Presidential Letter

SPP Presidential Column – February  2024

Hello SPP, I am grateful to begin my term as president and am excited for what 2024 will bring. It is an honor to follow Dr. Melissa Santos, who led our organization over the past year and supported the smooth transition to our new association management company, EDI. She also helped our board tackle multiple key strategic initiatives, including efforts to balance our budget and ensure that SPP remains financially healthy. EDI has been a terrific partner with the board, and we have already been hard at work planning activities for this year.

First, a little about me: As a first-generation scholar, I obtained my bachelor’s degree at the Ohio State University (OSU) and my PhD at the University of Vermont. I completed internship and fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, then stayed on as faculty for a few years before moving to Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH). As Chief Clinical Research Officer at NCH, I ensure investigators have ample support to accelerate discoveries and innovations in care. I am also a faculty member in the Division of Pediatric Psychology and Neuropsychology and a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychology at OSU, where I co-direct the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. My research in the Center for Biobehavioral Health has largely focused on risk and resilience in the context of pediatric cancer and bereavement. I’ve enjoyed mentoring numerous students, trainees, and faculty members over the years, so SPPAC usually feels like a reunion for me! I joined SPP more than 25 years ago and have always appreciated having a professional home here. I have learned so much while serving on the board as treasurer and now as president. We have an incredible board and an amazing organization, and I am excited for what we will accomplish together!

Midwinter Meeting: In early January, the SPP Board of Directors convened at EDI headquarters in Milwaukee for our annual Midwinter Meeting. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet our EDI team in person, revisit our strategic plan, and determine goals for the new year. We focused on continuing efforts in several key areas, as well as new areas of interest.

  • We reviewed reports from our active SIGs, liaisons, and committees, which are so important to the work being done in SPP.
  • We invited representatives from Heirloom to update the board on our financial health, as we develop an investment strategy to ensure SPP can continue to effectively pursue our mission.
  • Given that we are mid-way into our strategic plan, we reviewed progress, current activities, and goals for each of our strategic pillars in membership, education & career development, science & practice, and advocacy.
  • Special attention was paid to advocacy this year and ensuring financial investments align with each strategic pillar.
  • We will continue activities from the past couple of years related to member engagement, communication, board composition, and an updated workforce survey, to name a few.
  • Importantly, we remain steadfastly dedicated to health equity, social justice, inclusion, and belonging, as well as collaboration with pediatric psychologists around the world.

Presidential Initiative: My personal goal this year is to advance our advocacy pillar. You may not know that each board meeting is convened with a reminder to remember the voices that are not at the table. However, advocacy has received relatively less attention in the first few years of our strategic plan, even though it is vitally important to structural and systemic change. As we determine tactics to advance our advocacy efforts, we will strive to make our voices heard in the following ways:

  • As a voice for children, youth, and families
  • As a voice for our students and trainees
  • As a voice for our colleagues
  • As a voice for our profession
  • As a voice for our own needs

We have great capacity to make small and monumental changes by using our voice. Collectively, we can move mountains! My hope is that we continue to support awareness, advocacy, and action to achieve our mission of promoting the health and psychological well-being of all children, youth, and families.

I’ll look forward to seeing you at SPPAC in New Orleans this spring! Please know that I and the board welcome your thoughts, suggestions, and questions. I know that we will continue to do great things together for each other, our profession, and most importantly, children and families.


Cindy Gerhardt, SPP President