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Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2013
PSI CHI Elections: Why Vote?
Merry Sleigh, PhD, Winthrop University
Maria Lavooy, PhD, Florida Institute of Technology

As a Psi Chi chapter, your vote represents the collective voices of your members. Let your members’ voices be heard during Psi Chi election time! Psi Chi is your organization, and we want to encourage you to shape its future.

Board of Directors
Psi Chi is governed by an 11-person Board of Directors (BoD) which includes nine volunteer voting members: the President, the President-Elect, the Past-President, and six Regional Vice-Presidents (VPs). It also includes two staff members: the Executive Director (ED) and Chief Operating Officer (COO). The ED and COO serve as ex officio members, meaning they participate fully in BoD proceedings, but they do not vote.

The U.S. is divided into six regions, each with its own VP. While the VPs are elected by the chapters within their respective regions, all regions may vote for the President-Elect. Our international chapters are dispersed among the six regions and, of course, will enjoy the same privileges as the other chapters. In the future there may be one or more international regions added.

Each year, a new President for our Society is elected. This person holds office for three years, one year as the President-Elect, one year as the President, and one year as the Past President. Elections also are held every year for Regional VP positions. In odd years (such as 2013), chapters from the Eastern, Rocky Mountain, and Western regions elect VPs, and in even years (such as 2014), chapters from the Midwestern, Southeastern, and Southwestern regions elect VPs. These VPs hold office for two years and may run for re-election once. In the case of a mid-term vacancy, the BoD may appoint a VP to finish the term.

The BoD is responsible for strategic-level management of Psi Chi’s finances, property, and mission, but not day-to-day activities of the Central Office staff. The BoD helps determine the policies and regulations that govern Psi Chi, has the power to propose Constitutional amendments, and assigns duties to the President-Elect, President, and Past-President. They also have the important responsibility of providing "activities and opportunities that advance the leadership skills and abilities of Psi Chi members, especially chapter officers and faculty advisors” (

To accomplish all of this, the BoD works closely with the Central Office staff. They carry out the strategic plans of the BoD. These individuals process your membership paperwork, produce Psi Chi publications, send your Psi Chi merchandise, and maintain the website. The BoD hires the executives in charge of managing Central Office operations and Society initiatives and activities. The COO manages day-to-day operations at the Central Office, including human resource and facility management, budget preparation (for Board approval) and management of the approved budget and meeting planning. The ED works closely with the COO, and is responsible for providing vision for the future and continuity in BoD initiatives as members change from year to year. The ED is the Society’s liaison with other psychological organizations and universities within and outside the US that wish to charter a chapter, and the ED and COO both serve as liaisons between the BoD and staff. The BoD and ED set the Society’s direction, the COO works directly with Central Office staff to implement their decisions.

Do you know your current Board of Director members? Check them out at www.psich/About/ Meet your Central Office staff at About/staff.aspx.

What is your Chapter's Role?
Nine of the 11 members of the BoD are elected by chapter votes. These nine elected members hire the ED and COO, the two ex-officio Board members. Chapters have an obligation to help Psi Chi fulfill its purpose and mission ( purpose.aspx) by electing officers who are best suited to accomplish them. Voting is not only a responsibility, it is a privilege of membership that can be revoked. A chapter that fails to annually induct members, file required reports, and fulfill financial obligations to the Society loses its right to vote (see our Constitution, Article XII, Section 11 at constitution.aspx). Last but not least, the President and the Regional VPs of our organization are charged with serving chapter and member needs. Thus, you are selecting officers who have the power to benefit your chapter, your officers, and your advisor. And keep in mind that chapters must vote to be eligible for a Model Chapter Award (see awards.aspx#18 for additional criteria).

Why Vote for a Regional VP?
Your Regional VP becomes the primary administrative official of your region, serving many critical functions.

    Your VP:
  • Is your region’s liaison with the BoD. He or she communicates Society information through semi-annual letters to regional chapters (see for the most recent letter from your VP).
  • Represents your region’s interests at the two BoD meetings each year. It is important for your chapter to select a VP who understands the needs of your school and your members so that you can be well-represented when decisions are made. The BoD members are always in communication with each other via e-mail and phone. In addition, as a group, they meet twice a year; once in January and again in August, typically in conjunction with the annual American Psychological Association (APA) conference. (The Executive Committee meets more often.)
  • Invites chapter faculty advisors and Psi Chi student members to serve on the Regional Steering Committee each year. (See for your current Steering Committee members.) This committee offers a professional service opportunity in which your chapter’s faculty advisor may choose to participate. The Steering Committee works with the VP to identify and meet the region’s needs and to address them in Psi Chi’s regional programming.
  • Has Constitutional power to appoint other regional officers, state coordinators, or committee members as needed to conduct regional society business.
  • Organizes and presides over programming at your regional APA conference (e.g., MPA, SEPA). One task is to identify a well-known expert in the psychology discipline to give a Psi Chi-sponsored lecture. The VP also initiates programming related to Psi Chi leadership, admission to graduate school, and other relevant topics.
  • Appoints a committee to evaluate applications and distribute travel grants for members to attend the regional conference (see for the travel grant application material for your region).
  • Selects a committee to evaluate members’ research submissions to the regional conferences and determine award recipients for the Psi Chi Regional Awards. Your VP also has the privilege of handing out the certificates and highly valued checks at the conference.
  • Manages and staffs, with help from the Central Office, an event for members at your regional conference—usually an awards ceremony and/or chapter exchange. The Awards Ceremony provides an opportunity to recognize chapters and advisors who have won regional or Society awards, or Regional Research Awards, as well as a fun atmosphere for getting to know members of other chapters and win Psi Chi souvenirs.
  • Organizes and invites faculty advisors to an annual appreciation breakfast or luncheon at the regional conference. This meal is one way that the BoD is able to thank chapter advisors for all of the time they donate on behalf of your chapter and affords a rare opportunity for advisors to encourage each other and problem-solve together.
  • Is eligible to run for a second 2-year term as VP.
  • Becomes part of a select group of people who are eligible to be a nominee for President of Psi Chi after their VP term ends. In other words, the person you select as your VP has the potential to continue to impact our organization for years to come.

Why Vote For A President?
The President is the official spokesperson for Psi Chi, along with the ED, and holds the highest level of leadership responsibility of any of the Society’s elected officers. The President is only eligible for election after serving on the BoD for at least two years within the prior ten years. In addition, the person elected first serves for a year as the President-Elect before taking on the Presidential role.

The President chairs the Executive Committee, the leadership team which manages the Society between BoD meetings. Although powerful, the Executive Committee is subject to the orders of the BoD and cannot pass or enact any motion on its own. This group reviews materials including the annual operating budget for BoD approval and works with the ED and COO on strategic and operation matters. The Executive Committee is comprised of five voting members: the President, the President-Elect, the Past-President, the Executive Director, and the Chief Operating Officer.

    Your President:
  • Has the right and power to call regular and special meetings of the BoD and Executive Committee.
  • Sets the agenda for and manages BoD meetings with the ED, who presides over Board meetings.
  • Serves as the Chair of the Executive Committee.
  • Serves as Chair of the Personnel Committee.
  • Serves as Chair of the Finance Committee.
  • Assigns duties to the President-Elect, Past-President, and Regional VPs.
  • Appoints liaisons to other psychological organizations or groups not already assigned to the ED.
  • Appoints the chair and members of most Psi Chi Committees, and may serve as a nonvoting member on any committee except the Nominating/Election Committee.
  • Serves as the chair of the Program Committee for Psi Chi programming at the annual APA conference. As Past-President, this person will serve as the chair of the Program Committee for Psi Chi programming at the annual Association of Psychological Science (APS) conference.
  • Will have served as cochair of the Leadership Committee as President-Elect, and may continue to serve on it as a nonvoting member as President. This committee is cochaired by the President-Elect and the Executive Director, who together appoint its members. Its focus is on developing activities to advance the leadership skills of Psi Chi faculty advisors, chapter officers, and members. They work closely with the BoD to implement and assess Society leadership activities.
  • Has the responsibility to appoint someone to fill a vacancy left on two of the four Standing Committees, the Awards Committee and Program Committee. (The other two standing committees are the Nomination/Election Committee and Leadership Committee.)
  • Has the power to establish special committees if they are needed to conduct the Society’s business. For example, committees are formed and headed by the President when hiring executive staff for the Central Office, or requesting a short-term investigation relevant to possible BoD action.
  • Will assume the role of Past-President after serving one year as President. The Past- President is the chair of the Nominations/Election Committee, which helps recruit nominees and oversees the elections for all BoD positions. (This five-person committee, appointed by the Past President and approved by the BoD, and chaired by the Past- President, is currently managing this year’s election process.) The Past-President also maintains the Society’s historical record.

Merry Sleigh, PhD, earned her BA in psychology and English from James Madison University (VA). In 1996, she received her PhD in developmental psychology from Virginia Tech, with a specialization in prenatal and infant development. She first served as faculty advisor to Psi Chi at George Mason University (VA), where she received the Regional Faculty Advisor Award in 2003. Dr. Sleigh currently teaches at Winthrop University. She serves as the Psi Chi faculty advisor and as a reviewer for the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. Winthrop University Psi Chi chapter was recently honored with a Regional Chapter Award.

Maria J. Lavooy, PhD, earned an undergraduate degree in biopsychology and went on to earn an MA and PhD in psychology from Miami University,Ohio. Now in her 27th year of teaching, she serves as the chair of the Applied Psychology Program at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida. She became a member of Psi Chi as an undergraduate in 1978 and has served as a chapter advisor since beginning her teaching career. Currently serving as President-Elect, she was a 3-year member of Psi Chi’s Southeastern Regional steering committee and served Psi Chi in the position of Southeastern Regional Vice-President, planning Psi Chi events and awards for SEPA’s annual meetings. She also attends and contributes to numerous conferences and workshops on behalf of Psi Chi.

Copyright 2013 (Volume 17, Issue 2) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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