The American Psychological Association (APA) has elected its first Asian American woman and first Japanese American president.
Key details: Announced on Sept. 19, Debra Kawahara, Ph.D., an Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Distinguished Professor at Alliant University’s California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP), will be replacing Thema S. Bryant, Ph.D., a tenured professor of psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, as the APA’s next president.
Kawahara will take up the role on Jan. 1, 2025, according to the association.
What she’s saying: In a statement, the president-elect said she is honored to be elected as the association’s president.
“I am motivated to collectively create inclusive spaces and policies where people feel valued, worthwhile, and are treated with respect and dignity within and beyond APA,” Kawahara added.
Exceptional leadership: Andy Vaughn, president and CEO of the Alliant International University system, praised Kawahara’s “exceptional” leadership at CSPP in a statement, adding, “we expect nothing less of her leadership in the APA.”
Her goal: In her candidate statement published in June, Kawahara noted that her goal was to actualize her campaign slogan, “Strength in Unity,” explaining that she believed “an ethos of strengths-based unity provides us with an opportunity to continue to dismantle exclusive structures.”
“My action plan will be to amplify all voices and create initiatives that illuminate all our expertise in APA and psychology for the betterment of all,” Kawahara added.
About her: As CSPP’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Distinguished Professor, Kawahara reportedly managed 20 programs, some of which include nine APA-accredited clinical psychology programs and one APA-designated clinical psychopharmacology program in six campuses across the United States and other international sites.
She also received several awards and honors throughout her career, including APA’s Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, the Race and Ethnicity’s Distinguished Career Contributions for Service Award and the Sue Rosenberg Zalk award, to name a few.