From the Executive Director - Connecting Communication and Psychology

Shari Miles-Cohen
February 8, 2022

As a psychologist, I have always recognized the inextricable connection between Communication and Psychology—our scholars collaborate and publish together, and our faculty and students move freely between academic departments (Bailenson & Yee, 2008). Over the course of my career, Communication has been integral to my work. I’ve studied the relationship between women college students’ self-avowed racial and feminist identities and their academic achievement, developed a virtual multimedia exhibit for the Smithsonian Learning Lab that highlights psychology’s topical diversity and the diversity of women psychologists to encourage young people to consider STEM careers, developed a year-long virtual leadership development program that was values-based and learner-centered, and led efforts to develop policy statements focused on dismantling racism in Psychology and in the world. 

The connection between Communication and Psychology hit even closer to home when I received my first welcome message at NCA from a much-respected mentor, and now colleague, past NCA President Dr. Orlando Taylor. Dr. Taylor was the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Howard University when I began my Psychology doctoral studies there. I can’t imagine standing on a sturdier pair of shoulders than his. I am also grateful to past NCA President Kent Ono, who chaired the Executive Director Search Committee, to the search committee members, and to the NCA Executive Committee (EC) and Legislative Assembly for entrusting me with shepherding NCA to greater impact. 

What’s Next?

Listening for Understanding

I was so excited to learn more about NCA that I accepted NCA Past President David McMahan’s invitation to attend the Annual Convention in Seattle to begin my listening tour even before my first official day on the job. I attended “Top Paper” sessions to better understand the state of the academic specialties within Communication. I sat in on interest group, caucus, and division business meetings and heard about issues that concern and excite NCA members. I had informal conversations at receptions and heard the pride Communication teachers and scholars felt when talking about their award-winning students. I saw how hard the NCA staff works to deliver a successful Annual Convention. As I lead the association this year, I will continue my “listening for understanding,” so that I might grasp your interests and concerns. I will work closely with EC and the NCA staff to ensure that we are delivering value to NCA members. I look forward to learning more about members’ visions for NCA and for Communication as a discipline.

Strategic Planning

NCA President Roseann Mandziuk has already hit the ground running. I am excited about her passion for the important work to come this year, especially regarding the strategic planning effort she is launching. However, we know that creating a strategic plan and disseminating it is not enough. Implementation is key and requires everyone’s engagement. I will be working with Roseann and the EC to engage NCA members in the different stages of the strategic planning process. Don’t be surprised if you receive an email or phone call from me asking for your input as we develop our new strategic plan.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access

Advancing human rights and improving people’s lives, especially women, communities of color, and LGBTQIA+ persons, are two of my core values. My background and experience in leading diverse teams of colleagues who are committed to applying science to improve human lives, with a special focus on marginalized communities, is also well-suited to NCA as the association strives to be a leader in anti-racism. I am eager to apply my what I have learned from leading the American Psychological Association’s Dismantling Racism Project Team, whose work to acknowledge past wrongs and map a pathway to reconciliation for members, staff, and community is particularly relevant to the NCA IDEA Council’s charge to actively work against systemic racism and discrimination. 

Raising NCA’s Visibility

The EC has expressed a strong interest in raising NCA’s public visibility. Working together, we will use our extensive interdisciplinary networks to create opportunities for members to advise and work closely with policymakers, scientists, and advocates at the global, federal, state, and local levels to rebut misinformation, to protect the public from anti-science forces, and to disseminate messages that reinforce equity and justice.

My goal of developing, nurturing, and maintaining essential relationships reflects my genuine interest in discovering the nexus of people, passion, and resources that makes it possible to advance NCA’s mission. I am so looking forward to meeting each and every one of you and working together with the EC and the NCA staff to realize NCA’s impactful future. Thank you again for welcoming me to NCA. Let’s get started!