Public Policy Update

The involvement of APA members with APA's Public Policy Office (PPO) in federal policy-making over the past year has been especially noteworthy. Our members have represented the association well and highlighted areas where psychology can offer a unique contribution to federal policy. APA members have pressed for funding, testified at congressional briefings and hearings, communicated with their members of Congress, responded to proposed federal regulations, served on federal agency advisory councils, and attended executive branch meetings, among other activities.

PPO dedicates this year-end article to acknowledging the contributions of our members in the areas of public interest, education and science policy. PPO is grateful for the dedication members have shown in advocating on behalf of psychology--you have truly made a difference.

Public interest policy

  • HIV/AIDS. In January, Cynthia Gomez, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, a former chair of APA's Committee on Psychology and AIDS (COPA), presented her research findings at the congressional briefing "HIV/AIDS: The Disproportionate Impact on Women of Color in the U.S." The briefing was co-sponsored by APA, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Society for Women's Health Research and Women's Policy Inc. PPO arranged for Pat Hawkins, PhD, of the Whitman Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., and also a former COPA chair, and John Anderson, PhD, director of APA's Office on AIDS, to present APA's recommendations for the reauthorization of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act at an invited briefing for senior staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

  • Aging. In March, Florence Denmark, PhD, a former APA president and current member of the Committee on Aging (CONA), Greg Hinrichsen, PhD, former CONA chair, and Donna Rasin-Waters, PhD, co-chair of APA's Div. 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology) Public Policy Committee, addressed members of the Senate Democratic Steering Committee, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), on mental health and aging policy. In a separate event, APA member David Powers, PhD, of Loyola College in Maryland, presented at a special briefing for staff of the Senate HELP and House Education and the Workforce Committees on APA's recommendations for the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.

  • Children, youth and families. In March, Elizabeth Carll, PhD, chair of APA's Div. 46 (Media) Interactive Media Committee, testified on the effects of violent video games on children at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights. She also participated in an April congressional briefing on the same subject sponsored by Reps. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Tom Osborne (R-Neb.).

In September, Joy Osofsky, PhD, of Louisiana State University, delivered a presentation at the congressional briefing "Eye of the Storm: Lessons Learned from the Hurricanes' Children," co-sponsored by APA, the Society for Research in Child Development and seven other organizations. Later that month, Lonnie Sherrod, PhD, of Fordham University, met with Deborah Price, assistant deputy secretary for the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, regarding the role of civic engagement in the No Child Left Behind Act.

  • Mental health reform. PPO staff helped organize a March mental health policy forum sponsored by the Campaign for Mental Health Reform to reconvene the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. APA members Deanna Yates, PhD, of Texas A&M University, and Stephen Mayberg, PhD, director of the California Department of Mental Health, oversaw panels of experts in the areas of suicide, veterans' mental health, and mental health in the workplace.

  • Cross-cutting issues. In September, members of APA's seven Public Interest governance committees attended a PPO advocacy training before the fall APA consolidated committee meetings. Members who attended the training and later met with the offices of their congressional representative include Toni Antonucci, PhD, Rosemary Blieszner, PhD, Florence Denmark, PhD, and Peter Lichtenberg, PhD, of CONA; Karen Budd, PhD, Barbara Fiese, PhD, and Lonnie Sherrod, PhD, of the Committee on Children, Youth and Families; Arnold Abels, PhD, Donald Daughtry, PhD, Jennifer Gibson, PhD, and Doug Johnson-Greene, PhD, of the Committee on Disabilities in Psychology; Helen Coons, PhD, Sari Dworkin, PhD, Louise Silverstein, PhD, Veronica Thomas, PhD, and Karen Wyche, PhD, of the Committee on Women in Psychology; Randall Ehrbar, PsyD, Randy Georgemiller, PhD, Patricia Hawkins, PhD, and Glenda Russell, PhD,of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns; and Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, EdD, incoming chair of the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs. They advocated for one or more of the following pieces of legislation: the Ryan White CARE Act, the Older Americans Act/Positive Aging, the Lifespan Respite Care Act, and the Child and Media Research Advancement Act.

Education policy

  • Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program. Despite a shrinking federal budget, Education-PPO was successful in gaining an appropriation in both the House and Senate fiscal year 2007 Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education appropriations bills for GPE, thus ensuring its continuation. This success is due to strong support from the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC) grassroots network and other APA members who met with members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Education PPO thanks in particular Nick Andonov, PhD, from San Bernadino, Calif., for working to gain the support of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), chairman of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Geropsychologists Eryn Park, PhD, and Todd Burley, PhD, from Loma Linda University, also reached out to Lewis to explain the importance of GPE.

In addition, a number of GPE grantees contacted or visited with their members of Congress or their staff. Thanks go to Art McDonald, PhD, Tami DeCoteau, PhD, and Mike Fellner, PhD, who contacted the offices of Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.). Education PPO also appreciates the efforts of Tom Power, PhD, who advocated with the office of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Eve Adams, PhD, with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.); Cathy Marvolas, PhD, Susan Labott, PhD, and Catherine Campbell, PhD, with Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); Brick Johnstone, PhD, and Terri Weaver, PhD, with Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.); and Martha Crowther, PhD, with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Other APA members who advocated for GPE include David Powers, PhD, with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.); and Mardi Allen, PhD, and Scotty Hargrove, PhD, with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). GPE grantee Kermit Crawford, PhD, met with Sen. Edward Kennedy, and GPE grantees Deborah King, PhD, Linda Alpert-Gillis, PhD, and Richard Zweig, PhD, met with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, both members of the Senate authorizing committee.

Defense-Graduate Psychology Education (D-GPE) program. Education PPO thanks APA member Herb Goldstein, PhD, from St. Petersburg, Fla., for continuing to speak with Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and his staff about the need to support the newly established D-GPE program. Jerry Grammer, PhD, from Austin, Texas, is also working to gain the support of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) for D-GPE.

  • Education Leadership Conference (ELC). Education PPO also recognizes the 2006 ELC attendees who participated in more than 120 meetings with congressional members and their staff. The 2006 Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Award recipients recognized at ELC include Sheryl Benton, PhD, of Kansas State University, lauded for research that led to the creation of a new federal campus suicide prevention program, and Greg Keilin, PhD of the University of Texas and a FEDAC campus/training representative, applauded for his ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the need to be involved in and support education advocacy grassroots activities.

Education PPO recognizes all the FEDAC regional coordinators, FEDAC campus/training representatives and other APA members who sent letters to, e-mailed, called and visited their members of Congress. Congress received over 5,500 messages from the psychology education community regarding GPE, which helped save the program in a difficult budget cycle.

Science policy

Congressional briefings. In January, APA partnered with 24 other organizations to co-sponsor the briefing "The Public Health Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita--Applying Lessons Learned." One of the presenters was Russell Jones, PhD, of Virginia Tech.

In May, the congressional briefing "Redesigning High School Science Curriculum to Meet the Demands of Global Competition" included on the speaker panel psychologist James Pellegrino, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Richard Spoth, PhD, of Iowa State University, was a featured speaker at the June Friends of NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) coalition briefing "Preventing Drug Abuse: Putting Science to Practice for Real World Solutions."

In September, Kathleen Grant, PhD, a psychologist and president of the Research Society on Alcoholism, spoke at a briefing on pharmacotherapeutic advances in the treatment of alcoholism.

In October, APA coordinated the briefing "Workplace and Public Safety: The Role of Behavioral Research," sponsored by the Decade of Behavior, APA Div. 14 (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology-SIOP) and the National Communication Association. Two of the speakers were David Hofmann, PhD, of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Michael Burke, PhD, of Tulane University. Deborah Boehm-Davis, PhD, of George Mason University, served as moderator.

Congressional hearings. In May, Bill Strickland, PhD, vicepresident of the Human Resources Research Organization, delivered APA's oral testimony on fiscal year 2007 funding for research within the Department of Defense before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

In June, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to promote awareness of research on, diagnosis of and treatment for serious mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia. Witnesses included psychologists Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, of UCLA, and Diane Gooding, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • Other activities. In January the following 13 psychologists and members of the Executive Committee of SIOP participated in a Science-PPO advocacy training workshop: Janet Barnes-Farrell, PhD, Adrienne Colella, PhD, John Cornwell, PhD, Jose Cortina, PhD, Robert Dipboye, PhD, Lisa Finkelstein, PhD, Leaetta Hough, PhD, Deirdre Knapp, PhD, Kurt Kraiger, PhD, Bill Macey, PhD, Jeff McHenry, PhD, and Eduardo Salas, PhD.

APA co-sponsored an exhibit with the American Educational Research Association for the annual Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Capitol Hill Exhibit and Reception in June. Marcia Linn, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley, presented her NSF-funded research on the use of technology in teaching middle and high school math and science. Nora Newcombe, PhD, of Temple University, joined other scientists supported by NSF for a Capitol Hill Lobby Day on Sept. 13, sponsored by CNSF.

To honor the 10th anniversary of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), APA and 18 other organizations held a poster session and ice cream social on Capitol Hill. Many NIH staff psychologists helped shape the event. In addition to psychologists whose work was featured, Robert Zucker, PhD, of the University of Michigan, Lorraine Ramig, PhD, of the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Greg Siegle, PhD, of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, responded to questions about their posters.

Further Reading

The APA Public Policy Office welcomes psychologists to join in its advocacy efforts in 2007 by visiting the Government Relations page or calling (202) 336-6062.