Volunteering Expert, Dr. Richard Flicker, Takes Lead for Baton Rouge Area Society Psychologists

Dr. Richard Flicker, an industrial–organizational psychologist who is heavily involved in his community and volunteering, will serve as president of the Baton Rouge Area Society of Psychologists, known as BRASP. This will be the second term for Dr. Flicker, who also served as president in 1998. He was elected while being absent from the meeting for the first time in two years, he explained to the Times. Even so. Dr. Flicker is a strong advocate of community involvement. “I believe that there are many ways each and every psychologist can fulfill the challenge issued by George Miller’s 1969 address to the American Psychological Association –– to give psychology away,” Dr. Flicker said. “Volunteerism in the form of active membership in civic, religious and charitable organizations is one way to give psychology away. It doesn’t always require being the leader, but the visibility and influence afforded by leadership roles allows us to have a greater positive impact,” he said.

“The 80/20 Rule – not the one applying to determining adverse impact in employment discrimination cases – but the one which states that 20% of the members of any group contribute 80% of the work ––or money or time. We need to be sure that we’re in that 20%
and not the other 80% who mainly complain.”

Dr. Flicker’s goals for his BRASP presidency include efforts to have interesting and informative speakers at the monthly meetings.

At their February meeting, BRASP hosted Erica McLellan, Assistant Attorney General and Section Chief of the Sexual Predator Unit at Louisiana Department of Justice. She discussed the role of psychologists in this area of the criminal justice system, the psychological impact of sex crimes on the victims and their families, and what is involved in the investigation/prosecution.

For the March meeting, Morgan Lamandre, Esq., President & CEO, Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, will speak about advocacy, counseling and legal services available to youth and adult survivors of sexual violence. For April, the speakers will be Dr. John Kirwan, Executive Director of LSU’s Pennington Biomedical ResearchCenter and George Bray, Jr. Endowed Super Chair in Nutrition.

Dr. Flicker also wants to make meetings fun and welcoming by adding a couple of features to our monthly agenda, including a “Question of the Month” and a “Joke of the Month.”

“I’ve tried to find jokes that are relevant to the speaker and/or topic of the speaker’s presentation,” said Dr. Flicker, “and have sometimes modified jokes to make them relevant. Some get big chuckles, and of course, many get groans because they’re just corny.”

He will also create a working budget, review the by-laws, and wants to improve monthly attendance and increase membership.

What other leadership activities has he been involved with over the last years?

“Too many. I am the first president of the Brotherhood of the new Unified Jewish Congregation of Baton Rouge. A year ago the two Jewish congregations in Baton Rouge merged into one congregation.

“As an I/O psychologist, I saw this as a challenge in organizational development – same challenge the congregation faced – overcoming any ‘us vs. them’ mindset when two former entities became one.

“The biggest project was chairing the annual Christmas Shopping Spree at Macy’s for about three dozen children in the Big Buddy program,” he said. “The I/O psychologist in me kicked in as I came up with several ways to improve the implementation of the event itself. The feedback afterwards was tremendous as far as how organized the event came off. And we exceeded ou fundraising goal, giving each of the Big Buddy kids more money (Macy’s gift cards) than ever before to put gifts under the Christmas tree for their entire families…”.

Dr. Flicker is also president-elect of the Exchange Club of Baton Rouge and chair of the annual Adopt-A-Teacher project which in 26 years has provided grants to 622 new elementary school teachers in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, grants totaling in excess of a quarter of a million dollars.

“As a small civic club, this project has only been possible because of the generosity of several businesses, other non-profit groups and individuals,” Dr. Flicker said. “I’m proud to say that BRASP has made a significant financial contribution to this project for the past 25 years, as have several individual psychologists. In return, BRASP (and those psychologists) are listed in our major newspaper, The Advocate, as well as being listed on the printed program and having their name read aloud at the School Board meeting which is broadcast live and rebroadcast repeatedly on the local cable access channel.

Dr. Flicker is also a past president and the current Treasurer is the Inter-Civic Council of Greater Baton Rouge which is comprised of representatives of over 30 civic and charitable non-profit organizations.

“In my role as treasurer, I play an active role in planning and implementing the annual Golden Deeds Award banquet, now in its 82nd consecutive year with attendance ranging from 300 to 400 plus people every year.”

He also volunteers for the American Red Cross and serves as a member of the Professional Advisory Group for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center’s soon to be launched Clinical Pastoral Education graduate degree program.

What is he doing professionally these days?

“Well, after the spring semester in 2020, I resigned my full-time faculty position in the Psychology Department at Southern University,” he said. “I initially was hired in 2001 to teach full time for one year after a tenured faculty member decided to retire one week before the fall began. At that time, I was teaching half-time in the Management Department at LSU. Somehow that one year gig at Southern lasted nineteen years; the first two of which I continued half-time at LSU in the evenings. People keep asking me if I’m retired. My response has been, I’m not retired; I’m just tired.’ ”

“Since leaving Southern, my part-time consulting practice has been a nice supplement to my social security check since volunteer work doesn’t pay very much – at least not in dollars.

Richard Flicker, PhD changed his path from math & physics to psychology after reading Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. “I couldn’t put it down,” he said “It changed my life.” He attended City College of City University of New York, and majored in consumer and industrial psychology. He took this interest with him to Purdue. There he studied with respected IO professors,

Tiffin and McCormick. From the first day, he was thrown into teaching three sections of Introductory. “It was the last thing I thought I’d do. This will come as a shock to anyone who knows me; I had a real phobia of public speaking.” Toward his senior year, he was supervising 16 grad students who taught 4000 students. “That’s how the academic setting became a career path.” 

In 1975, he moved to Shreveport from New York and took a position at the new, small campus of LSU-S, where the priorities were first teaching, then community service, and then research. APA President George Miller’s ’69 message of “giving away psychology,” had had a profound affect on him. But it wasn’t until LSU-S, and the friendly, philosophical brown bag luncheons where faculty talked about community involvement, that he found his way of giving.

Dr. Flicker began public speaking, his first talk at the Exchange Club. They asked him back and before long, he was President. It was his first real leadership position and a connection that remains with him today, among his many activities. He currently serves as President of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast District Exchange Clubs, a multi-group organization, just one in a
long list of leadership roles for him.

Involved in his community through the Exchange Club, plus teaching, consulting, speaking, and the training he provided in “Leadership Shreveport” program, he became willingly immersed in his new culture. All this, he said, “acquainted me with my community. We had the Mayor, we had the Police Chief, we had the Fire Chief, we were doing projects with the Congressman. That’s what exposed me to the community and made me realize, ‘It’s my community.’”

What does he think are the most important issues facing psychology right now?

“Plato wrote that ‘our need will be the real creator.’ That phrase eventually morphed into the proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ The COVID-19 pandemic forced individuals and organizations in almost all sectors of our society to adapt, or go extinct. Many changes made necessary by the pandemic had unanticipated silver linings – being extremely positive,” Dr.  Flicker said.

“However, like all things in life, with the positives there are negatives/side effects. The role of psychologists as change agents, whether on an individual or large scale organizational basis, provides incredible opportunities to contribute to the overall mental health of our nation. Technology already created a generation or two of people who don’t know how to function in face-to-face social situations. While technology became an asset as the pandemic required minimizing face-to-face contact, it further exacerbated the poor interpersonal skills required in society,” he said.

“Another challenge facing psychology is overcoming the anti-science, anti-intellectual attitude created by our recent toxic political environment. Psychologists are not alone in having to overcome the mistrust that appears to define almost half of our population. In a society where ‘alternative facts’ and ‘conspiracy theories’ are the new normal for so many people, re-establishing credibility as scientists, educators and practitioners of our profession may be the greatest issue facing psychology,” he said.

Dr. Flicker would like to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to attend BRASP and/or receive meeting notifications. He can be reached at flicker@premier.net.







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