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Chief Scientific Officer
American Psychological Association

The APA’s Science Directorate works to advance the discipline of psychological science and to represent and meet the needs of psychological scientists at all training and career stages. Its programs include science policy and government relations, research ethics, psychological testing and assessment, scientific awards, summer research training, and communications with the scientific community and general public.

The Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) will be responsible for leading and implementing a transformational science agenda focused on the promotion, communication, facilitation, and representation of psychological science and scientists. The CSO will lead the association’s scientific strategy to champion the promulgation and application of psychological science for the benefit of society. S/he will be the recognized leader and advocate for science both within and outside the association. The CSO will effectively draw upon and connect with key areas of the association and interact with external entities such as scientific organizations, federal funding agencies, foundations, policymakers, and academic institutions to increase the visibility of basic, applied, and clinical science.

The CSO reports to the CEO, supervises the approximately 20-person staff of the Science Directorate, supports activities of governance groups that serve as advisory bodies to the directorate, oversees the activities of the Science Directorate, and is responsible for major APA programs and initiatives related to psychological science, such as: federal and state advocacy on policies affecting support for science; existing committees focused on safeguarding the ethical use of human and non-human animals in research and issues related to testing and assessment; the APA Advanced Training Institutes; and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.

The CSO connects with myriad stakeholders, internal and external to the Association, including, but not limited to: leaders in government, major funding agencies, and other professional organizations and scientific societies, APA board and committee members, staff, and volunteers; and members of the public.

The position involves management oversight for one of the core APA directorates, in addition to being actively engaged association-wide as a member of the Executive Management Group.

The Chief Scientific Officer will be expected to advance several key objectives. The following represent some of these opportunities:

  • Ensure that APA advances its standing as the premier scientific and professional organization for psychology.
  • Advocate for the value of psychology and science-based policy and the application of psychological science in diverse settings such as government, academia, industry, and law.
  • Evaluate and identify important issues and questions that should be addressed by psychological science and act as a catalyst or convener to develop research capacity and influence in those areas.
  • Integrate and establish personal and professional credibility throughout APA and externally with key stakeholders.
  • Foster a culture of high engagement across staff through excellent communication, collaboration, transparency, and follow through. Align staff around the future vision and direction of the organization, both leading and supporting scientists and colleagues through change.
  • Serve as a mentor and developer of staff and leadership. Establish clear performance metrics for science directorate staff, identifying key objectives and performance measures to drive both program and organization success.
  • In conjunction with the CEO, assess the current organizational structure of the Science Directorate, integrating program and operational structures to ensure optimal support for the future of APA.
  • Identify opportunities to deepen and expand programs based on APA’s strategic growth goals.
  • Engage members around not only current trends but also future vision, helping to advance transformation and set a course for maximal success in the advancement and application of psychological science.
  • In concert with the CEO and colleagues, play a critical role in informing and crafting the strategic plan for APA.
  • Project and maintain a strong external presence and be recognized as a voice and thought leader across diverse academic, scientific, and policy arenas.
  • Identify and foster collaborative relationships across the sciences, creating more opportunities to advance psychological science in trans-disciplinary partnerships.

Candidate Profile

Our client seeks an outstanding and visionary executive with significant credibility in the scientific community to assume overall responsibility for the leadership and management of the science directorate at APA. S/he should be a talented, strategic, imaginative, and inspirational leader who is a highly creditable and outstanding spokesperson for APA and psychological science.  Further, the successful candidate must be passionate about the mission of APA and possess the significant leadership, business, and management skills that will be necessary to help shape the Science Directorate through a time of continued evolution for the organization.  

The successful candidate must demonstrate standing in the scientific community, be able to examine the challenges of a changing world, and develop and implement a vision for how APA can reach ever more people to spark and engage a sustained interest in psychological science. S/he will have outstanding communication skills and the ability to serve as an inspiring spokesperson for the exciting work being done across the profession.   Further, the CSO will have an ability to engage and enfranchise psychologists who do not currently consider APA their professional home.

The CSO must demonstrate competence in administration, strategy development, and fiscal management, with the necessary skills to lead what is essentially a small business within the APA.  An outstanding leader, s/he will have a track record of motivating, mentoring, challenging and, as necessary, hiring a strong and capable staff. 

The successful candidate must have a track record of leadership roles within nonprofit, academic, private or public enterprise with a diverse constituency and broad public interest. A doctoral degree in psychology is required, as is a minimum of 10 years postdoctoral experience working in research, academic administration, industry, scientific organizations, or science policy.  Successful candidates will have a record of success as a researcher, broad knowledge of emerging trends in science, demonstrated commitment to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and be able to promote the contributions and relevance of psychological science to an ever-changing landscape.

S/he will possess unquestioned integrity and ethical standards, a high degree of emotional intelligence, and a reputation for fairness and transparency demonstrated in previous senior leadership roles. 

Specific leadership competencies include:

Transformative Vision

  • Energetic, innovative thinker with the ability to analyze the mission and business drivers of APA, develop a vision for the future that builds upon the striking history and powerful current programs, and lead the team to build upon a strategy that moves the organization forward in a fast-changing external environment.
  • Sets compelling and ambitious, yet realistic, goals to achieve continuous evolution and positive change for APA. Pursues long-term visionary goals in tandem with short-term results. 
  • Possesses excellent judgment – shows wisdom in making decisions, balancing a variety of factors to achieve optimal outcome. Relies upon APA’s core values, goals and strategies when making decisions.
  • Welcomes input from a diverse range of members and constituents and is comfortable interacting with them.

Business Acumen and Strategic Capability

  • A strong analytical mind and the ability to lead the Science Directorate’s organizational, public education and advocacy efforts.
  • The capacity to work collaboratively within a large, complex, and diverse organization in the development and articulation of its vision and on its translation into focused and tangible results, and lasting impact.
  • Entrepreneurial vigor in creating sustainable business models, evaluating financial opportunities, and optimizing the enterprise aspects of the organization's programs and publications.
  • Digital literacy to leverage and deploy cutting edge innovations that will drive APA’s communications, membership, and broad public engagement in the organization's mission.

Inspirational Leadership and Representation Skills

  • Direct, effective communicator and good listener who can unify different internal and external constituencies and the Board of Scientific Affairs.
  • Outstanding ability to respect, relate to, and communicate with people at all levels – from distinguished scientists, members, and government leaders at the highest level; understands the experiences, values and motivators of others; has a transparent, open and authentic style; demonstrates presence and gravitas in dealings with partners from a variety of backgrounds.
  • Organizational aptitude to lead an outstanding team.
  • Confident, but without an oversized ego – balances confidence with knowledge of strengths / weaknesses and humility; possesses a sense of humor; has the strength and confidence to delegate effectively while leading broadly.

Communications, Advocacy, and Fundraising

  • Charisma and eloquence to deliver key science messages globally and the ability to engage and operate effectively at the highest scientific and political levels.
  • Possesses the ability to convey a sense of excitement about the purpose of APA. Maintains and grows a supportive and exciting intellectual environment, while raising the resources to invest in intellectual capital and innovative programming.
  • Builds relationships with the wide-range of important constituencies – including educators, scientists, past and present members, and scientific leaders across the world – and is able to leverage those effectively to accomplish goals of APA.

Intellectual Curiosity and Passion

  • Demonstrates broad interests and innate curiosity spanning the full range of APA’s endeavors.
  • Passionate about science, research, and psychology.
  • Unquestionable integrity and commitment to APA’s mission.

The American Psychological Association values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity for all persons regardless of age, color, disability, ethnicity, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other status protected by law.

Application Instructions:

Interested individuals or those wanting to submit nominations should contact  Stephanie Tomasso and Michael Singleton of Russell Reynolds Associates at Those qualified candidates ready to apply must apply online through APA’s applicant system and attach a cover letter and CV specifying your salary expectations. Applications that are submitted without both documents are considered incomplete and will not be reviewed for consideration. Once your application is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email. Please make sure to check your Spam folder if you do not receive an email from us.

The American Psychological Association is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, protected Veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected categories covered under local law.

NOTE: The above information is provided by the employer. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc. does not verify the accuracy of these statements.