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Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(10):2939

In this issue, we continue the celebration of AFP's 50th anniversary with a special contribution for the “ AFP 50 Years Ago” series from AAFP executive vice president Robert Graham, M.D. (see page 2941). This piece opens with excerpts from an annual report to the 1950 AAFP membership by Mac Cahal, Dr. Graham's early counterpart. The accompanying commentary by Dr. Graham reflects on the political views of the newly formed AAFP and on some of the changes that have taken place in family medicine over the past 50 years. At the same time we're looking back at AAFP history with Dr. Graham, we're absorbing recent news of the now more imminent departure of this highly respected leader in family medicine and preparing to embrace new leadership.

At the AAFP's Annual Leadership Forum in Kansas City, Mo., on April 29, the AAFP announced a new EVP designate, Douglas Henley, M.D., of Fayetteville, N.C. Dr. Henley will be assuming the role of EVP on August 1, marking the end of Dr. Graham's 15-year tenure in this role. Last July, Dr. Graham announced his intention to leave his position to relocate to Washington, D.C., where he will join his wife, Jane Henney, M.D., FDA commissioner, closing the commuting era of their marriage. Dr. Henley, a previous AAFP president and board chair, will be joining the AAFP as EVP after leaving 20 years of private practice.

The April 29 announcement spurs additional reflection on changes in AAFP leadership over the years. Although perspectives and strategies have undoubtedly differed from leader to leader, the leaders have clearly shared common goals, among them being a mission to improve the health of patients, their families and the American people, and advance and represent the specialty of family medicine. Among some of the roles that Dr. Graham and Mr. Cahal shared while pursuing these goals was the title of publisher of AFP. Mr. Cahal, who served as the journal's first publisher, established many of the editorial policies that paved the way to this journal's success. In his 1950 address to the membership, Mr. Cahal promised that “our journal will create something of a sensation in the field of medical publishing.” Needless to say, it did.

Dr. Graham became managing publisher of AFP after the death of long-time publisher Walt Kemp in July 1986. Although Dr. Graham said that his year-long double act as publisher and EVP dished out “generous tastes of both exhilaration and panic,” he provided adept leadership and continuity for the journal while searching for a replacement for Mr. Kemp. Clayton Hasser arrived as publisher in June 1987 and held the title over the next decade. Only one other person has held the role of publisher since the startup of the journal: current publisher Joetta K. Melton. After serving as associate publisher since 1993, Ms. Melton took on the role of publisher in April 1997, when Ms. Hasser became vice president for AAFP communications and publications, and group publisher.

Because the achievements of these and other AAFP leaders couldn't be recapped within the pages of this issue, we'll keep this tribute short: the continued growth and success of the AAFP and AFP are testimony enough to the spirit and dedication of our leadership. We'd like to offer our sincerest thanks to the leaders of our past, and our warmest welcome to Dr. Henley, the newest leader of our future.

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Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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