With efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) still active at this time last year, many Washington insiders believed there was little opportunity in the
nation’s capital for new health legislation. That didn’t stop the
two 2014–15 APA and APF Congressional Fellows. Both worked
in Senate offices on some of the nation’s most pressing health
challenges, including an overburdened mental health-care
system and last year’s Ebola outbreak.
Each year, two psychologists serve as staff in congressional
member or committee offices as part of the APA/APF
Congressional Fellowship Program to promote an information
exchange between psychologists and federal policymakers. Over
the program’s 41 years, 121 psychologists have served as fellows.
“It’s critical that we empower psychologists to serve as the
field’s ambassadors to legislators and their staff,” says Judith
Glassgold, PsyD, former fellow and director of the program.
“This cadre of psychologists also brings back key information
for others in the field about how to take their work beyond
academic and practice circles and inform policy at all levels.”
Here are the latest APA/APF fellowship alumni and their
work on Capitol Hill.
Amanda Clinton, PhD
Office of Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Clinton received her doctorate in school psychology with
an emphasis on neuropsychology from the University of
Georgia–Athens. She came to the fellowship from her position
as an associate professor of psychology at the University of
Puerto Rico Mayagüez campus, where her work focused
on the impact of poverty, stress and immigration on child
development, bilingualism and the neuropsychology of
language-based learning disabilities. Her diverse professional
experiences include serving as a Fulbright scholar in Colombia
and developing and presenting workshops on positive skill
development and democratic education on behalf of the United
Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the U.S. Department of
State in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Iraq.
In Murphy’s office, Clinton focused on developing
comprehensive mental health legislation. Collaborating with
the staff’s senior policy advisor, she met with experts, advocates,
family members and individuals with mental health diagnoses
to discuss hospitalization, peer services, HIPAA regulations,
early intervention models and collaborative care.
Clinton attended meetings with Murphy, Sen. Bill Cassidy (
R-La.) and other staff on approaches to improving mental health
in America. She also accompanied Murphy to the Senate floor to
address health issues and participated in developing legislation.
Clinton says her training as a clinician and researcher greatly
benefited her work on the Hill. Translating evidence-based
practice into legislation was challenging, yet her psychology
background helped her ask the right questions, clarify pressing
issues and manage the legislative drafting process.
“Of course, understanding the quirks of human behavior is a
plus when one works on the Hill, too,” she says.
Clinton plans post-fellowship to focus on international
psychology and policy, and hopes to serve in a leadership
position and create change based on psychological science and
The 2014–15 APA/APF Congressional Fellows
advanced national health priorities.
By Micah Haskell-Hoehl