I am honored to serve as the 20th President of the Asian American Psychological Association, along with my dear friend Helen Hsu, our incoming Vice President. AAPA has been under amazing leadership for over four decades – ranging from our AAPA founding president, Dr. Derald Wing Sue, to our most recent president, Dr. Sumie Okazaki. I want to first begin by thanking all of our past AAPA leadership for all that they have done for our organization. Your passion and dedication has allowed us to create a family of psychologists, practitioners, researchers, and students, from all over the United States, with the mission of promoting mental health and wellness of our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
I sought the presidency of AAPA because I wanted to continue the work that our foremothers and forefathers have already done for us, while also thinking of new ways that AAPA can grow and make our mark in the world. I am thankful to have the assistance and support of an amazing team of Executive Committee Members, Conference Coordinators and Volunteers, Asian American Journal of Psychology Editorial Board Members and Reviewers, Committee Members, and General Members, who all make our organization the strong and enduring family that we are.
Our Presidential Theme for this year is threefold:
- Make AAPA known as the Leader in Asian American Mental Health: One of our main goals is to increase our presence in the national and international dialogues on psychology, specifically in addressing issues that impact AAPI communities. We believe that the AAPI community may not be thoroughly exposed to psychology-related issues and that there is still significant mental health stigma in our families and communities. As a result, we believe it is necessary to continue Sumie Okazaki’s platform of “giving psychology away”. We want to use social media as a catalyst to discussing AAPI issues, particularly those related to mental health. For every hate crime, “Tiger Mom”, and “Linsanity” story, we want to ensure that our AAPI community (and the community in general) is aware of potential mental health implications. For research papers that our members publish on AAPI mental health, we hope to assist in translating those results to the greater society, while using accessible, everyday language. We want to encourage our members to get more involved in the community through the offering of mental health workshops and trainings, attendance of community-based conferences and meetings, and outreach to AAPI youth. If AAPA members are more visible in the general AAPI community across the US, we believe that we would be doing our part to reduce some stigma regarding the discussion of mental health issues or the seeking of mental health treatment.
- Mentor and Recruit the Next Generation of Asian American Psychologists: Because psychology is a field that is still underrepresented by AAPIs, particularly Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders, we believe it is necessary for AAPA to take the initiative in mentoring future AAPI psychologists. It is our goal to maintain and expand the ways that AAPA can promote and support the professional growth and development of all AAPIs in the field of psychology. We aim to work closely with the Division on Students on ways that we can mentor and support current graduate students, through scholarships, mentorship programs, and professional development. We also want to start our outreach and mentorship earlier, by recruiting younger people in college (and even high school) to consider a field in psychology. We hope to accomplish this through our social media campaigns, but by also reaching out to existing organizations that do this type of work. For example, there are High School Outreach Days, Summits, and Conferences in California, Michigan, New York, and other states, where hundreds of AAPI youth gather to discuss issues pertinent to them. By creating a mentorship committee (consisting of both professional and student members) to facilitate this goal, we hope that we can do our part to increase the number of AAPI psychologists across the US.
- Represent the Diversity of our Community: We aim to represent the diverse identities of our community and to always be cognizant of the many subgroups that are often not represented (e.g., South Asians, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, LGBTQ people, multiracial people, etc.). We want to ensure that AAPA is no longer viewed primarily as an academic organization and we hope that practitioners, consultants, community organizers, and others will feel at home within the organization. We encourage the creation of new divisions, following the lead of our newest divisions: The Division on Filipino Americans, which emerged in 2010, and The Division on LGBTQ Issues, which emerged in 2013. As the first openly gay AAPA President, as well as the second Filipino American president, I hope that AAPA will always be a place that is open and accepting of all members of our communities.
I want to end by encouraging all of our members (and potential members) to become more active in our organization. If you are interested in advancing the psychological health and wellness of AAPI communities, there is something for you! Please feel free to contact me and we can find a way to get you involved.
I look forward to serving all of you, while continuing to build the family that has been around for over 40 years.
Kevin L. Nadal, Ph.D.