Report from APA Council of Representatives
The APA Council of Representatives (APA COR) is a large, diverse legislative body that has authority to set policy and oversee the APA budget. It is composed of elected members from state/provincial/territorial psychological associations, APA divisions, and the APA Board of Directors. SPSSI, Division 9 of the APA, currently has two elected representatives (out of roughly 160 members) on APA COR. In this article, we provide a brief update of some of APA COR’s recent work, with particular focus on issues and decisions likely to be of greatest interest to SPSSI members.
Budget and Dues. The APA is in sound financial shape and expects to close 2011 with a small operating surplus for the year. The APA’s real estate holdings -- two large buildings in Washington, DC -- and its publications provide significant revenue for the Association. With brighter financial prospects this year, APA COR restored funding for several programs and budget items that had been previously cut. Among the restored funds were monies for APA’s interdivisional grant program and also for CEMRRAT grants that are targeted at enhancing ethnic minority recruitment, retention, and training in psychology.
Beginning in 2012, APA full member dues will be DECREASED $40. At the same time, however, previous discounts for dual memberships in other societies or associations will be discontinued. Early career members will still have reduced dues for their first 8 years, but with a few minor modifications to the reduction schedule.
Resolutions and Policies. During the past year, APA COR adopted a Resolution on Affirming Psychologists’ Role in Addressing Global Climate Change, a Resolution on Family Caregivers, and a Resolution on Advocacy for Psychology as a STEM Discipline. It also adopted an updated Resolution on Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples. All of these resolutions can be found on the APA homepage. These resolutions are important because they are explicit and public statements about APA priorities and policies, and they also guide the work of APA staff and governance groups.
At its August 2011 meeting and working from its newly adopted strategic plan, APA COR also approved 7 strategic initiatives and allocated $2.1 million in net assets for 2012 to fund them in their first year. Among the initiatives are three likely to be of interest to SPSSI members: 1) expanding the APA public education campaign to include the entire discipline of psychology, 2) promoting opportunities for graduate and professional development to advance psychology in health, including interdisciplinary training, and 3) increasing support for research, training, public education, and interventions that reduce health disparities among underserved/marginalized populations.
Convention Issues. The annual APA convention provides many challenges for the Association, including redundancy in programming which leads to some poorly attended sessions, and a large number of sessions that require meeting rooms that consequently limit the number of cities that can host the convention. In an effort to address these and other concerns, APA COR adopted several changes for the convention beginning in 2014. There will be more funds for high profile speakers and for enhancing poster sessions, a larger and more centralized programming group will be formed to oversee more of the program, and cross-division collaborative programming will increased and incentivized. These changes will be carefully evaluated over a 3-year timeframe.
At the same time, the August 2011 convention in Washington, DC, was very well attended. Midway through the meetings, registration had exceeded 13,000 whereas other recent conventions (in San Diego, Toronto, and also Washington, DC) had topped out in the 8,000 – 11,000 range.
Some readers also will remember problems that emerged at the 2010 convention regarding the use of a hotel whose namesake owner had made a substantial donation supporting a statewide initiative against same-sex marriage (which was legal at the time). As one follow up to this event, we are pleased to report that, working with APA General Counsel, APA governance groups and offices, and representatives from other divisions, SPSSI’s COR representative Allen Omoto and former SPSSI representative Maureen O'Connor helped craft a letter that APA is now sending to the hotels with which it contracts to do business for its annual convention that explicitly articulates APA’s mission and core values. The hope is that this letter will provide a clearer context for raising issues that could come up in the future while also providing advance notice of APA's expectations for the environments in which it holds meetings.
Transitions. Finally, at the end of 2011, Allen Omoto will conclude his second term as one of SPSSI’s representatives to APA COR; he will have served as a representative for 6 years. SPSSI members who are also APA members will be electing a new representative this fall, with this new representative starting in January 2012. Now with a full year of service under her belt, Wendy Williams will continue as a SPSSI representative to APA COR. Importantly, she recently was elected to serve a two-year term as secretary of the influential Public Interest Caucus of APA COR. Wendy also will be assuming duties previously handled by Allen as SPSSI’s representative to the Divisions for Social Justice, a network of divisions that work collaboratively to voice and advance social justice concerns within APA.
If you have questions about the work of APA COR, or have suggestions for initiatives that you would like SPSSI to take on in conjunction with the APA, please contact either Wendy Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or Allen Omoto at email@example.com.