Meredith Turner
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MPPAW – Keeping I-O Local in Minnesota

Anna Erickson and Peter Rutigliano

Minnesota Professionals for Psychology Applied to Work (MPPAW) is a local I-O group that meets monthly in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Founded in 1998, MPPAW was created to support the open exchange of information, promote the sharing of ideas about psychology as applied to work, facilitate education, and support the advancement of the field and a science and as a profession.  The organization currently has more than 160 members.

 Meeting seven times per year (monthly excluding December, April, and summer months) with average attendance between 50 and 100 professionals and students, MPPAW benefits from a vibrant I-O community.  Members and non-members are welcome to attend meetings, with non-members paying a slightly higher fee.  The organization attracts members from eight local I-O graduate programs within the region and more than a dozen I-O Psychology consulting firms that are either headquartered in or have offices in the Twin Cities.  In addition, many corporations located in the area employ I-O psychologists to lead functions and initiatives related to human resources, talent management, employee selection, organizational effectiveness, diversity and compliance, etc.  This diverse group of talented professionals provides a strong foundation not only for membership, but also as a source of speakers for its monthly meetings.  In addition, MPPAW brings in at least one nationally recognized speaker each year, partnering with Minnesota State University at Mankato to help cover expenses.  (A list of recent speakers is listed on the MPPAW website:

Learning from Failure

Although it is currently a thriving organization, MPPAW’s success can be attributed in part to lessons learned from failures of its predecessors. Two previous Industrial/Organizational Psychology organizations, Minnesota Pro-Seminar (MN Pro-Sem) and Applied Behavioral Scientists & Organizational Behaviorists (ABSORB), were successful between 1982 and 1996. However, each was unable to sustain participation and quietly disappeared. There was sentiment that the community could not sustain an organization of I-O professionals.

However, in 1998, Minnesota’s I-O community tried again, this time with the goal to form a more sustainable organization. A steering committee was formed lead by Ronald Page (MPPAW’s first president) and included Leaetta Hough, Deniz Ones, Sidney Teske, Kevin Nilan, Mark Schmit, and Mick Sheppick, Norman Peterson, and Connie Wanberg.  By reaching out to other local I-O groups around the country, they identified key drivers of local I-O group success and used these to define the mission, membership, structure, processes, and finances, of the organization. This resulted in a set of bylaws that clearly communicated the mission and functioning of the organization. Key components of these bylaws include a clear purpose for the organization, inclusive membership requirements, and transition of leadership to ensure the organization would not fade away when a key leader moves away or moves on.

Organizational Sustainability through Inclusion and Succession

Rather than including only I-O psychologists, MPPAW embraces the diversity of the local consulting, practice, and academic community by welcoming all who are interested in psychology applied to work, and its membership includes I-O as well and counseling psychologists as well as individuals with no formal psychological training. Meetings bring together students, faculty, consultants and other practitioners to eat, drink, network and learn, and offer continuing education credits for those who are licensed by partnering with the Minnesota Board of Psychology.

Unlike METRO, The New York Metropolitan Association for Applied Psychology, whose leaders commit to a four year term (Shapiro, Erikson & Farmer, 2016), MPPAW officer’s commit to a two year term: the first year shadowing in an “elect” position, and the second in the primary leadership role.  This planned transference of power ensures continuity and sustainability of the organization year over year.

Member Benefits

As MPPAW has evolved over the years, it has initiated a number of programs designed to support networking and learning of its members.  One such program is the MPPAW mentoring program.  Each year approximately two dozen mentors are matched with students and early career professionals.  Broad goals for the mentoring program include:

  • Support the advancement of the field of applied psychology by helping to grow new professionals in the field.
  • Facilitate education and information exchange among practitioners at different levels of career experience.
  • Provide informal advisers to help emerging professionals succeed and grow in the MPPAW environment.

MPPAW’s mentoring program formally runs from October through May each year, and kicks off with an orientation for all participants followed by discussion and identification of joint goals.  Mentoring pairs agree to meet once per month during the months of October to May to discuss questions, concerns and relevant professional issues.  The program is designed for reciprocal learning, with mentors providing career advice, direction, feedback, and support while their protégés share their own expertise and interests with their mentors. 

In addition to its monthly meetings, MPPAW offers full day training workshops at discounted prices for its members.  Examples of these include Hogan Assessment Certification, OPQ Certification, Statistical Analysis using R (led by Adam Beatty and Jeff Jones), and Building High Performing Teams Certification Workshop (led by Gordy Curphy). 

For more information about MPPAW or to join our mailing list, visit the MPPAW website  TIP also profiled MPPAW in its October 2003 issue  We always welcome visitors to our monthly meetings, so stop by if you’re in town!


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