APA members have elected Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, as the 2008 APA president. Kazdin is the John M. Musser Professor of Psychology, Child Psychiatry, and Institute of Social Policies at Yale University. He also directs the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, a clinical service for children and families. For approximately 25 years he has been researching child aggressive and antisocial behavior and methods to ameliorate these. Kazdin says it's too early to commit to specific APA presidential initiatives, but his overarching vision for his presidential year includes:
- Expanding consumer access to psychological practice.
- Promoting research, training and clinical services sensitive to diversity, culture and identity.
- Underscoring and communicating to the public the importance of lifestyle as key to health.
- Partnering with international organizations to expand psychology's impact.
- Expanding APA's efforts to communicate psychology findings in key policy areas (for example, day care, treatment of prisoners, worker safety).
Kazdin cautions, however, that such priorities are not set in stone. Rather he aims to spend his president-elect year gathering information to set informed presidential initiatives that draw on the strong talents of staff at APA and input of the membership. He discussed with the Monitor his immediate plans and his reaction to the election.
Q. What is your first priority as APA president-elect?
Kazdin: The main task is to be a little quiet and learn more about the organization-each of the initiatives, reports and priorities already in place. I am eager to learn as much as I can to utilize resources and to optimize our contribution as a profession. I will try to attend every possible APA event that I can get to.
Q. Could you expand on that?
Kazdin: I want to listen to APA members. Many members wrote me who were thinking of rejoining APA or dropping out. I spent endless hours dialoguing about their concerns about what their dues are going for. All of this was very valuable. Some feel APA is a ball rolling down the hill over which they no control. Others feel they do not see the ball. So, what are the concerns, and how can we address them and attend to them more? My job is to listen to the APA staff and officers, and also to get a feel for where member issues are not being addressed, or of where they are being addressed, and members need to be informed of that.
Q. What was your reaction to being elected?
Kazdin: I was genuinely surprised when I got the call….I've been more a behind-the-scenes person than some of the other candidates.
Q. Why do you think you were elected? Was it the campaigning?
Kazdin: Yes, I spoke with a lot of people, so it could have been that. Or it could have been those mortuaries in Chicago that sent in votes…kidding! [laughs]. Perhaps what made me unique among the candidates is I have a full-time academic job, I do research on clinical problems, and I also run a full-time clinical service. I work on the most costly mental health problem in the United States: antisocial and aggressive child behavior. So perhaps I bridge the academic and clinical psychologists. However, I am keenly interested in science-all of psychological science and sciences well outside of our profession. Consequently, my interest in partnering with other professions to augment the impact of psychology in the world may have contributed as well.
Q. What are your priorities for your presidential year?
Kazdin: That will be determined by what I learn during my interim year: what is moving along well that needs a nudge or should be left alone; what needs to be planned; what is growing fine and needs to be communicated about to the membership; and what needs Miracle Gro. You can read more about my presidential priorities (www.votekazdinapa.yale.edu), but what is most important is implementation. One of my issues is to make more salient psychology's impact internationally. To do that, understanding diversity, culture, and identity needs to be accelerated. Diversity is more than inclusion; it is understanding. We need to put our best science forward about how to better understand diversity. We need to make our science relevant to it. We already know it is relevant to our science. Another focus is uniting science, service and clinical practice. I can do that. We can make the case about the need for more (psychological) services and reimbursement, but it must be based on the best research. I believe I can do that.
Q. Do you have a message for members?
Kazdin: I am looking forward to this job, and I am eager for the input of all those who wish to contact me about what we want to do and do better. Leadership is a matter of mobilizing resources and talent toward important ends. We know we have the resources and talent in our organization. The only part we do not know is whether we have elected a leader who can mobilize these. With member help, I hope to be that person.
-B. Murray Law
Voting results for 2008 presidential election
APA uses the Ware System for its presidential elections-a system that allows voters to rank their choices for the office rather than voting for just one candidate.
Under the system, voters rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate has a majority of the votes cast after the first count, ballots are then counted several times: On each count, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated from consideration, and the votes for that candidate are transferred to the voters' next choice. Ballots that indicate no additional choice are considered "exhausted."
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