Ali Mattu for APA President

I'm running to become the next President of the American Psychological Association. This isn’t about me or an election. It’s about all of us renewing APA and its commitment to benefit society. Learn more by watching my video above or read the transcript below. You can also read my plan for APA.

I want to begin by acknowledging how unusual it is for me to be running to become the next president of the American Psychological Association.

As a child I never cared about school and almost flunked out. Everything changed when I took introductory psychology at community college.

The first lecture by Professor Wendell Goesling inspired me in a way no other class had before. He taught me practical ways I could use psychology to become a better student, improve my relationships, and set a new course for my life. Now, I aspire to bring that type of change to others as a clinical psychologist at the Columbia University Medical Center.

This is also why I’ve spent the last decade serving APA. Its mission to improve society resonates with me. From APAGS to the Policy and Planning Board, the Board of Directors and the Council of Representatives, the Good Governance Project and its implementation team, and now with the Council Leadership Team, APA gives me a chance to serve the field that has given so much to me.

I believe in APA.

APA advocates for our science and interventions, promotes high quality accredited training, and uses psychology to promote human rights and social justice. Its companion, the APAPO, makes sure I have the opportunity to continue practicing psychology. The field of psychology would not work without APA and APAPO.

But APA is not working the way it used to. For the 7th year in a row, our membership has declined and we recently learned that our net assets have sharply decreased. Similar trends at the APA Practice Organization are limiting the organization’s ability to function. 

How did we get here?

We stopped prioritizing our members.

The primary benefits of joining APA, as marketed on the APA website, are discounts to journals, videos, and books. Psychologists don’t join organizations for publication discounts anymore – the internet has changed that. We join organizations because we believe in the organization’s vision, want to help advance the science of our field, and meet colleagues who share our passion for psychology.

The APA Practice Organization has a different problem. While its work helps all health service psychologists integrate into healthcare, many psychologists are reluctant to join APAPO because they don’t think the organization communicated honestly in the past, which led to a class action lawsuit and settlement.  

APA and APAPO are seen by many as out of touch with what is happening in the field of psychology.

Since 2009, the financial burden of attending graduate school in psychology has increased 33% for PsyDs, 77% for health service PhDs, and 90% for research PhDs. Psychologists enter the field with an average of $130,000 of debt and earn stagnant salaries that keep us in debt for years to come.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain funding for research, we’re constantly fighting for parity in healthcare, and I’m worried that we’re missing opportunities to use psychology to solve problems facing society.

Then there’s the issue of APA’s governance body. When you consider the range of specialties, career stages, perspectives on issues, identities, and abilities, APA’s elected leadership doesn’t reflect the diversity of our field.

Many criticize APA as straying away from its mission, and the Hoffman Report exacerbated these concerns.

Despite all of this, I continue to be inspired by psychology and I’m not the only one – the hashtag This Psych Major campaign reached over 3 million people who love this field. They deserve an association that is above reproach and inclusive of all.  

I believe we can be that change. These crises have created an opportunity for a new beginning. This is why I have made the unusual decision to run for APA President as an early career psychologist – to champion a new way forward.

I know I haven’t served APA as long as other APA presidents, but I’ve served it long enough to know that this association isn’t meeting the needs of psychologists.

I will advocate for a new APA culture that responds to the needs of all psychologists through a dramatic reduction in membership dues and by strengthening programs members value.

I will work with the APA Practice Organization and state, provincial and territorial psychological associations to build membership through the development of products that help psychologists launch and grow their careers.

I will call for an APA Leadership Institute that will broaden leadership opportunities within APA, build a diverse leadership pipeline, and help psychologists become leaders in their local communities. This Institute will create a culture of respectful discourse and give voice to those who are currently excluded from APA’s leadership and decision-making processes.

I’ll ensure clear checks and balances are implemented as we rebuild trust after the Hoffman report.

This election is not about any one candidate. It’s about all of us renewing APA and its commitment to benefit society.

If you give me the chance, I promise The New APA advance psychology for years to come.