Authors: Lance Seberhagen and Nikki Blacksmith
PTCMW was established in March 1977. Only one person has been a continuous member of PTCMW since Day One. That member is Dr. Lance Seberhagen, Director of Seberhagen & Associates, Vienna, VA. He is a Founding Member of PTCMW and has held various positions in PTCMW over the years, including Recorder (1977), President (1989-90), and Calendar Chair (1982-2017). In 2014, he received the PTCMW Service Award for his service to PTCMW.
PTCMW celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017. As part of that celebration, Dr. Nikki Blacksmith, PTCMW’s past Newsletter Editor, interviewed Dr. Seberhagen to recall some highlights from PTCMW’s first 40 years.
1. To begin, tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I was born in New York City and grew up in Scarsdale, NY (about 20 miles north of NYC). My dad worked for an advertising agency on Madison Avenue, just like Mad Men on TV. In 1958, we moved to Minnesota when my dad joined an advertising agency in Minneapolis, and I attended high school there. My dad’s work got me interested in consumer psychology, but he warned me not to go into advertising because it was too cutthroat (like Mad Men). Eventually, I found my way to industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology.
I earned degrees at Brown University (BA, psych), Southern Methodist University (MA, I-O psych), and University of Minnesota (PhD, I-O psych). While at SMU, I worked as a Personnel Analyst for the Dallas Civil Service Department – in the same building where Ruby shot Oswald. While at the University of Minnesota, I worked as the Test R&D manager for the Minnesota State Personnel Department. I hired several other Minnesota graduate students to work in my unit, including Norm Peterson (later a PTCMW President), Ron Page, Gail Drauden, and Jean Barsaloux, all of whom became PhDs in I-O, plus Bob Etzioni (MS in I-O, George Washington University).
As part of my duties for the State of Minnesota, I got a grant from the U.S. Civil Service Commission (USCSC) to write a book on Legal Aspects of Personnel Selection in the Public Service, which IPMA published in 1973. As part of my work on the book, I made several trips to Washington, DC to meet with Steve Bemis, Chief Psychologist at OFCC (later OFCCP); Jim Sharf, Chief Psychologist at EEOC; and various I-Os at USCSC (now OPM). I liked DC so much that I moved there in October 1973 to work as an I-O consultant for Planning Research Corporation in McLean, VA. From December 1976 to present, I have had my own I-O consulting and expert witness practice as Seberhagen & Associates in Vienna, VA.
2. As a Founding Member, can you tell us about the impetus for starting PTCMW?
When I moved to DC in 1973, I knew Steve Bemis, Jim Sharf, and a few other I-Os, but I suspected that there were many more I-Os in the DC area. The problem was how to meet them. I gradually met more local I-Os through my consulting work and attending professional conferences (e.g., APA, IPMAAC, and BNA). This helped, but there was still much room for improvement.
Steve Bemis came to the rescue in March 1977, when he called me and a few other DC I-Os to explore the possibility of starting a local I-O professional association for DC, MD, and VA. This small group of I-Os became the Founding Members of PTC/MW. (PTC/MW later changed its name to PTCMW, as described below.)
Steve was the perfect person to lead the creation of PTC/MW. He was a friendly and helpful I-O who already knew most of the I-Os in DC (and across USA) from his work for the federal government (Labor/OFCCP) and various DC consulting firms. He was also committed to the development of employee selection procedures that identified the best candidates, while maintaining equal employment opportunity. Steve felt this goal could be achieved if there were greater sharing of ideas among I-Os, lawyers, and other interested parties.
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