Updated: Aug 24, 2021
Division 54, Society of Pediatric Psychology, asked the candidates for APA President the questions below.
1. What will your presidential platform be?
I am dedicated to uniting, protecting, and advocating for the needs of psychology and psychologists. As a discipline, it is vital that we join together to advance our strategic priorities. I will prioritize the needs of rural and underserved communities. I have talked to Dr. Rosie Phillips Davis and Dr. Jennifer Kelly about continuing to extend upon their presidential initiatives of deep poverty and health equity in the connection to rural communities. I am very concerned about the issue of immigration and the impact of federal and state immigration policies on children. I will be prioritizing the majora areas of APA (Practice, Education, Science, Applied Psychology), along with Social Justice and Advocacy.
2. What are your goals and objectives for your Presidency?
If elected, I will respond rapidly and accurately with the leadership team to current events. I will honor the voices of my colleagues and consider all opinions. I will care about the forgotten and underserved in America and around the world. Together, we will utilize our science and knowledge to benefit society and improve lives.
3. How will it incorporate a focus on DEI?
I envision APA as a large diverse organizational umbrella under which all psychologists belong -- regardless of race, religion, cultural background, physical difference, sexual orientation, gender identity, political perspective – united by our passion for psychology. Our collective unity will serve as a model for our nation and world.
4. Psychologists are predominantly white and increasingly female. How would you work to develop a diverse and inclusive community of psychologists and behavioral health providers?
I became a psychologist teaching summer migrant school and recognizing the children were not being accurately assessed, due to language issues. When I told my Introductory Psychology professor I wanted to be a bilingual psychometrist, she told me I should become a psychologist. I have since remained committed to issues of migrant farmworkers, learning through our community health workers in the Maine Migrant Health Program that people trust behavioral health providers who understand their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and cultural background. I believe it is critical that we identify individuals from diverse communities who can become psychologists and behavioral health providers and assist their communities. Trainees need to see photos of persons on program websites who look like them to feel like this is the program for them.
5. How can APA be more inclusive of current members and prospective members?
I have heard in my leadership roles with APA (e.g, Member at Large, Recording Secretary on the Board of Directors) our current members may be participating in APA governance and not feel heard. As APA President, I would commit myself to hearing and valuing the many diverse voices in APA. It is critically important our doctoral students and early career psychologists feel valued and included and can help shape the direction of APA, as they are our future. Prospective members may be members who have left APA or not considered APA as relevant to them. It would be important to find out what prospective members need from our organization in order to consider it of value to join. This will likely mean changing how APA operates and supports members in the future.
6. Are you concerned regarding the large number of psychologists who don’t seem to feel that APA is a home for them?
This question directly relates to my thoughts in Question #5. I am very concerned some psychologists do not feel APA is a home for them. This is the reason I believe APA needs to continue the transformation process it has started, incorporating feedback from members and prospective members as to what is missing for them in their APA experience and what would help them feel a connection to APA as a home. What I am seeing from the data in my role as a Board member is members are returning to APA, feeling like the direction APA is heading is more relevant to them, which seems like a very positive sign.
7. As President of APA, how will you support SPP’s Mission Statement which is to actively promote the health and psychological well-being of all children, youth, and families?
I have really dedicated much of my professional life to the goal of SPP’s Mission Statement, so promoting the health and psychological well-being of all children, youth, and families is an exciting personal mission in the role of President of APA. The President, in partnership with the CEO, Board, Executive Leadership Team, Council, Boards and Committees, membership really has a fantastic opportunity to improve and shape the health and psychological well-being of our children, youth, and families. I would utilize my federal advocacy skills as part of my effort to support SPP’s Mission. I also would draw upon my personal experiences working with children, youth, and families and training psychologists to accomplish this goal.
8. What experience do you have in legislative advocacy and in particular advocacy for child health and mental health?
I have served as a Federal Advocacy Coordinator for the Maine Psychological Association for over 15 years. I have been honored by APA for my leadership in advocacy.
9. How do you intend to advocate for pediatric psychology at a national and international level?
I have always practiced in the area of Pediatrics, have a minor in Developmental Psychology, and utilize my experience and understanding of these issues in my advocacy on Capitol Hill and at the state level. I have presenting for a number of years on pediatric obesity and integrated care internationally and nationally. I will continue to use this background and experience in my role of President-Elect of APA.
10. Specifically, how do you intend to advocate for policies that benefit the health and well-being of all children, youth, and families?
One example would be my recent conversation with the office of a Maine senator. The senator expressed concern about children and the impact of the pandemic on them in school. I was able to offer some of what we were hearing about the impact on children and teens from the Stress in America data. I talked with the senator about the importance of continuing payment for telehealth regardless of whether the patient is ever seen in person and explained that teens need to have this critical avenue to treatment paid. As President, I would continue these types of efforts on behalf of children, teens, and families from a national and international perspective.
11. How do you intend to support research initiatives of importance to pediatric psychology?
My Master’s thesis included a social referencing study looking at cues from mothers from various socioeconomic backgrounds, including those reported for abuse, to their babies in strange situations (Developmental Psychology with Dr. Ross Thompson as my major professor). I understand the critical importance of grant funding for research to accomplish research objectives and assist with obtaining tenure and promotion. I would advocate to assure adequate federal and state funding for pediatric psychology research.
12. What do you consider to be the most pressing issues affecting children’s mental health?
The Stress in America data really reveals the toll COVID-19 is taking on our Gen Z youth. They have missed developmental milestones and landmark events (e.g., graduation, prom). Looking at the Elder data from the Great Depression, where there was greatest impact on the youngest of the population, I am concerned that some of the impact of the pandemic on our “littles” will not become evident for some time. The racism pandemic has only likely exacerbated this stress on our children of color.
13. How can APA increase access and reduce racial/ethnic inequities in the provision of pediatric psychology services?
Integrated care in medical, school, and community settings provides a mechanism for health and mental health equity. It seems APA could increase access and reduce racial/ethnic disparities by identifying neighborhood clinics, schools, and gathering places where psychologists could lead the provision of psychological services. Community health workers could identify those who need assistance and help arrange for contact via in-person or telepsychology services. In Cuba, the community medical care has been praised for its effectiveness, due to providers living in the community and accessing the needs of people in their homes. Children need to be provided services where they live and go to school.
14. How can APA advance the education, training, and diversity of pediatric psychologists?
It seems important to identify the diverse individuals who have been successful obtaining this education and training and promote them financially as recruiters and mentors of other diverse individuals. Connections via telehealth are an important mechanism for creating a community of support, in locations where diversity is limited for these pediatric psychologists. Our Practice Leadership Conference (PLC) has been successful in bringing these diverse early career psychologists to Washington, helping them learn advocacy skills, and develop a community of support for future leadership. This could be replicated with pediatric psychology within APA.
15. How can APA promote an inclusive science of pediatric psychology?
APA is in the process of identifying the ways in which it may not have been inclusive in the science of psychology. In this process, we are likely to identify how this has been true in child and developmental psychological science. It seems important to rectify this and assure going forward our science in pediatric psychology is inclusive in terms of the scientists themselves as well as what is being studied. Dr. Jessica Henderson Daniel, former APA President, has been very vocal discussing the critical importance of identifying scientists of color and promoting them in their careers to assure there is inclusion and diversity in those who study psychological science. This would be important to assure in our pediatric psychology science.
16. What are your thoughts on resolving barriers to medical care and mental health care for children?
I am a great proponent of integrated care in pediatric settings. I specifically have worked in the integrated care pediatric setting of obesity. I have trained predoctoral interns in this setting and believe this is a critically important place for psychologists to be. My first job was one-third practicing in pediatric intensive care in consultation-liaison. This is where my heart is, in terms of practice. I rotated in Psychiatric Consultation-Liaison at Riley Children’s Hospital during my internship at the Indiana University School of Medicine. I do believe schools provide another important resource for a location for children to receive medical and mental health care, and I maintain my school psychological service provider certificate in the state of Maine.
Tell Us More About You: 17. What is your leadership style?
I believe my leadership style is feminist, bringing to bear what I have to offer, inviting others to bring their wisdom to join with me in discovering solutions and paths forward. I enjoy very much connecting people and facilitating connection to spark new ideas and develop working partnerships.
18. How will you handle situations in which consensus has not been reached?
Sometimes, I believe it is best to move forward with the sense of the majority, while noting the minority opinion (much like the Supreme Court). I believe to be nimble as an organization, APA needs to move forward and make adjustments to positions, if the majority opinion ultimately proves to be a detrimental path forward.
19. What will inform your decision-making?
Other people will inform my decision-making. I make decisions by seeking out input from others and processing the thoughts I have externally with others, including their input in this exploration. I have found in my life my decisions are much more impactful and richer if they are informed by the perspectives of others. This way of decision-making also helps avoid blind spots we all have from seeing a perspective through one’s eyes only.
20. What do you see as your biggest challenges if you were to become President? Both within APA and external to it.
I believe psychologists tend to shoot inward (instead of joining together to work on addressing external threats and obtaining opportunities that exist outside our APA house). There are many different voices and perspectives at APA, and no one President will exactly represent all these voices and perspectives. However, I will do my best to try to represent all voices in the role of President. I see this as my biggest challenge (and opportunity).
21. In the past, how have you responded to, evaluated, and learned from mistakes?
I do not like making mistakes, and I believe many psychologists feel this way. I have tried to avoid mistakes by consultation with colleagues, reading, and anticipating what might occur. Obviously, the pandemic has shown us not all outcomes can be anticipated in advance. We all make mistakes. When I do make a mistake, I apologize. I try to rectify the error and learn from this going forward. I recognize it is through mistakes that learning and growth often occur.
22. How do you really relax and recharge?
I have become very committed to yoga practice, walking, and working out with a personal trainer during the pandemic. I find these practices really help me recharge. I am committed to regular sleep. I enjoy interpersonal connection and tend to recharge through travel and contact with people.
----- Thank you for the opportunity to respond to these two additional great questions. I am including my responses below. If I can provide any further information, please let me know.
Contributions to Division 54 or relevant communities: I have been a longstanding member of Division 54, which has been foundational for my identity as a psychologist. I joined after training at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis as part of the Indiana University School of Medicine predoctoral internship consortium. In my first job at St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville, Indiana, I worked in consultation-liaison for their Pediatric Intensive Care unit, as well as on their general Pediatrics floor. I have always evaluated and treated children and adolescents in outpatient, partial and inpatient psychiatric and medical settings. I have consulted in Pediatric Obesity, helping create a role for psychologists in the Way to Optimal Weight (WOW) program at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC). I have read Division 54's published materials, participated actively in the listserve with regard to referrals and consultation questions, attended sessions at the APA Convention, attended SPPAC in San Diego in 2015 prior to the APA Board of Directors retreat (attending sessions and networking regarding pediatric obesity https://pedpsych.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2015-SPPAC-Program-San-Diego.pdf) presented nationally and internationally on rural consultation in pediatric obesity in an integrated care medical center setting (as well as other pediatric topics), joined SIGs (currently Neonatology, AYA, Complementary, Hem/Onc/BMT, Integrated care, now also Obesity and Cons-Liaison), served as Board Chair for mobile integrated healthcare provided to migrant farmworkers, served on the Board for Maine Primary Care Association, and was credentialed in and presented to the Pediatrics Department at EMMC. Much of my service to APA has been in governance in Practice, Federal Advocacy, and the APA Board of Directors, where I worked to advance issues related to Pediatric Psychology. Efforts in the diversity, equity, inclusion realm: In the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion realm, I became a psychologist, because I was teaching Spanish in summer migrant school, and I believed the children were being inaccurately assessed. I consulted with my Introductory Psychology professor about becoming a bilingual psychometrist. She told me I did not want to do this, as I would make recommendations, and no one would listen to them. She said I wanted to become a psychologist. This is how I became a psychologist. I have dedicated myself to the issues of migrant farmworkers and their families, volunteering with the federally qualified health center in Maine that provides mobile healthcare to migrant farmworkers and their families (formerly Maine Migrant, now Maine Mobile Health Program), serving as Board member or chair for many years. In governance, I have served as a champion for inclusion of not only ethnically diverse voices, but also the younger psychologists in our organization. I have advocated, mentored, and included our students and ECPs in my role of a psychology practicum supervisor as well as within APA leadership. The core focus of our campaign is to form a large diverse organizational umbrella under which all psychologists bring their unique mixture of race, religion, cultural background, physical difference, sexual orientation, gender identity, political perspective, and theoretical orientation united by our love of the discipline of psychology and our agreed-upon strategic plan. Under this umbrella, we will continue to strive to hear and respond to the varied voices of all psychologists, meeting their unique needs and helping them obtain necessary resources to develop to their full potential. Including everyone's voice prevents perpetuation of discrimination and racism in our organization and allows greater impact on our mission in the world to benefit society and improve lives. Our collective unity, voice, excitement and energy will provide a model for our nation and our world.