Invitation Letter

January 5, 2018

Dear VA Psychologists and VA Psychology Trainees:
We are very pleased to invite you to our 21st Annual VA Psychology Leadership Conference that will be held in San Antonio, Texas from Tuesday, May 29th through Friday, June 1st, 2018. The conference is sponsored by the Association of Veterans Affairs Psychologist Leaders (AVAPL), the American Psychological Association (APA), and APA Division 18: Psychologists in Public Service. The Office of Mental Health Services and Suicide Prevention at VA Central Office also collaborate with the sponsoring organizations to support content for the conference. The theme this year is “Preventing Suicide and Enhancing Access Through Integrated Healthcare.”
In line with this year’s theme, we have planned informative and engaging presentations on innovative practices in suicide prevention, enhancing access through telehealth, and the role of Veterans’ Service Organizations in access to care. There are also presentations covering topics such as advocacy efforts at local and national levels, leadership development for women, and diversity issues in psychology training and services. As in past years, some content is designed to target topics relevant to psychology leadership, whereas other content is aimed specifically at early VA career psychologists. We have incorporated smaller, repeated breakout sessions throughout the agenda to provide the opportunity for  less formal, small group interactions that are more conducive to some of the topics we have planned. We will have keynote addresses from APA President Dr. Jessica Henderson Daniel and from Dr. Thomas Joiner from Florida State University, a nationally recognized expert in suicide prevention research. We will also host a panel on Innovative Practices in Suicide Prevention, which will feature Dr. Craig Bryan from the University of Utah, a nationally recognized expert in suicide prevention research. This panel will also feature Dr. Keita Franklin, acting Director of Suicide Prevention for the VHA and Lisa Brenner, Director of the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC, who will discuss practices within the VA. These are just a few highlights from our exciting agenda!
We are also pleased to announce that we will host a CEU workshop focused on Ethics (which has been a popular request by attendees in the past) by Dr. Dan Taube from the Trust Insurance Company. Dan is a gifted presenter and will be discussing ethical issues directly related to Veterans and VA healthcare. In addition, psychologists who have insurance through the Trust will be eligible for a discount after attending this workshop.
The committee is still working on additional topics and finalizing the agenda, so be sure to visit the conference website regularly to see the most recent agenda. (
The VAPL will host a poster session again this year, which has proven to be a popular feature of the conference. The theme for this year’s posters is the same as the conference theme (“Preventing Suicide and Enhancing Access Through Integrated Healthcare”) and preference will be given for posters consistent with this theme. Posters may present original research, descriptions of clinical programs, best practices, or implementation of programs within VA. We also welcome and will consider other quality presentations, including  research that has been presented elsewhere . Interested presenters should submit proposals via email to Mary Dorritie, Poster Session Committee Chair at using the “Poster and Open Plenary Submission Form” found at the The deadline for early consideration was 12/31/2017, but submissions are still being considered at this time.
Finally, we will have an open plenary session. We invite all VA psychologists and psychology trainees to consider submitting a proposal for a brief presentation on novel or innovative best practices for improving mental health care for Veterans. Topics may include, but are not limited to, treatment interventions for disorders for which we do not currently have evidence-based practices (EBP) in VA, alternatives to VA EBPs, initiatives to increase access to or quality of healthcare, or lean projects designed to increase efficiency or productivity. We will select three to five proposals for this open session. Proposals should be submitted via email to Mary Dorritie, Poster Session Committee Chair at using the “Poster and Open Plenary Submission Form” found at the website. Again, the deadline for early consideration was 12/31/2017, but submissions are still being considered at this time.
The schedule for the conference is similar to those of recent years; activities will commence on Tuesday, May 29th with an informal evening social hour and registration from 4:00 – 6:00 pm. The social hours have always been an ideal time to meet and network with fellow psychologists. Participants should plan to arrive on Tuesday in time for that activity. The main conference starts the morning of Wednesday, May 30th with breakfast at 7:00 am and goes through the end of the day on Thursday, May 31st. A social hour will follow the Wednesday and Thursday sessions. Our CEU Workshop will be held from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm on Friday, June 1st, beginning with breakfast at 7:00 am.
We are offering two $300 scholarships to VA trainees (i.e., VA predoctoral interns and/or VA postdoctoral fellows/residents) who are planning to pursue a career in the VA and who are willing to assist with administrative support for the conference. Scholarship recipients are selected randomly from trainees who indicate on the conference registration form that they would like to be considered for the scholarship. Those selected will be expected to be present for the entire conference (through Friday) in order to fulfill their duties. Trainees who would like to be considered for the scholarships should register for the conference by March 9th, 2018. A random selection of the scholarships will be announced by March 16th, 2018.
This year’s conference will be held at The Westin Riverwalk – San Antonio, located at 420 West Market Street, San Antonio, Texas, 78205; (210) 224-6500. Please click here to go to our online room reservation webpage. If you call the hotel, please note that you are calling as part of the “2017 VA Psychology Leadership Conference.” Our negotiated room rate is $ 124/night + 16.75% tax, but please make sure to bring the Texas tax exempt form with you; otherwise, you may be charged at the non-federal rate. This form can be downloaded at:
Conference registration is as follows:
 AVAPL, APA, and Division 18 members: $325
 Non-members: $400
 Postdoctoral fellows: $150
 Predoctoral interns: $115
The post-conference workshop will be $100 for VA employees or $135 for non-VA employees. Registration fees includes breakfast, lunch, and refreshments on Wednesday and Thursday; and breakfast on Friday for those who register for the CEU workshop. Dinners are on your own and a wonderful chance to socialize and see the sites of San Antonio’s RiverWalk.
Attendees will receive 12 hours APA-approved CE credits (subject to final APA approval) for attending all of the sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. Those staying for the Friday workshop will receive 6 additional APA-approved CE credits.

Per updated VA Financial Policies and Procedures, Volume XIV, Chapter 10 (December 22, 2016), non-federal conferences no longer require ACES approval! Accordingly, you will not need to register with ACES for this conference.
For individuals seeking travel funding, information for the conference is as follows:
Course name: VA Psychology Leadership Conference
Vendor’s mailing address:
Association of VA Psychologist Leaders
4150 Clement St. (116B)
San Francisco, CA 94121

Telephone number: 601-364-7871
Please share the above information widely with all VA psychologists (administrators, clinicians, and researchers) and trainees at your station. Information on how to join AVAPL or APA Division 18 prior to the conference (to receive the reduced rate for registration) and additional conference information can be obtained from Mike Martin, Ph.D., Chair, VA Psychology Leadership Conference Planning Committee (
This is a wonderful conference energized by the dedication, expertise, and vision of VA psychologists nationwide. We are certain you will find it both informative and inspiring, and we look forward to seeing you in San Antonio!
Mary Beth Shea, Ph.D.
President, Association of Veterans Affairs Psychologist Leaders
Heather O'Beirne Kelly, Ph.D.
Senior Legislative & Federal Affairs Officer
American Psychological Association
Monica Roy, Ph.D.
Chair, VA Section, Division 18
American Psychological Association

Sponsoring Organizations

Sponsoring Organizations