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MSPP rapport

A publication of the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology

John J. Zona Elected New Board Chair

John J. Zpna

The Board is fantastic— a group of women and men who share a passion and enthusiasm for advancing mental health.

—John J. Zona

John J. Zona, MSPP's new Board Chair, holds a PhD in Higher Education from Boston College, where he is currently Chief Investment Officer and Associate Treasurer, responsible for the oversight and administration of the university's $2.2 billion endowment.

Zona says he is "very excited about MSPP's tremendous growth trajectory over the next five to 10 years." MSPP grew more than six-fold from 100 students enrolled in one program in 2004 to 700 students across 14 programs today, notes Zona, who credits President Nick Covino's vision and leadership with overall growth. The continued expansion of program and curriculum offerings to meet society's ever-growing needs "is a rigorous academic and real-world response," he says.

Zona has been on the board for more than 10 years. "The board," he says, "is fantastic— a group of women and men who share a passion and enthusiasm for advancing mental health." Zona feels the next decade will demand more specialization and training to bring care to Latino communities and returning military Veterans. He applauds MSPP's "leadership" role with these populations and looks forward to collaborating with Covino and the trustees to build on those successes.

Zona hopes to focus on three areas critical to MSPP's future: 1) refinement of enrollment management practices to support ongoing program expansion; 2) establishment of a permanent capital base, both in terms of infrastructure assets through the future ownership of the building and financial assets via planned operating surpluses and endowment growth; 3) expansion of fundraising capabilities to secure increased philanthropic support from an increasing pool of alumni and friends.

As an undergraduate, Zona was a student in Sister Margaret Gorman's psychology class. Sister Gorman was "a founding visionary" and the first board chair at MSPP. According to Zona, "she was simply awe-inspiring to me and other students." Today, 25 years later, he is honored to serve as board chair of the very institution she helped shape and so loved.

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Becoming William JamesNicholas Covino

In his 1970 presidential address to the American Psychological Association, Dr. George Albee urged psychologists to become closely tied to the community in order to learn from its people and to bring relief. Some see this exhortation as among the early inspirations for the Schools of Professional Psychology. For 40 years, MSPP has educated students by immersing them in closely supervised field experiences, applying psychological research to the real-world of people and organizations, while learning deeply about themselves. Over the years, people have valued the close attention that staff, faculty and supervisors at MSPP have paid to their development, and our graduates have made significant contributions to the community in business, health care, education and mental health. Signature programs in Military Veterans Psychology, Children and Families of Adversity and Resilience, and Latino Mental Health are the realization of Albee's desire to see psychology "Meeting the Need" and "Making a Difference."

Over the years since Dr. Albee's address, MSPP has established its place in the community, transitioning through four buildings, evolving from one degree program to 14 and becoming home to more than 850 staff and students. Each year, MSPP graduates exceed the scores of peer institutions on the EPPP exam; are employed within months of graduation; carry a zero-percent default rate on loans; bring relief to children in schools; staff many community centers and provide leadership and service in forensic, healthcare and organizational settings. Our graduates make us proud, and our mission is attracting thoughtful and generous partners.

Although MSPP has been evolving, it has been a challenge to explain its name and place in the world of higher education. An 'independent graduate school of professional psychology' is a difficult concept to comprehend. With geography the only obvious differentiator, the implication is that all Schools of Professional Psychology are the same, but for location. While most "Colleges" offer graduate training and many independent professional institutions (e.g., Medicine, Optometry and Law) across the country are called "College," in the world of higher education, MSPP is often confused with trade schools or for-profit institutions. For example, of the 60 members of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, MSPP is the only "school." 

When the Board of Trustees and its advisors considered the needed change in status, they had the good fortune to discover that William James College was available. As the "Founder of American Psychology" he was a major proponent for its practical application. A mentor to John Dewey, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Whiton Calkins and Émile Durkheim, among others, James influenced most of the major theorists in education, race relations and social science of the last two centuries. We have the opportunity to link our work to James's prolific writing on consciousness, emotion, religious experience and social change. His exceptional investment in educating leaders, his commitment to practical change and his preeminence as a thinker will dignify our institution, bringing credit to our faculty and students and further supporting the important work of our graduates.

William James College is a new name, but we believe that it will quickly become a powerful signifier that our outstanding learning community of educators, advocates, mentors, and innovators will continue to lead change and bring help to individuals and communities in need. As with our previous moves forward, we believe that this advance will add strength and support to our critical mission.

We will formally effect this change on May 7th at the Gala. I hope that you will make time to join us in celebrating our past and supporting the future of our remarkable organization.

Nicholas A. Covino, PsyD

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MSPP's First Annual Reunion Weekend

Art Exhibit

From recent graduates to those whose degrees are nearly 30 years old, MSPP alumni brought affection, respect and gratitude to the school that shaped their personal and professional lives.

Director of Alumni Relations and Dean Emeritus, Dr. Alan Beck, thanked alumna and Trustee Barbara Gannon who spearheaded the "Conversations with Alumni" initiative and then put the work of alumni into context: "In a world fraught with crisis, anxiety and fear, we need only to listen to the daily news to know that intervention is required to manage the pervasive unrest, assault and danger experienced by many. Through our expanded vision, MSPP is touching the lives, organizations and communities of our world with ever-increasing impact. And you are the instruments of such effectiveness."

Following an historical presentation by Dr. Stanley Rosenzweig, one of MSPP's founders, President Nick Covino offered a brief overview of MSPP's tremendous growth over the last dozen years and an enthusiastic call for further engagement. Dr. Robert Kinscherff, Associate Vice President for Community Relations awarded Charlene M. Bonner, PsyD, class of 2005, the Florence H. Lerman Mintz Award for Distinguished Alumni. Dr. Bonner specializes in forensic psychology and addictive disorders, is Chair of the Parole Board of the Commonwealth and a consultant to the Criminal Justice System. Tina Forrister, MA, class of 2011, an organizational psychologist, standing in for Dr. Kathryn Stanley, Program Director of Masters of Organizational Psychology Program & Talent Management Concentration, awarded EJ Olson, MA, class of 2014 the Achievement Award for Recent Alumni for EJ's extraordinary work with LGBTQ teenagers (see article below).

Sally Powis, MA, Julie Lerner, MA and Melissa Alvino, MA, all from the class of 2014, report that they have moved smoothly from classmates to colleagues since graduating and have high praise for the skills and experience their MSPP work afforded them. Kumkum Pareek Malik, PsyD, class of 1996, began her MSPP studies as a mother of two young children, ages three months and four years. "I have a passion for motherhood," she says. "Most women present with symptoms that no one connects to being a mother. Our work as mothers is invisible." She sums up her philosophy with the Sanskrit word swayum-siddha, meaning self-liberator, an approach that helps her patients to find their own strengths. "I give our work as mothers legitimacy," she says. Malik also works in a pro bono capacity with the women of the Southeast Asian Community in the Burlington, MA area.

The Saturday Conference on Psychological Assessment for Immigrants and Refugees was presented by two more extraordinary alumni, P. Michelle Contreras, PsyD, Program Director, MA in Counseling Psychology in Global Mental Health and Joseph Gorin, PsyD, Counseling Psychology in Global Mental Health Faculty as well as MSPP faculty Richard F. Mollica, MD. Setting the tone with the words engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty by Emma Lazuras, Give me your tired, your poor, your huddles masses, yearning to be free, Contreras and Gorin talked about the resilience, passion and energy of the individuals seeking asylum, freedom and psychological survival from persecution and abuse of many kinds—political, physical, emotional and sexual. Among the alumni in class was Dr. Jeanne Lauer Williams, a nurse, attorney and psychologist, who worked with torture and trauma survivors.

Beck also curated an art exhibition of MSPP students, faculty, staff and alumni work.
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EJ Olson Advocates for LGBTQ Inclusion

EJ OlsonHomelessness rates for LGBTQ youth are staggering. Forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. EJ Olson, an MSPP 2014 graduate and winner of the Achievement Award for Recent Alumni that recognizes outstanding early career accomplishments and contributions to the profession, is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Rainbow Health Initiative in Minneapolis and is currently consulting on LGBTQ inclusion for all services in the state of Minnesota. EJ's professional life is committed to advocating for the LGBTQ community. With an MA in Organizational Psychology, EJ does competency training for health and human services students and professionals toward health equity. Given the tremendous disparities in healthcare for the LGBTQ community, EJ's work is intense, critical and rare.

"One out of three providers is not offering competent care to LGBTQ patients in Minnesota. They don't understand LGBTQ-specific health needs," says EJ. "The result is that these individuals experience discrimination and poor quality care by providers." EJ says that depression, anxiety and PTSD are experienced at twice the rate by LGBTQ individuals.

Living and working in Washington, DC and then moving to Minneapolis, EJ was a "remote" student in the Organizational Psychology Master's program, visiting campus to use resources, meet with advisors and participate with cohorts in MSPP's innovative and interactive online program. EJ praises many of the faculty members at MSPP, especially Dr. Kathryn Stanley. "Being part of MSPP has made a drastic difference in my professional reach and ability to effect change. I am grateful for the community that will continue to be part of my professional career. Your recognition is fuel, reminding me that this work is valued and important. Being an LGBTQ Advocate is not always glitter and glamour," writes EJ in a thank you message to MSPP for the award.

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Celebrating Pat Capobianco, MSPP's Gardener and Guardian

Pat Capobianco Retires

If you ask Pat Capobianco, MSPP's recently retired VP, Finance and Operations, what his greatest accomplishment has been at MSPP, he will immediately start naming the members of his team and describing each in glowing terms. And he never forgets anyone. "For me, it has always been about the people, and it is these MSPP people and the fun we have had working together that I will miss the most," he says.

On October 30, 2014, the "people" of MSPP gathered with Capobianco's family, childhood friends and MSPP partners and vendors to celebrate with humor and gratitude "this compassionate and courageous man" (in the words of President Nick Covino), and the next phase of his remarkable life after his 45-year career—a career in which not only MSPP, but Tufts University, Mass. Eye and Ear, Harvard Community Health Plan and Mass. General Hospital were also fortunate recipients of his gentle, extremely competent leadership.

Both John Zona and Rif Freedman, Chair and Trustee respectively of the MSPP Board, told Capobianco that they considered him one of the happiest working people they have ever known. "He loved coming to work," they both said. "And, with the exception of my beautiful family, MSPP has been my greatest labor of love," says Capobianco. His love of work was contagious, according to his well-mentored successor Dan Brent. "Pat made coming to work a pleasure," he said, adding that Capobianco's financial acumen and ability to develop relationships are responsible for the school's rise from a $2 million-dollar organization to a $20 million-dollar operation in 10 years.

As for his future, faculty member Jackie Gagliardi, MEd, described her hopes for her dear friend, picturing him happily surrounded by children and grandchildren, strumming on his guitar, listening to his ham radio, and "exploring, through his new telescope, life in other galaxies," all passions of "this Renaissance man."

Speaking that night for his beautiful family were granddaughters Abby and Carly, who agreed that MSPP was as lucky as they were to have had Capobianco, their "Gumba," to guide it for so many years.

Ending the formal program, Covino quoted from author Raymond Bradbury who said:

"It doesn't matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime."

"This extraordinary man, Pat Capobianco, has indeed been and always will be our gardener," said Covino.

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Major General Robert Catalanotti Leaves Retirement to Serve Again

Major General Robert Catalanotti

After 35 years in the US Army, Robert G. Catalanotti (Ret.) has turned to MSPP for his next career. The retired Major General is now Chief Operating Officer and Director of MSPP's Military & Veterans Psychology Program, a substantial change from the Central Command for Middle East and Central Asia position he held for more than the last two years of his decades of service. Having forged strategic relationships with America's Arab partners in countries most 10-year-olds couldn't identify on a world map, Catalanotti, who also saw combat in Iraq, now reaches out to new MSPP partners to grow the Train Vets to Treat Vets® program that enables Veteran college graduates to enter graduate training to become mental health professionals.

"In my work," says Catalanotti, "I put many young men and women in harm's way. I now will be giving back to Vets, helping them train for rewarding careers caring for those who have come home from war." Though the offers from big defense contractors were abundant, this experienced Veteran chose to help in another arena. "I want to work with Vets," he insists. "When I met Nick Covino, MSPP President, there was great synergy, and after only a few weeks, I already feel a sense of mission here."

Catalanotti's son, Captain Eric Catalanotti, is an Army Ranger and a Tufts University graduate. His dad, as well as his mom, Karen and sister, Brigit, are Assumption College graduates. Catalanotti also earned an MA in Counseling and another in Strategic Studies at the US Army War College in PA. With his extraordinary background, he hopes to raise the visibility and size of the program for Veterans at MSPP, helping identify new recruits, get them placements during their training and make contacts for them to begin rewarding careers upon graduation. He has already invited the governor's Adjutant General to come visit the MSPP program and is considering other strategic partners. As COO, what some might consider a second full-time senior position, MSPP's very own general in civilian suits will be responsible for ongoing operations and structure.

"The family is thrilled with my being here," says Catalanotti. "My wife Karen, a Blue Star Mom and a Shrewsbury teacher, is a selfless servant who lives to serve." MSPP warmly welcomes the General and his entire family.

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D'Angelo Returns to MSPP Board After Eight Years

Dr. Eugene D'Angelo

I wake up excited about my day at work, about new initiatives in psychology and to contributing in areas of social well-being.

—Eugene D'Angelo

Dr. Eugene Joseph D'Angelo, Chief of Psychology at Boston Children's Hospital, holds the Linda and Timothy O'Neill Endowed Chair in Psychology, is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and also Children's Director of the Outpatient Psychiatry Service. His academic and administrative positions, awards, activities and peer-reviewed publications would require increasing the length of Rapport by many pages.

D'Angelo is no stranger to MSPP. In addition to having served on the Board from 2001-2006, he has, in his professional capacities, hired many MSPP graduates. He has high praise for MSPP alumni, especially those with clinical roles, Harvard faculty appointments, and specialized interests such as autism and integrated care. He singles out Drs. David Stein, Jonas Bromberg and Jennifer Gentile as three MSPP alumni whose skills, curiosity and leadership he says deserve special praise. "MSPP has established a vision and mission for itself," he says now, "with a true sense of bringing social commitment and social justice to a variety of its training and education initiatives. MSPP has an important role on the national landscape of education and training," he says.

"I love this field," says D'Angelo with enthusiasm. "I wake up excited about my days at work, about new initiatives in psychology and to contributing in areas of social well-being." The wave of the future, according to D'Angelo, who has been on the staff at Children's for 33 years, "is integrated care where psychologists will work closely with pediatricians in primary care settings, requiring that they know a variety of interventions and assessments."

D'Angelo is a lover of many sports, especially sailing. Being out on the water, he says, requires him to be keenly aware of the currents and focused on charting a course. The metaphors are not lost on this MSPP board member, scholar, clinician, teacher, mentor, sailor, husband and father.

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Thoughts about Williams James and How his Mission Aligns with Ours

by Robert Dingman, EdD, Core Faculty

William JamesWilliam James is frequently praised as not only the first, but also the greatest of American Psychologists. It was James who taught the first psychology course on United States soil, created the first psychological laboratory, graduated the first PhD student, and catalyzed excitement about the newly independent discipline with his revolutionary book, Principles of Psychology, published in 1890. Although trained in physiology and medicine, and committed to an empirically grounded psychological science, James nevertheless creatively conceptualized psychological experience with metaphors from the worlds of art, everyday existence, and evolutionary theory. Aware of and holding in high esteem the results of much scientific activity of his time, he was simultaneously a virtuoso of introspective self-observation at the most subtle levels, and wrote eloquently as well as persuasively of what he found. Experience itself—the taking in of the world of objects and its relations, as well as the processes of consciousness surrounding all this—was for James the great fundamental unit of empirical interest in psychology, of reality itself. He resisted with passion and penetrating argument any narrowing of the ways in which such experience might be investigated or understood.

Read the rest of the article here.

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MSPP's APA Consortium and Mental Health for Youth Get Boost from HRSA

Freedman Center

Parents and Children Thrive at MSPP's Freedman Center, which is now an APA internship site.

If you heard loud cheers in the MSPP hallways in recent months, they were probably from Dr. Sonia Suri, Dr. Bruce Ecker and Dr. Randi Dorn when they learned that MSPP had won its first federal grant and largest grant ever. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded MSPP $713,000 over three years to train clinical psychologists as part of the MSPP Internship Consortium in the care of children, adolescents and transition-age youth (16-25) who suffer from mental health problems.

According to Ecker, Director of MSPP's child psychology training sequence, Children and Families of Adversity and Resilience (CFAR) and co-principal of the grant, "There is a serious shortfall in the number of clinicians for these young people. One in five experience some form of identifiable mental illness, yet no more than half will ever receive the treatment they need," he says.

"I see this grant as a win-win-win scenario," he adds. "It is a win for the patients and families who will receive care, a win for our students who will receive exceptional training in APA-accredited internships and a win for our field sites that will receive the support they need to provide that training," he says.

Suri, Senior Research Associate in MSPP's Office of Research and project director and co-principal for the grant, believes that "it opens up a whole new playing field for MSPP and elevates our standing in the Boston higher education community that competes regularly for this kind of funding. Being chosen for this increases the likelihood that we will be considered for future opportunities," she says.

The grant, which will fund 24 APA internships for MSPP's Clinical PsyD students in agencies that deliver high quality care to these underserved populations, will also allow MSPP's Field Education Department to expand its already unique APA Internship Consortium to include six more sites.

The MSPP APA Internship Consortium is a collaboration of high quality field training sites that reserve a number of their internship positions exclusively for MSPP students. They are agencies that do not have the resources and support to qualify for APA accreditation on their own, but by sharing support and resources with each other and MSPP, they also share accreditation. "We bring them together and provide the infrastructure," says Dr. Randi Dorn, MSPP's Director of Training, who manages the Consortium.

"We are thrilled that this grant enables us to invite additional sites to work with us to provide these high level internships focused in this area of critical need, as well as adding more opportunities for MSPP students to train in APA-accredited internships," adds Dorn who was instrumental in getting the field sites on board as part of the grant application process.

New Consortium sites include the Brenner Center for Psychological Assessment and Consultation, Edward M. Kennedy Health Center, Freedman Center for Child and Family Development, Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute and Youth Opportunities Upheld Inc. (YOU Inc.).

Though Suri and Ecker were the co-principals of the grant, they credit a team of staff, faculty and students, including Dorn, with its ultimate success. "It was an amazing group effort," says Suri, listing essential contributions from Debra Boyce, who worked on the budget; Dr. Stacey Lambert, Dr. Ed De Vos and Dr. Robert Kinscherff, who provided advice and counsel; Margaret Hannah, Christy Harms and Drs. Mari Carmen Bennasar and Robert Dingman who wrote summaries of their programs for the application; Cheryl MacDonald who supplied them with documentation from Field Education to support the application; students Anelise Cohen, Nicole Morreo and Jordan Lawson who provided technical and research support; and Sunny Singh who added IT expertise.

HRSA Meeting

The HRSA grant team plans next steps. From left to right are Stacey Lambert, Debra Boyce, Dan Brent, Randi Dorn, Cheryl MacDonald, Bruce Ecker, Ed De Vos and Sonia Suri.

"We would also like to acknowledge our partnering field sites who were willing to write a letter of support to HRSA at short notice," adds Suri.

HRSA grant-funded APA interns have already begun their training at the Freedman and Brenner Centers.

Elysha Greenberg, who is an APA intern at the Freedman Center, is very grateful. "I feel so fortunate to be able to work at the Freedman Center and to have an APA internship," she says. "Both fit my personal and professional goals. The Freedman Center has designed a comprehensive program that is perfect for me, and the APA accreditation will open doors for me in the field I am very committed to," she says. "I have found something I love to do, and I know that I will continue to grow over the course of this internship."

For Dr. Nadja Reilly, Associate Director of the Freedman Center and the Training Director for the APA interns at the Freedman Center, says "The internships funded by this grant at our center and at other sites expose students to a broad range of prevention, promotion, assessment and treatment, and we are very excited to be part of it." "In summary, this grant will help to fulfill three of our missions—our social justice mission to serve the underserved, our training mission to create the next generation of professionals and our mission to become recognized as a research entity. This is a very big deal," says Dr. Stacey Lambert, Chair of the Clinical PsyD Department.

Elysha Greenberg and Dr. Nadja Reilly

APA intern Elysha Greenberg (left) and Dr. Nadja Reilly, Training Director for the
Freedman Center's APA Consortium interns, at the Playtime group. The Freedman
Center was named an APA internship site under the HRSA grant.

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Berenson Sees Dividends From his Investments of Service and Philanthropy

Peter Berenson

I'm excited about the direction the school is moving in fulfilling its social justice mission.

—Peter Berenson

When a client who'd long been associated with MSPP suggested Peter Berenson, CPA consider membership on the MSPP Board about a dozen years ago, it was his business acumen, his financial know-how and his easy, modest style that combined to make him an excellent and much-needed fit. An accountant and later an investment advisor and consultant, Berenson helped bring financial order to MSPP well before he was elected Board Chair in 2009.

Initially attracted to the people he met at MSPP, Berenson appreciated the social justice mission they shared. It felt familiar to him; doing good was part of who he was. Those feelings were strengthened the better he got to know Nick Covino, MSPP President. "He was always committed to helping those students who were unable to pay their way," says Berenson, who now chairs the Scholarship Sub-committee of the MSPP Campaign.

Berenson considers his service to MSPP, giving considerable time and considerable philanthropic support, as an investment. "I see the dividends my investments pay," he says. "I've been very vocal about student loans," not wanting to see qualified applicants turned away for lack of tuition. He is determined to ease the tremendous burden of loans so many MSPP students endure. He is also attracted to MSPP's focus on training mental health professionals to care for Veterans, members of the Latino community and children, all populations who can't always access the help they need.

When a client of many years, Eli Dubinsky, a man without family who'd also become Berenson's dear friend, asked him to be the administrator of his estate, Berenson was honored to create an MSPP Scholarship Endowment Fund that perpetuated Dubinsky's legacy. "He wanted his philanthropy to last," says Berenson, who has also been very generous in his own philanthropic support of MSPP.

"I'm excited about the direction the school is moving in fulfilling its social justice mission. It seems to be built into the very DNA of the school," he says. "It's a good time to be connected here."

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Look for our next issue of the MSPPrapport in the Spring.

If there are topics you would like to read about, please contact Katie O'Hare at

Updated 3/3/15

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