The Society for the
Psychological
Study of Social Issues

    

Secretary-Treasurer's Column

Winter/Spring Report 2009

By Sally Shumaker, Secretary-Treasurer


During these turbulent economic times here and internationally, I am pleased to be able to bring you positive news about SPSSI’s economic status. SPSSI continues to be a financially sound organization serving a broad range of activities that are central to our mission. This is particularly rewarding now as the work of SPSSI – always critical -- is especially important during this period of stress and challenges, coupled with the opportunities afforded by a new administration that shares

much of the vision that has been central to SPSSI since its birth – almost 75 years ago! Our ability to continue and grow our many initiatives is rewarding and depends on our maintaining a fiscally strong base. SPSSI is in the fortunate position of producing sufficient revenue to keep our diverse portfolio of programs thriving.


SPSSI’s fiscal year (FY) runs from January through December. Brief updates on our current and projected fiscal status, and recent initiatives related to our economic situation,

are provided, below:

  • SPSSI ended FY08 with a surplus of about $200,000, with revenue at $820,244 and expenses at $620,006. Our lower than anticipated expenses were in large part due to delays in fully staffing our Central Office. Our ongoing strength in revenue is in large part attributable to income from our journals, donations, and membership fees. (Please note that we are in the process of completing our 2008 books and that these figures are close estimates and not final.)

  • At our June, 2008 meeting, Council approved in concept that in years in which we run a surplus, we will allocate about one-third of the surplus to special, one-time projects, and transfer the remaining money into our investment portfolio. (Our special projects might be viewed as SPSSI’s own “stimulus package” – though ours is fully funded and does not impose a deficit on the organization.) At our winter 2009 meeting, a proposal to use a portion of the FY08 surplus to fund a request for proposals (RFP) initiative was unanimously approved. This RFP will be sent to all of our members in the near future – so be on the lookout for it. We look forward to receiving innovative proposals that address the key issues and concerns of our organization.

  • In order to continue to enhance our tracking and financial projections, we implemented a budget process in 2007 in which we review and approve our budgets the summer prior to the next FY. Thus, SPSSI Council approved the Fiscal Year 09 budget in June of 2008. Our projected income is $733,200 with projected expenses at $765,106. In the past two years SPSSI developed and approved a formal strategic plan (www.spssi.org/strategicplan). Hereafter our budgets will be guided more explicitly by this important document.

  • SPSSI underwent its last full audit for FY 2005. Prior to this, SPSSI has periodically gone through detailed audits with no formal interim process in off-audit years. Beginning in FY 2006 we initiated a process by which we undergo a formal review by our auditors on an annual basis. Our reviews for 2006 and 2007 were completed with no concerns or issues. We have approved a full audit for FY 2008 in conjunction with the transition in the Secretary-Treasurer role (see next bullet). At this time, I would like to express my strong appreciation to our Central Office and in particular Dr. Susan Dudley, our Executive Director, for the superb job she has done in putting in place the rigorous system we now have that allows us to track our spending and revenue closely and accurately.

  • I will end my tenure as Secretary-Treasurer on August 31, 2009, and SPSSI Council is fortunate to have identified and named our next new Secretary-Treasurer, Margaret Bull Kovera. Margaret is a Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Forensic Psychology. Her research focuses on jury decision-making and eyewitness identification. In addition, Margaret is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychology-Law Society. Margaret has been an active member of SPSSI since her graduate school days. She was SPSSI’s Court Watch Chair for 8 years, and currently she chairs the Fellows Committee. In addition, she served as both Treasurer and President of APA’s Division 41 (APLS -- American Psychology-Law Society). Thus, she has proven experience in a division/ society’s affairs, including personnel, budgetary oversight, and financial planning. The skills Margaret brings to SPSSI’s Secretary- Treasurer position align well with the role. Margaret will assume her new role in SPSSI on September 1, 2009. Between now and then, Susan Dudley and I will work closely with Margaret to facilitate a smooth transition into this critical SPSSI position. In addition, Margaret will serve as an ex officio member of the Audit and Finance Committee (chaired by the secretary-treasurer) to help her get into the rhythm of SPSSI’s financial issues.

  • Not surprisingly given the current financial market, SPSSI’s investment portfolio has suffered some paper losses over the past year. Fortunately, however, we have been a relatively fiscally conservative organization, so our losses have been less than the general market. In addition, we maintain a large portion of our portfolio in bonds and the money market where small gains remain.

Key points:

  • At the end of FY 2007 we had a total market value of $1,816,117. At the end of FY 2008, this had dropped to $1,517,373, a reduction in market value of $341,059. Currently, SPSSI’s portfolio is divided as follows: $191,763 in Money Market Accounts (12%), $610,063 in Equity (40.2%), and $715,546 in Fixed Income Accounts (47.2%). The Audit and Finance Committee recently reviewed this distribution and voted to make no changes at this time.  SPSSI has an excellent investment team – the Roseneau/Paul Group at UBS Financial Services – who have worked with our organization for several years now. Under Pamela Roseneau’s leadership, the two have guided us through this rocky period and managed to keep our percent drop in market value for our equity portion of our portfolio less than the S&P.

  • Finally, as part of our last full audit in 2005, we were encouraged to adopt a formal investment policy. The Audit and Finance Committee developed a policy that was reviewed and approved by SPSSI Council at its February, 2009 meeting. This policy can be viewed online at www.spssi.org/financial documents.

In addition to having primary responsibility for the oversight of our fiscal position, the Secretary-Treasurer also serves as the officer in charge of the Central Office. Staff report to the Executive Director, Susan Dudley, and Susan in turn reports to the Secretary-Treasurer. She and I “meet” via conference calls on a weekly basis and when possible I meet with her in person on my frequent visits to Washington, DC. And, we are in almost daily contact via email and calls. Susan has updated you via the Central Office column over the past couple of years and I will not repeat that information here. I just wanted to provide a couple of updates from my Secretary- Treasurer role:

  • For the first time in many years, SPSSI’s CO is now fully staffed. Our longest term employee is Anila Balkissoon who has been with us now since 2006 and continues to be an outstanding staff member. In recent months we’ve added a full-time Policy Coordinator, Christopher Woodside – whom you’ve already heard from on multiple occasions. Having someone in Central Office with specific training and expertise in policy is a dream many of us have had for many years and we look forward to working with Chris in the months and years to come. Recently we hired Alexander Ingrams, our Administrative Assistant, who is already proving to fit in well with the multi-tasking and flexibility required of SPSSI staff.One of the duties of the Secretary- Treasurer is to conduct a formal, annual evaluation of the Executive Director. In the time I’ve served as SPSSI’s Secretary- Treasurer there have been major changes in the CO – starting first with our hiring Susan Dudley as Executive Director. She has done an outstanding job of putting systems into place with respect to our finances and the ongoing running of the many activities associated with SPSSI. I have conducted two formal annual reviews of Susan to date – which many of you contributed input on. I am pleased to inform you that in both of these reviews Susan received outstanding ratings in all categories.As Secretary-Treasurer I welcome your comments regarding the functioning of the Central Office. Please do not hesitate to contact me about how our organization is working to meet your needs as a member. I can be reached at: sshumake@wfubmc.edu.


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