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This community blog is written by the current OPA Board of Directors' President.


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President's Message: January 2019

Posted By Katharine Hahn Oh, PhD - OPA President, Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Last week my mother received a small round of applause from the librarians when she returned the final volume of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. She may be the only one this century in her small town to have read the entire work. In her retirement, she is reading books, watching documentaries, and continuing her lifelong studies. Her love of learning was clearly passed down to me, and as a psychologist, I see lifelong learning as a value in our field as well. At our midyear reflection on our work, my Counseling Center staff commented that we are committed to continuing to learn in order to maintain the quality of our services, but they also commented that they just enjoy learning. What is it about learning that you love? 

When you take the Gallup Strengths Finder, you are provided with your top five strengths, and three of mine are Ideation, Intellection, and Learner (the other two are Achiever and Relator). This means I could come up with ideas all day long and that I love to think about ideas and learn just for the sake of thinking and learning. If I didn’t have Achiever in my top five, I might struggle to complete any projects! In any case, my answer to what I love about learning is “nearly everything.”

Becoming President of OPA, I worried that I didn’t know enough about all aspects of psychology in Ohio, but I’ve found that it’s been a joy to learn more (and that, thankfully, I don’t have to know it all). This year, I’ve learned more about challenges in getting reimbursed, about what a quality worker’s compensation evaluation includes, and about the many aspects of the opioid crisis. 

I find myself curious about local and statewide efforts to improve the well-being of children by increasing the number of school psychologists (there is a severe shortage), by subsidizing childcare, and by cleaning up the lead problem in our housing here in Cleveland. This year our OPA Board includes several members who work with children or in children’s settings, and I’m curious to learn more about their perspectives on these urgent concerns that appear to have bipartisan support. How might we use this opportunity to be proactive in our work to improve the lives of Ohioans? 

These are the kinds of questions our OPA Board wants to discuss this year. At our last Board meeting, we took a critical look at how we spend our time during meetings and decided to experiment with a different type of agenda. This spring we will be alternating our focus from business items in one month to a broader discussion of more strategic issues the next month. We want to do a good job of anticipating the challenges and opportunities facing our field and the public and guide our association to lead more proactively. This change also allows all of us to learn how to frame and participate in these broader discussions. As we try something new, not yet knowing quite how it will work out, I feel the excitement/anxiety that comes with learning a new skill and working at my edge. As a Board, we are practicing what Sandra Shullman calls “learning leadership” as we learn the situation and the skills while leading.

Of course, not all learning is joyful. As I talk with people who face significant challenges at work or who have intense caregiving responsibilities with family who have health concerns, I know that learning we wouldn’t choose is sometimes imposed on us by life. When life has given me challenges and lessons that go beyond a healthy stretch, I’ve heard myself say, “well, I’m learning a lot” as a way to look on the bright side. But much of the time lately, I’ve been able to choose what and when I learn, and then the experience is mostly joyful. In this new year, I wish for each of you to come through challenging times and to have moments – or years or decades – of joyful learning. 

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President's Message: November 2018

Posted By Katharine Hahn Oh, PhD - OPA President, Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Such good news: our own Dr. Sandra Shullman has been elected for APA President! She currently holds the title of President-Elect-Elect, but she is also a Past President of OPA and a global leadership consultant. I am so glad she will be at the helm of APA during this transformational time. A few weeks ago, just after we received the news that she had won, I had the privilege of co-presenting with her at our OPA Leadership Development Academy. I was reminded of how humble her presence is, as she is always looking to see what is needed by the group she is with, rather than providing a standard set of ideas. She is more of a listener and more of a thinker than most leaders I know.

At the Leadership Development Academy (LDA), we had 10 up-and-coming OPA leaders as fellows: Kistry Engel, Adrienne Jett, Katy Jones, John Lodge, Kadian Miracle, Jeeseon Park-Salzman, Amanda Ross, Geoff Schwerzler, Brittany Sommers, and Chiaothong Yong. They work in private practice, state hospitals and pediatrics, at college and university counseling centers, and in veterans’ substance abuse treatment. I am excited about the diversity of experience and perspective they will bring to OPA’s future. As a group, the LDA fellows were attuned to the collaborative, mission-focused, and organization-focused leadership that Sandy and I spoke about. Some of their ideas of leadership include...

  • creating a culture of trust
  • maximizing team strengths
  • acknowledging failure, biases, weaknesses
  • coming back from failure (being resilient)
  • being genuine
  • promoting participation
  • being brave
  • respecting diverse views
  • managing conflict
  • adapting to the group

It seems we have a group of generous leaders in our future, and it was a joy to spend a day with them at their first training. The LDA fellows will meet online with the faculty, attend Board meetings, work with a mentor, and complete a project over the course of the year. 

Sandy spoke in her presentation about her concept of being a “learning leader” (Shullman, 2017). Given the fast pace of change in our world and in our profession, how do we as leaders help navigate through this change? Sandy described the qualities or skills that have best helped leaders succeed in times of great ambiguity like these: (a) curiosity and motivation by mystery, (b) risk tolerance, (c) future scanning, (d) tenacity, (e) personal excitement and enthusiasm of others, (f) flexibility, (g) simplifying, and (h) focus.

Both APA and OPA are currently in a Strategic Planning mode, with our OPA strategic plan all but finalized. Our process has been one of learning and stretching ourselves to meet the current needs in our world and profession. For instance, one goal focuses on reducing the Opioid Crisis, and one initiative is to increase our work with First Responders. Related to our profession, we hope to assist APA’s advocacy for better reimbursement with Medicaid and Medicare and to increase psychologist involvement in state government committees and task forces. Once the plan is finalized, we may call on you to help us meet our goals! I hope we can apply Sandy’s lessons and role model to be humble enough to take a learning approach to leadership and tenacious enough to hold steady through ambiguity and change.

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President's Message: October 2018

Posted By Katharine Hahn Oh, PhD - OPA President, Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Grateful. This is what I feel when I think about the strong leadership, engaged members, and amazing professional staff that make up OPA. When I attended the Practice Leadership Conference in D.C. in March and again when I went to state association programs at APA Convention in August, I was struck by how much OPA has going for us! Many state associations do not have even one full-time staff person but contract with an association manager who works with a number of other groups, giving partial time to each. Some states with very few psychologists have extremely high membership dues in order to just maintain an association. This means that psychologists in most states are creating their association newsletters (we have our Communications Director to do this), doing all the legislative advocacy (we hire a lobbyist), and really working hard to create each member benefit or public good that comes out of their association. Many states are also struggling to get new leaders engaged and to begin to address a lack of diversity among leaders and members; we are ahead of the curve on these concerns. 

Peg Mosher transformed the leadership retreat that Cathy McDaniels Wilson began, and now we have the Leadership Development Academy (LDA), which has resulted in more diverse and early career leaders serving in OPA (2 LDA fellows now serve on the Board, and 5 of the 11 Board members are early career—within 10 years post doctorate). Related to diversity, we have a ways to go, but I was encouraged by our discussion of diversity and leadership at the OPA Board Retreat this year. 

At the Board Retreat, we discussed how our identities have shaped our approach to leadership, what leadership means to us, and how we can create a space for openness and authenticity as we work together this year. We affirmed our commitment to hearing diverse and divergent viewpoints, working intentionally to include perspectives that may not be at the table with us: rural concerns, politically conservative viewpoints, religious approaches, transgender and gender non-conforming perspectives. 

What is leadership? We used words like listening, service, support, humility, vulnerability, sacrifice, and collaboration. The word that came up most often was “authenticity.” We want to be our true selves as we lead, make room for others to bring their full selves to the table, and provide what is needed in a genuine way. This involves mentoring, being mentored, giving voice to others, and finding voice ourselves. 

We came to the weekend ready to tell our stories of what led us to lead or accept leadership roles when they were offered to us. At times, it may not be clear what the benefit is of leading in a professional association. For me, one of the great benefits is the wider view of the field. It would be easy for me to lose perspective. As the Counseling Center Director at Cleveland State University, October is a busy time with many crisis walk-ins, on-call responsibilities that keep me up late, and urgent meetings to address university-wide concerns. It would be easy to feel that my job is difficult, and some days it is. But being connected to psychologists across the state, I am aware of how my colleagues working in prisons, in community mental health, and in hospitals, may face these kinds of challenges at even greater levels than I do. Knowing people who work in these settings keeps me grounded and grateful!

The leadership and service I do also gives me the chance to intervene at a higher level of system. In addition to my work with individual clients, I am able to help change the larger systems that impact my clients (e.g., supporting candidates who improve belonging for LGBTQ+ individuals and thus reduce their risk of suicide). Because I am involved in OPA, I was invited to a fundraiser for Rich Cordray and was able to ask him what he plans to do to enforce mental health parity laws. He had a very good answer about how the governor does have enforcement power for laws already passed, even if the state legislature is not moving in the same direction. By giving to the OPA Political Action Committee (PAC), I was able to further support candidates who are proponents of mental health. Certainly, these actions are less direct than doing therapy with an individual client, but they have the potential to impact many more people in Ohio. 

As we enter the month of gratitude with Thanksgiving on the way and the holiday time of giving, I wonder what you are grateful for as a psychologist in Ohio? And from that gratitude, what will you give (in time or gifts)? OPA has many venues for us to contribute: you might consider joining a committee, giving to the PAC to support candidates, giving to the Foundation, or offering to provide a webinar for CE’s. I hope you will know that there is space here for you to have a voice, and the OPA Board is made up of leaders who want to hear your voice. If you’d like help to get connected or find the right way to contribute, feel free to email me at k.j.hahn@csuohio.edu.

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President's Message: September 2018

Posted By Katharine Hahn Oh, PhD, Friday, September 28, 2018

One of my favorite things to do is help create a sense of community or belonging. As a child, my family moved every few years, but we were part of a larger community that sustained my sense of belonging. My mother was a Salvation Army minister, and no matter what small town we were currently in, we would go to the same summer camp each year and see the same people from Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa. As I got older, I started going to the larger events in Chicago with Salvation Army people from all over the Midwest. I had a sense of belonging even when I was in a new place or didn’t personally know anyone because we were all part of this larger community focused on faith and helping others. 

Of course, all communities are made of people who are fallible, and I came to be critical of the Salvation Army as I questioned my faith and made friends who are LGBTQ+. Now, I try to hold both a critical and engaged stance with my communities, always wanting to help improve the groups I’m part of. I have a sense that if I can help others feel a sense of belonging, then they also can engage more and help improve the community. 

This is my hope as I start my year as OPA President – that I can help you feel a sense of belonging in the OPA community and that I can encourage you to contribute in ways that help psychologists and the public in Ohio. It is humbling to imagine what I will be able to achieve in this one-year volunteer role. I’m very aware that most of the work is done by the dedicated staff and the hard working committees and affiliate groups, but I hope to contribute my bit. I appreciate how much the Presidents before me were able to accomplish and especially want to thank Mary Miller for modeling such inclusiveness as a leader!

I notice for myself and a number of other psychologists that we often feel on the outside of a group. It can then be easier to do less, speak up less, or simply critique rather than engage positively, and this may keep us feeling like we’re on the outside. I want to challenge you and myself this year to courageously speak up, engage with each other, and try to make a difference. For each of us, the next steps in engagement will be different. 

For Brad Potts (Advocacy Committee Chair) and Gary Carrington (past VP for Diversity), talking with their legislators is easy and normal. For me, it will be my stretch this year – to meet with my legislators and talk about some of the important issues OPA wants to address. I also want to remain responsive to emails, though at times it will be a challenge when my job as Counseling Center Director at Cleveland State gets hectic. If you would like to join me by creating your own stretch goal or two, here are some thoughts about what they could be: 

If you want to join me this year to engage a bit more with the OPA community or to advance OPA’s mission, what will you do? I would love to hear! Please feel free to email me.

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President's Message: August 2018

Posted By Mary Lewis, PhD, ABPP - OPA President, Thursday, August 30, 2018

It is difficult to believe that my year as OPA President is ending -- what a year it has been! The individual accomplishments of the OPA board, committees/task-forces, and staff are too numerous to recount in this e-newsletter column, so I would encourage you to read the great summary in OPA Annual Review that will arrive in your mailbox soon. 

As I reflect on the year, I would like to take this column to personally express gratitude to everyone who has made this year an outstanding one, not just for OPA but also for psychologists in Ohio. My professional gratitude list includes the following:

OPA Staff: I cannot speak highly enough about Michael, Karen, Carolyn, David, Jim, Lynn and Beth. They are an outstanding group of individuals who work together so well and keep OPA running like a well-oiled machine. Because of their work, OPA brought in more revenue at convention this year, allowing us to end the year positively and continue to fund crucial advocacy work. Their positive attitude and energy kept me going, even when it felt like there was no way to stay above the workload. 

The “New” Board: A smaller board with more frequent meetings was a challenging adjustment, but each board member found ways to adapt. I am particularly grateful to everyone for being willing to join in the new governance model, even without knowing 100% what the expectations and challenges would be for the group. A huge thanks to Eric, Tom, Katharine, Peg, RoseMary, David, Cathy, Marc, Angela, and Gary for your commitment to OPA and making the first year a meaningful one for me 

OPA Committees and Task Forces: There isn’t enough space to thank all the chairs and members of the numerous committees and task forces that are within OPA. Truly, this is where the rubber meets the road for OPA. The volunteers that commit hours and energy to OPA are what make us outstanding year after year. 

Liaisons, Collaborators and Affiliates: Psychology is not insular, and OPA has relationships with other organizations that support our work and provide needed assistance. Some special thanks to Penny Tipps, our lobbyist, who has been essential over the last year as we work towards the RxP bill passing, as well as Erich Merkle, our OSPA liaison (and now incoming OPA President-Elect), who has spent numerous hours strengthening the connection between our organizations. 

OPA Members:  Ohio is an amazing state to be a psychologist, and I am enormously grateful for those of you who choose to support OPA through membership. Each member contributes in their own way to making this organization great, and I appreciate the commitment demonstrated to our profession. It is humbling to have been the leader of such an incredible group of colleagues. 

Research shows that creating gratitude lists is a healthy way to combat stress, as well as improve well-being and positive moods.  What is your professional gratitude list? Feel free to share it on social media with myself or OPA! And thank you for your support this last year, it really has been an experience that has helped me grow and develop as a psychologist and leader.

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