It has been my honor to serve as President of this Association the past two years. We have accomplished a great deal in the past two years, including implementing a new benefits-based membership structure to allow for more affordable options, offering high-quality CE programming throughout the year (and the state), offering networking events with programming for newly-licensed and Early Career Psychologists, and planning and executing two successful Fall Conventions. We have increased our communication with members via weekly CE updates and the continuation of the Washington Psychologist newsletter, as well as started shifting focus to encourage more member involvement in our legislative activities. Most excitingly, in response to feedback from members, we redesigned our website to make it more user- and mobile-friendly (some parts are still works-in-progress, so please bear with us!).
Legislatively, we worked hard to lobby for bills that would limit the scope of the Duty to Warn ruling (Volk v. DeMeerleer; Senate Bill 5800) and ban conversion therapy for minors (Senate Bill 5722 – successful!). Professionally, we fought back against restrictions to supervision of ABA trainees, and Regence and Tricare reimbursement cuts.
I have been fortunate to work with a highly engaged and energetic board of Trustees, representing chapters across the state, the past two years, including two Treasurers who have helped us get back on track financially. It has been a pleasure working with our very capable Executive Director, Marvo Reguindin, and our excellent office manager, Sierra VanderHoogt (who is often the first point of contact for many of you). Together, we have implemented and fine-tuned several organizational processes and systems of communication. I have no doubt that WSPA will continue in this positive direction.
Two significant transitions this year – as you know, our long-time Director of Professional Affairs, Dr. Lucy Homans, announced her retirement earlier this fall. We were able to celebrate her career during our fall convention, but she will definitely be missed. Thank you to those of you who sent in kind words for her memory book. However, we are fortunate to have a very capable psychologist taking her place as Director of Professional Affairs – Dr. Samantha Slaughter, our longtime Federal Advocacy Coordinator. Many of you already know Samantha, and she has already taken on the job with much of her characteristic initiative and passion. As part of the interview process for the DPA position, we were lucky to find an excellent replacement for the position of Federal Advocacy Coordinator in Dr. David Wiesner, who comes to WSPA after many years in leadership in the North Carolina Psychological Association. We are lucky to have him and the vast experience he brings here at WSPA.
Dr. Slaughter and Dr. Wiesner will be working closely with our newly-formed Legislative Advocacy Committee (LAC), chaired by Trustee Dr. Casey Ward; this committee will be focused on the important work of increasing awareness of the importance of legislative activity on our profession and allowing for more direct involvement by members. More to come on this committee soon. The Legislative Advocacy Committee will be the conduit between our lobbyist, DPA, FAC, and membership.
In the next year, WSPA will be focusing on, among other things, re-energizing local chapters and our graduate student association. We welcome involvement at all different levels, from chapter engagement, to committee involvement, to joining the Board.
I would like to say thank you to all the members who have continued to support WSPA throughout the years – we would not be here without you. Special thanks to those members who have continued to stay active in chapter leadership and other committee involvement (CE Approval Committee, Ethics Committee, Ombuds Committee, ECP Committee, Ad Hoc/Legal Committee). My time with WSPA has only emphasized just how important it is to be part of our professional organization, especially when legislative policy has the potential to so directly impact our ability to provide quality care.
Thank you again for the honor of serving as your Board President—I look forward to continuing to meet and work with many of you in the future. But now, I am more than happy to pass the baton to our new Board President, Dr. Dominika Breedlove, who I have no doubt will effectively continue the work of WSPA to advance and represent our profession. I will remain on the Board for one more year, so you may yet hear from me!
Happy New Year!
Sonia Venkatraman, Ph.D., WSPA President, 2017, 2018