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ACC.24 Convocation Incoming President’s Address: Cathleen Biga, MSN, FACC

Cathleen Biga, MSN, FACC

Drs. Wilson, Fry, and Kramer; Past Presidents of the College; Trustees; Governors; Partner Society Leaders; Distinguished Guests, Awardees; friends and family; tonight, I am deeply humbled and privileged to stand before you as President of the American College of Cardiology.

To all of our new FACC's and AACC's, I extend my heartfelt congratulations and a warm welcome as you join our dynamic team. Your presence here marks a pivotal moment for each of you and for the College in our collective mission to reduce the global burden of heart disease.

Tonight commemorates both an end and a beginning – that is what a convocation is – but it is only part of your journey, a moment in your story. Your story, your professional journey, will be highlighted by the patients you care for, the colleagues you lift up, and the families who love you and are proud of you.

Many of you may not know my story or my professional journey. Yet like each of you, my unwavering commitment to optimal care for our patients has propelled me along a diverse and rewarding professional path.

From my roots as a cardiac nurse, to health care executive leader, to a dyad partner, to many different leadership roles in the College, I have worked arm-in-arm with my physician colleagues in building and implementing strong teams to deliver the highest value of CV care across the continuum.

My vision for the ACC is no different. We are a team focused on our profession and our patients.

Accordingly, I am 100% dedicated to my cardiovascular physician colleagues. We are true partners. Together, for more than a quarter-century, the cardiovascular team comprised of cardiologists, CV team members and non-clinical professionals have collaborated to deliver quality care, together, at the bedside, in the office, in independent practices, in health systems, in academic centers and in diverse communities.

It takes a village. It takes a team.

I need all of you to lead that team and deliver on our mission to transform CV care and improve heart health for all.

Some may view tonight as historical; I perceive it as a pivotal evolutionary step that embraces inclusivity and diversity, recognizes that exceptional cardiovascular care is a collective effort, and underscores the indispensable role of the team – our associates, pharmacists, dieticians, technicians and administrators who support the physician-led cardiovascular team.

Moreover, it serves as a testament to the College's ability to live our steadfast commitment to inclusion across all dimensions of care, including leadership.

The notion of "standing on the shoulders of giants" resonates deeply when considering the evolution of leadership and transformative change over time. Over the College's 75-year history, remarkable leaders have paved the way for progress – many of whom are here on the dais or sitting among the audience tonight.

It is an immense privilege to follow in your footsteps.

And, to my fellow Madame Presidents, Drs. Knoebel, Douglas, Walsh, Poppas and Itchhaporia, thank you! You have been transformational leaders and an inspiration to all.

As we continue on this journey together, as a team, I am reminded that all convocations commemorate a celebration of the past and a vision for the future. Tonight is no different as we celebrate our 75th year as a College and as a team, reaffirm our steadfast commitment to patient care, science, and our members with the launch of our new Strategic Plan.

Throughout this year and beyond, central to our Strategic Plan, we will capitalize on the opportunities to define quality, to deliver quality, to measure quality, to expand quality initiatives and to sustain a culture of quality in CV care centered on patients, their families and their communities.

Quality is not just a priority – it is an imperative—it must remain at the core of every action we take, every decision we make, and every endeavor we pursue.

As we recognize the College's achievements and accomplishments, we must look ahead and continue to create the culture of quality by promoting teamwork, delivering actionable knowledge, harnessing innovation and AI, delivering point of care tools and developing our future leaders, while ensuring equity and professionalism. This vision will be realized by fostering a collaborative team effort.

That must be our vision.

We are committed to delivering quality by prioritizing and executing transformative changes in care delivery. It is imperative that we redesign and implement strategies to ensure success. This includes providing physicians with the necessary leadership training and tools to effectively realize the full potential of our teams and talent of each of their contributors. Additionally, we must embrace, not fear, AI and ensure its integration enhances patient care while removing barriers to equitable care.

To achieve this goal, we must rigorously measure quality, drawing inspiration from those who have positioned ACC to be the leader in using clinical data registries to drive process improvement and deliver demonstrably better care: locally, nationally and globally.

We will expand the reach of quality initiatives domestically and internationally, while prioritizing inclusivity, championing safe work environments, ensuring pay equity and work-life balance, as well as fostering ACC values in all facets of our work. With support from our leadership bodies, the BOT, BOG, AIG, and Member Sections, and global partners, many of whom are with us tonight, we will collaboratively implement strategies to ensure equitable access to quality cardiovascular care.

We are committed to sustaining quality through lifelong learning, advocacy and ensuring competency of our cardiologists – led by a new Cardiovascular Board of Medicine – a commitment to education, science, publishing, and emphasizing truth and professionalism.

We will achieve these goals together, as a team. Your active involvement and engagement are crucial. I urge you to return to your practices, hospitals, service lines and universities to inspire your cardiovascular teams to actively engage with ACC as your professional home. Leadership and vigilance are our shared responsibilities, and together, as a team, we will lead the way forward.

It is the right time as we embark on the execution of our five-year Strategic Plan, and it highlights the vital role that unity and partnership play in driving meaningful change and progress in our profession.

To my team back in Chicago, – my physician dyads over the years – Drs. Hale, Mason, Rapacz, Hines, Lewis and Chamberlin – and to my CMI team – Greg, Nancy, Laurie, Mary Ellen, Jennifer, Therese and Tom, I extend my heartfelt gratitude and thanks. Together, we have built exceptional teams dedicated to the care for our patients. Thank you for your support and accompanying me on this remarkable journey.

To the most important team, to my amazing family – my brothers and their families who are with me tonight – honoring our parents who told us anything was possible and there were no limits to what we can achieve except those we impose upon ourselves – I love you all dearly.

To our children and their spouses – Matt & Lisa, Colleen & John, Erika & Dan, Jess & Shawn – and of course Gracie and our incredible foster son, and to my 13, yes 13, amazing grandchildren – you allowed me to do what I loved.

Being your mom and nana is an honor and a privilege. Your unwavering support has enabled me to pursue what I love most. It is an honor and a joy to be part of your lives. You have always been my top priority, and I am grateful for your understanding and love. You have taught me what is important and how to balance a demanding professional life with an enriching family life. Each of you are unique and special. You are our future!

Lon Guymon, an incredible individual who I am so lucky to call my husband, my true north, thank you for being the grounding force in my life through your calm demeanor and unwavering support. You mean everything to me, and that day in June was truly the best day of my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tonight, as we close this meeting and our convocation, let us celebrate the past and embrace to future! In these challenging and rapidly changing times, let us foster an environment of mutual respect where we support each other, enable our strengths, learn together and dedicate our energy together as a team to the care of our patients and to our professional family.

As a team, we must go forward with passion, purpose and inclusivity. As a team, together we have the power to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health for all.

Join me on this exciting journey. It promises to be an extraordinary year ahead!

Keywords: ACC Publications, ACC Scientific Session Newspaper

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