Honoring Dr. John Anderson

John R. Anderson, PhD, former senior director of the Office on AIDS, was also a distinguished and pioneering clinical psychologist dedicated to the fight against HIV

John Anderson, PhDJohn Anderson, PhD, a distinguished and pioneering clinical psychologist and therapist passed away on Sept. 17. John was the former Senior Director of the Office on AIDS — a position he held since 1994. John began his APA career in 1988 as Assistant Director for the AIDS Community Training Project, the predecessor to the HIV Office for Psychology Education (HOPE) Program

Anderson shaped and strengthened the sustainability of the HOPE, Behavioral and Social Science Volunteer and Cyber Mentors programs, as well as of two additional special projects: the Tabano and End-of-Life projects. In his position at APA, John was awarded federal funding totaling more than $14 million from federal agencies including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health. Through his leadership, the Office on AIDS and its programs have trained tens of thousands of mental health professionals about HIV and mental health. He was also a coauthor and editor of six APA-published books. As the staff liaison for the Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology and AIDS (COPA), John led collaborative efforts to establish numerous APA policy positions and statements. Most recently, the APA Council of Representatives adopted the Resolution on Combination Biomedical and Behavioral Approaches to Optimize HIV Prevention.

Dr. Anderson staffed APA Working Groups on Assisted Suicide and End of Life Decisions. The final reports for these groups included important recommendations and generated two policy resolutions — assisted suicide and end of of life issues and care — adopted by the Council of Representatives. Anderson played a pivotal role in creating a ground-breaking, internet based educational programs for end-of-life issues, for professionals who care for the terminally ill. The 10 online modules are hosted by the APA Office of Continuing Education in Psychology.

Anderson was known nationally and internationally as a leader in the field of psychology, developing numerous national evidence-based HIV prevention programs. His innovative approaches to cutting edge approaches and interventions for HIV made him a vanguard in the community. 

Colleague Robert A. Washington, PhD, MDiv, Montgomery Hospice vice president of counseling services and board member of the Hospice Foundation of America commented,“the loss of John Anderson’s voice, considerable intellect and compassion is a huge event in the history of psychology’s efforts to eradicate AIDS while supporting those, like myself, who live with the disease.”

Former Committee on Psychology and AIDS member Mariana Cherner, PhD noted, “Dr. John Anderson was an advocate, a mentor and teacher, and a compassionate clinician. His contributions to the mental health care of persons with HIV are represented in his leadership of the APA Office on AIDS and the programs there that are his legacy.”

"John will be greatly missed by all his colleagues in the Public Interest Directorate," noted Executive Director Gwendolyn Keita, PhD. "In his 20 years at APA, he did amazing work in the fight against this terrible disease, and he will always be remembered for the vision and creativity he brought to his work here."

He was also a clinical psychologist who conducted a private psychotherapy and case management practice in Washington, D.C. since 1986. He specialized in individual, couple, family and hypnosis therapies for people living with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

The APA, Public Interest Directorate and the Office on AIDS salute John Anderson, PhD, for his many years of dedicated service in the fight against HIV. He will be greatly missed.