AWP President's Message

Headshot of Mary Barber, AWP President.jpgHello, wonderful AWP women!

For those of you who don't know me, let me introduce myself as I begin my term as your president. I have been in practice for 20 years, always in public settings. I trained at New York Hospital-Payne Whitney Clinic for residency, and then did the Columbia Public Psychiatry Fellowship. I am presently Clinical Director at a large state hospital system a little north of Manhattan, Rockland Psychiatric Center. My other professional hat is teaching, speaking and writing on LGBT mental health. And at home, I am a wife to Alleyne, a neurosurgeon in private practice, and mother to two teenage daughters. We are currently celebrating that our marriage is now recognized in all 50 states, and helping our older daughter to get ready to go off to college in the fall.

It was so great to see and catch up with many of you at the APA Annual Meeting in Toronto. As always, the Annual Meeting was a great place to network, hear scientific talks, and reconnect with old friends and colleagues. Our AWP Annual Membership Meeting filled the room with high-powered and accomplished women psychiatrists, both established and early-career. For me, the meeting is always inspirational, and especially so this time, as you have given me the honor of leading the group over the next two years. Here are some facts about our organization. We have 137 paid members. We have 1,800 contacts in our database. Some of these non-member contacts are recently lapsed members, while some have not been involved with AWP for some time. And even the 1,800 are a small number compared to the thousands of women we know are practicing in psychiatry. Our group is small.

Small, yes, but mighty. Even with this few members we are able to do the following each year:

  • Give awards to outstanding women and supportive men in psychiatry
  • Give a cash award to a community organization that is working to improve women's mental health
  • Sponsor an annual APA award and lecture, the Alexandra Symonds Award
  • Sponsor international women psychiatrists to come to the US
  • Sponsor US women psychiatrists to travel internationally to work, study, and undertake projects
  • Provide mentors at the APA women's networking lunch, in partnership with the APA Women's Caucus

In short, we are an awesome group of high-powered, motivated women in psychiatry. Like women in general, we work hard and accomplish a lot with very limited resources. What should we do over the next two years? I think we should do nothing.

Well, not really nothing! What I mean is that we should not take on new projects. For an organization as small as ours, we are already doing an incredible amount of stuff.

What we instead need to do is to look around, to talk to other women, to tell them about who we are and what we are already doing. We need to use this time to build roots, to make connections, to plant seeds. We need to spread the word about the tremendous opportunity AWP has for women looking for mentorship, support, networking, and building a lifelong circle of colleagues and friends.

Each of us can probably think of two colleagues who are not yet AWP members but need to be -- yes need, because the empowerment and validation we get from being around fellow AWP members is like food in this tough psychiatry climate! If we each convinced two friends to join AWP, we would triple our membership. Triple our membership is definitely possible, given the thousands of women APA members we know exist. And triple would make us so much stronger, so much more able to have a voice with APA, and to be able to do the creative things we do and even grow them.

I'm looking forward to serving as your president, and hearing your ideas about how AWP can grow.

Mary Barber, M.D.
President, AWP