Presidential Initiative

Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPPThe Citizen Psychologist™ initiative is Daniel’s primary APA presidential initiative. APA Citizen Psychologists serve as leaders in their various communities and improve the well-being of all through public service, volunteering, nonprofit and nongovernmental organization board membership, and other strategic roles often not directly associated with their daily work.

Almost every aspect of human existence is impacted by psychological science, education and practice. And almost every social policy can be informed by it.

Daniel’s initiative aims to educate the public about psychology’s contributions to service and policy, provide curriculum objectives and materials to help more people develop and strengthen a Citizen Psychologist identity, and award citations to current and emerging leaders who exemplify this concept.

Daniel’s APA presidential campaign slogan was, “Psychology is every day in every way." As such, her initiative will work to ensure that psychologists are in the room, at the table, and yes, even at the head of the table when policies are formulated and implemented.


Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, is associate professor of psychology, department of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. She is also director of training in psychology, department of psychiatry, and associate director, Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Training Program, Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital, Boston. She is the first African-American woman elected to lead the American Psychological Association.

In 1993, as chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Psychologists, she proposed that the board consider regulations requiring instruction and training about people of color in order to be licensed as a private practitioner in Massachusetts. The regulations passed, and Massachusetts continues to be the only state with such regulations. In recognition of her reorganization of the Massachusetts board and the passage of these regulations, she received the 1993 Massachusetts Psychological Association Ezra Saul Psychological Service Award and the 1995 Boston Section of the National Council of Negro Women’s Courage of Conviction Award.

During her many years as a leader within the American Psychological Association, she has served as president of Div. 35 (the Society for the Psychology of Women) and a member of the Task Force on Adolescent Girls, the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice, the Council of Representatives (chairing both the Women’s Caucus and the Public Interest Caucus), and the Finance Committee. In addition, she has been the senior member of the Div. 31 (State, Provincial and Territorial Psychological Association Affairs) Early Career Psychologist Task Force; chair of the APA Presidential Centering on Mentoring Task Force; and the first African-American elected to the position of member-at-large of the APA Board of Directors. While in the latter role, she initiated the formation of a Task Force on Resilience and Strength in Black Children and Adolescents. The task force’s report, "Resilience in African American children and adolescents: A vision for optimal development," has been widely distributed and well-received. As president of Div. 35, she formed two task forces: Early Career Psychologists and Adolescent Girls, which are now standing committees in the division. Daniel also founded a mentoring group for early career women psychologists of color who have been identified as potential leaders.

Daniel has long been concerned about the small number of research psychologists who are people of color. In 1999, with a vision of a mentoring program for women of African descent, she obtained funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Kellogg Foundation and Harvard Medical School for the Next Generation Program, an ethnically based mentoring program for early career women of color who are committed to research careers that focus on adolescents.

In 2009 and 2011, Daniel served as a faculty member of the Diversity Leadership Development Workshop, an initiative of Div. 31.

Daniel’s career has focused on instruction, training and mentoring. Her contributions as a mentor were recognized by Harvard Medical School in 1998 when she received the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award — the first woman, the first person of color and the first psychologist to be so honored. She is the recipient of mentoring awards from the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (1999), the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (2003) and the Society for the Psychology of Women (2006). Beginning in 2007, the latter award was renamed the Strickland-Daniel Mentoring Award. She also received the 2001 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Illinois-Urbana, the 2002 APA Distinguished Award for Education and Training, the 2004 MPA Kenneth D. Herman, PhD, JD, Career Contribution Award, the 2006 Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers Award for Excellence in Psychology Diversity Training, the 2008 Committee on Women in Psychology Distinguished Leader for Women in Psychology Award, the 2010 Caldwell-Colbert Clinical Educator Award (APA Society of Clinical Psychology), and the 2010 Ivan Mensh Award for Distinguished Teaching (Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers). In 2010, she received the Harvard Medical School Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award in recognition of her instruction and training programs that address diversity issues at Children’s Hospital. She is a 2011 recipient of the Elizabeth Hurlock Trust Award, which honors inspirational professors. Also in 2011, she received the Samuel M. Turner Mentoring Award from Section VI (Clinical Psychology of Ethnic Minorities) in Div. 12 (The Society of Clinical Psychology). Daniel is an APA fellow.

Presidential Citations
2018 APA President Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, presents Presidential Citations to outstanding psychologists. View the 2018 Presidential Citation awardees.