We are at the halfway mark of implementation of the College’s Vision 2020 strategic plan. Major infrastructure changes are in place, and there are clear signs that we have moved in a healthy direction. For example, the revamped Annual Meeting planning process is thriving and committees are revitalized. The Advocacy Council has matured into a distinguished, nimble, highly effective team, and every month more than 750,000 members of the public visit the College website. Last year there were 175,000 searches using our revamped “Find an Allergist” tool). So far, so good.
One of the core features of Vision 2020 is a well-thought-out mentorship and succession plan to help sustain the College’s momentum in the future. The first component of this involved altering the committee appointment process in 2015 to attract a more diverse pool of College members, especially its younger members and members who had not previously served on a committee. The success of this effort was evident in 2016 when 48% of new committee appointees were women and 81% were under age 45. You can apply to join a College committee now through April 15.
Another critical step toward building toward the future is to support our future College leaders, and to this end the College held its first College Leadership Summit in Chicago on March 25 and 26. All 20 Summit attendees have practiced allergy and immunology for less than eight years, and the diversity of this group was amazing. For example, some work in conventional private allergy practices, others as employee physicians, in multispecialty groups, or in military practices, and still others in settings that focus on telehealth. The one and a half day program utilized a pre-Summit application/questionnaire to help customize the curriculum, all the sessions were interactive, and a professional facilitator helped guide the process.
Sessions covered everything from College history to becoming a strong advocate for the specialty. Attendees left knowing how to use their talents to become more effective leaders, how to set realistic goals (and reach them), and how to manage teams successfully. We even dove into how to apply these skills as a practicing allergist, something we all found very valuable.
The overriding goal of the inaugural College Leadership Summit was to foster growth in the capacity of key young College members to lead in changing times. By all accounts the program was a huge success, and there is no question in my mind this meeting was a wise investment for the College at a critical stage of our Vision 2020 implementation.
Stephen A. Tilles, MD, FACAAI