If you have been involved in APA Division or state psychological association leadership as an early career psychologist, you may be well-qualified to serve at the APA level of governance. Calls for nominations should come across your division or state association email list, most often in December with nominations due in March or in late spring.

APA governance is primarily made up of boards and committees. Committees report to boards and the first position held in APA governance is usually on a committee.

To Prepare

Take the following steps to get ready:

  1. Look over the committees that fit your areas of expertise and your leadership and service experience.
  2. Talk with mentors who are involved in APA governance and ask them which committees might be a good fit for you. If you can identify mentors and colleagues who are involved at the APA level of governance, they are in a great position to write a highly relevant letter of nomination letter on your behalf.
  3. Inquire about your divisions’ and state associations’ assistance in these nominations. Some divisions have a member assigned to assist with nominations to APA. You can ask if the division or state association writes letters of support for nominees or if they would be willing to write one for you.

As calls for nominations are announced, decide which position would fit you. Most calls for nominations include very specific areas of specialty or ethnic and diversity variables needed to maintain the committee’s overall make-up, so having a few different committees in mind can help you find a position. If more than one position would be a good fit for you, you can be nominated for both (although later in the process, you will only be eligible for one).

Your Letter of Interest or Self-nomination Letter

You can simply self-nominate, using your letter of interest and CV. However, having more nominations or letters of support may increase your chances of being chosen.

  1. Research the committee more thoroughly so that you can write an excellent letter of interest.
  2. If you know committee members or others who are familiar with the recent work of the committee, speak with them to get ideas about relevant committee needs.
  3. In your letter, explain how your experience qualifies you for that committee and the specific position on the committee (demonstrating competence may include areas of research or practice and leadership experience). Highlight your abilities to think beyond your divisions or state, and to work with people from many different perspectives within APA. Also, you might write about how you will help the committee further APA’s strategic plan.

A few other people and groups to ask for nomination letters are:

Someone who knows your work (and preferably knows APA governance). Your division(s) and state association. Committee on Early Career Psychologists (CECP). Simply send an email to CECP with your letter of interest and CV.

The Next Steps

Once you have been nominated for a position on an APA committee, the committee will review all the nominations and select their top choices. This list of names for a particular position is called a slate. To help your chances of getting on a slate, you may want to introduce yourself to committee members when you see them at the APA Annual Convention or another professional meeting.

Most committees present their slates to APA council, and the Council of Representatives members vote for their choice. Some committees (e.g. CECP) send their slates to the board of directors (BOD) to whom they report, and the board makes the final selection. If you are chosen by a committee to be on their slate and council will vote on the decision, there are additional steps you can take to increase your chance of being elected. Ask someone who serves in APA governance about these steps and consult the resources on the early career website (e.g. Tips for Election to APA Boards & Committees).

A Note of Encouragement

Many people do not get on a slate the first time they are nominated, so do not be discouraged if your first or second attempt does not succeed. Ask for any advice or encouragement you need, and keep trying.

Additional Resources

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