I am sometimes asked by younger allergists about how my professional career led me to where I am today. My reply is to quote Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” One of those early forks led me to the College, when as a FIT I had the opportunity to present oral abstracts at the 1978 and 1979 annual meetings. I continued to frequently attend College meetings and came to know, respect, and have the benefit of mentorship from several leaders of the College from that era: Rufus Lee, Jack Selner, and Don Aaronson, just to name a few. The collegiality and guidance extended by these former College presidents to me, as a young allergist at the beginning of my career, exemplify what the College is all about. Now 42 years later the College is a part of the fabric of my life in ways I could not have imagined. I am deeply honored to be nominated for the Gold Headed Cane Award.
I have been a member of the College since 1980 and became a Fellow in 1990. Highlights of my service to the College include being nominated by the ACAAI to the Joint Council (JCAAI) board in 2004, leading me to become JCAAI president (2010-2012) when it was still an independent organization representing both the ACAAI and the AAAAI. I helped to facilitate the reorganization and merger of the JCAAI to become the Advocacy Council of the College during my tenure as ACAAI president (2014-2015). I have served as executive director of the Advocacy Council for the past five years succeeding Don Aaronson MD, FACAAI, who was a co-founder of the JCAAI and served in that capacity for over twenty years. Among my most significant advocacy accomplishments is representing the College to assure that allergy extracts were given special consideration in the USP <797> Chapter on Compounding. I also serve as the advisor to the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) Editorial Panel and the RVS Update Committee (RUC) for the ACAAI.
Other milestones of my service include chairing the Public Relations Committee and Marketing Task Force during the development of the Find an Allergist, Find Relief marketing campaign and the reorganization of the College’s web site for the dual purpose of educating the public while providing improved services to our membership, including the Find an Allergist functionality. During my term as College president, I saw the launch and implementation of the Vision 20/20 strategic plan resulting in advocacy becoming a benefit of College membership, a redesigned patient website, refreshed College brand, change in annual meeting planning to include committee chairs, the launch of the College Learning Connection and committee reorganization. The committee reorganization was among my proudest accomplishments since it helped ensure diversity and inclusion in those participating in this critical College activity.
I have been honored by the College with the Distinguished Fellow Award and being chosen to give the Bela Schick Lecture is a cherished milestone of my career. I have served on numerous ACAAI committees, task forces, and workgroups and chaired 14 of them. These include the Annual Program, Communications, Public Relations, International, and Environmental Allergy Committees. I also co-chaired the Environment Practice Parameter Work Group and served on the Annals editorial board.
Beyond the College, I am co-founder (along with Stephen Pollard MD, FACAAI) and chief medical officer of Family Allergy & Asthma. Based in Louisville, KY, FAA is a multi-state practice with 50 allergists and 18 advanced practitioners with 68 offices in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. I serve on the board of the World Allergy Organization and the editorial board of the WAO Journal. I also serve on several other boards, including the University of Louisville President’s Council and the Norton Healthcare board of trustees. I am a clinical professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine where I attended Medical School and did my pediatric residency and fellowship in allergy/immunology. For over 20 years I served as the section chief of Pediatric Allergy & Immunology.
I live in Anchorage, KY with my wife Lelia and have four grown children and four grandchildren.
I would like to close with a quote from a former College president and Gold Headed Cane Award recipient, Joe Bellanti MD, FACAAI, in his presentation for the College’s 75th anniversary in 2017. The College, its leaders, and its members have “a strong desire for good people to do something good of the patients whom we serve.” Great words to live by.
I thank the Gold Headed Cane Committee and Nominating Committee for nominating me for this honor.