LIWP celebrates its fifth year of empowering women at APA convention in Hawai’i

Two celebration events in Hawai’i highlight LIWP’s latest accomplishments.

On a breezy summer night in Honolulu, the American Psychological Association's (APA) Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP) executive committee* hosted an afternoon alumni reunion tea and an evening reception events to celebrate the LIWP’s five years of empowering women psychologists as leaders.

Left photo: APA LIWP Alumni Reunion Afternoon Tea Right Photo: APA LIWP Outdoor Reception at the Honolulu Yacht Club

Left photo: APA LIWP Alumni Reunion Afternoon Tea. Right photo: APA LIWP Outdoor Reception at the Honolulu Yacht Club


Alumni Reunion Tea Event

Faculty and students from the LIWP enjoyed an afternoon "tea" complete with cocktails and finger sandwiches during the APA convention in Honolulu. The Hawaii Yacht Club offered a lovely, relaxed waterfront setting. The free-form seating turned into one large inclusive circle and conversations ranged from work to surfing lessons. The gathering was infused with a sense of aloha and warmth.

APA LIWP Evening Reception Event

Melba Vasquez, PhD, APA past president and chair of the APA LIWP Fundraising Committee, emceed the reception. The Hawaii Yacht Club was the perfect setting to hear from Helen Coons, PhD, and Sandra Shullman, PhD, APA LIWP co-chairs, about the demand from women psychologists for leadership development programs and continuing education and also the APA LIWP’s strides with meeting these demands and pushing the envelope even further, to hone in on the future development needs of women psychologists in leadership positions and to create programming accordingly.  

While Vasquez recognized by name major donors to the Dorothy W. Cantor APF Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology Fund**, but all donors, of large and small gifts, were thanked for their generosity and commitment to increasing the numbers of women psychologists in leadership positions. 

As a centerpiece of the evening’s event, Vasquez invited two APA LIWP alumnae, Ramani Durvasula, PhD, and Jeannie Sperry, PhD, to share with attendees examples of how the APA LIWP has impacted their professional leadership trajectories. 

Ramani Durvasula

“When I came to LIWP in 2008, I found myself stuck in ruts both professional and personal. I wanted to do something in the media space, a bit “out of the box” — but felt I had “no right” to do that, and didn’t know how to get there. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to make full professor, and get more funding for my HIV research. In the midst of the myriad meetings and exercises we did at LIWP, at the end of the day it was the simplest things that allowed me to translate the wisp of a hope into something real. It was the ability to sit amongst formidable and supportive women at various career levels, from a wide range of settings, with a wide range of life experience who shared a common purpose — to mentor and support female scholars. It was their enthusiasm, willingness to listen without judgment and ultimately, their push for me to voice my aspirations out loud that led me to take the bravest (and perhaps foolhardy) professional jumps of my career.” With the network and resources she gained from her participation in the APA LIWP and since then, Durvasula says that she has achieved each of these goals and more, such as co-hosting a cable television series and regularly appearing on television news programs and talk-shows. She completes her term as vice chair of the Committee on Women in Psychology in December and is seeking opportunities to continue to serve in APA governance. 

Jeannie Sperry

“Since attending the LIWP Program, I have continued to take on new leadership challenges and have pursued new career directions. I have served as associate director of our medical residency program and developed a primary care psychology fellowship program. I was elected to again serve as president of my state's psychological association, and have become much more involved in legislative advocacy. I co-wrote and am now administering a $1 million HRSA grant developing and implementing a doctor-patient intensive communication curriculum for all four years of medical school at three campuses. I was granted a Gold Humanism Scholarship to attend the Harvard Macy Institute 2014 Program for Educators, and will be attending a faculty development course at Harvard next year to enhance my teaching of medical students and faculty in the provision of compassionate health care. I have become involved in competency assessment using simulation scenarios and obtained a joint appointment in our institution's department of medical education. I have taken on a leadership role in a national association, and achieved board certification in clinical health this summer. I attribute a great deal of credit for these accomplishments to the LIWP program and the virtual support I continue to feel from my LIWP cohort and leaders.” 

Joining in the festivities were APA past-presidents Dorothy Cantor, PsyD, Florence Denmark, PhD, and Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, president-elect Nadine Kaslow, PhD, board members Louise Douce, PhD, Kurt Geisinger, PhD, Josephine Johnson, PhD, Jennifer Kelly, PhD, Susan McDaniel, PhD, and William Strickland, PhD, CEO Norman Anderson, PhD, Public Interest Directorate executive director Gwendolyn P. Keita, PhD and American Psychological Foundation executive director Elizabeth Straus.

*APA LIWP executive committee members: Helen Coons, PhD, Sandy Shullman, PhD, Lula Beatty, PhD, Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, Ruth Fassinger, PhD, Mary Casey Jacob, PhD, Nadine Kaslow, PhD, Susan McDaniel, PhD, Melba Vasquez, PhD, and Shari Miles-Cohen, PhD.

**The Dorothy W. Cantor APF Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology Fund was formally established with the American Psychological Fund (APF) in January 2011. The Dorothy W. Cantor APF Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology Fund will support the leadership institute by providing operating support and also scholarships for a select number of APA LIWP participants who exhibit outstanding leadership qualities.