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1989  David DiCicco, Ph.D.

As 1989 began, the Board reaffirmed its support of the liaison system.  Each Board member was asked to link with one or two committees and then report back to the Board.  In addition, Barbara Severance and I met with a different committee chair each week. We coordinated our efforts with Ann Berlin, the newsletter editor.  She recruited a staff of reporters, and the newsletter began to be more accurately a reflection of our Association.

The committees were busy. T he Disaster Preparedness Committee continued to train psychologists who had volunteered to help in community crises.  Continuing Education carried out a variety of programs.  Linda Eaton started a task force to increase involvement of local psychology graduate students in the San Diego Psychological Association.  In July, the Board held a party for committee members and chairs.  Ninety people attended.

It was a time of change, movement, and increased participation.  Committees and task forces expanded, and our organization grew.  A new cross-cultural task force was formed, thus foreshadowing the emphasis on diversity.  Against this backdrop of exciting productivity, the ominous presence of managed care appeared in the form of the CHAMUS Reform Initiative.  For many of us, this was our first exposure to managed care, and it was disconcerting to see the ramifications of such a system. Association members met with people from Foundation Health Care in an effort to stem the tide of the CHAMPUS Reform Initiative, but our efforts were unsuccessful. Little did we know at the time that this was only the beginning of a movement that would change the practice of psychology not only in San Diego but across the nation.

In the fall of'1989, the Ethics Committee expanded.  John Kachorek, our ex-President, was proving to be an outstanding liaison to the Ethics Committee, and the communication between the Board and that committee was better than ever.  The Continuing Education Committee sponsored presentations by local psychologists Reid Meloy, Alan Sugarman, and Debbie Lapidus.  The Women's Committee held an October dinner featuring Sara Weddington, the attorney who successfully argued Roe vs. Wade.  This was truly an outstanding event.  Toward the end of that year, in response to many complaints from Association members, I arranged to meet with Napoleon Jones, presiding judge at Juvenile Court, to begin a process of communication between the Association, Juvenile Court, and the Department of Social Services.

Over the years, I had gradually come to feel that the Association needed to redefine the role of executive director.  There was no question that Barbara Severance had done a masterful job.  However, it became apparent to me and others that we needed to reevaluate the administrative component of the Association in the context of our ongoing growth.  One of the first things the Board did was to form a committee to carry out long-range financial planning.  Part of the committee's function was to explore the option of moving the Association office from Mrs. Severance's home into the community.

We also worked hard to help the Board take more control and responsibility for directing itself, to give more autonomy to the committees and task forces, and to spend more of our resources in creating and carrying out programs.  A dynamic in volunteering organizations is perhaps that members can too easily abdicate responsibility by getting a paid staff to do their work.  My perception was that this was happening all too often.  At times it was only Barbara Severance's energy and commitment that made things happen.

The banquet crisis several years ago had reinforced the concept of open communication between the Board and the membership. Thus for a number of years we had been conducting general meetings in which all members had the opportunity to raise questions and make comments to the Board.  These meetings were combined with brunch, and they proved to be interesting and effective.

As 1989 ended, I looked back and felt that this had been an exciting year.  The proliferation of professional schools in the San Diego area meant that more psychologists were setting up their practices in San Diego.  This provided a wonderful opportunity for our Association since it meant an expanded membership.  At the same time, it challenged us to develop new programs, expand our structures, and accommodate new ideas.

As the year ended, the Academy was a creative, productive organization.  We had spent much energy developing new programs. Continuing Education was booming, and our presence was felt in the community, in hospitals, and in the political arena.  However, a dark cloud was moving across the sky in the form of managed care.  At that time, we had no idea what a negative affect managed care would have on our practices and our patients.

Several years prior to my presidency in 1989, I had the good fortune of serving on a number of committees and fulfilling a two-year term on the Board.  The banquet crisis the year before made the members of the Board closer and made us all more sensitive to the need for open communication and democratic process.  As I began my year, I felt we needed to move in a new direction.  I perceived that we were a Mom & Pop organization at a time when a supermarket was needed.  Our membership was growing in leaps and bounds, but we were not providing enough services to our members.  My vision was one of greater member involvement and improved processes of communication.


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