Governing Public Interest: The Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI)

The American Psychological Association is governed by an extensive system comprised of the Association membership at the top, followed by the Council of Representatives, Board of Directors, and then boards and committees.

The American Psychological Association is governed by an extensive system comprised of the Association membership at the top, followed by the Council of Representatives, Board of Directors, and then boards and committees. Boards and committees are charged with policy development and/or the conduct of specific business of the Association. Sometimes ideas from Council members are referred to particular groups for consideration and action, and sometimes the board or committee develops its own policy recommendations. Boards and committees can propose projects or programs consistent with established APA policies and specific to their respective mission statements.

The oversight board for committees that are staffed within the Public Interest Directorate is the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, otherwise known as BAPPI.

BAPPI assures that psychology serves the public interest and advances social justice, health and well-being for all people. This is accomplished through interactions with its reporting committees, other APA boards, committees, and divisions and through collaboration with like-minded external professional and interest groups.

Committees that report through BAPPI include the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, Committee on Children, Youth and Families, Committee on Aging, Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs, Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology, Committee on Socioeconomic Status, and the Committee on Women in Psychology. The directorate also provides staff support to the Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology and Aids.

BAPPI works to ensure that diversity issues not only receive attention not only from PI groups, but are also brought to the forefront of all issues and areas concerning the Association as a whole. The Board’s membership is diverse and seeks to represent and advocate for all public interest constituencies (ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender concerns; children, youth and families; disability issues; older adults; women; issues related to socioeconomic status; persons living with HIV/AIDS and urban issues).

BAPPI is comprised of nine members elected by the APA Council of Representatives and one public member appointed by BAPPI, and is proud of the diversity within its ranks. Its membership is representative of the public interest constituencies and issues it represents. At all times the Board is comprised of at least one African-American psychologist, one Asian-American psychologist, one openly gay or lesbian psychologist, one Latino/Latina psychologist, one Native-American psychologist, one psychologist with a physical disability, one female psychologist, and one psychologist with expertise in issues related to aging populations.

On an ongoing basis, BAPPI advocates for diversity training within and across APA governance and was influential in instituting the diversity training now being offered on a regular basis to all governance groups. Currently, the Board has identified its top priorities as (1) promoting an understanding of public health across the various diversities and (2) promoting mental health services in correctional systems. A symposium focusing on issues of psychology and public health will be sponsored by BAPPI during the 2008 APA convention in Boston. Please watch upcoming issues of this newsletter for additional information.

Clearly the activities of the Board and committees housed within the Public Interest Directorate are far too numerous to cover here. However, those who are interested should visit our website www.apa.org/pi/gov. Also, PI staff would be very happy to discuss issues and answer any questions you have related to APA governance.


In the next issue: How to get involved in APA Governance.