Presidential Voice – Let’s Celebrate!

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 Joan Cook, PhDAPA Convention is just around the corner and I’m hoping many of you will join us for a fun and productive line-up of programming. We have our usual outstanding array of poster sessions and symposia, and a few extras.

In 2016, we celebrate 10 amazing years since the American Psychological Association granted us provisional status as a Division. In order to honor this important milestone special events at Convention are planned. For more information and details on our exciting programming, please visit our website at:

One significant event is an invited presidential address featuring Shaka Senghor, which promises to be very moving. For those of you who do not yet know Shaka, he is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison, has been featured on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” TV show. Shaka is a trauma survivor—a man who grew up in poverty, violence, fear, and hopelessness. He was angry, bitter, and hurting from a childhood broken by divorce, drug addiction and gun violence. At age 19, he shot and killed a man during a drug-related argument. He served 19 years in prison for second-degree murder, including years in a solitary confinement cell on 23-hour lockdown.

His memoir, Writing My Wrongs, is a redemption story told through a stunningly human portrait of what it’s like to grow up in the gravitational pull of trauma and poverty. Mr. Senghor’s talk will focus on not only sharing his experiences of pain, but about how he has transformed his life by getting the word out on trauma. He serves as a shining testament to the power of understanding the multiple pathways to the experience of trauma and the resiliency needed to overcome it. Since his incarceration, Shaka has devoted his life to pursuing transformative bipartisan federal legislation to grow our nation’s investment in rehabilitation, treatment and education of incarcerated persons, and to advance policies that keep people out of prison who do not need to be there.

Rather than a single presidential address, I thought it would be wonderful to have all the Division’s past presidents, Drs. Judie Alpert, Bob Geffner, Steve Gold, Laura Brown, Chris Courtois, Terry Keane, Constance Dalenberg, Kathy Kendall-Tackett, and Beth Rom-Rymer, join me a lively discussion regarding perceived future directions for the field of trauma psychology. I am sure you are as grateful as I am to our past presidents for their vision, energy, and dedication to creating and building our incredible Division of Trauma Psychology. Their feedback can help set a presidential blueprint regarding numerous examples of how the Division can continue to “get the word out” about trauma psychology to a wide-range of professionals as well as the public. To facilitate this initiative going further, we would like to know: what do you want to see Division 56 doing in the next 10 years? Each of you have ideas about where we need to go as an organization that would benefit and potentially lead us. So come, join the conversation!

Our social hour will follow this presidential address so hopefully we can all move right from this fruitful discussion to our celebration. This will bring us all together to celebrate our many accomplishments. In addition, Shaka has graciously agreed to join us at our social hour/awards ceremony where he will sign books.

We will also have our own hospitality suite at the convention and intend to make this a place for positive interaction and networking. It will be filled it with discussion groups, mentoring activities, and socials. This space will also be utilized for our silent auction of trauma books. Many thanks to so many of you who graciously donate your books for auction! It is wonderful to “get by with a little help from our friends.” If you are passing by the hotel, please stop by for light refreshments and good conversation. For more information on our suite and programming, please check out the highlights in this issue of the newsletter and visit our website at

If you are not able to attend Convention this year, you will be missed! But we will certainly have highlights to share with you via our social media accounts.