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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

President's Letter - 4 October 2023

Dear ISPSO members,

I am writing to you in my role of the President of our organization.
I feel honored that you voted for me to lead ISPSO in 2023-2025. And yet I humbly realize that I have just two years to do my best to serve the membership in the best possible way.
My primary focus as your President is to lead the Board and our organization to fulfill its primary task: psychoanalytic study of organizations.

ISPSO is a unique home for professionals interested in exploring how the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis can be academically researched and practically applied to studying organizations and our wider society. ISPSO is also a very special space for forming professional alliances and making long-standing friendships, like no other professional community that I know of. ISPSO is open to all interested in learning more about psychoanalytic underpinnings of what takes place in contemporary groups, with its polarization and clashes of civilizations. We are also keen to integrate knowledge of other disciplines and schools of thought.

As the President I will keep a close eye on the financial health of our organization, to insure it remains prosperous and self-sustaining. Here are some of the questions on my mind:

  • How can we best reconnect with our psychoanalytic roots?
  • In what ways can we convey our knowledge and experience to the organizations of today?
  • What can we do to help members gain every value of membership?
  • How can we increase members engagement in ISPSO’s life?
  • What is the best way to retain members as well as integrate newcomers?
  • These are just a few vectors orienting me and the Board in the beginning of our joint work.

As a leader, I adhere to openness, transparency, collaborative spirit and collegial decision making. In my role I am responsible for overall management. At the same time, I authorize each Director to take up his or her role fully. I am truly privileged to be working in open and dynamic collaboration with the Board dedicated to further growth of ISPSO.

Rooted in the origins of psychoanalysis and wanting to bring innovation we will focus on the three key strategic vectors:

  • Boost our Internal Communications by providing the membership with various opportunities for giving and sharing knowledge and expertise, creating spaces for reflection and containment, and stimulating initiatives to contribute to the community;
  • Develop External Communications with Doctoral Research programs, collegial organizations and potential organizational clients;
  • Consolidate our Governance and Finance Functions: align and update ISPSO governing documents (I.e. By Laws and Hand Book) and ensure our financial security.

The President and the Board are ready to work in an open, transparent, collaborative and sharing way. Here is what each Board member in his/her particular role will focus on:

Alexandra Gerny, President-Elect
The role of president-elect is quite clear: finding locations and local teams for the AMs during my presidency, and supervising (aka working together with) the treasurer. For me this is above all a time to build a solid base. A base for me in my future role, and for ISPSO as a whole. So I am very pleased to be working together with Jeff on the finances and with Nevena on by-laws and handbook. And the AMs? I’d love to hear your desires! Let me know where you would like to experience the AMs of 2026 and 2027, and why there.
Email Alexandra at:

Claudia Nagel, Past President
As past president I am very happy that Irena continues to pursue the strategic objectives of the last years, especially focusing on marketing and PR, membership communication and satisfaction. I will full heartedly support Irena and the board in these endeavors. I will also work on pursuing the conversation around membership types. In my role I will take care of the next election process as well.
Email Claudia at:

Nevena Jeremic, Administrative Director
She aims to: Maintain regular administrative duties (membership applications, renewals, members status follow up, communication with members and answering to members questions, care of the list serve and announcements, supporting other Board members, etc.);  Be active in the MMM organization, as well as in supporting other ISPSO events (regional, annual meetings, etc.)  Initiate and implement the upgraded process for updating and developing basic ISPSO documents (founding documents) – Bylaws and Handbook.
Email Nevena at:

Jeffrey Axelbank, Treasure and CE Chair
As Treasurer I have two main projects intended for the coming months.
First, I am looking at ways to reduce our currency exchange expenses. As it stands now, every payment we make incurs a currency exchange fee. One solution I am looking at is arranging an ISPSO credit card that does not include such fees, and also will earn points that can then be used to arrange for travel, thereby simultaneously reducing the amount ISPSO pays for Board travel.
A second project is to develop and propose an ISPSO Budget. This is something that has not been done for a long time, if ever. In this way the Board will be able to be more intentional about allocating our financial resources, and thereby to align finances with our strategic objectives more easily. A final, and very important undertaking, is to see that there is a succession plan for the treasurer role, as this is the last year of my term.
As Chair of the Continuing Education (CE) Committee, I will continue to arrange CE credits for our meetings. At the same time, building on the start we made making AM2022 recordings available for CE credits via the SCP platform, I will work to make AM2023 recordings similarly available, perhaps on our own platform. This project will entail working with Board members Pearl Tran who is leading the Knowledge Development Program, Aaron Nurick who is leading events development, Rica Viljoen who is leading marketing efforts, Jeremy Vine who is leading PR initiatives, and Ajeet Mathur who is arranging inter-organizational collaborations. A true team effort!
Email Jeff at:

Rica Viljoen, Marketing Director
The marketing portfolio will align to short-, medium- and long-term strategic goals of the ISPSO. While interim needs will be addressed in this portfolio; an in-depth inquiry will be conducted to understand the needs, expectation, and experience of our different ISPSO member groupings in relation to their interaction with our system, events, and offerings. We aim to listen carefully to our members and different stakeholder groupings and adjust our approach accordingly to meet evolving expectations and to ensure that we are the professional body of choice for our strategic intent and set purpose.
Ultimately, we hope that a solid scientific study that also contribute to a better understanding of multicultural differences and that it will inform strategy in terms of marketing; public relationships; future events and membership experience. We aim to be a professional body that provides a multi- disciplinary ecology (space) for members to interact, grow, share, and sense a sense of belonging, while we do the task at hand, namely focus on the psychoanalytic work and study with organizations for practitioners (consultants and leaders), academics (teachers & researchers as well as clinicians.
Interacting with our members in this way will hopefully help us to derive meta-insights about our organization and its members. It will also inform us how we can embody the different board- portfolios in a more purposeful manner and inform how we can co-create a society that we all want to belong to. We invite you actively to co-create the future society you all want, through this process. Further, we will put mechanisms in place to ensure that we understand the levels of engagement and satisfaction of our members in regards to different events and offerings.
Email Rica at:

Jeremy Vine, Public Relations Director
As Public Relations Director, my role is to improve ISPSO’s internal and external communications. Initially, my focus will be to create a more welcoming and supportive experience for new members joining ISPSO, as well as to enhance internal dialogue. This role supports Board members in their functions and collaboration on promotional messaging across activities. I aim to build relationships and publicity campaigns to promote ISPSO to diverse audiences, and to disseminate our members’ work and expertise.
Email Jeremy at:

Pearl Tran, Director of Knowledge Development Programs
Primary focus on my role as Director of Knowledge Development Program is to support, maintain and develop activities which inspire and facilitate organized learning, through utilization of the knowledge resources of the Society. As consequence, learning opportunity would be perceived as a significant benefit of the membership. The focus will be to support ongoing work as presented in my (early) message on List serve and inviting membership collaboration to create more beneficial learning events in the future.
Email Pearl at:

Aaron Nurick, Director of Regional Events
My role is events, focusing especially on continuing our development of regional events in various parts of the world. My hope is to work with organizing committees to create meaningful learning opportunities and relationships among our members and potential members in their local communities. My hope is that many of these events will be held in person. I also hope to expand our venues to new regions. In addition, I will work with my other Board colleagues to generate new knowledge and learning opportunities.
Email Aaron at:

Ajeet Mathur, Director of Inter-Organizational Collaborations
Ajeet Mathur's proposal seeking approval of the ISPSO InterOrganisational Collaborations Policy is on the Board Agenda for the Sofia meeting of the ISPSO Board. Ajeet has initiated discussions with AKRI represented by Francis Unsell for a new interorganisational collaboration agreement. Discussions are ongoing for renewal of our inter-organisational collaboration with APA (SCP Division 13) and also with TIHR where there is a change in the offing over who would represent TIHR in the next round of discussions. Metanoia in Finland (in August 2023) and Sumedhas Academy for Human Context in India (in September 2023) have also expressed interest in inter-organisational collaborations with ISPSO.
Email Ajeet at:

Dear colleagues, I very much hope you now have a clear picture of how the President and the Board intend to act to serve ISPSO to fulfill its primary task.
We invite you to bring your ideas and suggestions, engage your resources and capacities following your individual passions of being a member of ISPSO.

Please write to me to or as well as to the Board Directors in case you have any further queries.

Warmest wishes,

President of ISPSO
Irena Izotova