Division 17 ECPs Newly Elected to APA Boards and Committees Share Their Experiences

For counseling psychology early career psychologists interested in joining APA governance, 2017 was a good year: at least five counseling psychology Early Career Psychologists (ECPs) were successfully elected to APA Boards and Committees. Both APA and Division 17 have been taking steps to be increasingly inclusive of ECPs in governance; in 2017, Division 17 passed a bylaws amendment adding the Division 17 ECP Committee Chair to the Executive Board, and in January 2018, moved to permanently designate our third council seat as an ECP seat. As well, APA recently moved to require most boards and committees to have at least one ECP member, in addition to their creation of the APA Office on Early Career Psychologists. Yet, despite the movement to bring more ECPs to the table, we recognize that the process of becoming involved in APA governance may appear mysterious or intimidating to ECPs. In an effort to demystify this process and encourage more ECPs to run, we asked some of our recently elected ECPs to tell us about their experience of running for the APA position to which they were elected.

Melanie Lantz, Ph.D., APA Board of Educational Affairs (2018-2020)

  Why did you run?

I have wanted to get involved in APA governance for a while, and I am passionate about education and training. I was also aware that counseling psychology had not had a presence on the BEA for quite some time. It felt like a long shot, but I wanted to try.

Was this your first time running?

Yes! I feel very lucky.

What concerns or fears did you have?

My first concern, once I was slated, was that I had no idea what I was doing! For example, I had no idea that only Council voted. Also, I felt certain that I was unlikely to get elected. I was more worried about just how many times it would take me before I could “break in.”

How did you campaign? What do you think is important for others to know?

Going back to “I had no idea what I was doing” – I really didn’t! The first thing I did was reach out to mentors in Division 17 who have APA governance experience, for consultation on how to campaign for an APA Board. After consulting, I decided to try everything: I made flyers and distributed them at the Council meeting at APA (name and face recognition!), I sought nearly every caucus endorsement, I updated my website, and I e-mailed every Council member just prior to the elections opening. My mentors helped me every step of the way.

What advice do you have for other ECPs who may be interested in running for an APA Board or Committee?

Seek mentorship, throw your hat in the ring, be prepared to be persistent, and seek to create your leadership pathway in the meantime. I’m always happy to help, and to connect interested ECPs with other mentors in SCP. It may take more than one election cycle to obtain an elected position, but every election still counts toward name recognition and experience. If you are interested in a particular position, I say, throw your hat in the ring! If you are not elected the first time around, continue to seek other service and leadership positions—Division leadership can be a meaningful way to build your CV and leadership pathway! Oh, and always seek the caucus endorsements!

Dr. Melanie Lantz is an Assistant Professor at Louisiana Tech University. She presently serves as the Division 17 ECP Committee Chair, as well as a member of the SCP Committee on Social Change, and has served in several other roles with Division 17 and affiliated organizations.

Elizabeth Terrazas-Carrillo, Ph.D. APA Committee on International Relations in Psychology (2018-2020)

Why did you run?

I am passionate about promoting psychology and psychological research at an international level.  I have been involved in APA initiatives to reach out to international partners and I believed running for this committee seat would allow me to shape APA’s vision for international psychology.

Was this your first time running? Yes, my very first time.

What concerns or fears did you have?

I really was not sure what running for a committee would entail. I was afraid I did not prepare enough for running, and of course, I did not think I would get elected.  However, I decided I wanted to have the experience and even if I did not win I could learn from it for future opportunities.

How did you campaign? What do you think is important for others to know?

My campaigning was really minimum – I honestly was not fully aware of what was required or expected! I reached out to a mentor and got some good feedback.  In addition, a member of D17 board specifically promoting involvement of SCP members in APA governance reached out to me and provided some guidance and mentoring about the process and about writing statements for the caucuses.  What I believe was important in my case is that I had been involved with the Office of International Relations program to facilitate international collaborations with partners from Mexico. This involvement helped me network and become familiar with CIRP’s goals and role in shaping APA’s approach to internationalizing psychology.

What advice do you have for other ECPs who may be interested in running for an APA Board or Committee?

I believe it is important you build your leadership skills starting out in appointed committees in D17, network and find senior leaders who can provide mentorship, and be involved in issues, programs, and activities within SCP and APA specifically related to the committee you are interested in running for. Definitely reach out to SCP leadership, as they are committed to advancing and promoting ECP involvement in governance and can be an invaluable source of mentorship and advice.

Dr. Elizabeth Terrazas-Carrillo is an Assistant Professor of Counselling Psychology at Texas A&M International University. She has served as a Social Media Coordinator for Division 17 Early Career Professionals Committee and as a Membership Chair for the Section for the Advancement of Women.

Le Ondra Clark Harvey, Ph.D., Member-at-Large for APA Board of Directors (2018-2020)

Why did you run?

I ran for the APA Board’s Member-at-Large position slated for an ECP. I ran because I was nominated, and it seemed to be a great opportunity to utilize my leadership experiences working with the Div 17 ECP Committee, and my work as Past-Chair of the APA Committee on Early Career Psychologists to continue to advocate for this group of psychologists.

Was this your first time running? No.

What concerns or fears did you have?

None; it was an honor to be nominated and to run. I did not expect to get slated so that was a surprise.

How did you campaign? What do you think is important for others to know?

The campaigning rules were that we could utilize social media, which I did. APA also hosted a video interview for each candidate. I posted to Facebook, Twitter and created a website. I tracked the visits to my site etc. I think that utilizing a website was the most effective means of campaigning.

Dr. Le Ondra Clark Harvey is the Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies. She has served Division 17 in several capacities including: Past Appointed Positions Coordinator, Past ECP Committee Member, and Current Co-Chair of Presidential Leadership STG.

Shavonne J. Moore, Ph.D., Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (2018-2020)

Why did you run?

I love being engaged with fantastic divisions within APA, and I felt ready to expand my engagement to leadership within APA governance. I ran for BAPPI specifically because I am committed to furthering the work of our field in ways that positively impact our profession and the public.

Was this your first time running? Yes, this was my first time running for an APA board.

What concerns or fears did you have?

I was initially fearful of losing, especially as I moved further along in the process and more of my colleagues knew of my run. I felt the fear and embarrassment of potential failure, but I was also excited by the potential to make a positive change and bring my counseling psychology values to the larger APA community. Ultimately, the more I campaigned and expressed a clear interest in BAPPI, the more I saw and believed in my experiences and ability to contribute. At that point, I felt much more excitement than fear.

How did you campaign? What do you think is important for others to know?

This process was very unfamiliar to me. In fact, I had no idea what to expect or what was expected of me. I started by reaching out to other counseling psychology mentors who were more familiar with the process. Once I understood what was required of campaigning, I felt intimated and uncertain if I could succeed at this. I put my fear aside and decided to move forward with intentionality. I’m glad I did because as I committed myself to the process, I began to feel stronger about my candidacy and more confident in my experiences and abilities. I wrote letters to some of the APA Caucuses and requested their endorsement. Instead of writing to all of the Caucuses, I focused my efforts on those with whom I felt my interests and experiences aligned. Lastly, I emailed each Council member and asked for their vote.

What advice do you have for other ECPs who may be interested in running for an APA Board or Committee?

First, do your research on the board or committee that you are interested in. Run for something that is meaningful and important to you, and that you have relevant experience for. Then, find a mentor. Doing your research is the easy part but navigating the campaign process can be confusing and intimidating. It can be extremely helpful to find someone who is more experienced with the process. Lastly, commit yourself to the process. If you lose, you would have gained a better understanding of the process for next time; if you win, you get to contribute to something that is meaningful and important to you.

Dr. Shavonne J. Moore is a Licensed Psychologist and healthcare provider in Boston, MA and holds teaching responsibilities within the Harvard Medical School psychology and psychiatry programs. She has served Division 17 as Chair of Practitioner Engagement for Section on Professional Practice.

Valene Whittaker, Ph.D.. APA Membership Board – Practice Slate (2018-2020)

Why did you run?

As an Early Career Psychologist (ECP) in a practice-focused career, I wanted to pursue election to an APA Board so that I could continue to shape the organization beyond my efforts in Division 17. As a practitioner, I also want to bring more visibility to practice-related issues and interests and encourage other ECP practitioners (and practitioners in general) to become more involved in APA leadership.

Was this your first time running? Yes, and I am incredibly grateful that I was successfully elected!

What concerns or fears did you have? My primary concern was that I would somehow miss an important step in the election process that would place me at a disadvantage compared to other APA members who had served multiple times on Boards and Committees. Similarly, my fear was, as someone who had not held national leadership positions and didn’t have “name recognition”, that I wouldn’t break through and get elected after multiple attempts.

How did you campaign? What do you think is important for others to know?

The idea of campaigning feels so foreign when I think about my own pathway to leadership at the local and national levels. I had been used to pursuing nomination to appointed positions within Division 17, and even in that process there were learning curves for me, such as obtaining nomination letters from SCP for positions at the National level. It turns out that this was helpful preparation for pursuing an APA Board or Committee position, because I had the ability to advocate for myself, my vision as a leader, and identify a rationale for my fit with an opportunity. Early on, I contacted mentors and leaders in SCP who had served on Boards in which I had an interest and obtained advice on what to expect with the election process. This was an invaluable part of my preparation because I had no idea what it would entail, and no idea that endorsements were an important key to being successful when it comes to campaigning. I focused most of my efforts on pursuing and obtaining endorsements from Caucuses (i.e., groupings of Council members with specific missions and/or areas of interests) and prioritized submitting endorsement requests to caucus groups that aligned with my professional and personal interests, as well as with my slate. Through my State Psychological Association, I was able to obtain support and request individual endorsements from the Council Representative and from another Board of Directors member who is on Council for a different division and active in a caucus group with a large membership. In the end, although I was not able to request endorsements from a large number of caucuses (completing these requests take time, so start early!), I was able to maximize my visibility by seeking endorsements from larger caucus groups, and by sending informal emails requesting individual Council members give me their #1 (or #2 or #3) vote and consider spreading the word to their colleagues in Council.

What advice do you have for other ECPs who may be interested in running for an APA Board or Committee?

Pursue those opportunities to get involved with Boards or Committees that are meaningful to you, connect with others for mentorship and guidance, seek caucus endorsements, and try not to get discouraged if the outcome isn’t one that you had hoped for. I am still practicing building my resilience when it comes to hearing “no”, and at the very least running for a position, and running, and then running again means that people are seeing your name on a regular basis and connecting you, your skills and your talents with leadership opportunities. APA needs as many different people as possible contributing to the organization and continuing to shape it in ways that are meaningful at the national and global levels; this is especially true for people of color, people with other diverse identities, and ECPs. As Counseling Psychologists, we are incredibly fortunate to have a strong and visible presence within APA Governance at all levels, so find ways to get connected to opportunities in SCP and identify the pathways to leadership that reflect your strengths – you can rest assured that there are many people in the Division that will support and happily cheer you on in the process!

Valene Whittaker is a Licensed Psychologist and Health Service Provider in Outpatient Mental Health at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial (ENRM) VA Medical Center, in Bedford, MA. Within the American Psychological Association, she is a member of the Membership Board (Practice Slate); Board of Convention Affairs Central Programming Group and serves as Chair for the Section on Professional Practice in the Society of Counseling Psychology.

We hope that the stories of our counseling psychology ECPs recently elected to APA Boards and Committees are helpful to you, and encourage you to consider running yourself. Looking for ways to get involved and get connected? The Division 17 ECP Committee encourages you to join us at our networking events at APA (watch your e-mail!), participate in our webinars, and to apply to join the committee! The Division 17 ECP Committee is an excellent way to get started in leadership while serving the ECP membership of the Division. ECPs are crucial to the future of both APA and Division 17, and we encourage counseling psychology ECPs to participate in defining the future! Questions on how to get involved, or need help identifying mentors? Reach out to Mel Lantz, Chair of the Division 17 ECP Committee: melmlantz@gmail.com.


Read more from the APA Office on Early Career Psychologists on getting involved in APA Governance: https://tinyurl.com/ECPAPAElections

APA’s Tips for Nomination to APA Boards and Committees” for ECPs: http://www.apa.org/careers/early-career/get-connected/nomination-tips.aspx

View the open Board and Committee seats for the 2018 APA elections:


Read more about the Division 17 ECP Committee: https://www.div17.org/ecps/chair-welcome/

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DIV17ECP/

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