Presidential Column

President’s Column: The Things I’ve Learned About Leadership from My Career in Addictions (Spring 2024)

By Donna LaPaglia, PsyD, ABPP

When I was fresh out of postdoc and working in the field of addictions, a senior colleague recommended that I attend an AA meeting to see what it was all about. Not being a member of the recovery community but being tasked with the job to help those struggling with addiction, I entered the room in a church basement filled with anxiety about being a stranger and not knowing what to do. To my surprise, I was greeted with an unconditional warmth and kindness that left a lasting impression, and which, over time, has become a professional and organizational north star of sorts: an orientation towards community that supports communal well-being and, in the process, makes each member healthier and stronger. Without knowing a thing about me, the members of this group shared their wisdom, their vulnerability, their sadness and joy, their suffering, and their triumphs.  What if we could facilitate this type of welcome in our professional organizations. This type of environment is always available to us if we support each and every person who joins our division and aspires to take a seat at the table.

I witnessed this type of unconditional welcome at this year’s 1st Society of Clinical Psychology (SCP) conference in Atlanta. Without knowing one another, senior psychologists and staff welcomed students, and early and mid-career psychologists to share thoughts, ideas, and experiences, and in the process friendships and connections were fostered. Feedback from participants echoed how impactful the conference felt: “rejuvenating,” “extremely collegial,” “meaningful”.

Since conferences occur outside the day-to-day grind, they represent short, concentrated opportunities to learn new information and network. SCP has striven to build long-lasting pathways to membership and leadership which provide opportunities for deeper engagement, and which draw in diverse, uniquely talented individuals.  With this in mind, SCP’s Education and Training Committee co-led by Drs LoPilato and Bogomaz have thoughtfully designed a leadership experience LEAD (Leadership Education Advancement & Development) program that is open and welcoming. Senior leaders will share wisdom, provide support, and facilitate deeper engagement with our division.

Keeping with the spirit of facilitating a sense of community, and to introduce you to some of the members of our community you may not yet have had the pleasure to meet, here are the psychologists that over the last years walked into the SCP community, took a seat at the table, and committed to lead a section within our division. It is my pleasure to introduce our section leaders (3, 4, 8, 9, & 10) with more to introductions to come in our summer newsletter:

Section 3

Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology

President: Dr. Rachel Hershenberg

Rachel Hershenberg, PhD, ABPP is a board-certified licensed clinical psychologist, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University, and Director of Psychotherapy in Emory University’s Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) Program. After obtaining her bachelor’s from Emory University, she graduated from Stony Brook University with a PhD in clinical psychology and completed her clinical internship at the Charleston Consortium. Prior to returning to Emory University as faculty, she completed an Advanced Fellowship in Mental Health Research at the VISN 4 Michael J. Crescenz Philadelphia VA Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Hershenberg specializes in depression, with an emphasis on measuring antidepressant moments in everyday life and addressing patient needs across the severity continuum, including treatment resistant depression (TRD). Methodologically, she is interested in ecologically valid research designs and bridging the efficacy-effectiveness gap. She has worked to disseminate the principles of behavioral activation to the public, including with the publication of a self-help book, Activating Happiness, and clinically she conducts specialized psychotherapy in Emory’s TRD Program as well as the Fuqua Center for Late Life Depression. At the national level, Dr. Hershenberg has been involved in the American Psychological Association’s Society of Clinical Psychology (APA Division 12) since graduate school and served as co-chair of the Committee on Science and Practice from 2016-2023. She is currently President of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (APA Division 12, Section 3).

Section 4

Clinical Psychology of Women

President: Dr. Eloiza Alcaraz

Eloiza M. Alcaraz, PsyD is an alum and Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Clinical PsyD Program at Alliant International University, CSPP-LA Campus. Dr. Alcaraz earned her B.A. in psychology from California State University, Northridge, an M.S. in counseling psychology from Mount Saint Mary’s University-Los Angeles, an M.A. and a Psy.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology-Los Angeles at Alliant International University. Dr. Alcaraz grew up in a predominantly Latinx community where her parents worked as campesinos in the strawberry fields and her mother was a Curandera in the community. Dr. Alcaraz is an active member of the National Latinx Psychological Association and holds board member positions in different mental health agencies in Los Angeles County. Dr. Alcaraz is an active Latinx community advocate/activist, as well as a consultant for cultural and diversity enhancement. Dr. Alcaraz is currently working on a national/global initiative to provide mental health in clinical health settings rendering life-sustaining health care.

Section 8

The Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers

President: Dr. Elizabeth Cash

Liz Cash, PhD is an Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. She is responsible for developing the structure and interdisciplinary connections of a robust research program among clinical faculty (ENT Surgeons, Audiologists, Speech-Language Pathologist), as well as residents, graduate students and medical students. Her clinical area of expertise is medical/health psychology with a focus in behavioral oncology.

Section 9


President: Dr. Emily Gottfried

Emily Gottfried, PhD completed her PhD in clinical psychology at Florida State University, internship at Patton State Hospital, and postdoctoral fellowship in forensic psychology at Augusta University/East Central Regional Hospital. She is currently an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston. She conducts forensic evaluations for the courts, with a specialty in the assessment of problematic sexual behavior. She serves as the Director of the MUSC Sexual Behaviors Clinic and Lab as well as the Co-Director Student Education and Research within her division at MUSC. Dr. Gottfried regularly provides expert testimony related to assessment and provides education to medical students, psychology interns, psychiatry residents, and postdoctoral fellows.  She has been affiliated with the Society of Clinical Psychology -Assessment Section since 2015 and has served on the Board since 2018. Dr. Gottfried was selected to serve as the President-Elect in 2021 and assumed the role of President in 2023.

Section 10

Early Career and Students Section

President: Dr. Kayla Thayer

Kayla K. Thayer, Ph.D., ABPP is a board certified licensed clinical psychologist and authorized PSYPACT provider. She is an Associate Professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and serves as Director of NSU’s Anxiety Treatment Center. She completed internship at the Boston VA and postdoctoral residency at the Miami VA Medical Center. Dr. Thayer has dedicated her research and clinical work to improving mental health outcomes and course of illness in individuals with severe psychopathology. Her research has focused on identifying and subsequently targeting patient risk and protective factors in culturally-informed, evidence-based treatments. Additionally, as a bilingual (English, Spanish) clinician and researcher, Dr. Thayer is committed to continuing to research and provide evidence-based treatments to underserved populations. As President of Section 10 (ECPs and Graduate Students), Dr. Thayer proudly works to support the diverse members of the section and their wide variety of professional pursuits.