Psych The Vote! Meet 2 Candidates for APAGS Chair-Elect

psychthevoteWe’re Psyching the Vote for APAGS Chair-Elect! During the month of April, APAGS members can submit an elections ballot for elections for APAGS Chair-Elect and four members at large (link contains position descriptions and official bios). Members will get an email with voting instructions on April 1. This post is the first in a series of six between now and March 31 in which candidates voluntarily answer our questions in 200 words or less, to give voters some insight into what they will bring to their prospective positions.

Our first question for APAGS Chair-Elect: 

 What competencies should be expected of all psychology graduate students in the areas of leadership and advocacy, if any, by the time they graduate? Why?

Justin Karr responds: 

Justin_Karr_headshot_2015The collective voice of psychologists has never been more important, considering healthcare reform, cuts to behavioral science funding, and the international need for evidence-based mental healthcare services. With these issues ongoing, I feel that all psychology students deserve training in advocacy, helping them build competency on how to enact change at local, state, and national levels. Only then can we advocate together in a way that strengthens our profession, serves the public, and ensures social justice. Psychologists are well-equipped to make meaningful change in the world, but we can only actualize that change with effective leadership. While all students have a role in advocacy, not all students will choose to serve in positions of leadership; however, all students deserve an equal opportunity to pursue leadership training. A culture of leadership has been growing within psychology, as psychologists today lead integrated healthcare teams, head academic institutions, and even serve in Congress. APAGS aims to strengthen this culture of leadership; and as your APAGS Chair-elect, I will advocate for the funding and development of more student leadership training opportunities, ensuring future generations of psychologists are well-prepared to serve as leaders within both our field and the many settings in which they serve.

Blaire Schembari responds:

schembariThe development of leadership and advocacy competencies among graduate students is often ignored. Graduate programs should emphasize the cultivation of these skills. Leadership and advocacy abilities enable students to contribute to the field of psychology and enhance their individual careers, as these roles are a part of many psychology career paths (i.e., therapists advocate for their patients, researchers lead projects and utilize results to advocate for sameness or change, teachers lead and advocate for their students).

There are several competencies I believe psychology graduate students should develop. First, an open-mind is critical to being an effective leader and advocate. Change is more likely to occur if you’re willing to listen to others and make them feel heard, even if they challenge your beliefs. Effective communication is foundational. This includes actively listening and providing constructive feedback to others’. A successful leader and advocate also has the courage to challenge the rules when they are more harmful than helpful. Moreover, being passionate and dedicated to your team and work ensures during difficult times you remain focused. Finally, knowing your limits, setting boundaries, knowing when to delegate, ask for help, and practice self-care are vital to the longevity of a leader and advocate.


Be on the look out tomorrow for our next post in this series and be sure to vote when you receive your APAGS electronic ballot on April 1! — APAGS Staff.