One of my favorite events during the Annual Assembly each year is breakfast with the AAHPM Presidents – past, present and future. It’s a tradition that is meaningful to all who attend, although I suspect the reasons vary among the group. For our incoming president, Sean Morrison, this informal “coffee talk” provides an opportunity to gain information and perspective. For our current president, Gail Cooney, whose term ends later today, it is a time of transition when support and collegiality offers a glimpse of what life after years of ascension and heavy engagement in “all things AAHPM” looks like. For our past presidents it is a time to reconnect and reflect about past accomplishments, continuing challenges and their ongoing leadership journey. For Executive VP Porter Storey and I it is a time to honor the past and hear ideas about the future.
What is the role of a past president? To be honest, many professional societies haven’t quite figured this out. Too often past presidents are treated as if they have “retired” even though nearly all remain interested, willing, and able to stay engaged. Consider for a moment the depth of experience and knowledge these individuals have accumulated through their years of involvement in AAHPM. They have spent hundreds (probably thousands) of hours serving in special interest groups, task forces, and committees; participating in strategic planning, budgeting, board development, external relationship building, and advocacy; navigating complex issues where diplomacy and exceptional leadership, resulting in tremendous advancement of our Academy and the broader field.
This amazing amount of volunteer time and talent is truly “a gift” to our Academy. It requires tremendous dedication and balance amid lives that are already overloaded with numerous personal and professional commitments. The wealth of experience and insights these leaders bring to the presidential breakfast table is powerful and awe inspiring. They smile, laugh, and engage in thoughtful discussion. They see and appreciate how their efforts through the years have made a difference.
So while it’s nice to appreciate and recognize our AAHPM presidents for what they accomplished in the past, it is even more critical to keep them connected to what we are doing today. And although our annual breakfast truly is a “breakfast of champions,” it also symbolizes the ongoing engagement, enthusiasm, and support our past presidents continue to offer through their involvement as senior advisors to current committees, mentors to junior faculty, contributors to new products and programs, and in so many other ways throughout the year.
There is no “pasture” for past presidents—at least not one at on the AAHPM farm (-:
—Steve Smith, Executive Director/CEO, AAHPM