Running Commentary

In this column I provide an overview of my vision for APA, and some of my goals as CEO--what I call my points of emphasis.

Looking Back

Before describing my vision and goals, it is instructive to look back on where APA was 14 years ago, and to juxtapose my points of emphasis with those of the then-new CEO, Ray Fowler. When Ray took over as CEO, the organization was very much in financial crisis and losing members rapidly. Given this state of affairs, Ray's points of emphasis were fourfold: (1) stabilize our finances; (2) bring APA divisions back into the fold and increase division services; (3) prevent the departure of Members; and (4) increase our Membership. Ray's points of emphasis were guided by one key question: What can be done to ensure the survival of the organization and move it toward greatness?

Looking to the Future

Because of the successful efforts of Ray Fowler and countless other APA governance and staff members, my points of emphasis are guided then by different questions: What can be done to ensure that APA becomes an even greater organization and fulfills its highest aspirations? How can APA better serve it members, the field of psychology and the public? To address these questions, I have developed four points of emphasis that are described below. They reflect what I believe are organizational necessities at this stage in our history. They are also congruent with APA priorities established over the years by many governance bodies. Finally, they are complementary with my own talents, interests and past experiences.

  • Increase non-dues revenue.On the surface, one would think that revenue would not be an issue for an organization with a $90 million budget and nearly $30 million dollars in the bank. But to offer our members the high level of service that we do is expensive, and dues only cover about 16 percent of the annual budget. Our budget problems in 2002, and several financial challenges that lie ahead, illustrate why finding new sources of non-dues revenue is critical for our organizational well-being and for advancing psychology and achieving our highest aspirations. I view the goal of increasing non-dues revenue as a means to several ends, rather than an end in itself. Those ends include having a balanced budget every year; increasing our reserve fund to protect the organization from inevitable economic downturns (so that APA is as strong for future psychologists as it is for us); to have the resources needed for new governance and staff projects that advance the field; to keep dues as low as possible while offering more services to members; and to have the staff required to fulfill our commitments.

  • Increase the influence of psychology in the world. Developing and implementing new ways to demonstrate the potential of psychology to benefit all sectors of society is critical for the advancement of psychological practice and science. I want psychology to have an even greater presence in areas such as health care, education, health science and other sciences, media programming, the workplace, and public policy, to name a few. We must market psychology as problem-solving profession--both in practice and in science.

  • Increase the diversity and knowledge base of psychology. The changing demographics of America require that psychology address two key issues to ensure that it remains relevant. We must ensure that APA and the field continue to diversify its membership to reflect the nation's changing demographics. We must also ensure that all of our members, regardless of demographic characteristics, are competent to deliver effective clinical services or to conduct research relevant to an increasingly diverse society.

  • Making APA an ever better place to work for our employees. APA has always valued its employees and believed that their well-being is something to be valued in its own right. In addition, employees are the foundation of all APA does and hopes to do (they provide the capacity for APA to fulfill its highest aspirations). It is very important to me that APA be among the national leaders in employee welfare, which will have the side effect of APA working better for all its members.

APA currently has many activities in each of these areas and many others on the drawing board. Before determining what else should be done in these areas, we must first examine what we are currently doing, and what could be done better. I will be working with APA staff over the next months to assess where we are and where we should be going.