Welcome From the Program Chair
Alyssa Ward, Ph.D., LCP
Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services & Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
As the 2019 Program Chair, I welcome you to our 53rd Annual Convention with enthusiasm and hope that this year brings us one step closer to our mission and the goals that bind us together. ABCT is committed to enhancing public health and well-being through the application of science, and that promise is reflected in our theme for 2019: "Wisdom of Purpose and Perspective: Extending the Social Impact of Cognitive Behavioral Science." Working in leadership at a state Medicaid program, I am immersed each day in decisions that drive the social impact of our collective work on a systems level. In Virginia we are implementing a radical redesign of our system to create an evidence-based, trauma-informed, and prevention-oriented array of behavioral health services to our members, who even with expansion are largely women and children. The work of translating scientific findings to policy and regulation is not one that our graduate training traditionally prepares us for, and I believe we have opportunities in organizations such as ours to support the development of critical skills in this area towards expanding our impact. I have brought the passion that fuels me in my work as a public servant to this role as your Program Chair, and it has been my honor to serve our organization in this way.
Developing a program around this theme has been timely as we are convening in a state that has recently passed legislation significantly limiting women's reproductive rights. Many within our organization have voiced concern for the impact of these regulations, our meeting occurring in this state context, and the rights and experiences of women both in our organization and in our world. As Program Chair, it has been my role to work with our committee to consider how we can address these concerns within the relatively relevant program we have sought to create over the past year.
We have some exciting programming specific to the impact of CBT on public health. We are humbled to be joined this year by both international and domestic experts who have made large-scale impact on service systems and vulnerable populations. Dr. Sonja Schoenwald, a trailblazer in the dissemination and implementation of treatments for youth into complex community-based settings, will facilitate a panel discussion involving Ileana Arias, Richard Puddy, and Craig Thomas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Vikram Patel is a Harvard psychiatrist whose ground-breaking work has focused on reducing the treatment gap for mental disorders in low-resource countries. He was recently awarded the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award, a prestigious honor given to the world's top scientists in global health. His TED Talk on "Mental Health for All by Involving All" has over 1 million views and in 2015 he was named by TIME Magazine as among the world's 100 most influential people. He will be speaking with us on building our workforce to promote global delivery of services. Dr. Matthew Sanders joins us from Australia where over the last four decades he has built an international reputation as a clinical researcher developing treatments that address childhood behavior problems and promote stronger families. Professor Sanders' Triple P parenting system has now helped approximately 4 million children and their families. It is used in more than 25 countries and has been translated into 21 languages other than English. More than 75,000 practitioners have been trained it its delivery. He will be speaking with us about his transformational body of work and future opportunities for social impact.
Following the passing of the abortion legislation in Georgia this summer, we worked creatively with our committee to develop an additional invited panel to bring attention to the pressing issue of using psychological science to responsibly inform and advocate policy and regulation development, with special attention to the local context here in Atlanta. We are so grateful for the fast, flexible, and thoughtful efforts of our esteemed colleague and long-time ABCT member Dr. Lynn Bufka, the Associate Executive Director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association, and support from our Local Arrangements Chair, Dr. Leah Farrell-Carnahan. This panel will include a diversity of speakers, including women's rights advocates representing the local climate who will address the topic "Realizing ABCT's Mission in a Politicized World."
Finally, in his presidential address, Dr. Bruce Chorpita will speak to us about maximizing the reach of cognitive and behavioral science through strategic coordination of individuals, institutions, and industries.
This year you will notice that we have made some innovations in our program process:
We hope that you experience this as an engaging convention that inspires new scientific collaborations that increase our collective impact! Thank you for joining us in Atlanta.