State Beat

Profile: Jo Linder-Crow, PhD, CEO of the California Psychological Association.

By Hannah Calkins

Jo Linder-Crow, PhDWith approximately 4,000 members, 20 regional chapters and eight specialty divisions, the California Psychological Association (CPA) is larger and more complex than most state, provincial or territorial psychological associations (SPTAs). It also has a charitable foundation, a political action committee and — unlike any other state psychological association — a chief executive officer, rather than an executive director.

Jo Linder-Crow, PhD, has been at the helm for nearly 12 years. “My role as CEO is to make sure, on a day-to-day basis, that CPA is carrying out the policies and priorities of our board of directors,” she says. “I see my role as being in partnership with governance.”

In 2016, Linder-Crow was named Outstanding Association Executive by the California Society of Association Executives, where she also serves on the Board of Directors. 

In addition, she supervises a staff of eight; is CEO of the CPA foundation; serves on the executive committee of the Council of Executives of State, Provincial (and Territorial) Psychological Associations (CESPPA); and represents CESPPA on the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP). 

Fittingly, Linder-Crow describes her role at CPA as “multi-dimensional” — but her work across dimensions is unified by at least one goal: to effectively communicate consistent, useful and accurate information to all CPA stakeholders, including the board of directors, legislators, the public, and of course, CPA members.

“My main focus this year and next is to develop information that is readily available to our members targeted to any issue related to their practice and work,” she says. 

Her approach is informed by her background in teaching. Her doctorate is in education, but she has been adjacent to psychology for much of her career, including her time as associate executive director of APA’s Education Directorate from 1995 to 2002. 

“At the state association level, we have to educate people about the value of psychology, and educate our own members about the value of advocacy and about how things work — things like licensure and legislation, for example,” she says. “There are a lot of opportunities for teaching.”

There are opportunities for learning, too. Having worked around psychologists and psychology for so long, she has learned a lot about being a good listener, seeing all sides of a situation, and operating with the right kind of information, she says.  

She has also learned that all SPTAs, regardless of size, share some of the same challenges, particularly the challenge of communicating the value of membership to eligible nonmembers.

“Our work as advocates for psychology and psychologists benefits all the psychologists in California,” she says, even those who are not CPA members. That’s about 14,000 people, according to Linder-Crow.

“We’re going to do this work no matter what, but there is a large group of people benefitting from that work without supporting us as an organization,” she says, noting that many in this group are graduate students and early career psychologists.

“We’re continuing to find ways to help them understand that this professional organization is where you build your network, connections, knowledge and experiences — where you build your whole career,” she says. “That’s the main benefit of a state association: it’s a community of psychologists. And that’s a very powerful thing!”

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