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   Meet SPSSI’s New Policy Director
   By Gabriel Twose, SPSSI Policy Director

In December 2012, I joined the SPSSI Central Office as Policy Director.  It’s been an exciting few months since then, and I’d like to use this column to highlight a few of our activities in the Central Office, to explain what we hope to accomplish in the coming months, and to invite your participation in our efforts.

What We’ve Done

Congressional activities. In response to the stalled reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, James Marshall Public Policy Fellow Katya Migacheva wrote a fact-sheet summarizing the psychological evidence supporting specific provisions of the Senate version of the Bill, namely, special protections for LGBT, Native American, and immigrant women.  Central office staff met with several Congressional staff, who enthusiastically received the fact-sheet, and talks are ongoing to plan a Congressional briefing on the topic.

In response to the Sandy Hook, Newtown tragedy, we put out a call for experts on gun violence and other forms of violence.  This call led to a number of responses from SPSSI members, identifying themselves or others as experts in the area, or sending relevant resources.  Based on these correspondences and subsequent literature reviews, we have a storehouse of information which we are currently utilizing to write a response statement which we will use to promote SPSSI’s expertise on Capitol Hill.

If you have any Congressional contacts involved in these or other areas that you think it would be useful for me to meet with, please get in touch.

Summer workshop. Conceived and initiated by SPSSI President Dr. Allen Omoto, the Policy and Science Communication Summer Workshop will train 40 psychological researchers to become more involved in policy work and consultation. The workshop will take place in Washington, D.C., and is co-sponsored by SPSSI; the Society for Personality and Social Psychology; the Society for Community Research and Action; the Society for Environmental, Population, and Conservation Psychology; and the American Psychology-Law Society.  Plans for the June 30-July 1 workshop are well underway. Please click here for further details about this exciting venture. 

AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. We’ve continued our work with the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Human Rights Coalition, a network of scientific and engineering membership organizations that recognize a role for scientists and engineers in human rights.  In addition to previous work on the welfare of scientists, we are now also pursuing strategies through which we may effectively engage the STEM community in human rights work.  If you’d like to get involved in this coalition yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

What We’ll Do

In addition to continuing the work already underway, SPSSI Council preliminarily approved the Policy Committee’s five policy priorities for the coming years.  These issues include:

(1) Violence

(2) Marriage Equality

(3) Immigration Reform

(4) Human Rights

(5) Climate Change

These five policy priorities will shape SPSSI’s policy work in the coming years, and we’re excited to use the SPSSI membership’s (i.e., your) expertise to ensure that public policy is informed by science.  If your work is relevant to these areas, and particularly if you’d like to become more involved in policy initiatives, please let me know.

Get Involved

I have outlined several initiatives above around which I would love your participation.  Additionally, as I’ve explained in previous emails, one way that I can bring the vast expertise of our members to bear in policy forums is to work from our membership database to identify members who have particular psychological expertise on specific social issues.  I use this information to enlist member participation in activities such as responding to reporters’ inquiries; writing op-eds, research summaries, or position papers; participating in panels or workshops; or presenting testimony at Congressional hearings or briefings.  For example, I was recently contacted by a reporter from NPR who was seeking a psychologist in Baltimore with expertise in the psychology of unemployment; by utilizing our membership database, I was able to connect her with one of our members (see SPSSI Members in the News, p. X).

But to ensure that I’m reaching out to the right people when these opportunities arise, I need your assistance.  I can only find you if you fill out your membership profile, indicating your primary areas of expertise.  By expertise, I mean that you have published in this area and have significant in-depth knowledge of the literature and its implications.  Accordingly, to help SPSSI carry out its public policy work, please take just a few minutes to update your member profile:

1) Log into your SPSSI profile.

2) Select “Manage Your Profile” on the left side of the page.

3) We would of course appreciate all of the information that is requested, but especially ask that you check your two or three most important “areas of expertise.”  You’ll find this section about three quarters of the way down the page.

I do hope that you’ll choose to get involved in our important policy work.  We can’t make any progress without you, so your help is vital.  Please contact me with any questions or ideas, and I look forward to working with you in the months ahead.



—Gabriel Twose


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