Invitation Letter

December 31, 2018

Dear VA Psychologists and VA Psychology Trainees:
We are very pleased to invite you to our 22nd Annual VA Psychology Leadership Conference (VAPLC) that will be held in San Antonio, Texas from Tuesday, May 28 through Friday, May 31, 2019. 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 “Promoting Quality, Integrated Care for All Veterans.
In line with this year’s theme, we planned presentations on the VA’s future partnerships with the community and on better provision of mental health services to Veterans of all types, with specific updates from both VA Central Office and from Veterans Service Organizations. As in previous years, some content is designed to target topics relevant to psychology leadership, whereas other content is aimed at mid-career psychologists, early-career psychologists, and trainees. We have incorporated smaller breakout sessions throughout the agenda to provide opportunities for less formal, small group interactions that are more conducive to some of the planned topics. We plan to have keynote addresses or panel presentations on topics such as VA care in the community, psychology’s role in the VA Whole Health initiative, and diversity issues for psychologists. These are just a few highlights from our exciting agenda!
We are also pleased to announce that we will host a CE workshop focused on interventions to prevent suicide presented by Dr. Megan McCarthy. Dr. McCarthy is well-respected in suicide prevention and has held multiple positions in VA Central Office.
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 VAPLC 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 (“Promoting Quality, Integrated Care for All Veterans”) 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 website. The deadline for early consideration is January 31, 2019.
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 is January 31, 2019.
In addition, APA will be hosting Internship and Postdoctoral Fellowship Site Visitor Training workshops preceding the conference. These workshops will provide an overview of the new Standards on Accreditation (SoA) and serve as an opportunity for previous site visitors to update their training, as well as for those interested in becoming a new site visitor. The workshops will be held concurrently on Tuesday, May 28 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. See the attached flyer for details on how to register for one of these workshops.
The schedule for the conference is similar to those of recent years; activities will commence on Tuesday, May 28th with an informal evening social hour and registration from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. 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. Additionally, we will be hosting a dinner the night of May 28 to celebrate the career of Dr. Russell Lemle as he retires from VA service. Separate registration will be needed for this dinner. The main conference starts the morning of Wednesday, May 29th with breakfast at 7:00 a.m. and continues through the end of the day on Thursday, May 30. A social hour will follow the Wednesday and Thursday sessions. Our CEU Workshop will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31, beginning with breakfast at 7:00 a.m.
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 15, 2019. A random selection of the scholarships will be announced by March 18, 2019.
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 the Westin logo below to go to our online room reservation webpage. If you call the hotel, please note that you are calling as part of the “2019 VA Psychology Leadership Conference.” Our negotiated room rate is $126/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:

Westin Hotel Logo 

Conference registration is as follows:

AVAPL, APA, and Division 18 members: $350
Non-members: $450
Postdoctoral fellows: $150
Predoctoral interns: $115

The post-conference workshop will be $150. Registration fees includes breakfast, lunch, and refreshments on Wednesday and Thursday; and breakfast and lunch on Friday for those who register for the CE workshop. Dinners are on your own and a wonderful chance to socialize and see the sites of San Antonio’s River Walk.
Attendees will receive about 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!

Tracey L. Smith, Ph.D.
President, Association of Veterans Affairs Psychologist Leaders
Heather O'Beirne Kelly, Ph.D.
Senior Legislative & Federal Affairs Officer
American Psychological Association
Tiffanie Fennell, Ph.D., ABPP
Chair, VA Section, Division 18
American Psychological Association

Sponsoring Organizations

Sponsoring Organizations