President’s Message – February 2022


Greetings Society of Pediatric Psychology!  

I want to begin by thanking our Past-President, Wendy Ward for her tremendous leadership and unending positivity as we rounded out a challenging 2021. Wendy led the society through a second virtual conference, the development of the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, and ensured that we upheld our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Revising board processes to prioritize EDI for board candidates, awardee selection, and membership recruitment efforts will undoubtedly benefit SPP now and in the years ahead. In my presidential year, I want to ensure the successful launch of the Strategic Plan, continue our EDI efforts, and enhance the bidirectional communication between the board and our members.   

I must confess it feels wild to be your 2022 SPP president, perhaps not the most Presidential statement to make but I recall being a starry-eyed super fan at my first SPPAC conference and now I have the distinct honor to serve an organization that has meant so much to me and continues to be my professional home. How did I first become a part of SPP? Well, my PhD mentor Ronald Blount told me to join. He said, “If you aspire to be a pediatric psychologist, then you need to join SPP”. It didn’t take me long to recognize that he was spot on. The Journal of Pediatric Psychology was my go-to resource for keeping up with the latest research in the field, in Progress Notes I learned about leaders in the field and brief spotlights on research and clinical programs, and after I went to my first SPPAC meeting in 2004 I was completely and utterly hooked. I found my professional home. I was surrounded by people who were as passionate or more dedicated toward improving the lives of children and their families navigating the medical context. Whether it be living with diabetes, solid organ transplantation, chronic pain, or epilepsy to name a few, the mission and vision has been laser focused: To actively promote the health and psychological well-being of all children, youth and families. 

I joined because of the mission, but I have remained because of the community. When I look toward my presidential year, I want to ensure that we as a board communicate frequently with our membership and more importantly that we devise strategies to make that communication bidirectional and hear from our members. I will start a brief recap of our Midwinter Strategic Board Meeting held the first week of February. Degnon Associates, our management company has now been working with SPP for a year. In this time, we have developed a new membership database that allows us to better communicate with our members and understand who our members are. We have revamped our website and have a much more agile system for keeping it up to date so definitely check it regularly. We have a successful CE portal and have done a deeper dive on our finances. Although our organization has run at a deficit the last few years, we have maintained strong financial stability through our investments. We spent a great deal of time reviewing our Strategic Plan and what to focus on for 2022. One thing is clear. We are a busy, active organization with many dedicated members that serve on the board, committees, in SIGs, and in many other ways working tirelessly to execute our mission. We also spent time carefully reviewing our budget to assess whether our spending was aligned with our strategic plan. I can proudly say that overall, we are doing a wonderful job AND there is opportunity to better serve all segments of our membership, ensure that we adequately communicate the value associated with being a member of SPP, and be thoughtful about how we can devise strategies to increase revenue so that we can operate without an annual loss. This will ensure that can continue to support the programs that have been successful and make strategically aligned investments in new initiatives such as our very successful anti-racism grants that we launched last year and intend to offer in 2022. We also recognized that members wanted to understand our choice to hold a fully in person SPPAC and thus Emily Law and I put out a video statement to provide further information. We hope to devise ways to increase bidirectional communication through Town Halls and/or holding our business meeting at SPPAC in the coming years and welcome additional ideas from our members.  

I aim to highlight over the course of the year how we are working to execute the four pillars in our strategic plan and I hope to hear from many of you along the way. We are an active and engaged bunch and I look forward to working together this year to make it a success.

Laura Simons, PhD