Christina Herlihy started her new job as Deputy Executive Director of APS just in time to be introduced to members attending the Society’s eighth annual convention.
The Deputy Executive Director slot is a new one on the Society’s “lean but nice” staff, and Herlihy’s appointment is arguably one of the most important APS has made since its start up eight years ago when Alan Kraut came on as the Society’s first Executive Director.
Herlihy is a developmental psychologist whose background brings together the diverse worlds of professional associations, private business, academia, and international diplomacy. “Cross-association” experience is a phrase she uses in talking about her varied career. Since receiving her PhD from Ohio State University in 1977, Herlihy has been a senior staff member of four major associations, three of them in allied health and medical fields.
In the business world, meanwhile, she created, launched, and operated a successful two-store retail toy business for four years. Her company sold toys with high learning potential and offered a large selection oftoys tailored to special needs of children with developmental and other disabilities. She refers to this rough and tumble introduction to the world of business as “my hands-on MBA.”
Her academic world most recently has centered on the psychology department of George Mason University. From 1983 through 1993, she held a series of full-time and adjunct appointments there. Her diplomatic experience goes back to the American Embassy in Rome, where, fresh out of Ohio State, she co-authored a proposal to make mental health services available for embassy personnel at the site.
The resulting services eventually provided a model for mental health programs in other embassies. She Iived in Rome over two years, teaching for the junior year abroad program at Loyola University-Chicago.
Herlihy came to APS from a senior staff position with the American College of Radiology. Earlier she was an associate director of the American Physical Therapy Association, and before that she was acting Executive Director of the American Occupational Therapy Certification Board. She also has directed the accreditation program for the National Architectural Accrediting Board.
While Herlihy is an old hand at associations, APS is her first purely psychology/behavioral science society. Her step aboard APS is, at the same time, a significant new development in the society’s growth, Kraut noted.
“I see Chris as becoming essentially the day-to-day operations officer for our society,” Kraut said. “We’ve grown so quickly and expanded in so many areas that we now need to put in place some more standard mechanisms in the way we operate. It’s time to consolidate some of our gains and coordinate some of our offices in ways we haven’t been doing up to now. “But I think Chris also will help us look in new directions. don’t want her to just consolidate what we have. I want her to bring in her own vision and experience as a society manager, and her background in psychology,” Kraut added.
For the first six months, the plan is that Herlihy and Kraut will be doing most of the same things more or less interchangeably, except in policy issues and funding agency areas. Kraut will maintain the lead role in those areas. Herlihy sees her exceptional amount of experience with societies and associations as the major factor tipping the scales in her favor in APS’s long search for a deputy executive director. She speaks of “association management as a unique environment where the product you sell is service.”
For Herlihy, “the entire purpose of a society is to serve the members- and clearly, member services are the most critical factor in the success or failure of an association.” She says, “I’ve had a lot of opportunity to observe how well members were being served in the various arenas. I’ve gathered a storehouse of ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and how you can combine different approaches to increase chances of success.”
Kraut commented, “It’s clear Chris has what it takes to make an association succeed. But it’s not just her experience as a society manager. It’s the whole package-her background in psychology, her having started a business from scratch and having made it successful.”