Presidential Initiatives

Antonio E. Puente, PhDDuring his presidency, Antonio E. Puente, PhD, hoped to expand ethnic diversity within the association to further serve the public interest, especially diversity of demographics and thought. He also expanded public action (e.g., free health clinics); and improved the military and social justice interface. As a scientist, Puente understands that it is important to recognize the scientific foundation of psychology; improve grant funding; and better interface basic and applied psychology, as well as APA and the American Psychological Foundation. Physician definitions for clinicians are a core APA initiative, and, as a clinician, Puente is concerned about health care policy (cognitive processing therapy, scope and reimbursement); the APA Practice Organization; integrated health care; the APA interface with states and practice/license across state lines; and protecting the psychology doctoral degree. As a professor, Puente is concerned about the internship crisis; reimbursement for interns and post-doctorates; graduate medical education; and high school psychology. 

With this basis, Puente focused on making improvements in four areas.

Governance of APA

  • Transparency, integrity and efficiency.

  • Better interface with and across states.

  • Good governance implementation and/or revision.

  • Increase early career psychologist and "late career professional" membership.

  • Governance should reflect membership demographics (and diversity of thought).


  • Recruitment of new and lapsed members.

  • Emphasis on engaging existing members.

  • Seamless transition from psychology student to early career psychologist to mid-career, etc.

  • User-friendly websites for the public and members.

  • Continuing education expansion in type (e.g., webinars) and scope (e.g., professional and scientific).

  • Restructure membership fees (e.g., APA Practice Organization).

  • Increase underrepresented groups (demographically and theoretically).


  • Psychology's presence (with special focus on the Americas and smaller countries).

  • Collaboration (e.g., through memorandum of understanding).

  • Mini-summit at the 2017 conference of heads/representatives of national associations.


  • Celebrating our history and empowering our future (or expanding our horizons).

  • Involving both visits to Congress and rallies in a public location.


Puente was born in Cuba and received his bachelor's degree from the University of Florida, and his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Georgia. Puente was a clinical psychologist at a teaching psychiatric hospital and a professor of neuroanatomy at a medical school before becoming a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). He is also a visiting professor at the Universidad de Granada (Spain) and University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1982, he has maintained a private practice limited to clinical neuropsychology. In 2002, he founded and now co-directs (with a PharmD) a bilingual mental health clinic for the poor and uninsured in the southeastern region of North Carolina (Cape Fear Clinic, Wilmington, NC).

Puente has authored/edited eight books, 77 book chapters, 107 journal articles (in English, Spanish and Russian). His research focus has largely been on the interface between culture and clinical neuropsychology. He founded and edited Neuropsychology Review, the Journal of Interprofessional Healthcare and a book series in clinical neuropsychology (33 books). He has lectured in over a dozen countries and supervised fellows or visiting scientists from Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Spain. He has taught over 8,000 undergraduate students, supervised 33 graduate students and 10 post-doctoral fellows.

Puente is past president of the North Carolina Psychological Association, North Carolina Psychological Foundation, National Academy of Neuropsychology, Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (Div. 40) and Hispanic Neuropsychological Society. He has also served two terms as APA council representative for Div. 40. Puente is a member of APA Divisions 18, 19, 22, 26, 38 and 47, and a fellow of Divisions 1, 2, 6, 31, 40, 45, 52 and 55. Puente was also a member of the "kitchen cabinet" in 1999 under APA President Richard Suinn, PhD. Other leadership positions include chair of the Psychology Academy of the National Academies of Practice and several APA boards and committees, including the Board of Convention Affairs, the Committee for Psychological Tests and Assessments and the Policy and Planning Board. Puente also served on the Joint Committee for Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Between 1993 and 2008, he was APA’s representative to the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) panel and was then elected to the Editorial Panel of the CPT panel (voting member). He was also on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee. 

He has received several awards, including: Fulbright Scholar Award 1983 (Argentina); UNCW’s Distinguished Faculty Scholarship Award 2009; North Carolina Psychological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award 2008; and APA’s Karl Heiser Award 1996; Presidential Award 2006; State Leadership Award 2009; and Distinguished Professional Contributions to Independent Practice 2011. Follow Puente on both Twitter and Facebook.

Presidential Citations

Each year, the APA president awards Presidential Citations to outstanding psychologists.


Monitor on Psychology ®
New York Times
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