Founding of Society of Psychologists in Leadership


The history of SPIM can be dated back to when Dick Kilburg received notification that The American Board of Professional Psychology had not approved his practice examination and therefore refused to grant him an ABPP certificate in clinical psychology. Dick was working at The American Psychological Association at the time as the Administrative Officer for Professional Affairs, the unit now known as the Practice Directorate. As you might imagine, he reacted pretty strongly because the examiners for ABPP, two very well-known clinical psychologists, said that he clearly was an expert, knew the arena better than anyone else they'd ever known, but that they were not sure it was "clinical psychology." Dick’s exam was a routine, weekly administrative meeting with Mark Ginsburg, who at that time ran the State Association Office and reported to him. They worked through their mutual agendas together, which involved many matters of policy, practice, politics, financing and much more. Dick was beyond disappointed.

Over the next few months, Dick fussed over what had occurred and decided to do two additional things. First, he would try to do a special issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. He called the editor, proposed a special issue, and ultimately saw it through to publication. Second, Dick thought that there were a lot of psychologists like him and that an organization for them did not exist. He called Doug and Tony Browskowski, a friend, mentor and the faculty member that introduced him to organization development. He also called Joe Grosslight, the Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida, the Chair of the organization department and psychology departments. He pitched the idea of an organization. They all said, "great idea, I'm in.". They arranged a lunch meeting at the upcoming APA convention. After discussing the idea together and deciding to form a steering committee, Dick began to make the calls. They ended up with a group of about ten people who met the following year at APA.

From that group and its work, the Society of Psychologists in Management was created. Tony, Doug, Joe, and Dick were key in much of the administrative work. Dick used the offices of APA to support that effort. Mike Pallak, the Executive Director of APA at the time, was very supportive. Tony Broskowski and Dick talked about who would be the first president, and Tony said, this crazy idea was Dick’s and that he should go first and Tony would go second.

They were 66 people in attendance for the first SPIM meeting in 1985. Tony used his staff and resources to stand up and administer the meeting. Dwight Harshbarger, was the first duly elected President.

Over 25 years later, the organization rebranded as Society of Psychologists in Leadership.