It seems hard to believe, but this is my last presidential column. My term ends in August when Mark Sobell takes over as President of SoAP. I wish him well and fully expect that he will do a stellar job leading the Division in the coming year.
This has been a remarkable year that took a course I never imagined. I was continually amazed by the dedication and hard work on the part of the voluntary officers, Board members, committee chairs, and committee members. These are the people who make SoAP work and made my job easy. Thank you, thank you, thank you! If you have not been actively involved in the Society, I urge you to do so. Check out the SoAP website for opportunities or contact Committee chairs to express an interest in participating in your Division.
As an important heads-up, voting members of SoAP will soon be receiving an invitation to review proposed by-laws changes for the Society. This was an intensive effort lead by Bruce Liese with the support of the committee chairs and others. The proposed changes, for the most part, update the by-laws to clarify ambiguities and provide descriptions of the standing committees. This is lacking in the current by-laws. There are, however, important substantive changes that are proposed. In keeping with the goal of including and engaging students, a new Student Committee is proposed. The mission of the Student Committee is to, in collaboration with other Division committees, evaluate, organize, and carry-out initiatives focused on recruiting and engaging student affiliates of SoAP. The student committee is currently instituted on a temporary basis and this amendment would formalize it. An additional change would add student members to the other standing committees. I believe these are significant changes given the importance of students to the future of SoAP. Along these lines, another proposed change is the creation of a new affiliate membership category for post-baccalaureate psychologists. This category is intended for individuals who have completed their undergraduate education and are currently working in the addictions field as research assistants, interns, or in similar positions. These individuals were previously left out. Finally, I want to mention that, in keeping with the broader values of SoAP and to better reflect its scope, it is proposed to change the name of the Diversity Committee to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Voting members of SoAP will be given the opportunity to approve or disapprove each of the proposed changes to the by-laws. I urge you vote when the invitation arrives.
In closing, despite the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic during the past year, I think SoAP has accomplished some important goals. In addition to the revision of the by-laws, I note, among other things, that CPA was an amazing meeting and planning is proceeding for the APA virtual meeting in August. I’m very pleased that the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee has instituted a Student Recognition Award for Research, Equity and Social Justice and that the Grants Committee has established an award for research addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I think these efforts reflect the values of SoAP.
Finally, I want to thank the membership for giving me this opportunity to serve and the Board and Committee Chairs for supporting me and providing sound counsel throughout the year. I hope you are all well and healthy, the light really is in sight at the end of the tunnel, and that next year is far better than the last.