APA Practice Leadership Conference 

Every year, the American Psychological Association gathers delegates from state, provincial, and territorial psychological associations at the Practice Leadership Conference to provide advocacy training for leaders in the field of psychology.  Following several days of training events, the delegates head to Capitol Hill to meet with their congressional and state representatives.


March 5-7 and March 14-15, 2021
COVID-19 Recovery and the Future of Practice

by NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith

On Monday, March 15,  NJPA delegates had great virtual Capitol Hill visits. We were glad to be able to talk about health equity, the current and future paths access to care via telehealth services, and supporting the future providers of psychological services with the offices of Senator Booker, Senator Menendez, Representative Sires, Representative Payne, Representative Malinowski, and Representative Sherrill.

2021 NJPA Practice Leadership Delegates
NJPA President, Dr. Daniel Lee; NJPA President-Elect, Dr. Peter DeNigris; NJPA Past- President, Dr. Lucy Takagi; NJPA Director of Professional Affairs, Dr. Susan McGroarty; NJPA Federal Advocacy Coordinator, Dr. Virginia Waters; NJPA Early Career Delegate, Dr. Melany Rivera; NJPA Diversity Delegate, Dominique Reminick; and NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith.

At PLC, NJPA delegates covered the following topics:
1. Learn, Build, and Grow: Strategies for Making Health Equity Part of a Successful Practice
2. Medicare’s Impact on Private Payers and State Medicaid Programs: Why All Psychologists Should Engage in CMS Advocacy
3. The Distinctiveness of the Doctoral Degree
4. Psychologists as Leaders: An Important Professional Identity for New Challenges Ahead
5. Recordkeeping, Patient Access, and Other Legal and Risk Management Issues: How the Impending Open Notes Rule, Proposed HIPAA Changes, and the Pandemic will Impact Your Practice
6. COVID as a Catalyst: Propelling Digital Mental Health Technology into the Future
7. Inside Washington and the New Administration and Using Psychological Science to Engage Across the Aisle

At our Capitol Hills visits we made the following asks
Congress should enact tele-behavioral health policies that provide equitable access for all
Congress should pass the Tele-Mental Health Improvement Act
Increase Fiscal Year (FY22) Appropriations for Critical Psychology Workforce Training Programs

2021 APA Outstanding Achievement by a Psychological Association Staff Member - NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith
I am humbled to announce that the NJPA Executive Board made a decision to submit my name for the APA Outstanding Achievement by a Psychological Association Staff Member, and APA Division 31 selected me as the 2021 award recipient. The outstanding achievements of awardees may include: demonstrating excellent leadership skills, advancing psychology through innovative or significant accomplishments, inspiring greater involvement of members, serving as an outstanding role model and mentor for other staff members, and providing community service of significant value to his/her psychological association and psychology. This award presentation and my acceptance of this award will occur on Saturday. I truly appreciate the board’s acknowledgment of my work on behalf of NJPA. Click here to review the NJPA Executive Board’s award nominee submission on my behalf.

March 5 - 10, 2020
APA Practice Leadership Conference Summary
by Keira Boertzel-Smith, NJPA Executive Director

NJPA President and elected CSL Member-at-Large, 
Lucy Takagi, PsyD; NJPA President-Elect, Daniel Lee, PsyD; NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith, JD; Director of Professional Affairs, Susan C. McGroarty, PhD; NJPA Diversity Delegate, Alexandra Gil, MA, and NJPA Early Career Psychologist Delegate, Chris King, JD, PhD,  represented NJPA at the 2020 APA PLC.

The APA Practice Leadership Conference (PLC) is held each year in Washington DC to bring together psychologists and leadership from the state, provincial, and territorial psychological associations (SPTAs) across the US and Canada, along with APA governance and a few divisions. PLC is an opportunity for SPTA leaders to network and converse about professional issues, association management challenges, and trends occurring at the state and federal level. More than 300 attendees met in a variety of formats, large and small group sessions, workshops, and networking sessions, to learn more about the issues facing psychology and psychologists, and network with colleagues, invited speakers and government representatives. 

The conference culminated in visits to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and advocate for the profession, person-to-person. Due to the evolving situation concerning congressional offices and the Coronavirus, Practice Leadership Conference participants conducted virtual Capitol Hill office visits this Tuesday, rather than meet in person. The 2020 national advocacy priorities included urging the passage of the “Medicare Mental Health Access Act” (H.R. 884/S. 2772); Exclude psychologists’ services from the projected 7% payment reduction in 2021; and strengthening funding for critical psychology workforce programs. On Tuesday, March 10, 2020, NJPA held scheduled meetings with the offices of Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), Representative Chris Smith (D-NJ-04), Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Representative Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01), and Senator Bob Menendez. 

Click here to read more about the Capitol Hill visit talking points - three factsheets.  

Congress Should Pass the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, H.R. 884/S. 2772 

March 9 - 12, 2019  Advocacy and Leadership

Exciting News - NJPA's Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith, serves as the Chair of the American Psychological Association's Council of Executives of State, Provincial and Territorial Psychological Associations (CESPPA) Executive Committee

The purpose of the CESPPA is to promote the professional development of its members, to enhance the development of all state, provincial and territorial affiliates, and to advocate for issues of importance to state, provincial, and territorial psychological associations and members of these associations, and to the governance of the American Psychological Association. CESPPA membership is open to Executive Directors/Chief Executive Officers of state, provincial, and territorial psychological associations (SPTAs).

In March 2019, NJPA was present in Washington DC at the American Psychological Association (APA) Pre-Practice Leadership Conference meetings and the Practice Leadership Conference (PLC). Attending this year was NJPA delegates Drs. Morgan Murray, NJPA President, Lucy Takagi, NJPA President-Elect, Judith Glassgold, NJPA DPA, and Michelle Pievsky, NJPA ECP Delegate, along with Alex Gil, NJPA Diversity Delegate, Keira Boertzel-Smith, NJPA Executive Director, and friends, Drs. Sean Evers and Virginia Waters. PLC is the annual advocacy and leadership training conference for leaders in professional psychology practice. Each year, APA offers programming and opportunities designed to educate, connect, and empower APA and state, provincial and territories representatives.  The goal is for the attendees to leave PLC with new information, resources, and skills needed to be effective and creative advocates aware of the latest trends and developments in psychology and health care policy.  2019 marked the launch of APA Services, Inc. and the inauguration of APA’s new integrated advocacy structure. As APA enters a new era and begins implementing a strategic plan approved by APA’s Council of Representatives at their February 2019 meeting, PLC presented an opportunity to examine psychology’s future and the discipline’s advocacy efforts.  Attending PLC was a mix of leadership communities such as delegates, executives, and staff from the SPTAs, the APA Board of Directors, members of APA’s Advocacy Coordinating Committee, representatives from the Education, Public Interest, Science, and Applied Psychology communities, and executives and staff from APA.  There was again this year a great energy and exchange of ideas.

We ended our time in Washington DC with a trip to Capitol Hill. The New Jersey Psychological Association met with the following New Jersey Representatives and Senator’s offices to discuss cosponsoring two bills that remove barriers to quality mental health access for Medicare patients through bills HR884 and HR1301 and preserving mental health and substance use disorder coverage in Medicaid and private health insurance plans under the ACA. Lastly, we enjoyed having a dialogue with them about important social advocacy issues.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-07); Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ-02); Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ-03); Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11); Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06); Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09); and Sen. Bob Menendez (Senator D-NJ).

Congress Should Pass the Medicare Mental Health Access Act:

 Psychologists' Stories on the Need for Medicare Independent Practice Authority:

 Congress Should Pass the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act, H.R. 1301:

Congress Should Protect Coverage for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment:

March 10-13, 2018
Advancing Practice Together
by NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith

Our delegates were given strategies for identifying shared goals and forming strategic alliances with fellow psychologists, other health care professionals, and elected officials. We participated in workshops on topics such as Social Justice and Advocacy Matters: Navigating the “isms” and Building Allies, Navigating Barriers to Integrated Care from the State Perspective, and Understanding the Legislative and Regulatory Trends Promoting Quality Measurements and What to Do About it in Your Practice. On Tuesday, March 13, 2018, our delegates visited Capitol Hill to present our two asks to the offices of Ranking Member of Energy and Commerce, Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06); Ways and Means, Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09);  Energy and Commerce, Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07);  Finance, Senator Bob Menendez (D); Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05)  and Senator Cory Booker (D).  We asked our New Jersey house representatives and senators to co-sponsor the Medicare Mental Health Access Act that would add psychologists to the Medicare’s “physician” definition therefore removing physician oversight and referral requirements in certain facilities, such as inpatient psychiatric hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and rural health clinics. We noted that the Medicare population has the highest and fastest growing rates of diagnosed opioid use disorder. We also asked them to oppose any changes to Medicaid that would reduce coverage.  The message was that Congress should maintain the integrity of the Medicaid program.  We mentioned that Medicaid is our nation’s single largest payer for behavioral health services, covering 25% of all spending for mental health treatment and 21% of all addiction spending.

March 4-7, 2017
Practice, Politics and Policy
by NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith

With this theme, attendees explored our roles as practitioners in various political systems. APA/APAPO states legislative systems are crucial, but professional communities and institutions are also formed by politics and navigating each of them requires a different set of knowledge and skills. At  the Practice Leadership Conference, we had an opportunity to strategize about how to position ourselves within those systems in order to affect policy outcomes.





2016 State Leadership Conference (SLC)
Expanding the Practice Spectrum
February 27 - March 1, 2016
by Keira Boertzel-Smith, NJPA Executive Director

In late February, I attended the APA State Leadership Conference (SLC) with five other NJPA representatives:  President, Barry Katz, PhD; and President-Elect, Hulon Newsome, PsyD;  early career psychologist,  Briana Cox, PsyD; Public Education Campaign Coordinator, Janie Feldman, PsyD; and Federal Advocacy Coordinator, Mark Singer, EdD.  This year’s SLC theme grew out of the APA multi-state summit on integrated health care and alternative practice models. The focus was on the spectrum of opportunity and the many paths to success.  In the opening session, examples of innovative paths were presented by Dr. Arthur Evans, a leader in the Philadelphia Medicaid behavioral health program, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services serving underserved populations of that city in unique ways, such as a city-wide community mural project. Dr. Nancy Ruddy, with McCann Health in New Jersey, spoke on how clinical practitioners can work with community medical practices and her new role in applying psychological expertise to education tools for patients in helping them manage a broad array of medical issues. Dr. Geoffrey Kanter spoke about the large multi-health care provider practice group model and the Management Services Organization (MSO) model that would allow psychologists to become members of an organization that provides non-clinical business services at discounted rates.

Breakout sessions at the conference included topics such as alternative practice models, aspects of chronic illness, tools and tips for independent practice, challenges to psychological assessment, scope of practice, serving the underserved populations under the Affordable Care Act, new practice models, risk management and legal issues, and participation in Medicaid and Medicare. 

The SLC always ends with a trip to Capitol Hill to present the current APA federal legislative agenda.  To prepare us for our political venture, Mark Shields, a nationally known columnist and commentator with PBS NewsHour, presented us with unique insights on today’s current political events; Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) spoke to us about the need to improve our mental health system; South Dakota House Representative Kristi Noem was honored for her mental health work; and Former Governor Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), a candidate for the US Senate and psychologist, was recognized for his outstanding record of advancing mental health services.  As with the 2016-2017 NJPA legislative agenda, the APAPO focus is on access to mental health care. The first is the longstanding issue of raising the need to add psychologists to the Medicare definition of “physician” in order to remove an unnecessary layer of physician supervision and to help patient access psychologists’ services.  The second legislative issues emphasized the need to enact consensus, bipartisan mental health reform legislation that makes structural improvements and strengthens the fragmented mental health system in order to increase patients’ access to effective and evidence-based care.  You can read about both legislative issues on the APAPO website.

We spent March 1, 2016 on Capitol Hill visiting the offices of New Jersey Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (D12), Tom McArthur (D3), Frank Pallone (D 6), Leonard Lance (D 7), Rodney Frelinghuysen (D11), and Bill Pascrell (D9) to advocate for these important mental health access issues.  We requested that the New Jersey members of Congress cosponsor the Medicare Mental Health Access Act to allow psychologists to practice without unnecessary physician supervision, and to enact consensus, bipartisan mental health reform legislation.  I thank the 2016 NJPA delegates for their time, energy, and work on Capitol Hill.



2015 State Leadership Conference
Practice Innovation
March 14-17, 2015

NJPA attended the 2015 State Leadership Conference and made Capitol Hill visits.  This year's delegation included NJPA President, Kenneth Freundlich, PhD; NJPA President-Elect, Barry Katz, PhD; Director of Professional Affairs, Barry Helfmann, PsyD; Federal Advocacy Coordinator, Hulon Newsome, PsyD; Federal Advocacy Coordinator, Keira Boertzel-Smith, JD; Diversity Delegate, Marta Aizenman, PhD; , and Public Education Coordinator, Lynn Schiller, PhD.

The 2015 APAPO federal advocacy priorities are Medicare reimbursement, Medicare physician definition, and health information technology. To read more about the advocacy priorities, click here.

The Saturday afternoon keynote address was given by Jason Hwang, MD, who spoke about a disruptive solution for health care.  He stated his belief that health care reform starts with changing its longstanding and outdated business model, one-size-fits all delivery system that struggles to do everything for everyone.  It was interesting to hear about the big picture changes in business models and how they relate to health care.  The NJPA delegates went on to meet with their peers in networking groups.  That night, Betsy Myers, Founding Director, Center for Woman and Business at Bentley University, spoke before the APA’s 2015 Psychologically Healthy Workplace and Organizational Excellence Awards about leadership and workplace engagement and shared stories about her time working with Presidents Clinton and Obama.

On Sunday, the delegates heard from Ann Compton, former White House correspondent for ABC News who discussed current events and the 2016 presidential election.  NJPA President-Elect, Barry Katz, PhD, was able to ask a question of her, see here. Each delegate then broke off to attend specific subject matter workshops, such as PQRSPRO Registry, developing an integrated care practice, ICD-10, insurance advocacy, regulatory boards, and federal advocacy training. We ended with a group government relations issue briefing.

On Monday, we started out with an excellent presentation by Andy Goodman, Director of the Goodman Center, and nationally recognized speaker and consultant in the field of public interest communications. The presentation was tailored to learn to shape information about our association to potential new members; be more effective in delivering advocacy messages; and use storytelling skills when communicating psychological information to the public. We had a great storytelling exercise that was thought provoking and emotional. We continued on with workshops including removing barriers within Medicaid, membership recruitment and retention, and CPT terminology.  That night, the Honorable Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), member of the United States Senate, shared passionate stories about mental health care in her state.
We were up early Tuesday morning for seven great Capitol Hill visits. We visited the offices of Representatives Donald
Payne Jr., Bonnie Watson Coleman, Tom MacArthur, Chris Smith, Leonard Lance, Bill Pascrell, and Rodney Frelinghuysen.  Our four “asks” of the Representatives were to vote yes to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) to avoid the 21% cut in Medicare reimbursement rates, cosponsor the soon to be released legislation that will fix the Medicare payment formula, add psychologists to the Medicare definition of physician in order to remove an unnecessary layer of physician supervision and to help patient access to psychologists’ services, and lastly to make psychologists eligible for the HITECH Act electronic health records incentives.