ACC.18 Convocation Speech Mary Norine Walsh, MD, MACC
Congratulations again to the new Associates and Fellows of the College, I’d like to be the first to say, "Welcome to the Team." By pursuing the designation of AACC and FACC you have signaled your interest in engaging with the American College of Cardiology in a new role and with a new level of involvement. Many of you here today have been ACC members for many years, some as Fellow-in-Training members, some as Cardiovascular Team members, some as Associate members. But today you have chosen to take that membership up a notch signaling that you want to play a more integral part in the mission and activities of the College. I welcome your interest and involvement.
Congratulations also to named lecturers and Distinguished ACC Awardees who were honored for their work earlier tonight. Each of you has made great contributions to the College, whether in your work in basic and translational science, clinical investigation, teaching, outcomes research, or other service to the College. The College is better for your leadership, dedication and expertise.
This past year has been a pivotal one for the College. We have continued with the implementation of our new governance process, ensuring that centralized authority rests with the Board of Trustees and that the important work of decision-making and recommendations is decentralized to our sections, committees and workgroups. Each of these groups is composed of members of the College who have knowledge, expertise and competencies that apply to the work at hand. As such, decisions made by these groups are robust and we have elevated the work of the College to a new height. This process has come with growing pains. Some have wondered if our new way of working has narrowed the possibilities for involvement. I can assure you that the opposite is true. Our new governance allows for input by a wider variety of members and crucial recommendations and proposals are made daily by the experts that can best render them.
One major effort this year, that has involved the work of many talented and thoughtful members is the ongoing development of our next Strategic Plan. This year will bring us to the end of our current 5-year plan and we have put a great deal of effort into making sure that the strategic priorities for 2018 are solidly in place and being executed. With the input of the Board of Governors, committee chairs, CV Team members, CV administrators and many other members along with our consultants we have made significant progress in the development of the strategic plan. For those of you not intimately involved in this process, or who have deleted all email updates, I am happy to report that on behalf of our members, the BOT has affirmed the College’s mission statement: To transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. Our consultants, a group that works with many organizations on strategic planning, thinks our mission statement is so strong that that we couldn’t improve it. Our lead consultant told us, “Every one of you, even if awakened out of a sound sleep would be able to recite your mission statement.” Why mess with success?
Also, over this past year, a lot of hard work and consideration went into refining the new vision statement for the College: A world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. Let that sink in for a minute. A world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. Pretty bold, huh? And as I mentioned on Saturday morning at the opening showcase, the core values of the College are: Patient-Centered, Teamwork and Collaboration, Professionalism and Excellence. The work of shaping our mission, vision, core values and the entire strategic plan have required the work and dedication of our College staff, trustees, governors and many others who are devoted to the ongoing success of the College as it moves forward into these next crucial years. I am grateful for your participation and your service.
It has been my distinct pleasure over this past year to partner with many of the major cardiac societies around the world and to attend and participate in their scientific congresses. These societies, and their presidents seated on the dais tonight, are valued partners of the ACC with many of their leaders serving on the Assembly of International Governors. I’ve seen some extraordinary care delivery by cardiologists and surgeons around the world. I visited the Kenyan Cardiac Society meeting in Mombassa in June just 6 weeks after the first cardiac catheterization laboratory was installed in that city of 1.2 million people. The surgeons I met there told me that the most common surgery that they now perform is coronary bypass surgery, a change from the past when congenital and valvular operations predominated. Understanding the shifts in care delivery by our partners around the world is crucial to our efforts at prevention and treatment. Our international partners, more and more, are confronting challenges in prevention and treatment that are very similar to our own.
The Irish Cardiac Society provided an exceptionally warm welcome to me and my family on my visit to Derry, last October and exchanging scientific innovation and research around cardiac transplantation and treatment of heart failure with leaders in countries around the world has been enlightening and will serve to foster future collaboration.
This has been an historic year for women in cardiology. Women are now, or soon will be, at the helm of many of the major cardiology societies in the world. Some of them are serving their societies as the first woman president. Dr Sarah Clarke, honored earlier tonight, is the first woman to serve as the president of the British Cardiac Society. Dr Barbara Casadei, vice president of the European Society of Cardiology, will soon serve as that organization’s first woman president. Dr Catherine Kells is the president of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Professor Han Yaling is president-elect of the Chinese Society of Cardiology and Professor Khalida Soomro is the first woman to serve as the president of the Pakistan Cardiac Society. I have enjoyed getting to know these talented women and I consider them friends. This has truly been the Year of the Woman in Cardiology. It is my hope that some of you newly minted women FACCs and AACCs will set your cap for similar leadership roles and follow in the footsteps of these talented leaders.
We have had an extraordinary year of collaboration with our sister cardiovascular societies in the US. I’d like to acknowledge the leadership of the many organizations with whom ACC has collaborated this year: their presidents sit behind me on the dais. We have collaborated in many matters of policy, science, and education. Together we have worked to improve patient care and patient safety and improve outcomes. I look forward to the exciting new collaborations we can foster in the coming years.
This has been an extraordinary year for me personally. I have had opportunities and experiences that have shaped me as a person, a clinician, a scientist and an educator. And I have many people to thank for their contributions.
First, I want to thank my fellow trustees. I will be eternally proud of how our board embraced a new governance structure, focused on strategy and held each other accountable during a sea change that has put the College on a new course. In lockstep, our fantastic College staff has embraced this new model and partnered with members to advance the College’s priorities. Time won’t allow for me to thank all the staff individually, but I’d like to again acknowledge the incredible contributions of Shal Jacobovitz as our CEO this past several years along with the executive Vice Presidents of the College including the outstanding Cathleen Gates, our interim chief executive officer. I’d like also to thank Sandra Spadoni, Shalen Fairbanks and Kelsi Lane without whose help in keeping all the training running on time our efforts would have flagged. On the home front, I’d also like thank my assistant Felicia Sims who has kept me organized through a complex year!
I have learned immeasurably from those who have held this position before me. I salute all the past presidents of the College and thank so many of you for the advice and counsel you have provided this year.
I also must acknowledge all the members of ‘Team T:’ the cardiologists, surgeons, NPs and nurses with whom I work caring for our St Vincent heart failure and transplant patients. I appreciate your diligence in keeping the home fires burning. Your dedication and excellence have allowed me to serve the College this year.
Last, and most importantly, to my home team: my husband Bob, my son Gil and my daughter Hanna. You guys remain my rock. Thanks for your unceasing support and love.
Handing the reigns over to another leader can be bittersweet. But that feeling is tempered when the next leader has such an extraordinary track record as a leader and innovator.
C. Michael Valentine is an extraordinary leader. He has led his cardiology group at Centra Health in Lynchburg, VA and he has served the College in a number of leadership roles, including as co-chair of the Advocacy Committee, chair of the Board of Governors, Treasurer and Secretary, and as longtime co-chair of the College’s annual Cardiovascular Summit. More importantly, Mike is emotionally intelligent, empathic, a team-player and the epitome of a devoted College leader. I know that the College will be in exceptionally good hands with our next president: C. Michael Valentine.
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