Feature | Building the Pipeline of Women Leaders: The Critical Role of the BOG
Although women have served on the ACC's Board of Governors (BOG) for more than 40 years, it is only in the past decade that there has been consistent and growing representation of women on the BOG. While inclusion has been one of the fundamental values of the College from its inception, it is only through active and intentional recruitment and support of a diverse group of leaders that we are now seeing true, consistent change – change that is vital to our ability to deliver on our Mission of transforming cardiovascular care and improving heart health.
Since its founding in 1949, the BOG has played a fundamental part in helping to develop and articulate the College's values. Elected BOG leaders bear the responsibility of representing the interests of ACC members across the U.S. through bidirectional communication with the President, Board of Trustees, Member Sections and other key stakeholders. Given this charge, the inclusion of women is essential to ensuring diversity of thought, perspectives and experience.
Making BOG HERstory
The number of women on the BOG who have gone on to serve as ACC President (Mary Norine Walsh, MD, MACC; Athena Poppas, MD, MACC; and Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, MACC.
The first time that the BOG Chair role will pass from one woman to another. Save the date for ACC.23/WCC in New Orleans and plan to attend the Convocation Ceremony on Monday, March 6.
The first state to have a woman serve as governor. Jacqueline Noonan, MD, FACC, opened the proverbial doors to other woman in 1977. Kentucky is also the state with the most women who have served as Governor.
The first year a woman chaired the BOG: Ruth L. Collins-Nakai, MD, MACC.
The number of states that have not had women governors.
The total number of women currently serving as governor or governor-elect, not including BOG Chair Malissa J. Wood, MD, FACC.
Until the early 2000s there were typically only one or two women on the BOG each year (see timeline) and only one woman (Ruth L. Collins-Nakai, MD, MACC) had served as BOG Chair. However, the period between 2004-2009 could arguably be viewed as an inflection point for women and the BOG.
It was during this time that Mary Norine Walsh, MD, MACC, Athena Poppas, MD, MACC, and Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, MACC – three women who subsequently went on to become ACC President – started their terms on the BOG. We've all heard the saying: "You have to see it to be it."
Drs. Walsh, Poppas and Itchhaporia allowed us to witness firsthand a leadership path for women within the ACC. Their leadership in advancing the direction of ACC and promoting diversity within the College has shown so many women, including us, that we can "be it" and more!
For example, the passing of the presidential chain between Drs. Poppas and Itchhaporia in 2021 marked the first time that two women served back-to-back terms as ACC President. In the last two years, a record 15 women were elected to serve on the BOG.
To date, a total of 21 women Governors and Governors-Elect represent the greatest number of women ever to serve on the BOG at the same time. Next year's Convocation Ceremony will also make for another historic moment as the BOG Chair role will, for the first time ever, transition from one woman to another.
The story of women within the BOG is a testament to the power of ACC's member driven leadership and the College's commitment to deepening and strengthening diversity within its ranks and within the profession more broadly. While there is still room for improvement – there are 17 ACC Chapters yet to have a women leader – we are truly changing the field.
The directory of women who have served on the BOG (see timeline) is an impressive list of leading women who have gone on to serve in other leadership roles in both the ACC and other cardiovascular organizations and who, like Bernadine Healy, MD, FACC, and Nanette Kass Wenger, MD, MACC, have spent their lives transforming cardiovascular care. It is a privilege and an honor to watch this list continue to grow.
Women Leading the ACC's Board of Governors
This year marks the fourth time the Board of Governors (BOG) is chaired by a woman. It's the first time ever that the BOG Chair role will pass from one woman to another. And among the first five women to lead the BOG, one went on to president of ACC (so far!).
ACC Women Governors By TERM Timeline
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Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, ACC History
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