January presents a new year, a new page, or perhaps even a new chapter in our lives. For many, its arrival prompts the practice of taking pause and reflecting. It is an opportunity to intentionally integrate recent experiences into our life story while pondering what may come next.
An expert on personal narratives and identity, Dan McAdams theorizes about the ways we make meaning out of our past and present, editing and revising our stories at different points in time, with a more defined sense of who we are resulting from our efforts. In our life story or narrative, we can look back at past accomplishments and experiences, pause to consider the present moment, and vision a future both near and distant. Each of us, as psychologists and psychological associates, has this opportunity to pause, reflect and build the personal narrative that we come to rely on as professionals.
Today, as President of Council, I feel like a highly invested audience member who has the privilege of a front row seat to the developing life narrative of two notable psychology professionals.
First, I observe Dr. Rick Morris, the College Registrar & Executive Director as he looks toward retirement at the end of February. I anticipate that this event will present him with the opportunity to review his contributions to the College and build possible futures based on his life story to date. In Dr. Morris’ case, what he has done or accomplished is too extensive to list here. Yet, a highly edited overview might read something like this:
The professional story of Dr. Morris includes his beginnings as a Clinical Psychologist who registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario in 1980. His early clinical practice with children, adolescents and families at Kinark Child and Family Services expanded to include the role and responsibilities of their Director of Clinical and Service Quality between 1989 and 1996. This role prepared Dr. Morris for his next position as Director of Professional Affairs and soon after, also Deputy Registrar, at the College of Psychologists of Ontario. By June 2015, Dr. Morris took on the role and responsibilities of Registrar & Executive Director at the College. While employed with the College, Dr. Morris gave many ethics-focused talks, and was also a graduate program Lecturer for Ethics in Applied Psychology at OISE/UT and more recently for Ethical Issues in Professional Practice at York University. It is not surprising that he received the Ontario Psychological Association Barbara Wand Award for Excellence in the Area of Professional Ethics and Standards in 2007 for his contributions to the profession in this manner.
Dr. Morris’ story includes what he did in his career, and equally important, who he was as he accomplished the work. As Dr. Morris became the “tricky issues” expert for the membership, he became known for the generous gift of his time and the authenticity of his connections with anyone who sought to access his expertise. He has been an approachable professional, with many of the thousands of psychologists and psychological associates in Ontario able to share individual stories about their interactions with him over time. His openness in sharing from his breadth of knowledge and wisdom increased the comfort of Council members and staff as they sought him out for advice and feedback. Additionally, Dr. Morris’ willingness to develop collaborative relationships with the full range of possible College stakeholders has been commendable. Stakeholder organizations gained from his contributions, as Dr. Morris was the founding Chair of the national association of regulators of psychology in Canada, the Association of Canadian Psychology Regulatory Organizations (ACPRO) from 2008 to 2016. As well, he was named a Fellow for his extensive and valued contributions to the international Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).
Dr. Morris can now pause and consider his professional story as a recipient of the Award of Merit from the Ontario Psychological Association. He can also weave in Council’s, and my own best wishes for many more years of success, and our gratitude for his excellent and valued service to the College.
As I wish Dr. Rick Morris farewell on behalf of Council, I am also now welcoming Dr. Tony DeBono, MBA, C.Psych. as the College’s new Registrar & Executive Director. He too is pausing to reflect and beginning to write a new life chapter at the College.
Dr. DeBono identifies his professional story starting with registration in 2014 as a Clinical Psychologist working with children, adolescents and families, following completion of his doctoral degree in Clinical-Developmental Psychology at York University. He also earned dual MBAs from Queen’s University and Cornell University. This combination of education and experience has positioned Dr. DeBono to succeed in various clinical and leadership roles in academic health science, including Chief of Interprofessional Practice at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) and more recently, as a Lead on The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre’s Transformation Team.
As Dr. DeBono begins this next chapter, College stakeholders will have the opportunity to get to know who he is beyond what he has accomplished. Dr. DeBono has already been building his reputation as an effective and valued leader within his workplace settings and the profession at large. In this regard, he received the Ontario Psychological Association’s Dr. Ruth Berman Award for Leadership as an Early Career Psychologist in 2018. He describes an affinity for work in the field of professional ethics and has willingly contributed as a workplace ethics consultant and member, or co-chair on clinical and integrated ethics- focused committees. Dr. DeBono presented as a knowledgeable and personable professional across an extensive College Registrar & Executive Director search process.
I look forward to working with Dr. DeBono as he joins the College as Registrar & Executive Director on February 27, 2023. The hardworking College staff, as well as the professional and public members of Council and Committees are pleased to welcome Dr. DeBono. We will all have the opportunity to observe and participate in his professional life story and I anticipate that this chapter will include a satisfying narrative.
With best wishes,
Wanda Towers, Ph.D., C.Psych.
President of Council