President's Column: Gratitude and Excitement

Published Friday, February 7, 2014 9:00 am
by David C. Steffens, MD, MHS, AAGP President
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AAGP President David C. Steffens

For my last President’s Column, I thought I’d focus on two themes: gratitude and excitement.

First, I have to thank many people who have contributed to the organization’s success this year and those who have helped me personally as President. There are many lists of individuals, who have helped AAGP move forward this year. First and foremost is AAGP’s terrific staff, led by our CEO, Christine deVries. Chris has worked unceasingly for the organization, making day-to-day decisions to keep things moving, serving our members, and often being the face of AAGP to other organizations. Marj Vanderbilt has continued to fill her role as deputy executive director and governmental affairs representative, and has also handled industry sponsorships and related activities in conjunction with the Annual Meeting. In addition, this year, she has taken on governance-related responsibilities, including organizing Board and Executive Committee meetings. Kate McDuffie has done terrific work directing our communications and marketing efforts. Denise Disque, in addition to her usual duties of managing the office, played key roles in supporting the Annual Meeting, and assisting with abstract submissions, continuing medical education, and faculty requirements. We were thrilled to bring on board Natalie Shuster as Manager of Marketing and Membership. Natalie has led several initiatives to improve outreach to non-psychiatrist member prospects and to generally improve our image. Finally, many of you have worked with Carrie Stankiewicz over the years in her role supporting governance and key committees. While she transitioned away from these roles this year, we are fortunate to retain her expertise as a consultant. Thanks again to our terrific staff. On a personal note, each of these fine people has helped me tremendously during my tenure as President.

It would be impossible to single out our many members by name who have worked to improve AAGP this year, so I won’t try. I do feel a need to thank members of the Executive Committee: my partner Laura Dunn (Secretary-Treasurer), Paul Kirwin (Past President), Susan Schultz (President-Elect), and Melinda Lantz (Secretary-Treasurer-Elect). Without their thoughtful input, I would have been hard-pressed to carry out my presidential duties. Beyond the Executive Committee, I want to thank our terrific AAGP Board members, Committee Chairs and individual committee members and all who served on our caucuses and interest groups, all of whom have worked tirelessly throughout the year to advance our missions. Speaking of hard work, I have to give a special nod to those serving on AAGP’s administrative committees, the Annual Meeting Program Committee, the Continuing Education Committee, the Awards Committee and the Nominations Committee, whose labors ensure that our Annual Meeting is a success and that the leadership taking us into the future is strong. This summary of the contributions of our members does not do justice to the many hours of work put in this year. Please join me in recognizing your fellow members and thanking them for the positive impact they have had on the AAGP.

As I indicated, I am both thankful and excited. I am excited about our future, and more immediately, about our upcoming Annual Meeting.  As I contemplate turning the reins of leadership over, I know that our future is bright. Our Incoming President Susan Schultz is a dynamic and energetic leader, and Melinda Lantz is a pillar of determined focus and strong work ethic and an AAGP champion who will serve us well as Secretary-Treasurer. Looking beyond 2014, with the recent election of Gary Small as President-Elect and Amita Patel as Secretary-Treasurer-Elect, I know that AAGP will be in good hands.

Finally, I am so excited about our Annual Meeting in Orlando next month. We kick things off March 14 with a Program for Training Directors as well as special events for general participants, our ever-popular Review Course and a Neuroscience Teaching Day focused on sleep and circadian rhythms. In response to your feedback calling for more plenary sessions that bring us all together, we have three plenaries this year: an opening plenary, a policy-focused plenary on mental health and violence, and a special plenary featuring Kathy Cronkite. We are also introducing new aspects such as a modern Wi-Fi Lounge and charging stations in addition to our Cyber Café. We’ll have larger raffle awards in the Exhibit Hall for which you must be present to win. Finally, to help geriatric psychiatrists meet their Maintenance of Certification self-assessment requirement, we will offer a self-assessment component (8.0 self-assessment CME credits) to those physician attendees with a full conference registration. Wow!

In sum, it has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as your President this year. There are so many individuals who support our organization, and in my role, I have been fortunate to work with many of them. Thank you for your support, and I’ll see you in Orlando!

Dave