Governing public interest: BAPPI and the public interest committees

BAPPI assures that psychology serves the public interest and advances social justice, health and well-being for all people

APA is a highly respected organization — policymakers and others look to APA for information and recommendations based on psychological research and practice experience. APA’s governance is charged with a policy development process designed to ensure that the best research and practice are represented and that input from a broad array of members and groups is reflected.

APA’s extensive governance system is comprised of the membership at the top, followed by the Council of Representatives, Board of Directors, and then boards and committees. 

Standing boards and committees are selected by the APA Council of Representatives. Continuing committees are usually appointed by the parent board, subject to approval by the Board of Directors. Ad hoc task forces, working groups, or other groups are typically appointed by the group they report to.

APA policies are set by the Council of Representatives. 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 of committee develops its own policy recommendations.

Boards and committees may recommend policy or provide input on policy recommendations making their way through APA’s policy development process. Policy recommendations are ultimately submitted through the Board of Directors to the Council of Representatives for final action. Whether responding to a referral from Council, developing policy recommendations, or providing comments on policy recommendations originating with other groups, boards and committees and their members play a critical role in this process.

Boards and committees can also propose projects or programs consistent with established APA policies or specific to their respective mission statements.  

The Public Interest Directorate provides staff support to the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) and its reporting committees, in addition to the Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology and AIDS.

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, with other APA boards, committees and divisions, and through collaboration with external professional and interest groups working on related issues.

Committees that report through BAPPI include:

The directorate also provides staff support for the Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology and AIDS, reporting to the Board of Directors.

BAPPI works to ensure that diversity issues not only receive attention 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 and issues. The Board also supports public interest committees in addressing their core issues.

BAPPI is comprised of nine members elected by the 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 BAPPI includes 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.

BAPPI continues to strongly advocate for diversity training within and across APA governance and was influential in instituting diversity training now being offered on a regular basis to all governance groups.

In the context of APA’s new mission statement, vision and core values, and as part of APA’s new strategic plan, BAPPI is evaluating and refining board priorities, focusing in particular on health disparities. For more information, contact Sue Houston.

The critical work of all these groups could not go forward without the involvement, commitment and dedication of member volunteers. Representing the wide variety of public interest constituents and issues allows members to have real impact on the work of the Association, and brings its own rewards as well. Getting involved means you have impact, and your contribution matters.

To some, however, “getting in” to APA governance can seem overwhelming at first — APA is a large organization, and the governance structure and nominations processes are complex. On the other hand, the policy development process and indeed the work of the Association depend on the involvement and valuable individual contributions of its members. All Public Interest groups welcome nominations from as wide and diverse a pool as possible. Watch for the next article on Public Interest governance, which will focus on how you and your colleagues can navigate the process and get involved.