implementing health-care reform, quality assurance in education and training, professional specialties and proficiencies, how to better position psychology as a STEM discipline, the development of clinical treatment guidelines, national standards for high school psychology curricula, APA policy on marriage equality, APA's support for psychology internationally and the APA dues structure.
You will probably take away from this column that being an APA board member is extremely time-consuming. That's true. But, I hope it will not discourage you from serving in governance and, for some of you, on the board. I can tell you with certainty it's the best place to have a positive impact on the future of the discipline we all love.
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