Near the end of the monthly psychology training committee meeting at Boston Children’s Hospital last November, Jessica Henderson Daniel, Ph.D., ABPP, gave the floor to a senior supervising psychologist who said her patients and those of her interns seemed especially anxious after the presidential election a week earlier.
The 25 people in the conference room all realized they had similar experiences and wanted to talk more.
“You could sort of feel that we were quite engaged with this topic but we didn’t have enough time,” said Eugene J. D’Angelo, Ph.D., ABPP, chief of the Division of Psychology. “There was a group waiting to come in and use the conference room.”
Daniel, director of training in psychology in the hospital’s department of psychiatry and also associate director of the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Training Program in the Division of Adolescent Medicine, immediately recognized that the group should create a space in their schedules to reconvene.
She then found and booked a room for a week later, “which believe me is the more herculean task here,” D’Angelo said. “Conference rooms are at a premium but she got it.”
It is just one example of how Daniel gets things done with a leadership style that emphasizes listening and working collaboratively. She will continue that focus after becoming the first African-American woman to be elected president of the American Psychological Association for 2018. She becomes president-elect in January and will devote 2017 to preparing for the presidency and serving as a member of APA’s Board of Directors and Personnel and Compensation Committee.
“She’s going to bring I think an effort to try to sort of get us to work in a very respectful, collegial way,” said D’Angelo, APA Council Representative for Massachusetts, said of Daniel.
In February, expect to see a report by a special APA ethics commission appointed in response to the Hoffman Report, the independent review of the relationship between APA and Bush administration policies on abusive interrogation techniques during the war on terror.
Also in February, a new Task Force on Human Rights is expected to submit a report with recommendations to guide the development of future activities to promote human rights.
“APA has been moving steadily forward over the past year and a half to be more transparent and to rebuild the trust of its members and the public,” Daniel said in an email interview.
For over 30 years, Daniel has served in many governance roles with APA divisions and committees and the Massachusetts Psychological Association.
The MPA Board of Directors endorsed Daniel for president prior to the start of the votingperiod last September, citing her distinguished career as a mentor, policy advisor, advocate, teacher, researcher and author.
Daniel served on the APA Board of Directors from 2005-2007 and was named a fellow of the organization in 1996. Among other APA leadership roles, she was president of the Society for the Psychology of Women (Div. 35) and a member of the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (the Practice Directorate management committee), the Council of Representatives (chairing the Women’s Caucus, the Public Interest Caucus, and the Education and Training Caucus), the Ethics Code Task Force and the APA Finance Committee.
She also served as the senior member of the Early Career Psychologist Task Force and chaired the APA Presidential Centering on Mentoring Task Force.
Daniel also served on the Mass. Board of Registration, as a member from 1984-1989, and as chair from 1989-1993.
She is associate professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School as well as an adjunct associate professor in the clinical psychology program at Boston University.
“My goal is to have psychologists involved in the creation and implementation of policies and practices that impact the lives of people,” Daniel wrote.
“This means being in the room, at the table and at the head of the table so that psychological knowledge can help inform decisions. I will encourage them to form collaborations and assume leadership roles as citizen psychologists.”
A 2015 report by APA’s Center for Workforce Studies found that nearly 84 percent of actively working psychologists in 2013 were white – considerably less diverse than the overall U.S. workforce and slightly less diverse compared to all fields where doctoral or professional degrees are needed.
But the report found the field has become more diverse over time. African-American psychologists doubled their numbers from 2.7 percent of the active workforce in 2005 to 5.3 percent in 2013.
Hispanic representation grew by 47 percent to 5 percent and that of Asians grew by 80 percent to 4.3 percent over the same period.
Over the same period, the percentage of active female psychologists went from 58.2 percent to 68.3 percent, meaning that for every male psychologist working there were 2.1 female psychologists working.
Daniel said APA is working to revise and update its diversity implementation plan to enhance its outreach to diverse groups and promote recognition of the value of diversity in psychological research and practice as well as APA policies, publications and programs.
The plan also seeks to expand support for diversity in training and encourage participation by diverse groups in APA meetings and activities.
The first African-American man to serve as APA president was Kenneth Clark, Ph.D. in 1971. Clark and his wife Mamie Phipps Clark, Ph.D., were best known for their groundbreaking “doll tests” in the 1940s to study the psychological effects of segregation on African-American children.