Feature

At its August meeting, APA's Council of Representatives considered seven proposals to change APA's governance structure and adopted six of them (see October Monitor). These changes were formulated and recommended by the Good Governance Project (GGP), an outgrowth of the APA Strategic Plan, which is focused on increasing organizational effectiveness. The changes are designed to create a more open and more nimble APA governance system.

The Monitor spoke with 2013 President Donald N. Bersoff, PhD, JD, and President-elect Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, about what the changes will mean for members and the association's future.

What changes did the council adopt?

Bersoff: The six changes are focused on using technology to increase opportunities for member engagement and voice; providing leadership training for people interested in serving in governance; triaging of issues confronting psychology so we can identify them early and feed them into the governance process efficiently; focusing council's time on policy issues; dividing business oversight responsibilities between APA's Council of Representatives and Board of Directors; and reconfiguring the composition of APA's board.

I want to again congratulate and thank the council and everyone who worked on the GGP project. The decisions made in August were truly historic and will help move the association forward.

Why are these considered critical changes?

Kaslow: These changes represent the first comprehensive updating of APA governance since it was formed in 1945. They will allow us to shed a governing model that was created when business was conducted by mail and a council meeting every six months was sufficient to manage the association's affairs. The new governance model will be better suited to the 21st century because it will be responsive to members and the marketplace.

Why are the changes important to members?

Bersoff: The new governance structure will make APA an even more effective organization; that's the primary benefit for members. When the new structure is fully in place, APA will be able to respond more quickly to changes in the marketplace or the policy arena. For example, when an issue is identified as emerging and important to psychology, the membership could be polled for input and council time could be scheduled for an in-depth discussion at its next meeting or even between meetings.

In short, the new structure will allow the council to focus more energy and resources on strategic issues that matter most to members and to the discipline. It will also create new opportunities for member engagement and member voice in strategic decision-making.

Will these changes affect the next generation of psychologists?

Kaslow: That's very much by design. In addition to positioning the organization to thrive in a changing world, the new structure will create avenues for new voices to participate in APA governance. It ensures that the early career and graduate student constituent groups have seats on APA's Board of Directors. It will provide new opportunities for participation and engagement, and hands-on and virtual leadership skills training. In short, the new structure will position APA to grow and thrive for another century.

How is this connected to the association's Strategic Plan?

Bersoff: The seven Good Governance Project proposals — now adopted motions in the case of the first six — were a direct outgrowth of the Strategic Plan goal of maximizing APA's organizational effectiveness, which includes optimizing APA's governance structures and functions. Our new structure will also support other Strategic Plan goals, including increasing member engagement, advocacy for science, practice and education issues and public and member communications.

When should we expect to see the effects of these changes?

Kaslow: The council must adopt an implementation plan for each change. An Implementation Work Group (see sidebar) has been appointed, and those plans are being developed. Some changes may go into effect by mid-2014, others in 2015, and still others will need members' approval.

What is the role of the Implementation Work Group?

Bersoff: The Good Governance Project team and the Board of Directors recognize that identifying the need for change and desired changes is one thing; implementing change is another. The Implementation Work Group is charged with developing the specific steps and details necessary to implement the motions adopted by council — in other words to move us from concepts to reality. The group will be chaired by Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD, and co-chaired by Bill Strickland, PhD. The goal is for the group to complete the bulk of its work this year so that the council can review implementation recommendations in February and, I hope, officially approve the implementation plan at its August 2014 meeting.

Will the members be asked to approve these changes?

Kaslow: Yes, members will need to approve any new direction that requires a change to APA's bylaws. However, there are other changes that can be put into place with only the council's approval. The proposals that do not change the bylaws are those to increase the use of technology, to develop more leadership training opportunities and to create a governance-wide issue triaging system. They are on deck for 2014 implementation.

Building support for these changes is important and part of our job, but I also see my role as being a conduit between members and governance. We want members to understand ways in which we are working to make APA governance more effective and we also want to make sure governance hears and understands members' expectations of APA.