Past President's Message

April 2015 Newsletter Article

David Keller

David Keller
Immediate Past President

Academic Pediatric Association
Thanks for the Memories
David Keller

"Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:"
- Shakespeare, The Tempest

Wow. My three years as President-Elect, President and Immediate Past President of the APA have just flown by. For me, it has been a wonderful opportunity to meet our members from all over the country, to support the great work that our members do in education, research, health care delivery and public policy and advocacy, and work with a tremendous group of Board members and staff who really care about making things better for children and their families. Before I melt "into thin air" (to quote the Bard), I wanted to take a minute of your time to review what we've managed to accomplish over the last few years, and to lay out some challenges for our Association in the coming years.

The good news is that the state of the Association is strong. When I started my term in 2012, we were just emerging from the Great Recession, with an exciting new strategic plan and a budget deficit. Working with Connie MacKay and the management team at Degnon Associates, we now have stabilized expenses and have enhanced revenues to balance the budget. We have a new management contract in place, allowing us to plan how and when we will be able to expand services to our members. This will serve us well, as we develop our next 5-year plan for our Association in 2017.

The programs that we offer have grown and matured, allowing us to meet the needs of more and more of our members. When I started in 2012, we had Educational Scholars, New Century Scholars and Young Investigators. In 2013, we added the Research Scholars program and now hope to initiate a Quality Scholars program within the next year. While funding for some of these programs has waxed and waned, our organizational commitment to career development has been unwavering. I am certain that we will be able to sustain these programs (and develop a program for Policy Scholars) over the coming years. It will, however, be a continuing challenge fund and operationally support these programs in an era of fiscal restraint. Somehow, it feels like we always face this problem, and, as in the past, I know that our Board members will rise to the challenge.

Our commitment to child health policy and advocacy has also grown and matured. In 2013, I was proud to hear Benard Dreyer commit our Association to support policies and advocacy that would reduce child poverty in America. Since then, the Poverty Task Force has worked with the AAP, the Century Foundation and many others to highlight the impact that economic disparities have on child health. We've delivered testimony on gun violence in the US Senate, sponsored a Child Health Policy conference with our colleagues at AcademyHealth, joined the National Quality Forum and helped to reorganize the Pediatric Policy Council and the Federation of Pediatric Organizations, all in an effort to improve the health of children through changes in public policy. This year, Mark Shuster and Paul Chung spearheaded efforts on family leave, using data to drive policy change. As the late Joel Alpert said, advocacy is the core of the APA. I am confident that my successors will maintain that legacy in our research, education and health care delivery work.

There will always be challenges to small Associations like the APA; our members are working in a rapidly evolving health care system and it would be naive to think that we completely understand how those changes will impact General Academic Pediatrics. Over the past 3 years, I have watched our members rise to the challenge on many occasions. I look forward to cheering you all on as the next generation rises into leadership and onto the Board. Indeed, it is imperative that you do so. I can assure you that, if you take on the task, the rewards will outweigh the burdens of office. I've had a lot of fun as your Member/Region chair, your Treasurer and your President. You should do so as well.

Thank you all for the opportunity to serve as your President. I'll see you in San Diego!

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