• AAFP Committee Nominates First Slate of
    Leadership Candidates

    April 15, 2024

    By Reid Blackwelder, M.D., FAAFP
    AAFP Nominating Committee Chair

    Happy Spring! It is time for a new year and lots of new growth, not just in nature but also for the AAFP. Last fall, the Congress of Delegates changed the nominating process for AAFP Board elections to meet the Academy’s evolving needs.

    During its Sept. 22-25 meeting in Phoenix, the 2024 Congress of Delegates will consider the inaugural slate of candidates put forth by the Academy’s new Nominating Committee. First, those candidates will attend the AAFP Leadership Conference, April 18-20, in Kansas City, Mo., and participate in the new Candidate Orientation and Development Program.

    In my previous post, I introduced you to the Nominating Committee, explained its purpose and process and offered an update on the work it had done to that point. I’m now excited to provide a follow-up on the committee’s work, including the slate of candidates and details about how we reached this point.

    Since January, your committee has discussed, revised and implemented a process to request, complete and evaluate applications for the elected positions on the Board of Directors, including its officers. We received an exciting number of applications for this first iteration. We conducted standardized, virtual interviews with all candidates, utilizing the same core team, while ensuring all Nominating Committee members could attend if they were able. In early March, the full committee met in person to review applications and decide which candidates would come before the COD.

    During this first run of the new process, the Nominating Committee itself underwent rather impressive transformations. We had expectations of what this process would be like and an idea of “ideal nominees,” but we were constantly surprised. The opportunity to talk with members who had not taken the steps candidates have traditionally followed was eye-opening. We were surprised by the biases that we did not realize we had regarding how we are used to considering Board members, compared to how we are now charged with considering them as we move this new process forward. The critical diversity of the Nominating Committee allowed us to see these candidates from multiple perspectives and lenses, and to better appreciate and articulate what each person could bring to the Board.

    Our intense discussions allowed us to really dive into some of the challenges that our chapters face. With those in mind, we created new expectations for chapter members and recognized new opportunities for leadership at the chapter and national level. The traditional model of identifying, developing and putting forth leaders for the AAFP worked well until it didn’t. Our process has always resulted in outstanding family physician leaders. However, in each and every constituent chapter, there are amazing individuals who have never had an opportunity, felt they did not have a valuable perspective, or just thought they would never have a chance within the hierarchy of their chapter to get to this point.

    As is usually the case, the COD — which directed the implementation of this new process — is extremely wise in its deliberations and decisions. Thank you for this opportunity to learn about myself and my own blinders to the wonderful diversity of existing and potential leadership in our Academy’s members and chapters. The COD informed us it was time for a change. I am excited about the campaigns to come this year, and even more so about next year.

    One of the most important goals before us was to bring to the COD an outstanding group of candidates with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This goal was set to help address gaps that always exist on all boards in terms of representation. Especially in our membership, we have an impressive depth and breadth of voices that should be heard in as many venues as can be created.

    One key place for those perspectives is at the level of our Board of Directors. Our committee was tasked to vet and approve a group of people for consideration. Delegates will have exciting choices to make this year as we have six candidates for the three at-large director positions. Every candidate would bring strengths to the Board, and could provide one of those voices that should be at our governance table. Now the job of the COD is to meet them, ask questions, get their perspectives, listen to their speeches and see how they handle challenging questions in a Q&A forum. Delegates must decide who best represents the needs of our membership as our elected leaders this year and then vote.

    The candidates for consideration by at the COD this September in Phoenix are:


    • Gail Guerrero-Tucker, M.D., M.P.H., FAFP, Safford, Ariz.
    • Sarah Nosal, M.D., FAAFP, New York, N.Y.
    • Karen Smith, M.D., FAAFP, Raeford, N.C.


    • Russell Kohl, M.D., FAAFP, Stilwell, Kan. 


    • Daron Gersch, M.D., FAAFP, Long Prairie, Minn.

    At-large Directors

    • Shannon Dowler, M.D., C.P.E.., FAAFP, Marshall, N.C.
    • Elisabeth Fowlie Mock, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, Bangor, Maine
    • Kathleen Mueller, M.D., FAAFP, Windsor, Conn.
    • Jyothi Patri, M.D., M.H.A., FAAFP, Clovis, Calif.
    • Tina Tanner, M.D., FAAFP, Muskegon, Mich.
    • Laura Yalden, M.D., FAAFP, Englewood, N.J.

    On behalf of the members of the Nominating Committee, thank you for the opportunity to serve our Academy and our members, and for the chance to take your ideas and craft a new reality.

    Reid Blackwelder, M.D., FAAFP, is the associate dean for graduate medical and continuing education at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine and a past president of the AAFP.


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