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  APA Council Meeting Update 
  Wendy Williams & Richard Suinn
  APA Div 9 Council Representatives

APA Council of Representatives (COR) had its summer meeting on August 1st and 3rd, 2012 in Orlando, FL at the APA Convention. There are a lot of exciting things happening at APA, however, because of some time-sensitive issues, we are focusing our column on two main issues before APA governance and the membership of APA.

First, there are several bylaw amendments that will need to be voted on this fall by members of APA. Of particular importance is the bylaws amendment to seat the representatives from the Ethnic Minority Associations (EMPAs). Currently, one representative from each of the four associations (Asian American Psychological Association, Association of Black Psychologists, National Latina/o Psychological Association, and Society of Indian Psychologists) is granted “observer status” to attend the Council meetings; however they are not allowed to vote on APA governance issues. The bylaws amendment would give each association the opportunity to elect a representative who would be granted full rights and responsibilities equivalent to all other representatives to Council, including voting rights. The Council overwhelmingly supported sending this amendment to the membership for approval (82% to 18%). If you are a member of APA, you will be receiving a ballot to vote in this election. The amendment will allow those voices which have previously been excluded from voting in APA business to be represented and will continue to ensure that APA has a diverse representation of its members on Council. Voting in favor of the amendment will NOT affect SPSSI’s or any other division or state associations’ representation—these are seats that already exist, but would change their status from “observer” into full voting members. Both your representatives and SPSSI Council endorse the approval of this amendment, so please take a moment to vote in favor of this bylaws amendment. We also ask your help in spreading information in support of this important amendment benefiting other fellow APA members.

Second, as you may recall from our previous columns, APA has been engaging in a number of activities to make APA an effective 21st Century organization. Among these activities is the issue of how to make APA governance more efficient. At the last Council meeting in February, Council agreed to look at the potential restructuring of both Council composition and function. At this meeting, Council was presented with three skeleton options for these potential changes.

The first, which was labeled Incremental Change, is an option that would rededicate Council to working on “big” issues and delegate corporate decisions to the Board of Directors. Although Council would be spending its time on different issues (hopefully, more important policy-related issues), this option would not change the way in which delegates are elected to Council. In other words, SPSSI would keep its current representation on Council.

The second option, labeled Moderate Change, would transfer most decisions to a somewhat larger Board of Directors and change Council to an assembly based on “communities of interest” who would work on issues related to the “communities” they represent. In this scenario, neither Divisions nor State Associations would be guaranteed proportional representation, but rather would have to put forth candidates under “communities of interest” slates (e.g., education, policy, research, practice). In other words, SPSSI would lose its guaranteed seats, but might be able to place more members in governance if it can successfully put forth candidates to represent these “communities.” However, these delegates would represent their slate (e.g., policy) not SPSSI as an organization, per se.

The third option, which was labeled Clean Slate Change, would get rid of an assembly (i.e., Council as it currently stands) and would replace it with a somewhat larger Board of Trustees who would be elected to represent “communities of interest” and who could seek advice from ad hoc committees. This would allow for the governing body to be nimble in its decision-making, but it would mean that the power to govern APA is concentrated in the hands of a much smaller group of people. As such, SPSSI would not have guaranteed representation, and there would be fewer slots for SPSSI members to be elected compared with the Moderate Change proposal.

Council carefully considered and reflected on the pros and cons of the three skeleton options. As a result of the half-day discussion of these options, 85% of Council voted to move forward with developing a more concrete and detailed model for governance options that are somewhere between the “Moderate” and “Clean Slate” scenarios. At our next meeting in February 2013, the Council will be presented with options to flesh out the still undefined areas of these proposals. For example, what is the composition and selection process for all proposed competency-based groups (i.e., “communities of interest”, Board of Trustees, or ad hoc advisories). What are the decision management processes going to look like (i.e., how issues will be triaged, what is the system of checks and balances)? What will be the role of technology in these proposals (i.e., can it be used to increase direct member input, streamline governance functions, and increase involvement from key stakeholder groups)?

Council plans to have a final vote on a full proposal by Summer 2013. Then, any changes Council approves would need to be voted on by the membership. However, because the proposals before Council could represent a significant change to how SPSSI will be represented (or won’t be represented) at APA, we would like to hear your thoughts on these proposals. Please contact either of us with your thoughts on these very important changes.

—Wendy Williams & Dick Suinn

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