President’s Column: 2020 What a Year!

Krishna Kumar

V. Krishna Kumar

V. Krishna Kumar, PhD

2020 can be thought of as the year of multiple crises: worldwide genocide by COVID-19, police shootings of black individuals and consequent worldwide protests, and wildfires and hurricanes.  The Zoom invasion that began in March 2020 turned our lives into virtual reality.  Life without Zoom has become unthinkable.  For the first time in its history, the APA convention went virtual.  Many colleagues were disappointed that they could not network with colleagues, attend social hours for free food and drinks (some quite lavish!), and listen to and meet with some great masters in their field.  Some presenters withdrew their presentations or agreed to present virtually at first and then decided not to submit their work.  Indeed, much to the credit of APA, the APA virtual convention was a great success with some 14,334 attendees, 1434 from 102 countries (as of the end of Saturday, August 8, as cited in the BCA’s APA 2020 Convention: Division Chairs Debriefing, August 20, 2020). The presentations are available on the APA convention platform through August 21, 2021, for already registered attendees and thanks to APA, one could still register to listen to the convention proceedings for a bargain fee.

What some had anticipated to be a full-scale disaster, the virtual convention turned out to be a full-scale success.  APA ventured into new territory and everyone gained.  At the time of this writing, planning is underway for next year’s convention; it is not yet known if we will have a hybrid convention (part in-person & part virtual) or a completely virtual one.  Either way, all sessions may be recorded for viewing on-demand at your leisure—so, something good did come out of all this in addition to achieving the greater good of protecting many people from possible exposure to this most deadly virus.

Division 46 members participated well in the APA virtual convention.  Our very first during convention social hour was held virtually with 37 people where we presented awards to Mary Alvord for Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Media Psychology and Technology, Pamela Rutledge for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Media Psychology & Technology, Allycin Powell-Hicks for Distinguished Early Career Professional Contributions to Media Psychology & Technology, and Yemaya Halbrook for Student Dissertation in Media Psychology & Technology.  Frank Farley received a Presidential Citation (signed by three Presidents: 2020, 2019, & 2018) for being a Grand Mentor of Division 46, the first citation of its kind to honor his long and dedicated service to our division.  The News Media Award for 2020 went to Brad Pomerance and Kevin Wegener for their news media contribution to psychology: Mental Health and Trauma in Jewish Americans, produced by Jewish Life Television, and Brad Pomerance (Narrator and Senior Producer) was in attendance at the social hour to receive it.

A highlight of 2020 is that our division’s student committee has been resurrected by two doctoral students from Temple University: Stephanie Miodus and Stephanie Joseph (please see their report in this issue).  They have taken the lead to initiate a student mentoring program, student listserv, and podcast series titled Psych w/a Twist of Media and Tech.  They have recorded three podcast interviews, the first was with Joanne Broder on completing dissertations, a second one with Linda Sapadin on overcoming procrastinations (and yes, do not delay in listening to it!), and a third one with Andres De Los Reyes on how storytelling can be used to communicate effectively using narrative storytelling in writing for media, making films, writing research papers, theses, and dissertations.  The links to the podcast has been posted on the Division’s APA website, Division’s listserv, Facebook, and Twitter.  Thanks are due to Chrysalis Wright, Division’s Secretary, who managed to gain access to our Facebook and Twitter accounts that seem to have been lost in cyberspace.  The division operates without a physical office from around the country and people volunteer to fill various roles and then sometimes move on forgetting to pass on account login details and this makes it difficult to maintain continuity.

Stephanie Miodus and Stephanie Joseph worked with Shahbaz Siddiqi, our Webmaster, to set up a Student Committee Section on the Division’s website.  Please visit the Division’s website to see what a wonderful job they have done:

I wish to thank Division 46 Board members for helping me conduct several meetings via e-mail to conduct our business. In the near future, there will be a change of guard—Christopher Ferguson will lead the Division as President. Everyone knows Chris, he needs no introduction.  Our President-Elect is Don Grant whose enthusiasm knows no bounds. I, of course, will continue in the role of Past-President.  A huge thank you goes to our outgoing President Kathryn Stamoulis for her marvelous three years, but, of course, we cannot leave her alone—we re-elected her as Member-at-Large.  Karla Hamlen has been re-elected as Treasurer to serve another term.  Chrysalis Wright will continue to serve as Secretary for two more years and Danny Wedding will continue as the Division’s Council Representative for two more years.  I extend my most sincere thanks to James Kaufman and Susan Birne-Stone for their service to the Division as Members-at-Large as they complete their term at the end of this year.  They are both very dedicated and will continue to contribute in many ways to various divisional efforts.  We have four continuing Members-at-Large: Frank Farley (term ends December 31,  2021), Jerri Lynn Hogg  (term ends December 31, 2021),  Jennifer Gentile (term ends December 31, 2022), and Ryan Hooper (term ends December 31, 2022).  We also have two new Members-at-Large whose terms start on January 1, 2021: Joanne Broder and Kathryn Stamoulis.

One of the most difficult tasks a President faces is to find volunteers to chair committees and to serve as liaisons to other divisional efforts or agencies.  First, I thank everyone who volunteered to fulfill various roles to move our division forward.  Second, I urge you to accept without hesitation when Chris Ferguson or Don Grant call on you to volunteer for an assignment.

Unfortunately, there is little hope, at least at the time of this writing, the COVID-19 situation will change dramatically next year.  Let us follow the old Boy Scout’s motto: Be Prepared.

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