The State Leadership Conference (renamed "Practice Leadership Conference" in 2017) is the annual advocacy training conference for leaders in professional psychology practice. The conference brings together psychologists from the states, U.S. territories and Canada, along with APA governance and divisions, to advocate for issues important to practicing psychologists. The conference also fosters leadership and effective governance strategies for participating associations.

Practice Leadership Conference

34th Annual State Leadership Conference | March 4-7, 2017 | Washington, D.C. 

The Practice Leadership Conference (PLC), previously called the State Leadership Conference, convened in 2017 with the theme "Practice, Politics and Policy." 

PLC has always been focused on equipping practicing psychologists to be effective advocates for their profession and for their patients. That focus felt especially urgent in 2017, as we ushered in a new political era and braced for rapid transformations in healthcare. At this crucial moment, practicing psychologists must be vigilant, organized and proactive to ensure policy outcomes that benefit psychologists, psychology, and the public as a whole. PLC was as committed to this as ever in 2017.

But we also know that state and federal legislatures aren't the only important political realms for practicing psychologists. In fact, your career is also dependent on the deftness with which you navigate the politics of institutions and other organizations. Many of the sessions in 2017 focused on training attendees to be politically savvy and effective in a variety of practice settings.

2017 PLC Powerpoint Presentations




Photos from the 2017 Conference

See the sights from all four days of the 2017 Practice Leadership Conference, held in Washington, D.C., March 4-7, 2017, via the PLC flickr feed.

State Leadership Conference 2016

33rd Annual State Leadership Conference | Feb. 27-March 1, 2016 | Washington, D.C.

The theme of the 2016 State Leadership Conference (SLC), “Expanding the Practice Spectrum,” focused on the skills and advocacy needed to support a range of practice models. From traditional private practice to managed care organizations or institutional and organizational settings, psychologists have a multitude of possibilities for practice. Each of these contexts presents unique opportunities and challenges brought about by policy, technology and clinical innovation.This year’s SLC provided indispensable information about relevant practice parameters for everyone from the most innovative to the most traditional private practitioners.

Sponsored by the American Psychological Association and the APA Practice Organization, the State Leadership Conference brings together more than 400 leaders annually from state, provincial and territorial psychology associations to network and advocate on behalf of psychology.

Welcome to SLC 2016

Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, executive director for professional practice at APA and the Practice Organization, delivers SLC welcoming address.


Nancy Ruddy, PhD, talks about how clinical practices can take steps to work closer with the medical community and how collaboration benefits professionals and patients alike. Dr. Ruddy is the vice president and behavior strategist of Patent Engagement at McCann Health in New Jersey.

Medicaid Opportunities

Arthur Evans, PhD, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services in Philadelphia, PA, speaks about the recent Medicaid expansion and the opportunities it has to better and creatively assist underserved populations.

Management System Organization

Geoffrey Kanter, PhD, ABN, ABPdN, describes the concept of a new Management System Organization (MSO) he’s developing where psychologists can work as a part of the MSO to maximize business benefits, yet still retain their autonomy. Kanter is the chief executive officer at Comprehensive MedPsych Systems in Sarasota, FL.

Town Hall Discussion

Shirley Ann Higuchi, J.D., the associate executive director of the Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at APA Practice Directorate, moderates the SLC Town Hall discussion with Evans, Kanter, Ruddy and conference attendees.

State Leadership Conference 2015 will focus on the theme “Practice Innovation.” The conference takes place Saturday, March 14-17, 2015, at the Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, D.C.

32nd Annual State Leadership Conference | March 14-17, 2015 | Washington, D.C.

As psychologists we know a thing or two about change. It involves giving up old ways and embracing new approaches to accomplishing our goals. In a world where technology is so omnipresent and health care spending and delivery are under so much pressure, psychologists need to be able to track and evaluate the innovations that are becoming part of their practices. 

So how can psychologists harness these innovations to improve the quality of their services and comply with evolving regulations? Can psychologists attain greater satisfaction and more control of their professional destinies by embracing innovation? And what is needed to achieve effective innovation? These questions and more were at the heart of State Leadership Conference (SLC) in 2015, which -- as evidenced by its theme, "Practice Innovation" -- examined how the evolving landscape of health care delivery and financing is driving the demand for practice innovation. 

The Affordable Care Act has opened the door to a range of alternative practice models. Accountable care organizations, health care homes, and an array of integrated care practice models are rapidly evolving and offering new and refined opportunities for psychologists. Technology, including telehealth services, online practice management, and electronic health records are changing the way many psychologists structure their practices. The growth of clinical practice guidelines, evidence-based practice models, and quality reporting systems have challenged psychologists' thinking about psychological services. And policy developments related to diagnostic classification, billing codes and security requirements are leading to confusion and uncertainty for many of our colleagues. 

Program sessions during the conference covered a range of topics including topics including innovations in integrated care, issues pertaining to Medicare and Medicaid, reimbursement and CPT codes, insurance advocacy and colleague assistance.

2015 SLC Wrap-Up

Read the full video transcript (PDF, 314KB).

2014 State Leadership Conference

31st Annual State Leadership Conference ǀ March 8-11, 2014 ǀ Washington, D.C.

As implementation of the Affordable Care Act proceeds, we've seen that no single advocacy strategy for ensuring professional psychology’s inclusion can address the diverse legislative, regulatory and marketplace environments from one state to another. Meanwhile, health care reform continues to evolve. For the second year in a row, the 2014 State Leadership Conference focused on health care reform implementation through its theme of “Creating Roadmaps for Practice.” 

Securing a place for psychologists in the evolving health care system will be like using a roadmap; practitioners may consider multiple paths in charting their future course and options will vary from one practitioner to another. Psychologists play vital roles in the health care system and beyond. By finely honing our advocacy strategies, we can continue to ensure psychology’s inclusion in evolving health care systems. 

Program sessions during the conference covered a range of topics including alternative practice models, clinical practice guidelines, the shift to ICD-10 and electronic health records.

2013 State Leadership Conference

30th Annual State Leadership Conference ǀ March 9-12, 2013 ǀ Washington, D.C.

Passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) set the clock ticking toward 2014 when many of the law's major components go into effect. For the second year in a row, the theme of the 2013 SLC recognized the critical role ACA will play in the implementation of health care reform and the need for strong psychology leadership to ensure that mental health services are included. We're facing uncharted territory and myriad challenges at the federal, state and local levels, which make it more important than ever for us to make sure psychologists are positioned for reform.

Health care reform is not a sprint; it's a marathon. By demonstrating the value psychologists bring to evolving health care settings with numerous professional skills and strengths, we can make sure psychology is included in the race.

Program sessions during the conference covered a range of topics including the current state of health care reform, Medicaid, integrated practice in hospital settings, psychotherapy codes and electronic health records.


Coverage from the 2013 SLC

Bringing Psychology to the Table

29th Annual State Leadership Conference ǀ March 10-13, 2014 ǀ Washington, D.C.

The theme of the 2012 SLC recognized the critical role of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in guiding the implementation of health care reform and its ability to shape the professional landscape for psychology as a health care profession. Despite uncertainty about the ultimate impact of the federal law, too much is at stake to risk anything less than our profession's full involvement in shaping the implementation of health care reform.

Much of the work will occur at the state and local level over the next two years. Unless psychology has a place at the table as these new systems are being designed, we run the risk of being marginalized as ancillary providers. We must be present and engaged so that our expertise is fully reflected in the future U.S. health care delivery system.

Program sessions during the conference covered a range of topics including the current state of health care reform, Medicaid, innovative practice models, parity implementation and electronic health records.


Coverage from the 2012 SLC

2011 State Leadership Conference cover

Building a Leadership Culture
The 28th Annual State Leadership Conference
March 12-15, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

The 2011 SLC theme, "Building a Leadership Culture," was reflected in the opening session speech featuring Dr. David Satcher, former surgeon general of the United States and founder and director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute in Atlanta. Dr. Satcher spoke about leadership in an evolving health care system focused on efficiency and accountability and psychologists' roles as leaders in addressing health disparities.

The more than two dozen program sessions during the 2011 SLC covered a broad range of topics such as telehealth, reimbursement, clinical treatment guidelines, prescriptive authority, sequence of training, innovative practice models, advocacy mentoring and pro bono program opportunities for serving our military and their families.

Read the opening session speech, " Leadership in an evolving health care system ," from Executive Director for Professional Practice, Katherine C. Nordal, PhD.


Watch videos  from the 2011 SLC opening session.

Coverage from the 2011 SLC

State Leadership Conference

The Power of Advocacy
The 27th Annual State Leadership Conference
March 6-9, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

The 2010 SLC theme, “The Power of Advocacy,” was reflected throughout the event in educational and networking sessions and the more than 300 meetings on Capitol Hill involving SLC participants and their members of Congress and staff. APA and the APA Practice Organization hosted this annual conference, which has been instrumental in achieving advocacy successes including health-care reform and mental health parity and advancing public education, legal/regulatory and marketplace initiatives.

The Power of Advocacy reflected the tremendous effort needed to advocate for a profession as complex and multifaceted as psychology. It also spoke to the synergy that comes about when we integrate the resources of APA Practice with those of our 60 state, provincial and territorial psychological associations (SPTAs) to confront these challenges. At the 2010 State Leadership Conference it was our hope to tap into and generate the enthusiasm and passion reflected in Margaret Mead's famous quote: “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Photo Gallery

Katherine C. Nordal, Ph.D. Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, Executive director for Professional Practice, making her opening remarks at the 2010 State Leadership Conference.

Practice staff and volunteers Practice staff and volunteers greet SLC attendees at the registration desk.

Town Hall Meeting at the SLC Opening Session Dan Abrahamson, PhD, moderates the Town Hall Meeting at the SLC Opening Session. Panelists (L to R): Jo Johnson, PhD; Paul Berman, PhD; Katherine Nordal, PhD; Michael Ranney, MPA; and Angela Londoño-McConnell, PhD.

Ron Palomares, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Winkelman, JD, Ph.D. Ron Palomares, PhD, and Elizabeth Winkelman, JD, PhD, of the APA Practice Directorate hand out keypads for audience response during the Opening Session.

Ron Pollack addresses a plenary session Ron Pollack, JD, executive director of Families USA, addresses a plenary session on politics and political giving. Peter Newbould from the APAPO Government Relations and Steve Pfeiffer, PhD, executive director of AAP, also participated.

Senator John Cullerton and Dr. Nordal Senator John Cullerton, D-Ill., receives the State Legislator of the Year Award from Nordal at the Awards Luncheon.

David Hayes, Ph.D. David Hayes, PhD, a former Chair of the Committee of State Leaders and a former President of the Ohio Psychological Association, receives the State Leadership Award.

Karen Zager, Ph.D. and Carol Goodheart, Ph.D., APA President Carol Goodheart, PhD, APA president, and Karen Zager, PhD, chair of the Presidential Task Force on Advancing Practice, at the SLC Featured Presentation.

Advancement of Psychology Reception Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, arriving at the Association for the Advancement of Psychology Reception.

Members of the California Psychological Association Members of the California Psychological Association delegation meet with psychologist-legislator Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., during the Capitol Hill visits on the final day of SLC.

Sen. Olympia Snowe and Dr. Katherine Nordal Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Katherine Nordal pose for a photo at the AAP Black-tie Dinner.

2017:  Practice, Politics & Policy

2016:  Expanding the Practice Spectrum

2015:  Practice Innovation

2014:  Creating Roadmaps for Practice

2013:  Countdown to Health Care Reform

2012 :  Bringing Psychology to the Table

2011 : Building a Leadership Culture

2010 : The Power of Advocacy

2009 : With Challenge Comes Opportunity

2008 : Leading Change: Advocating for Psychology Practice

2007 : Positioning for Change: Expanding Psychology's Roles, Influence and Value

2006 : Psychology and Communities: Advancing Health, Building Resilience and Changing Behavior

2005 : Health and Behavior: Taking Psychology Back to the Future

2004 : Strategic Resilience for the Profession: Getting a Jump on Change

2003 : Leading Psychology Forward: Staying the Course in Uncertain Times

2002 : Psychology on the Front Line: Strengthening Resilience in Our Communities

2001 : Launching the APA Practice Organization: Expanding the Power of Psychology

2000 : Partnerships for Power: States, Provinces, and APA Working Together

1999 : Networking in Action: Advancing Health Care Through Psychology

1998 : Organizational Leadership and Citizenship: Working Together For Those We Serve

1997 : Countdown 2000: Building Strategic Partnerships

1996 : Psychology and Community: Creating Connections for Health

1995 : Empowering Psychologists: Striking a Balance In a Changing Health Care Environment

1994 : State and National Health Reform: Shaping the Process, Charting the Future

1993 : Psychology & National Health Reform: Salvation or Armageddon?

1992 : Managing Managed Care

1991 : Integrated Advocacy

1990 : Serving the Underserved: Psychological Care for the 90's

1989 : Communication and Collaboration in Times of Crisis and Growth