Public Policy Update

Sept. 1 marked the conclusion of the 1999­/2000 APA Congressional Fellowship term and the 25th anniversary of the program. Through the Congressional Fellowship Program, APA brings psychologists to Capitol Hill, thereby creating a unique cadre of psychologists with policy expertise. While working for a member of Congress or congressional committee, the Fellows tackle a broad array of issues ranging from juvenile crime to health care to economic policy. They learn firsthand how Congress works and how knowledge derived from psychological science and practice can be used to inform the public policy debate.

The APA program, which is part of the larger Congressional Science Fellowship Program administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has gained in prominence over the years. When APA first initiated the Congressional Fellowship program in 1974, there was some concern about whether psychologists "belonged" in a science fellowship program. The experience of our first Fellow, Pamela Ebert Flattau, PhD, and of those who followed her, served to convince others of the value of psychology's contribution to policy. APA increased its sponsorship to two Fellows in 1982, then to three Fellows in 1990. Currently, there are four APA Congressional Fellows.

In 1994, APA began offering the Science Policy Fellowship to provide psychologists with direct experience in federal science policy from the perspective of federal agencies. Science Policy Fellows have worked in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Science Foundation.

Through the 1999­2000 academic year, APA has supported five Science Policy Fellows and 70 Congressional Fellows, including five Bailey Fellows. The William A. Bailey AIDS Policy Congressional Fellowship was first offered in 1995 in memory of AIDS prevention advocate and APA employee, Bill Bailey. Each of these Fellows has represented the association and the field with integrity and distinction. Each has also continued to give back to the field through research and clinical practice, work in the policy arena and involvement in APA governance.

APA is proud of its support of this program and celebrated the completion of the 25th anniversary year at APA's 2000 Annual Convention in August.

Beginning in the 2001­02 program year, an APA Congressional Fellowship will be named in memory of Catherine Acuff, PhD, a member of APA's Board of Directors who died in April at age 51 following a brief illness. The Fellowship will be awarded to an applicant with five or more years of postdoctoral experience to reflect Acuff's midcareer transition to the public policy arena. At the time of her death, Acuff was the director of treatment adherence health outcomes for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Earlier in her career, she maintained an active private clinical practice in Connecticut, held faculty positions at local colleges and hospital-based clinical training programs, and served as president of the Connecticut Psychological Association. Acuff was a remarkable psychologist, advocate and humanitarian. Consonant with the goals of the Fellowship program, she was committed to the application of psychological knowledge and expertise to solve larger societal problems.