From the President
Fabricio E. Balcazar
University of Illinois at Chicago
We Change the World One Person at a Time
The SCRA Executive Committee (EC) met recently in Chicago for our annual Mid-Winter Meeting (MWM). This year, as the years before, we had extensive discussions to review the annual reports from the various committees and officers, as well as approve the budget for the current fiscal year (January 1 to December 31, 2014). We started our deliberations with a review of the Society’s strategic plan(s) (we have more than one, although they are similar), and throughout this process we realized that we have been making sustained progress in our strategic goals and thanks to the involvement of many committed volunteers, we are engaging old and new members in multiple activities through our councils, committees and interests groups. In my view, we are thriving and I want to thank all of the members who volunteer their time and energy to make Community Psychology relevant in the process of promoting well-being, empowerment and social justice. I think the title of this column represents both a sense of hope about our capacity to impact each other’s lives, as well as an acceptance of our own limitations with regards to the magnitude of our influence. I know it is often frustrating to listen to the “bad news” on TV or the radio about the growing problems the world is experiencing. Yet we do not give up and we keep doing what we can to help others become more critically aware or more able to act to bring some kind of change into their lives. I am hopeful because we have many members who are committed to building better communities, cleaner environments and to bring justice to those in need.
In this column I am going to update you all on the key decisions that were made by the EC during the MWM. First I am going to summarize the key points from my report to the EC:
- Membership is gradually increasing. We have established new categories (e.g., web-based version of TCP and AJCP) which reduce the cost of membership, particularly for new international members and for undergraduate students.
- We are encouraging members to “go green” and start using the web-based access to the AJCP and TCP. Almost half of our members have selected this option to date!
- The Policy Committee and the presidential stream have been in dialogue with APA staff with regards to calls for political action on APA listserves (i.e., SCRA-L, S-SCRA-L, SCRA-W, SCRA-ECP, etc). It is our understanding that APA will soon be updating their listserv rules to more explicitly state that political calls to action are "subject to mandatory review and disclaimer requirements therein". This process for posting political calls to action is still unresolved but we are continuing our discussions with APA and foresee greater collaborations between APA staff and our members. You may have also noticed that APA is also becoming more actively engaged in political advocacy. They have submitted several calls for action during the last few months. Their forms are very easy to use and efficient. I have gotten two positive responses from the office of Senator Durbin of Illinois. Ultimately, increased SCRA-APA collaboration could yield significant benefits.
- SCRA has been very active in developing a new Policy, Action and Research Collaborative (PARC), which is a network of organizations and institutions using collaborative synergies to advance a set of shared goals. We already have a charter and the EC approved reduced fees for SCRA members who belong to one of the partner organizations.
- A new online learning proposal has been developed as a result of a discussion that started at the last Biennial. The proposal was discussed and supported at a broad level at the MWM. Selected members of the EC are now working with the initial online learning work group to clarify the specifics and plan the steps to bring new educational opportunities for community psychologists from around the world.
- The contract with our association management agency AMC Source was re-negotiated for 2 years. They are going to be helping with the production of a new electronic newsletter. The Publications Committee is working on the details.
The following are some highlights of the key decisions the EC made during the MWM:
- We approved 5 new SCRA Fellows: Tim Aubry, Joseph Gone, Bernadette Sanchez, Manual Garcia-Ramirez (from Spain) and Andrew Peterson. Please join me in congratulating our new SCRA Fellows.
- The nominations committee did a great job and secured 3 candidates for President Elect (John Moritsugu, Gabe Kuperminc and Vincent Francisco); three candidates for Member-at- Large (Anne Brodsky, Lindsey Zimmerman, and Winnie Chan); and two members for APA Council Representative (Dina Birman and Jim Cook).
- The new website is almost ready to launch and we approved the formation of a new website committee to make sure the new website is successful and potential glitches are addressed.
- We agree to establish a new task force to consolidate our recent strategic plans and develop a new 5-year plan.
- We approved the new budget for 2014 that is balanced (no deficit!). We anticipate revenues totaling $423,009 and approved a budget for $422,683. Here are some of the highlights:
- We decided to spend $55,000 from our investment income from last year (this is about 5% given that the stock market did very well) in order to supplement our overall revenue.
- We approved a line item to hire a social media consultant ($9,500) to help SCRA move its communications into the 21st century. The committee selected the new consultant so (much) more to come!
- We approved a small budget to start producing press releases this year ($2,500). We are going to be seeking member input about newsworthy items that could be disseminated.
- We allocated some funds to support the operations of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice and the Community Tool Box. Details will be negotiated in the next few months.
- We allocated $18,000 to support the practice Mini-Grants (this is a 50% increase) and $15,000 to support the Policy Committee mini-awards.
- We allocated resources to launch new Webinars and a new on-line course in community psychology. Details will be negotiated in the next few months.
- We allocated $2,000 to support the 5th International Community Psychology Conference in Fortaleza, Brazil.
- We allocated funds for the interest groups and will be contacting them to finalize the details.
- We also approved the funds to support the continued work of members of the EC (member at large, students, regional Network coordinator, treasurer, AJCP editor, TCP editors, AMC Source, Administrative Director, etc.)
In short, while it was very cold in Chicago during the time of the MWM (all the flights going out of Chicago that weekend were delayed because of a snow storm), the meeting itself was a very warm and productive experience. By the way, we also had a very nice dinner with our colleagues and students from the Chicago area with more than 60 people in attendance!
I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of the deliberations and the commitment of the EC members to make sure that our funds are spent wisely with an eye on maximizing the impact of our investment in the profession’s growth and the benefit to our members. We are committed to maximizing the value that SCRA can offer to its members. Finally, I want to remind and encourage members to continue to reach out to the EC to express your interests and ideas for projects or activities we could support.
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