Altha Stewart, MD, took office for her one-year term as the president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), starting at the end of the 2018 APA Annual Meeting in New York City on May 9, 2018. Bruce Schwartz, MD, also started his term as APA president-elect.

Dr Stewart, associate professor of psychiatry and the director of the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, is the first African-American to lead the APA, as well as the fourth consecutive woman to lead the organization.

Dr Stewart has held executive leadership positions in public behavioral health systems in Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. Her career has spanned 3 decades in public sector administration.

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Other APA leadership positions Dr Stewart has held include the secretary of the Board of Trustees, president of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee and the Minority Fellowship Selection Committee, and member of the Joint Reference Committee and the Council on Advocacy and Government Relations. She has also served as president of the Association of Women Psychiatrists and president of the Black Psychiatrists of America.

“I am looking forward to working with our internal and external stakeholders over the next 12 months to advance the goals of our organization and the profession of psychiatry around the globe,” Dr Stewart said in her address on May 6 at the APA 2018 Annual Meeting. “The APA will be active in speaking out about the challenges facing the nation and how they affect mental health. I want to thank my colleagues for putting their trust in me to lead this organization.”

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In her address, Dr Stewart listed 3 main areas of focus for her year as president:

  1. Leadership opportunities for residents and psychiatrists early in their careers, as well as better reflecting their voices and needs in APA strategies and actions
  2. Global mental health, in which the APA should lead the way for colleagues around the world in innovative treatment programs
  3. Exploring social determinants of mental health that continue to affect the mental health and psychological well-being of many people in the United States, including racism, sexism, ageism, and homophobia, and investigating how organized psychiatry should respond to these issues

Other APA leaders taking office include:

Gregory W. Dalack, MD: Treasurer

Richard F. Summers, MD: Trustee-at-Large

Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD: Early Career Psychiatrists Trustee-at-Large

Eric M. Plakun, MD: Area 1 Trustee

Cheryl D. Wills, MD: Area 4 Trustee

Annette M. Matthews, MD: Area 7 Trustee

Rana Elmaghraby, MD: Resident-Fellow Member Trustee-Elect


Dr. Altha Stewart takes office as APA President, the first African-American to lead the organization [press release]. American Psychiatric Association. Updated May 10, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2018.