By: Jim Broyles, PhD, OPA President
During my year as president, I have had the opportunity to talk with a number of our members who have given me feedback about our association and the work it does. There are so many who let me know they are appreciative of the support they receive from OPA. However, from time to time I hear comments from some who express frustration that our association does not always provide for important needs of the members. It is their belief that the efforts of the association are not always focusing on the priority needs of Ohio psychologists. As I hear thoughts from these individuals, the impression they leave me with is that OPA staff and leaders have an agenda which is out of touch with the experiences of many Ohio psychologists, or apathetic to their plight as they experience day to day professional challenges. This perspective feels frustrating for me, especially from my overview of the functioning of our organization.
The reality I see is an association, both staff and a relatively small number of volunteers, which works very hard to understand the needs of Ohio psychologists and ensure that time and effort are spent on priority issues. For example, during a recent meeting of the Finance and Executive Committees, several hours were spent developing our budget for the coming year. This included a review of our areas of expenditure to ensure that time, effort and energy are focused on areas our membership has deemed priority.
My frustration subsides a little, however, when I realize that, in spite of our efforts, there may still be some areas of need which have not been addressed. When I consider this reality, I remember that OPA is an association run predominantly by volunteers. While a huge portion of the workload is undertaken by our incredible staff, most of the direction and a good deal of the support come from a group of volunteers who make up a relatively small portion of our total membership. These individuals, who serve as our Board of Directors and our many committees and task forces, research the issues, investigate the problems, gather the information and establish the goals. As a member of our association who is keenly aware of all this work, I feel immense gratitude for their efforts. While I continue to welcome feedback from individuals who identify areas of professional need which have not been addressed, my hope is that these same individuals will consider a new approach: make your voice heard, but also be willing to be part of the answer. Volunteer time to a committee, attend a board meeting (all are open to the public), or make a financial donation. Stay aware of the lack but be inspired by it. Ask which committee is responsible for the area of concern and sit in on a meeting. Most of our committees are welcoming new members, and the feeling of empowerment from being part of the solution is invaluable.