Broad View: June

By: Michael Ranney, MPA, OPA Executive Director

Michael_RThis has been a busy and interesting month at OPA and I wanted to share some current and future highlights. A little potpourri…

You may have seen posts on the listserv about Ohio Science Day. Since well before my time, OPA has been providing judges to review projects submitted in the Behavioral Science category of the Ohio Science Fair, which is a project of the Ohio Academy of Science. This is a great activity for OPA, encouraging young scientists is so rewarding. Over the years the number of projects has been increasing and several years ago they increased they added fifth and sixth grade students to the mix, so we now review projects in grades 5-12. When I first started Dr. Jeff Sherrill was the leader, who championed OPA’s involvement in Science Day, finding judges and money to support our involvement.

OPA members and some of our regional associations donate money to the Foundation for Psychology In Ohio so that we can present the best students with cash prizes for their work (grades 5-6: 1st place $50; 2nd $25; grades 7-8: 1st place $75; 2nd $50; 3rd $25; 9-12:1st place $75; 2nd $50). If we can’t find projects that meet the standards for our awards we do not give them. This year, for example, there were no sixth grade projects that merited an award.

If you are familiar with French Field House on the OSU campus, you know that it is the huge venue for indoor track and field. Imagine it filled with row after row of tables holding hundreds and hundreds of student posters (well over 1,400 this year) about scientific projects they have worked on. Projects in Behavioral Science are spread throughout the room. This year there were 147 projects (5th Grade-1; 6th Grade-10; 7th Grade-41; 8th Grade-37; 9th Grade-21; 10th Grade-18; 11th Grade-12; and 12th Grade-7) and our fabulous team of judges started judging at 9 a.m. and finished by 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 11.

Our crack crew of judges disserves a shout out here. Some of these folks have been doing this for years and always say how much they enjoy interacting with the kids about their projects. The 2013 Science Day Judges were: Charles Fiumera, Rose Shaw, Janice Vidic, Rebecca Clarke, Marie Aldnadi, Janie Johnson, Pam Deuser, Peg Mosher, Christy Tinch, Jeff Marinko-Shrivers, Michele Evans, Courtney Cummings, Miriam Velez Bermudez, Mary Miller Lewis, Linda Sirosky Sabdo, Michael Scur, David Hayes and Hunter Sully. Great job this year, team!

Watch for a photo of some of our judges and a list of our winners and their projects in the Ohio Psychologist. If you are interested in providing financial support of our cash prizes and/or judging for the 2014 Science Day let me know. The next year Science Day is Saturday, May 10, 2014.

Changing topics…

Legislative Day was held on Wednesday, May 22. This is one of our biggest projects each year and it just keeps getting bigger and better. Between the Advocacy Committee, Legislative Day Committee, Black Caucus Breakfast Committee, Health Fair Committee and all of the OPA staff, countless hours of planning and organizing goes into making the day a success. It is a difficult and unique event, since many elements of it are unknown until the last minute. We invite legislators and their aides for lunch and often don’t know if they are coming or not until that day. Meeting in the Atrium of the Statehouse puts OPA and psychology in an area that is the crossroads for legislators, agency directors and lobbyists on their way to doing the business of government.

This year nearly 70 OPA members attended, including 24 students. Thanks to all of you who supported scholarships so we could have so many students attend and learn about the legislative process first hand.

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Breakfast is an opportunity for ethnic minority OPA members to sit down with members of the Black Caucus and their aides and discuss issues of mutual concern. This year topics included the Medicaid expansion, health disparities and cultural competence. Coming out of the meeting there was so much positive energy and plans for more opportunities to stay connected and engaged. This is such a unique and important undertaking that is putting psychology and OPA at the table on significant policy matters.

Bobbie Celeste, OPA’s Director of Professional Affairs, and Brad Potts, Chair of OPA’s Advocacy Committee kept the program moving along.

  • Tracy Plouck, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health, talked about a range of initiatives within the department to improve access to mental health care. Medicaid expansion was a key component of her talk.
  • Todd Finnerty, OPA’s Public Education Coordinator, gave an overview of public education information available from APA and introduced the components of the health fair set up around the room to help legislators and the public see some of the ways psychology is helping to create a healthier Ohio.
  • Jon Honeck of the Center for Community Solutions reviewed elements of the Governor’s budget and the funding for mental health care. He also mentioned Medicaid expansion.
  • Those who were attending their first Legislative Day got a special briefing from me, our lobbyist Penny Tipps and Carrie Mavarikis, Legislative Aide to Senator Jim Hughes. We had a large group of ‘first timers’ who had many questions about the legislative process, the role of legislative aides, who to talk to legislators and what the follow up should be.
  • Many legislators joined us for lunch and we had seating by regions so they could be matched up with people from their districts.
  • During lunch we presented a Public Service Award to State Representative Barbara Sears (R-47), who has been a strong voice in support of Medicaid expansion in Ohio.
  • Katie Golden, who chaired our Legislative Day Committee, gave a brief talk about “Psychologists as Health Care Providers”, getting and keeping the attention of the many legislators in the audience as she covered many of the ways OPA members help Ohio citizens.
  • After lunch there was a quick review of our expectations for meetings with legislators before people went off to meet with legislators or their aides, observe Senate and House sessions and attend committee meetings. We viewed this as a step in building relationships between individual OPA members and their legislators, explain what they do as psychologists, talk about ways they could be a resource for the legislator and share stories about why Medicaid expansion is important to people who need health care.
  • After visiting legislative offices everyone returned to the Atrium to write thank you notes, write up summaries of their visits and share their experiences. All agreed it was an exciting and worthwhile day.

Watch for news of the plans for Legislative Day 2014 and plan on joining us!

Changing topics…

OPA has long placed an emphasis on leadership development, but for many years our approach was pretty informal. During the presidency of Cathy McDaniels Wilson in 2007, we developed a more organized and less subtle approach with our first Leadership Forum. From quietly cultivating those who expressed an interest in becoming involved in OPA leadership, we’ve moved to a formal open program of leadership training and motivation to reach a broader audience of OPA members. We’ve had speakers, many from outside of psychology, who are experts in leadership, motivation and organizational development who have given participants a great deal to reflect on as they work to develop their leadership voice.

We have some exciting plans in the works for the 2013 Leadership Forum. It will be on Saturday, July 13 at the OPA Central Office in Columbus from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m. I will be announcing details soon but wanted to get the date out now. If you are interested in participating, please email me.

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