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President’s Column:

  by Susan Opotow, SPSSI President 2008-2009

SPSSI at 72:  Vibrant, Timely, and Effective

It is a pleasure to write you as SPSSI’s 2008-2009 President. I took office at a time when SPSSI is in excellent shape. We are approaching our 75th anniversary as a vital organization that keeps the hopes of its founders alive by addressing a broad range of contemporary social issues with rigor and passion.


Recent Events

During the summer I had the pleasure of meeting new members and seeing colleagues and friends at two SPSSI convention programs. The first, in June, was SPSSI’s 7th Biennial Convention on “Disparities Across the Globe” at beautiful Roosevelt University in Chicago. Ram Mahalingam and Kim Case, convention program Co-chairs, and Pam Reid and Megan Kozak, local convention Co-chairs, did an outstanding job. The second, in August, was SPSSI’s excellent program at the APA convention in Boston, chaired by Ray Paloutzian. Talking with members throughout both meetings, I was impressed by the depth of their connections to SPSSI expressed in their concerns, hopes, and creative ideas. At a recent meeting of SPSSI’s United Nations Committee in New York, a SPSSI-UN representative said, “I am always thinking about SPSSI.” This striking expression of engagement resonated with me and seems true for many members because SPSSI is an important part of their professional identity.


Through our conferences and publications ? three journals and two book series ? SPSSI enlivens the field by generating theory and empirical findings with policy relevance to a broad array of social issues. Our membership is international and includes senior scholars who have influenced our thinking, mid-career scholars, early career scholars, and students who bring fresh ideas and approaches to social issues. This broad range of members bodes well for SPSSI’s continuing influence in psychology and ability to bring the practicality of theory and research to bear on social issues that are local, national, and global.


Upcoming Events

Looking ahead to the coming year, SPSSI Council will hold its Midwinter Meeting at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York at the end of January. Council will meet next in early August in Toronto just before the APA meeting (August 6-9, 2009). In alternate years, SPSSI has a stand-alone conference and a program at APA meetings. In 2009, SPSSI’s business and awards meeting, presidential address, and Kurt Lewin address will occur in Toronto. At APA meetings, SPSSI traditionally co-sponsors sessions with kindred divisions, and our theme, “Partnering on Social Issues for Social Change,” celebrates members’ collaborative work. Our call invites symposia, posters, workshops, and discussion sessions on partnering, broadly defined, as well as on SPSSI’s traditional themes to showcase the range of social issues and methodological approaches of SPSSI members’ work and its applicability locally, nationally, and internationally. SPSSI’s 2009 Program Chair, York University Psychology Professor Michaela Hynie, and I encourage you to submit proposals for SPSSI’s program (


Because the 2009 APA meeting convenes in a multi-ethnic city that addresses contemporary social issues in distinctive and interesting ways, Michaela Hynie and I are spearheading a pre-conference visit on August 5 to an economically challenged Toronto community. This half-day visit, co-sponsored with 10 other APA divisions, will include presentations by community groups and psychologists on their collaborative work in this community. At the APA convention, several co-sponsored sessions will follow up on the community visit. More details will follow as our plans take shape. Please plan to join us in Toronto! It would be great to see you.


Looking further ahead, SPSSI will celebrate its 75th Anniversary in 2011. SPSSI History Task Force Chair Alexandra Rutherford is planning exciting initiatives on SPSSI’s webpage, in publications, and at our 2011 annual meeting to celebrate this milestone.


Member Engagement

To conclude my first newsletter column as SPSSI’s President, it is an honor to be at the helm of an organization that remains concerned with social justice and is a vital, creative force in psychology today. I am grateful to the many members whose dedication to SPSSI has resulted in an organization that is structurally and fiscally sound and intellectually lively. These members include recent SPSSI Presidents Beth Shinn, Irene Frieze, and Dan Perlman, current Secretary- Treasurer Sally Shumaker, the current Council, and the many committee members and chairs who serve SPSSI so ably. Member engagement is essential to SPSSI’s vitality, and there are many ways to be involved. The Editors of SPSSI’s publications ? the Journal of Social Issues, ASAP, SIPR, and our authored and edited book series ? urge you to contact them with your ideas for issues, books, and chapters (see for contact information). With this issue, SPSSI returns to its familiar PDF format, Richard Wiener ends an excellent three-year run as Editor, and incoming newsletter Co-editors Naomi Hall and Jonathan Iuzzini are ready to step into this important role.


Contact Us

Our Central Office, led by Executive Director Susan Dudley, is now is fully staffed. Administrative Coordinator Anila Balkissoon and Administrative Assistant Garrett Ducker can answer your membership, committee, and other questions. Policy Coordinator Christopher Woodside recently joined our staff to foster SPSSI’s involvement in policy and advocacy work. I encourage you to be in touch with me to discuss your ideas for SPSSI and to become involved (

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