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Message from the President

GPA President:Rachel Anne Kieran, PsyD

 

Welcome, to all our members, new and established. I am honored to take on the role of President for the 2020-2021 year – our 74th since the organization’s founding!

For months, I have been planning for the beginning of my presidential year by considering the priorities that would define that time. As such, I had been planning (before March) talk about priorities which included increasing our use of technology, particularly in delivering exceptional continuing educationfor psychologists in Georgia, as a service to the membership that we continue to grow. Were I writing the introduction I was going to give, I would have talked about our trying to hold more webinars, virtual meetings, and electronic communication with members. I would have encouraged members to embrace these new modalities, to give them a chance….and instead I stand in awe of the accomplishments of the past 4 months.

In May, we held the Annual Meeting completely virtually, thanks to the incredibly hard work of the GPA Office Staff and the Annual Meeting Committee. And thanks to the support of this incredible community of psychologists, we had the highest number of attendees ever recorded for a GPA Annual Meeting! Thank you, to all of you, for being willing to sit through the growing pains, for believing in your organization, and to so many of you for working to make it happen!

Simply put, all the related goals I was setting for the coming year – attempting to host virtual CE events, both live and recorded; transitioning to fully electronic CE check-in and evaluation; holding virtual Board and committee meetings; editing video offerings and integrating electronic sponsors….all of these were accomplished in just a few months!

And so we will take those gains and continue to adapt. While none of us can know what will come of the ongoing pandemic, GPA has benefited from the accomplishments of the spring ,which have put the organization in a strong position to move forward into our 74th year. Certainly, the project of integratingtechnology into our work together, and using it to support both our education and membership efforts, will continue. As we learn from our experiences in the past months, we will integrate this new knowledge into our efforts moving forward. My hope is that the coming year will also see GPA with a new website, expanded webinar offerings for members (even beyond the current crisis) and more access to meetings and resources.

An interesting side-effect of the move towards distance provision of education in the current era is the attention it brings to issues of accessibility in our membership and education efforts. Technology can both expand and contract accessibility, and it is my hope that we can make strong, intentional choices that increase the accessibility of GPA services to all members. This means addressing issues like website accessibility, closed captioning on training videos, physical accessibility of our office spaces, safe bathrooms for people of all genders, and so many others. Our hope is that this will also help us to increase our daily accessibility to GPA members across the state.

GPA remains focused on our mission of “Advancing the profession of psychology in Georgia,” through our vision of being the “preeminent resource and advocate for Georgia psychologists.” Doing so in the coming year will mean continuing to provide services like Ethics consultations, the Premium Listserv, insurance and managed care information, networking information, and credit card processing. It will also mean continuing our advocacy on behalf of GA psychologists through our Legal and Legislative efforts, and work with our Lobbying Team.

In addition, time will be spent early this year in creation of the 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, as our current Strategic Plan comes to an end in July. This document, a roadmap for the coming 3 years, will integrate foci from all these goals, as well as many others which intersect with these, all of which contribute to the long-term sustainability of the organization. The Board of Directors will be working with me on creating this new plan over the summer months.

One of my main areas of focus in the coming year will be on Social Justice and Diversity, which will include an examination of accessibility on multiple intersecting levels. Our current Chair of the Committee for Women and Girls, Dr. Adriana Flores, has agreed to spearhead an assessment of the Association based on the Social Justice and Diversity Assessment tool created under the current Strategic Plan. This will include looking both at facevalid representation of diverse populations in the organization and leadership, but also a deeper look at systemic efforts at social justice and routing out institutional discrimination.

As always, membership continues to be an important focus for the organization – so much so that it is infused into the mission of most other committees. However we are also working to create clear communications with members about what member benefits are available to them, how to communicate with leadership and staff when needed, and what their membership means to the organization, the profession, their peers, and their careers. This includes not only new leadership on our Membership Committee, but also a task force focusing on those working in the area of Health Psychology, and another focusing on Regional members.

Another important area on which we have already begun working is facilitating member communication and networking through the Premium Listserv (as well as streamlining the management of that service). A task force, the Premium Listserv Moderation Group, has developed a procedure for sharing the responsibility for responding to member concerns and ensuring the Procedures and Policies are clearly communicated and followed. I will be working with that group throughout the year towards the goal of creating a useful electronic community, particularly in a time in which people are feeling isolated from their colleagues.

I want finish by sharing with you all two of my favorite words - authenticity, and transparency. While these were both important themes in becoming a clinician and in my own personal development, it is only in recent years that I have come to value them more in organizational and procedural contexts. And so that is what I hope to give to you in the coming year, and the goal that I hope we can set for the organization. APA President Sandy Schulman, at a leadership event in DC just before the shutdown, said “no one ever died of accurate feedback,” and went on to make the point that lack of feedback or information gets filled in with our worst fears and assumptions. She made a convincing argument that even limited information is often better than those fears and mistaken assumptions. And so my hope, in the coming year, is that not only can we put our effort into those content areas that we know advance our mission and vision as an organization. But that we can do so while communicating and working together to avoid assumptions, setting a tone of giving as much information as possible. I will try to communicate as clearly and as often as I can, following the exceptional example set for me by Dr. Laura Dilly in the recent months.

Georgia is one of the largest state professional organizations for psychology in the country, and we have a great deal to be proud of in how we are advocating for the profession in our state (as well as what we have accomplished in the past few months!). I am so aware of the immense responsibility and privilege it is to take on the GPA Presidency. Thank you, for trusting me with this honor. I look forward to serving with and for you all.

 

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time, with any concerns. I wish you all the best,

Rachel Anne Kieran, PsyD