Fifteen regional psychological association leaders discussed pressing issues, such as attracting and retaining members, competition from other professional organizations, and financial and administrative challenges at a December summit sponsored by APA's Education Directorate.
At the meeting, chaired by Charles Brewer, PhD, of APA's Board of Educational Affairs, the leaders, representing each of the regional psychological associations, shared strategies for addressing such concerns.
"It was an opportunity for them to reflect on their uniqueness and also their similarities and an opportunity to problem-solve and recognize the interconnection between the regional associations and APA," says meeting attendee Robin Hailstorks, PhD, Education Directorate associate executive director.
Attendees at a 2005 Education Leadership Conference breakout session proposed the meeting, during which participants discussed changes in their regional association's membership base, with some associations experiencing a decline and others remaining stable. Certain association representatives noted that their student membership is growing while academic and professional psychologists' numbers have declined. Although some attendees see this as a challenge, Hailstorks views an increase in student members as a positive sign.
"In terms of the pipeline, the regional associations are a wonderful place for priming students to become future members of the regional territories and APA," she says. "For many grad students, they get their first opportunity to connect to a professional organization and present their research [at regional meetings]."
Meeting attendees generated several recommendations, such as annual summit meetings to facilitate collaboration among the regional associations.
Regional association members also plan to seek further advice and training from APA on administrative and programmatic issues, such as support for conference planning and programming and membership-recruiting strategies, and financial issues such as investments and fundraising. Other ideas for the future include creating an overarching council of regional officials; improving the online convention programming submission process; seeking additional press coverage on regional association activities; and setting up a listserv.