Running Commentary

As I write my first column as APA's CEO, I am filled with a number of emotions including excitement, humility, gratitude and anticipation. I am excited about helping to lead an organization that I believe is a national treasure. Those of us who have been Members of and have worked with APA for many years may forget just how influential APA is.

In talking to laypeople about my new job, I have been surprised how many non-psychologists know our "brand." Among membership organizations, APA's reputation is strong, and our leadership position among behavioral and social science organizations is unparalleled. I believe all this is an indication of the organization's long history of effectiveness, and I am excited to be a part of it and look forward to making APA an even more effective organization for every Member.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be your CEO and am humbled to follow a living legend, Ray Fowler. When Ray became CEO fourteen years ago the organization was in a state of crisis. Under Ray's leadership, however, the downward spiral of the organization was righted. Although we experienced a budget shortfall in 2002, our financial future looks strong.

Forward momentum

I realize the hard work it took to get us where we are today, and I take very seriously my role in keeping APA strong. I am particularly grateful to the co-chairs and members of the CEO Search Committee, and to our Board of Directors and Council of Representatives for entrusting me with the job of continuing our forward momentum.

My strongest emotion now is one of great anticipation about functioning as CEO. The four months I spent last year working part time at APA served to amplify my enthusiasm for all that APA can do for psychologists and the public. As our Past-president Phil Zimbardo emphasized, APA and psychology can make a difference, and this theme will be a pervasive element of my administration.

My approach

So as CEO, what exactly will I emphasize, and what will best characterize my tenure?

  • I will be oriented toward listening. It is impossible to be successful in this position without a clear understanding of the perspectives of the many constituencies of APA. Listening to the many voices of APA will be strongly emphasized throughout my tenure. Although I have been involved with APA for many years, I realize there is much more I need to learn about our Members and their interests and concerns.

  • I will reach out to all APA constituencies. Related to the above, I will spend a great deal of my time reaching out to and getting to know the various constituencies of APA, especially those that I have had less contact with over the years. As a person who may be perceived as more science- and education- than practice-oriented, I will make a special effort to reach out to practice-oriented psychologists, and will work to ensure that I understand and am an effective national advocate for practice issues. I very much look forward to this.

  • I will emphasize service to our Members. Since leaving my position at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the things I have missed is working in the service of a mission that is larger than my individual scholarly interests. I am most fulfilled and effective when working on behalf of others, where my efforts can have a beneficial impact in the lives and careers of my colleagues. At APA, I will emphasize providing exemplary service to the membership and to our president, board and council, and will work creatively and energetically to implement their policies.

  • I will emphasize consensus-building and integration. At NIH, one of my key goals was to integrate behavioral and biological sciences, and to show how they were complementary. I will bring that same orientation to APA, and will work to build a consensus on the many complex issues that the association addresses, always with an eye to finding common ground. In line with our new president, Robert Sternberg, creating unity within psychology and fostering a greater sense of "oneness" is very important to me.

This is a very exciting and challenging time for the association and to be a psychologist. I look forward to working with you to create a new era of excellence for our profession.