President and CEO's Blog

By Daniel Gentry, PhD, MHA posted 04-28-2021 09:33

Spring Greetings AUPHA Colleagues:

This past month I completed my first year as President and CEO of AUPHA. I have been thinking quite a bit about what we’ve accomplished in the past 12 months and what we need to do moving forward.

I am proud of how we’ve responded to the COVID-19 pandemic - listening closely and intentionally; pivoting to everything virtual; launching new complimentary monthly webinars and town halls; collecting nearly 30 new case studies for applied learning; temporarily reducing dues by 10% across all membership categories; producing the Well-Being and Resilience Tool Kit in collaboration with Quint Studer; and ending Fiscal Year 2020, a pandemic year, with $42K net revenue.

I am also pleased with the progress we’ve made implementing AUPHA’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan and, again - in spite of the pandemic. These continuing efforts, and the successes so far, are due to all of you - over 140 member volunteers and our dedicated AUPHA Board members who are leading the many workgroups.

I am grateful for the ways in which we have strengthened relationships with ACHE/HAP, NAHSE, CAHME, the David A. Winston Health Policy Fellowship, and other important partners and collaborators, and forged new or renewed relationships with AcademyHealth, Academy of Management, and the Studer Community Institute.

What I may be most proud of, and most excited about for AUPHA’s future, is our progress in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Consistent with AUPHA’s new Philosophy Statement adopted last August, I believe that DEI must be at the front and center of everything we do, and dispersed throughout everything we do.

I was incredibly proud of the statement AUPHA released last summer regarding violence against Blacks and other people of color, racism, bias, and discrimination; and advocating for social justice.

We are an organization that is looking more and more like the communities we serve and represent, and more and more like our membership: the AUPHA staff is 57% female, 43% people of color, and 14% LGBTQ; as of this June, our AUPHA Board will be 47% female, 41% people of color, and 6% LGBTQ. While I recognize some people don’t like “counts,” I believe that if you don’t measure it, you can’t set goals: and, that if you don’t set goals, you aren’t being intentional enough; and finally, that if you do none of the above, you can’t determine progress.

I am proud that this last year we’ve begun to take DEI into our decisions regarding vendor contracts for AUPHA; in fact, it was one of the deciding factors for selection of our new auditing firm for 2021-2026, a decision championed by our Audit Committee. Likewise, AUPHA’s proposed, newly revised Investment Policy (approved by the Finance Committee and on the Board’s agenda for approval at their May meeting) now includes a consideration for social, environmental, and governance (SEG) issues. Again, a proposal championed by one of AUPHA’s standing Board committees.

Our decision to focus on DEI through our theme of “Inclusive Excellence” for the 2021 Academic Program and Practitioner Workshop in March was a resounding success. The keynote, panel, and interactive sessions “hit the mark” exactly as Dr. Laurie Shanderson and the Planning Committee intended; and the Workshop scored a 4.9/5.0 for overall satisfaction. Equally important was the decision by the Annual Meeting Planning Committee, led by Dr. Suzanne Wood, to make DEI an embedded theme within “Transformational Innovation: A Prism of Opportunities.” And what better way to highlight the DEI emphasis than the recently announced Pre-Annual Meeting plenary by Dr. Adaeze Enekwechi, “Reflections on Recent Lessons in Advancing Health Equity During a Public Health Emergency,” co-sponsored by NAHSE.

Like our mission, vision, values, and philosophy, and similar to our major events, AUPHA’s Strategic Plan has DEI as both a priority and interwoven throughout the plan. For example, DEI is one of the 25 domains in the Body of Knowledge (BOK), but it is also an element in many other domains like HR, population health, professionalism, and leadership. DEI is likely to play prominent roles in the planned Leadership Academy and Art of Teaching Institute. Issues of both DEI and disparities in health will be covered in the Biennial Trends Report to be produced in collaboration with CAHME. And most excitedly from my perspective, the work coming out of several areas of the Plan, and the focused work on AUPHA as the “Voice of the Profession,” will provide a foundation for work we must do on the pipeline for students and faculty.

I want to thank Dr. Rupert Evans, recently retired from both Governors State University and the AUPHA Board, for chairing the Diversity with Inclusion Committee of the Board. The Board will soon name his successor. I look forward to working with this critically important group to champion our DEI initiatives - both front and center, and throughout and together across the Strategic Plan and all AUPHA activities.