Skip to content

Dr. Rebecca W. Brendel Is Named APA President-Elect

  • February 12, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2021 – The members of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) have chosen Rebecca W. Brendel, M.D., J.D., as the medical society’s next president-elect. The results were released today but are not official until the APA Board of Trustees confirms them at its March meeting.

Dr. Brendel is director of the Master’s Degree Program at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, of which she is also an associate director. She bases her clinical work in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital where she is the director of Law and Ethics at the Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior. She is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

An APA Distinguished Fellow, Brendel is currently chair of APA’s Ethics Committee, vice-chair of the Massachusetts Medical Society Committee on Ethics, Grievances, and Professional Standards, and a member of the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. She has also previously served as a parliamentarian of the APA Board of Trustees, member and Chair of the APA Committee on Bylaws, member of the APA Conflict of Interest Committee, and member of the APA delegation to the AMA.

“As a proud member of APA for nearly two decades, I am honored to have been elected to help lead this organization,” Brendel said. “We have right now an unprecedented opportunity to advance psychiatric treatment in order to improve the lives of persons with mental illness, and to address the challenges before us to set the path forward for psychiatry’s promising future.”

“Congratulations to Dr. Brendel and the other candidates on their election,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H. “Dr. Brendel has been involved with the APA in so many different capacities over the years, and I look forward to working with her and all the newly elected APA leaders in the coming years to advance psychiatry and the APA.”

Among the priorities Dr. Brendel named during her campaign were parity and practice; member engagement; and accountability, professionalism, and self-regulation. She will assume the office of president in May 2022 at the APA Annual Meeting.

“Dr. Brendel’s dedication and passion for psychiatry will greatly benefit the APA during her tenure,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “APA members and the profession of psychiatry will be well-served by her leadership.”

Dr. Brendel earned her medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. She completed her psychiatry residency at Massachusetts General and McLean Hospitals, a forensic psychiatry fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and an ethics faculty fellowship at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. She is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.

Brendel’s term as president-elect of the APA will begin this May at the conclusion of the APA Annual Meeting, when current President-Elect Vivian Pender, M.D., begins her one-year term as president.

Other successful APA leadership candidates who will take office after the APA Annual Meeting in May 2021 include:

  • Secretary
    Sandra M. DeJong, M.D., MSc.
  • Early Career Psychiatrist (ECP) Trustee
    Elie Aoun, M.D., M.R.O.
  • Minority/Underrepresented Representative (M/UR) Trustee
    Felix Torres, M.D., M.B.A.
  • Area 1 Trustee
    Eric M. Plakun, M.D.
  • Area 4 Trustee
    Cheryl D. Wills, M.D.
  • Area 7 Trustee
    Mary Hasbah Roessel, M.D.
  • Resident-Fellow Member Trustee-Elect (RFMTE)
    Urooj Yazdani, M.D.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit

Medical leadership for mind, brain and body.

Join Today