Distinguished Fellowship status is awarded to outstanding psychiatrists who have made broad and significant contributions to the psychiatric profession and their communities, and is the highest membership honor the American Psychiatric Association bestows upon members. Excellence, not mere competence, is the hallmark of an APA Distinguished Fellow.

APA Board of Trustees has  formally approved the following members from TSPP to be elected to the 2024 Class of APA Distinguished Fellows:

  • Melissa Allen, DO – Houston Chapter
  • Octavio Martinez, MD – Austin Chapter
  • Derek Neal, MD – Galveston-Brazoria Chapter 

If you are considering applying for Distinguished Fellowship status, please review the DFAPA requirements and the District Branch Guide here and then reach out to your Chapter Representative that serves on the TSPP Distinguished Fellowship Committee to discuss your interest. If you don’t have a local chapter representative, contact TSPP via email at TSPP@txpsych.org, and one of our committee members will be designated to serve as your advisor.


  • Michael Arambula, MD, Pharm D – Bexar County Chapter
  • Debra Atkisson, MD Tarrant Chapter DrDAtkisson@aol.com
  • Melissa Eshelman, MD Austin Chapter meshelman@austin.utexas.edu
  • Edythe Harvey, MD Galveston-Brazoria Chapter eharvey483@aol.com
  • Fructuoso Irigoyen-Rascon, MD South Texas Chapter firigoyen@juno.com
  • Chad Lemaire, MD Houston Chapter clemaire@legacycommunityhealth.org
  • Osman Ali, MD North Texas Chapter fellowship@ntspp.org
  • J. Clay Sawyer, MD Lone Star Chapter 1cdsawyer@sbcglobal.net

In addition to belonging to APA for at least eight consecutive years as a General Member or Fellow, and being Board Certified in Psychiatry, applicants should demonstrate excellence in a number of areas. Since Distinguished Fellowship is an APA honor, length and quality of service in the activities of the Chapter, District Branch (TSPP), and APA are critical. Other categories in which the nominee may demonstrate excellence are: involvement in other medical and professional organizations; participation in non-compensated mental health and medical activities of social significance; participation in community activities unrelated to income-producing activities; clinical contributions; administrative contributions; teaching contributions; scientific and scholarly publications. An applicant must also have letters of support from three current Distinguished Fellows or Distinguished Life Fellows to accompany their application.

Generally by mid-February each year, APA will notify TSPP of the opening of the application process and provide access to the APA portal. TSPP will then be able to direct qualified members to the portal to complete their applications online and upload letters of recommendation. TSPP will review all fully completed applications at the Spring Meeting to decide whether or not to nominate the member to APA for Distinguished Fellow status. The APA makes final determination of Approval or Disapproval of the applications the TSPP Distinguished Fellowship Committee and Executive Council approve for nomination. Members not nominated by TSPP or who did not complete the application process are encouraged to continue collaborating with their advisors on strategies and opportunities to enhance future applications.