One of the perks of serving as president of NYSPA is the opportunity to participate in APA’s Practice Leadership Conference. This event (known in the past as State Leadership Conference), provides help and support for state organization leaders and opportunities to network with others around the country. This year I attended with Pat Dowds, President-Elect, Roy Aranda (Past-President), Dan Kaplin (Diversity Delegate), Virginia Waters (RxP delegate), John Northman, Federal Advocacy Coordinator and Jerry Grodin, DPA. There were programs designed for each category of attendee. Here are highlights of my favorites:
The top pick was “Engaging Your SPTA in Social Justice Advocacy: Strategies for Developing a Science-Based Action Plan and Responding to the Unexpected.[i]” I attended with Pat and Dan and we were all impressed with the complexity and importance of this issue. It was especially impressive to see the room filled with ECPs, whose interest and excitement were palpable. We are lucky to live in a state where we can take a social justice position and not be punished for it by legislators. This is unfortunately not the case in some Midwestern and Southern states where our very existence as a profession is being threatened. I spoke with some presidents from states where the independent licensing boards of the mental health professions are being threatened (OH, KY, TX, NE, NC and GA) to offer our support. At a feedback session with Division 31, Pat spoke for all of us in asking that this program be repeated next year and situated in a large enough room to accommodate all those interested.
A second terrific program was called “Courageous Conversations: Challenges, Implications and the Role of Allies.[ii]” The presenters described crises in their organizations and how they dealt with them.
Tony Puente’s plenary session which focused on his trajectory from Cuban immigrant to university professor and APA president was wise, articulate and funny. The crowd was spellbound. Cynthia Belar, Interim Chief Executive Officer of APA and APAPO introduced Dr. Puente, and spoke, herself, about the fraught times at APA in the last year.
The climax of the conference was our visit to Capital Hill, which has already been described and photographed by Roy, Pat and Dan. The legislative agenda contained two important items: 1) ensuring that if the ACA is repealed, its replacement will be equivalent and include psychology, and 2) adding psychologists to the “physician definition” in Medicare so that we can function independently in ALL clinical settings. Because of the political changes in Washington, D.C. these appeared to be the most important items to be pushing. The chatter around D.C. as of last week, appears to be that the longer the discussion of the ACA repeal, the less likely it is to happen. This could change instantly, of course.
I want to make a final statement about the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) which hosted this conference. Many APA members have quit the Practice Organization because of the “scandal” regarding dues. I strongly believe that the APAPO leadership has learned from that terrible time and is strongly committed to integrity and transparency. We need APAPO for our professional survival and loss of members is stripping us of the machinery we need for keeping viable professional practice alive. The dangers are real and we must support APAPO to maintain and promote our interests federally. There are many things I would prefer to spend my money on, but if you are hoping to continue in this profession, or to leave a legacy for those who come after, please rejoin.
Herb Gingold, PhD
[i] Michele McKinnie, PsyD, Member-at-Large, Committee of State Leaders; Nancy Piotrowski, Federal Advocacy Coordinator Representative, Committee of State Leaders
[ii] Ruddy Taylor, Diversity Liaison & Chair, Diversity Subcommittee, Committee of State Leaders; Charmain Jackman, Diversity Liaison-Elect, Diversity Subcommittee, Committee of State Leaders, PRESENTERS: Bravada Garrett-Akinsanya, Executive Director, Member of CAPP; Antonio Puente, President, APA; Sandra L. Shullman, Member-At-Large, APA/APAPO Board of Directors