By Jennifer Pendley, Ph.D.

Jennifer Pendley, Ph.D.As I transition into the Presidential role for 2020, I first want to thank our Past-President, David Elkins, Ph.D., ABBP. David has made this transition easy, through the careful thought and deliberation he puts into every topic of discussion and through his passion and commitment for SPP. David’s respect for all is a great model as we continue to work together to impact the world around us. Thank you David!

A little about me…

I am a long-standing member of SPP and the pediatric psychology community. I am a Division 54 Fellow and serve as the Division Chief of Psychology at Nemours/AI duPont Hospital for Children where I have worked for almost 25 years. I previously served on the SPP board as the inaugural editor of CPPP. I live in Delaware with my husband and two dogs and have two grown sons. As I hope you will see, equity, diversity and inclusion are at the top of my list for priorities both personally and professionally. I look forward to serving as president and getting to know many more of you.

Current State

SPP is thriving! As many APA divisions are experiencing dips in membership, our group continues to grow. Our student members are invaluable, bringing energy and enthusiasm every year. Stay tuned this year for the Student Advisory Board podcasts focused on JPP featured journal article releases. Our SIGs continue to be impactful. Our most recent SIG, Digital Health, will help us keep up with the rapidly changing digital environment as they share information about the development, evaluation, and dissemination/implementation of pediatric health tools delivered via digital platforms. Our financial picture is very strong, allowing us to support student awards, research grants and more. Our new Electronics Communications Editor, Meghan Walls, PsyD, has been busy. We are growing our public reach, i.e., we have grown by 1-2 followers per day on SPP twitter in the past year. Our journals continue to prosper. Tonya Palermo, PhD is ensuring that the Journal of Pediatric Psychology maintains its stellar reputation in the field. Jennifer Schurman, Ph.D., is leading Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology as it enters its “adolescence” and provides support and cutting-edge information for clinical practice. Our members are expanding SPP’s scope of influence - we are “sitting at the table,” and therefore able to have significant impacts on many national health care issues. We have so many opportunities ahead of us!

Strategic Planning

At the 2020 Midwinter Board Meeting in January, we will develop our five-year strategic plan. Two external consultants will be working with us as we take a moment to evaluate where we are, where we have been, and where we want to go next. As we dive into our strategic planning, we will be looking at how to maintain our financial sustainability while continuing to support our many programs. We will look at ways to support our researchers and address increasing barriers in funding. In addition, we will consider other key issues that are front and center in our field. Nationally, payment models continue to evolve from traditional fee-for-service to value-based care. As payment models shift, more and more attention and value is being placed on the contributions psychologists bring to the care team. Stakeholders now recognize the critical role of mental health in overall wellness and also understand the unique roles psychologists can play in improving all aspects of health. It will be exciting to consider how we can leverage our skills in these areas as we set our goals for the next few years.

Over the years, SPP has increased focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion (E, D, & I). We appreciate many of you completing the recent diversity survey and look forward to Melissa Santos communicating those results soon. We are considering ways to increase the diversity of our membership and are focusing on inclusion so that all members feel welcome in our division. Our journal editors are paying special attention to issues around E, D, & I, developing special issues and encouraging dissemination of results of such research. We have had powerful workshops at APA and SPPAC during which we had opportunities to explore our own unconscious biases and learn how to have courageous conversations with one another. As we conduct our strategic planning, I hope that E, D, & I will provide the foundation for and help drive our new goals and initiatives.

  • Are the clinical programs we develop culturally responsive?
  • Do they decrease health disparities?
  • In our research, are we examining health disparities and looking at cultural differences?
  • As a society, are we committed to inclusion?
  • Are we intentional in our efforts to make our field more representative of the populations we serve?

I believe that all of these are important questions we should be asking ourselves as we move forward.

Let Your Voices Be Heard

In order to truly be an inclusive and thriving professional society, we need to hear all voices! I encourage you to speak out, have courageous conversations, and provide feedback about what you like and where you see opportunities. One of the greatest gifts that comes with being President of SPP is the increased opportunity I will have in meeting and getting to know more of you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me - email me, introduce yourself at SPPAC or APA. I look forward to hearing your ideas. I’m humbled by your confidence in me and I look forward to serving SPP in this role over the next year.