Resident AAFP Leaders
Elected and Appointed Positions
Residents make significant contributions to family medicine as members of the wide variety of boards, commissions, and inter-organizational teams that shape the AAFP. Experience in a leadership role provides valuable career insight and unique mentorship opportunities.
Most resident leadership positions serve for a one-year term, many beginning in the fall.
As medical care and health care reform undergo pivotal changes, the voice of family medicine's next generation of physicians is critical in shaping a future that aligns with the core principles of primary care. Learn what drew current leaders to their roles and find out what they hope to achieve through their skills and passion for family medicine.
Michelle Byrne, MD, MPH
Northwestern Family Medicine Residency
In her role, Dr. Byrne brings a resident perspective to high-level decision-making discussions of the AAFP Board of Directors.
"My involvement with the AAFP over the past several years has connected me to a fantastic community of family physicians who are doing amazing work on the front lines of health care in communities across the country. I am delighted to serve with them as the resident member of the Board of Directors this coming year. I believe that we are at a pivotal point where a recommitment to primary care is needed more than ever, and where our health systems need to be transformed to better serve those who are most vulnerable. I am so grateful to be a part of one of the Teaching Health Center residencies, working daily with patients who are traditionally left out of our health care system and are deeply in need. I look forward to sharing these patient stories on the AAFP Board of Directors this year and supporting the AAFP’s strong commitment to health equity."
Alexandra Gits, MD
University of Minnesota North Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program
In her role Dr. Gits helps to inform decisions made by the STFM Board of Directors. She has voting rights on the Board and is a voting member of the STFM Graduate Student Education Committee.
"As the Resident Representative to the STFM Board of Directors, I will help ensure that the voices of those that are taught and are impacted by STFM policies are heard. We are currently suffering a nationwide deficit in academic family physicians, and I believe it will be critical for a resident voice to help guide STFM to improve retention and recruitment of talented residents into academic careers."
Ben Meyerink, MD
Mayo Clinic Family Medicine Residency
In his role, Dr. Meyerink represents resident member interestes at the AAFP Congress of Delegates and functions as a member of the AAFP Commission on Education.
"Serving as the Resident Delegate to the AAFP Congress of Delegates is an opportunity for me to reach outside the clinic walls and bring positive change to both my patients and fellow residents. Representing the resident body at the Congress of Delegates certainly is a great responsibility but one that allows me to listen to my colleagues from a variety of practice settings and training programs and work with the body of the AAFP to continue moving family medicine forward. Family medicine needs strong voices to continually advocate for progress and greater access to primary care and I hope to fulfill those goals through this position. Lastly, I have a deep passion for medical education and serving on the Committee on Education will allow me to work with the AAFP to continue enhancing our development of future family physicians for generations to come."
Matt Peters, MD
Cascades East Rural Family Medicine Residency
In his role, Dr. Peters represents resident member interestes at the AAFP Congress of Delegates and functions as a member of the AAFP Commission on Education.
"I plan to use my voice and my vote to passionately advocate for and influence Academy action on the causes that the residents have collectively prioritized. I am tremendously excited to learn and grow as I serve the residents in my role."
Anna Askari, MD, MSBS
Eisenhower Health Family Medicine Residency
In her role, Dr. Askari coordinates and makes decisions regarding resident activities at National Conference. She functions as a member of the AAFP Commission on Education and presides at the business sessions of the National Congress of Family Medicine Residents.
"I attended my first National Conference four years ago, between my first and second years of medical school. I have been attending every conference since then. It was at this conference that I found my home in family medicine. It means the world to me that I get to be such an integral part of the planning of a conference that helps shape the future of family medicine, and on a personal level brings so much joy to me. I look forward to working with everyone on the planning committee to bring our student and resident attendees a fun, informative, productive, and inspiring National Conference in 2019!"
Dr. Meyerink's role includes the study of health care delivery systems (e.g., PCMH, ACOs), performance measurement, practice redesign/quality improvement, privileging, health information technology, practice management, private sector advocacy, and physician payment.
"There are few areas of medical practice that are as complex and challenging as physician payment models, practice reform, and quality improvement. In addition, many physicians do not have the time or the resources to focus on these matters. The AAFP plays a valuable role in supporting its members through education, advocacy, and practice recommendations for these crucial issues. I hope to grow in my knowledge of these topics and represent and serve my fellow family medicine colleagues to the best of my abilities in this position."
Lauren Williams, MD
University of Minnesota/North Memorial Family Medicine Residency
As a representative of the AAFP's Commission on Governmental Advocacy, Dr. Williams is involved in guiding the Academy's advocacy efforts before the federal government and to assist the constituent chapters in their advocacy efforts before state governments.
"I hope to use the strong platform of the AAFP to share the joys and challenges of family medicine and promote the importance of primary care and wellness. Our health care system must change in a way that acknowledges the relationship between culture, society and health, and I am compelled to advocate for my patients to this end. I will promote policies that advance equity and dignity for all patients and support every individual’s right to their own optimal wellness. I will also look to my fellow residents and students for ideas to craft innovative policy solutions that can make the future of family medicine even brighter."
Brittany Watson, MD
Carolinas Medical Center
Dr. Watson's role includes contributing to a wide scope of issues, such as health of the public, evidence-based clinical recommendations and care, generation of new knowledge and science with dissemination and implementation, and disparities and the underserved populations.
"I hope to achieve a deeper understanding of the work the AAFP does through the Commission on Health of the Public and Science. With this knowledge, I want to share information highlights with my peers. In addition, I hope to contribute from a resident perspective and help advance the commission’s agenda."
Michelle Byrne, MD, MPH
McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University
Dr. Byrne's role includes projects in areas such as recruitment, retention, value of membership, member services, life-stage career issues, special needs, awards, international membership, urban/rural membership issues, degree of fellow, special constituencies, National Conference of Special Constituencies planning and chapter relations, and leadership development.
"I am looking forward to contributing to the mission of the AAFP and growing the membership and engagement that physicians have in the organization. It’s clear that this is a pivotal time in our country, and that a recommitment to primary care is needed more than ever. By strengthening the AAFP’s membership I hope to build our capacity to create lasting change in the way primary care is delivered and managed, as well as to increase access to primary care for the communities most in need. Additionally, I hope to help the organization continue to grow in its ability to foster an anti-oppressive community that allows family physicians from all backgrounds to lead and thrive."
Christian Bengtson, MD
York Hospital Family Medicine Residency
In his role, Dr. Bengtson works directly with the commission to support the AAFP’s Strategic Objective on Education by supporting the lifelong learning of family physicians and other health care professionals.
"In my new role, I hope to better understand the challenges and intricacies of supporting physicians through their continuing medical education, and to be an active advocate for residents as they transition from residency learning to practicing physician."
Anna Balabanova, MD
Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital
In her role, Dr. Balabanova works directly with the commission to support the AAFP’s Strategic Objective on Education by supporting the lifelong learning of family physicians and other health care professionals.
"I look forward to continuing to provide the resident perspective to the COCPD’s special project of evaluating and changing the CME and credit system processes for the future. This year I hope to continue to grow in terms of thinking creatively about how my medical colleagues of all ages learn best, and translate this into working with my committee to create a system that can be personalized yet effective for everyone. I also hope to use what I learn about education to become a better teacher and Chief Resident."
Kaci R. Larsen
University of Missouri--Columbia Family Medicine Residency
In her role, Dr. Larsen represents AAFP resident and fellow interests at AMA meetings and interacts with AMA delegates from the AAFP.
"Through my position as a resident representative to the AMA, I hope to bring the spirit of family medicine to a larger organization. I am passionate about health policy and better care for all patients and want to work within the scope of my position help move medicine in the right direction."
Samuel Mathis, MD
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
In his role, Dr. Mathis represents AAFP resident and fellow interests at AMA meetings and interacts with AMA delegates from the AAFP.
"Through my work with the AMA-RFS, I hope to continue to promote Family Medicine ideals and principles in the AMA."
Kellen Gower, MD
Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Family Medicine Residency Program
In his role, Dr. Gower serves as an important communications, policy and membership link between the AMA and grassroots physicians.
"I want to achieve a greater understanding of the national influences that impact our practice and to do my part in serving and growing family medicine."
Amanda Pannu, MD
University of Rochester Family Medicine Residency Program
In her role, Dr. Pannu is involved with residency education and accreditation at a national level, and gets mentoring opportunities with national leaders in family medicine residency education.
"This year, I hope to learn more about residency training and the residency accreditation process. I hope to adequately represent my fellow family medicine residents. I hope to grow both professionally and personally through this unique learning experience."
Kristina Laguerre, MD, MPH
Sunrise GME Consortium, Southern Hills Hospital
In her role, Dr. Laguerre is involved with high-level decision making on a nonprofit board of trustees.
"I am excited for the opportunity to work closely with the other Board of Trustee members to advance the mission of the AAFP Foundation. I am particularly looking forward to working towards the rejuvenation of the scientific arm of the Foundation, while also continuing to promote the various humanitarian and education efforts as well. I hope to make more residents aware all the great work the AAFP Foundation does and the resources available to residents."
Katherine Hartl, MD
University of Arizona Family Medicine Residency
As the resident representative to the AFMRD, Dr. Hartl provides a resident perspective to program directors on issues impacting residents and their education.
"In this role I hope to gain more insight into scope and responsibilities of a residency director while improving the resident experience. I have a strong interest in academic medicine and am passionate about resident education and wellness. I believe that I can collect and synthesize the voice of my fellow residents into a purposeful message."
In her role, Dr. Bull helps plan the AAFP Family Medicine Global Health Workshop, and takes the lead in preparing and facilitating the Global Health Networking Meeting at the National Conference.
"In my role as Resident Representative to the CGHI Board, I seek to further solidify global health as a pillar of Family Medicine and priority for the AAFP, both to stimulate the recruitment of passionate medical students and to support the interests of numerous AAFP members. I hope to develop a Global Health curriculum that all medical students and residents interested in global health can complete to supplement their current educational endeavors. I desire to cultivate a culture of wellness within and surrounding global health that can serve as an antidote to the current, rampant burnout in medical training. Lastly, I hope to foster connections between U.S. residents and students and their counter parts abroad through WONCA to cultivate meaningful dialogue on the differences in our training and healthcare systems to mutually encourage and enlighten one another to new approaches in primary care to promote innovation and progress."
Anastasia Coutinho, MD
Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency
In her role, Dr. Coutinho works on a peer-reviewed clinical research journal dedicated to advancing knowledge essential to understanding and improving health and primary care.
"I would love to translate my excitement about research to other medical students and residents to determine how to engage more of these trainees in this time of work and to increase the likelihood future physicians may make research contributions throughout their career."
Kelly Thibert, DO, MPH
Grant Medical Center Family Medicine Residency
In her role, Dr. Thibert engages in regular communications that aim to contribute to the continued development and success of the comprehensive tobacco and nicotine prevention and control program.
"My favorite thing about Family Medicine is being a part of the community; our community of healthcare providers and our patients. We are in a very special position to both work alongside and for our community members."
Courtney Pilkerton, MD
West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine
In her role Dr. Pilkerton advises and assists the NRN, which is dedicated to conducting, supporting, promoting, and advocating for primary care research in practice-based settings.
"I will actively participate and bring resident perspectives to conversations that support, shape, and advocate for research that truly impacts family physicians and our patients. I also plan to share my experiences with residents around the country to inspire and encourage residents to participate in primary care research throughout their careers."