80 MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY • SEPTEMBER 2013
Each September, a new class of APA congressional fellows embarks on an exciting and often career-shaping year on Capitol Hill. Following an extensive orientation in
public policy and the ways of Washington, fellows begin work
with a member of Congress or a committee office.
The fellowship program offers considerable benefits for the
fellows, as well as policymakers and the field of psychology.
“The goal of the program is to foster a bidirectional educational
experience in which policymakers benefit from the fellows’ skills
and psychological expertise, and fellows acquire an insider’s
view of the legislative process,” says APA’s Nida Corry, PhD, who
directs the program.
APA fellows are also able to explore unconventional —
and rewarding — career paths and serve as ambassadors for
psychology. “They have a long-lasting impact on the field by
infusing public policy approaches and perspectives in their
work throughout their careers,” Corry says.
Here is a look at the achievements of the program’s most
Edwin Tan, PhD
Office of Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.)
Tan is the Jacquelin Goldman Congressional Fellow, funded
by the American Psychological Foundation through a bequest
by Jacquelin Goldman, PhD, to support psychologists with
expertise in child development.
Tan received his doctorate in psychology and social
behavior from the University of California–Irvine. His previous
experience includes work with Psychology Beyond Borders
and investigating the role of parents in promoting children’s
adaptation and well-being.
As a fellow, Tan worked on portfolios in education, veterans’
affairs, mental health and children’s issues, and coordinated the
Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus. He says his training gave
him an essential skill set that enabled him to be “methodical
and analytical and to critically consider the implications
of policy.” For example, training under a social ecological
perspective informed his work in education policy by helping
Tan, in recommending wrap-around services, to consider the
whole child and not just his or her cognitive abilities.
Tan encourages the scientific community to engage and
share knowledge with policymakers. “There are so many
competing interests that vie for both attention and money in
our nation’s capital,” he says. “If you are not there to be a voice
and advocate for what you believe in, your program may be
underfunded or cut.”
The fellowship experience has led Tan to accept a permanent
position in public policy as deputy district director in Honda’s
San Jose, Calif., office.
Jacquelyn White, PhD
Office of Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)
White is this year’s Catherine Acuff Congressional Fellow, a
position reserved for midcareer and senior-level psychologists.
She is professor emerita of psychology at the University
of North Carolina–Greensboro (UNCG), where she served
as psychology professor and associate dean for research in
the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. She earned her
doctorate in personality and social psychology from Kent
State University. Her research on gender issues, aggression and
intimate partner violence has many significant implications for
A path into the world
of public policy
APA’s 2012–13 class of congressional fellows
reflects on their year on Capitol Hill.
BY MICAH A. HASKELL-HOEHL