In December, APA Chief Executive Officer Raymond D. Fowler, PhD, announced he will retire at the end of 2002 after 13 years at the association's helm, thus kicking off a national search for his successor.
"It will be a challenge to replace Ray Fowler," says APA President Philip G. Zimbardo, PhD. "He has tremendous talent, skill and energy, and has done an extraordinary job, day in and day out."
The search will be run by an independent firm and will entail a broad outreach to APA governance to determine what qualities members want in their new CEO. "The board feels strongly that when that person is named, the council and most members will say 'Right on!'" says Zimbardo. "We want the new CEO to represent the broadest array of our members' skills and experience."
APA's Board of Directors had already been discussing strategies for recruiting a new CEO since Fowler's contract was slated to end in 2004. A board-appointed "transition committee," chaired by board members J. Bruce Overmier, PhD, and Ruth U. Paige, PhD, had been discussing strategies for the eventual search for Fowler's successor. When he decided to retire earlier, the transition committee moved into high gear. (The board will appoint an official CEO Search Committee this month.)
The transition committee's first priority has been to advertise the position in the January and February issues of the Monitor.
"The members of the board have no preconceived notions of who the new CEO should be and are committed to being very open in all aspects of the process," says Paige. "Although we are sad about Ray's decision to retire early, the board wants to turn his retirement into an opportunity to try to visualize future needs of members and the association and future directions in psychology."
After reviewing proposals from several executive search firms, APA's Board of Directors selected New York City-based Development Resource Group (DRG), a company that specializes in CEO searches for nonprofit groups. Over the next several months, DRG's President David Edell and Senior Vice President Mary Wheeler will gather input on the characteristics members want in a new CEO from APA's constituencies at upcoming meetings. DRG will attend APA's Division Leadership Conference, the Council of Representatives meeting, the State Leadership Conference and the Consolidated Meetings. DRG will also meet extensively with APA's Board of Directors and its Executive Manage-ment Group, which is made up of APA's executive staff.
"We need the input of the constituencies to help build a meaningful job description, one that is responsive to the needs of all," explains Paige. "That is a tall order, but without that input we'd be doomed from the start both because we'd be likely to miss important, perhaps subtle but necessary qualities of a new CEO, and because we'd alienate one or another group."
The executive search firm will compile the input it received from APA's leadership and submit a "CEO job description" to the Board of Directors. In the meantime, the position will also be advertised in national publications, such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, and in a broad array of psychology publications, including APA's division newsletters, ethnic-minority association newsletters and the publications of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards and the National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology.
DRG is now collecting resumes and will begin its initial screening of them in late March. That could take several months, depending on the number of candidates who apply for the job.
DRG will then send its list of recommended candidates to the CEO Search Committee, which will make recommendations to the Board of Directors. The board will select a final candidate and submit that name to APA's Council of Representatives for a "confirmation vote." To be officially appointed as the new CEO, the candidate must be approved by two-thirds of those council members who vote.
"This is a real opportunity for one who wants to shape the field," says Bruce Overmier. "All should encourage those they know who would be great CEOs."