Cover Story

Q. What kept you at APA for 13 years?

A. I tend to be a long-distance runner. That's my style and that's my way. When I became head of a clinic as my first job, I did that for seven years. When I became head of a psychology department, I did that for 18 years. And I did this for 13 years. I don't move around when I get so into something I really like. I stay there and develop it as far as I can.

Q.What will you miss about being at APA's helm?

A.Being in the middle of everything and knowing everything that is going on, and being in touch with hundreds and hundreds of people. It's really exciting to come in each morning and see what's come in on my e-mail--although by that time, to be honest, I'll have already checked it two or three times from home.

The fascinating thing about this job is the incredible variability of it. You may in the space of an hour chat by e-mail with a psychologist in China, talk with an irate Member who didn't like the hotel room he got at the convention and make some major decision, like starting a graduate student magazine [to debut this spring]. Or you might deal with a sticky personnel problem, have a talk with the APA president about the agenda for the next board meeting and participate in a conference call. It's a never-ending kaleidoscope. I sometimes compare it to playing tennis with an out-of-control tennis-ball serving machine that just keeps shooting balls at you: You've got to keep moving faster and faster to keep up.

Q.Your tenure at APA has been characterized by strong financial growth. But this year, APA had a $6 million shortfall and had to cut some of its staff and programs. What happened and how can this be prevented in the future?

A.The growth in expenditures for programs and activities, and for the staff to support those activities, has been steady, and we've been successful in generating enough income to match those expenditures until recently. We continued to increase income, but the expenses grew even faster. 2001 was a bad year for the nation's economy, and APA was no exception. Some electronic services that were expected to generate substantial income failed to generate as much as was expected. Since staff is our largest single expense, we had to reduce staff in order to ensure we had a balanced budget in the long and short term.

Reducing staff by about 15 percent has reduced the risk of deficits in the future as long as spending can be kept under control. With fewer staff, though, there will inevitably be fewer services and activities.

Q.What are your proudest accomplishments?

A.I like the fact that we have what I think is a healthy company. People trust us, they know that we are not going to let harm come to them and we'll do our best to protect them.

I think the way we went about this staff reduction confirmed that for a lot people. We reduced the staff by offering incentives to those staff members who wanted to leave: All staff departures were voluntary.

I'm also proud that the directorates and the central office work together. There's a family feel about APA. I don't want to overstate that, but people come to each other with support rather than competitiveness. We've created a situation here that is mostly warm and supportive, and that has helped us avoid the kind of messy office warfare that can use up so much time.

I also feel really good about the assets and resources we have built up over time. By the time we pay off the two buildings we own--APA headquarters and the G Street property a block away--our worth will be well over $200 million. We'll have a permanent endowment that we can use however we want to in the future. I don't know of any organization that's come as far as we have in this period of time.

I'm also happy about our closer relationships with APA's divisions. When I came, those relationships had sort of faded away. We've worked closely with them to establish the office of division services and built our support for them. Doing so has accomplished two things. For one, it's made the divisions feel close to APA. But it's also helped us retain Members. APA Members who belong to a division are much more likely to stay in APA than those who don't belong to a division.

The other thing I'm really proud of is the graduate student organization. That really started when I was president [in 1989] when a couple of graduate students came to me and said "what do you think about having a graduate student organization," and I said, "Again? We've had two or three before and they've all fizzled out." And they said it won't this time if you support us. I did, and it's come to be one of the most valuable assets the association has. Most of our new Members have been APAGS members.

Q.How about your greatest disappointment?

A.I hoped that sometime during my tenure APA and the American Psychological Society (APS) would find some way to combine forces, perhaps by coming back together again. Over its 110 years, APA has had a history of groups splitting off because of disagreements and then coming back after the disagreements were worked out. I hope this can happen some day. I think we could be much more effective if we were together again. But everything comes in its own time.

Q.What's the greatest lesson you've learned over the past 13 years?

A.Patience. Change will happen, but you have to persist, persist, persist.

Q.What advice do you give to your successor?

A.I've spent a lot of time with Norman Anderson over the past few months. I've recommended a few things, such as that he not think of this as a short-term commitment; that he keep in mind the importance of working really closely with APA's Board of Directors and Council of Representatives; that he not take things personally; that he makes sure he has a life beyond APA because the job can absorb you completely.

Q.What will you do now?

A.I don't look at retirement as a time to rest or even to slow down. I have started writing a book, and I have a couple more in mind. I will be available to the board and to our new CEO for consultation as needed. I would like to use what I have learned about association management to help organizations with problems. I'm eager to teach again, probably through continuing education. I am an enthusiastic cook and bread baker, and I'd like some continuing education on that, myself. Sandy and I love to travel, and there are places we haven't seen yet. I love biking, swimming and running--I'd like to get back in marathon shape and run a few more. I have five grandchildren I'd like to spend more time with. And I've accumulated a lot of books I haven't yet had time to read. There are good data indicating that people who go into retirement with feelings of optimism live longer than those who do not. I plan to be very optimistic.