President’s Column: Where Do We Go From Here?

Kim Dixon
Kim Dixon

Kim Dixon, PhD

 “Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.” – Simon Sinek

It’s hard to believe that we are rapidly approaching the Spring of 2015. I hope that each and every one of you are staying safe and warm during the “winter of all winters!” There are many advantages of living in the deep south — and having relatively mild winters is certainly a big one!

Your division leadership has been extremely busy since my last column. We had a jam-packed and productive mid-winter Executive Committee meeting in Atlanta, GA, February 4th – 5th . Under the leadership of Justin Nash, PhD, Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee, the meeting focused primarily on readying ourselves for long range planning. Prior to the meeting, the leadership generated a number of important topics to consider:  (1) membership engagement, services, and benefits; (2) identity, visibility, and networking; (3) structure/organizational issues; (4) contributions to the evidence base; and (5) advocacy.   These areas are consistent with and build upon those generated during our last long range planning event in 2009. Many of the goals identified in the 2009 process have been completed or are underway, including, for example, restructuring the Division Board, inclusion of early career professionals in leadership, promotion of member outreach, engagement, and networking, and collaboration with other organizations.

Consistent with my Presidential initiatives, I am particularly excited about our ongoing focus on identifying and developing up and coming leaders for the Division. As you are likely aware, we have worked hard to ensure early career psychologist (ECP) representation on all committees and councils, including having ECPs as chairs and associate chairs. We continue to actively mentor ECPs and they are contributing significantly to the high level of energy within the Division. Similar good work is being done by our even earlier career student council representative, Megan Grigsby, who has done yeoman’s work in igniting interest in the division on campuses across the country.

In concert with our long range planning discussions and our ongoing Branding Task Force activities spearheaded by Joshua Eyer, PhD, a strong consensus emerged for the Division to more clearly define who we are as an organization to our professional colleagues, our constituents, and the public. That is, while the meaning of our title “Division 38” is apparent to our members, and to some in the broader APA organization, it does little to reflect our values, mission, and vision, or our roles as clinicians and researchers functioning within the field of health psychology, to those outside the organization. With a vision to broaden our identity and outreach in the years to come, the Executive Committee voted to begin the process of renaming Division 38 the “Society for Health Psychology.” At present, well over one-half of APA’s divisions use names reflecting their focus and their independent status (e.g., Society of Clinical Psychology, Society for Clinical Neuropsychology).

Over the next several months, we will begin the process of changing our name by providing appropriate rationale to APA and disseminating this plan to other divisions and our own members for consideration.  If affirmed, a Division 38 Bylaws revision vote will be scheduled for our next annual Membership Meeting, during the APA Convention in Toronto in August of this year.

In the meantime, members are welcome to share their reactions and ideas for the direction, initiatives, and resources they find most valuable in the short- and long-term development of this organization. Feel free to contact me directly, or send an email to the administrative office at at any time!

Stay warm and safe!