Presidential Message

SPP Presidential Column – December 2023

Happy December SPP members!  In the final column of my Presidential year, I am thrilled to provide an update on activities this year, a call to action, and give a humble thank you to all of you.

Recap of the year

In January, I provided an overview on some of the goals and activities the SPP Board would be tackling in 2023. I am excited to provide you with an update on how we achieved those goals this year and what we will be continuing to work on in 2024.

One area we focused significantly on this year was our fiscal stewardship. Led by our current Treasurer, Gayle Chesley, a financial task force was developed that went through our entire budget, line by line, to ensure that our spending was intentional in aligning with our mission and vision. By doing that, we were able to re-evaluate some of our current spending, invest in new programs we felt strongly supported our organization’s values and turned a projected deficit budget into one with a surplus. This work will continue into 2024 and beyond to ensure the fiscal sustainability of our organization.  Similar to other volunteer organizations, we also asked our faculty level board members to consider a financial donation to SPP – I am happy to report we had an over 90% giving rate!

The second area we focused on was our SPP leadership structure. Within this area, we hoped to draft and publish an organizational chart, revise our board of directors manual and update our bylaws.  We completed our updated manual and all SPP members will soon receive an email to vote on the approval of our new bylaws. Multiple changes have been made throughout the bylaws including allowing students to vote and eliminating the need for someone to have 10 nominations to run for a SPP leadership role. In the process of drafting our organizational chart, it became clear that our organization has grown tremendously and our leadership structure has not pivoted to support it. As such, we have convened a board composition task force to provide recommendations for a new leadership structure for SPP. This will include examining the current roles on our board, what roles may be missing such as a dedicated member for advocacy and/or a patient/family role, and to evaluate the role of an SPP ombudsperson. You can expect to hear about the recommendations of this group in mid-2024.

A third area of focus was to improve communication and focus on increasing transparency and opportunities for conversation between members and leadership. To that end, we began monthly coffee hours with the board and held two town hall webinars – thanks to all who attended these! As we have shifted some of the tasks of the secretary role to cover communications, we will be continuing to focus on getting meeting minutes, and other important information to you, across multiple platforms.

Our fourth area was member engagement and retention. Understanding that people join SPP for different reasons, and at different stages of their careers, we wanted to make sure that SPP was doing something to support you. We began targeted listening sessions this year and will be continuing this work in 2024.

Finally, we had a variety of other initiatives we wanted to focus on. The Presidential Taskforce on Social Justice is underway with a variety of activities from updating our pediatric psychology competencies to wellbeing to developing a social justice framework for pediatric psychology. Look for more information on this work coming over the next several months on the list serve. We have started work on a new, more nimble, Workforce Survey. We want to be able to provide the most up to date information that stays relevant and helpful. Finally, going into 2024, expect to hear more from PEAR (Practice, Education, Advocacy and Research) as they work to disseminate tangible bits of new information to members.

It’s been a busy year but one that has led to changes that benefit our members as we continue to be a more inclusive and welcoming organization for all.

Call to Service

During my SPPAC Presidential address, I made a call to action for pediatric psychologists to raise our voices in service to the patients and families we are so fortunate to serve. I am humbly calling upon you again to act.  This organization can only advance, become more inclusive and representative, and serve children and families as they deserve with your voices. Please consider joining us on Thursday, January 4th from 5-6pm Eastern to learn about joining the board. Board roles open for this upcoming year include:  President Elect, Member at Large for Diversity, Member at Large for Student & Trainee Development and APA Council Representatives (2 openings).  Please consider running and serving. The board represents you and it is critical we have new and diverse voices representing this organization. You can find the zoom link on the listserve or reach out to me for more information.

Thank you, SPP

Finally, I want to take a moment to thank you, the members of SPP, for an amazing year. I appreciate the conversations, relationships, grace, and connections this past year – and my years on the board - have brought me. Despite all the great work that has occurred, this year has had its tough moments.  From the continued racism, and COVID pandemics, to seeing the attacks on psychologists providing evidence based gender affirming services to youth to the lives being lost daily overseas. What a time for pediatric psychology to make its mark.  What a time for us to raise our voices. I certainly did not always get things right. I have learned a lot and will continue to. But I’m so proud of the direction this organization is going and the impact it will make in this world.

This organization has changed so much because you all had faith that this organization could change.  Policies are different, the way we approach the work is different, the way we work together is different and the way we envision our future is different. That is all you – the SPP members - that did that. This organization is at its best when we come together. You all have shown that. Thank you.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve this organization. It has been an honor. I wish you and your family a safe and wonderful holiday season. Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time.

Melissa Santos, Ph.D.
SPP President