Apply for assistant secretary-treasurer post

                barbara mathes
By Barbara M. Mathes, MD

I’m writing this article while on “vacation” in northern Michigan. I put that word in quotes because as assistant secretary-treasurer (AST) of the Academy, that term has become something of a distant memory. The same goes for “weekend,” “free evenings,” and “normal work week.”

Since 2012, when I assumed the position of assistant secretary-treasurer, I’ve logged thousands of miles travelling and hundreds of hours attending AAD/A meetings, all while maintaining my day jobs seeing patients at Fox Chase Cancer Center and  attending resident clinics at the Philadelphia VAMC as a University of Pennsylvania clinical associate professor.

On average, the time I spend on Academy business averages to about 12-15 hours a week, once you add up the daily emails, the evening and weekend teleconferences and meetings, and the Annual and Summer Academy meetings. The commitment is even greater as the AST moves into the role of  secretary–treasurer (ST),  currently held by Suzanne M. Olbricht, MD.

Why am I telling you this? Because the application process for my successor as assistant secretary-treasurer (AST) opened on June 1, and I’ve been asked to help recruit conscientious and dedicated members to apply for the post.

Yes, it’s a demanding job. So, why do it? In my experience, the rewards far outweigh the challenges.You must be asking yourselves: “After a sales pitch like that, who’d want the job?” The answer is: members with a passion for dermatology, who want to advance and strengthen the specialty, who believe the Academy is the premier specialty organization representing the interests of all of dermatology, and  who have the willingness, commitment, and flexibility to dedicate time and energy to the position.

In the interest of full disclosure, I felt it only fair that I lead with the time-commitment this critical role requires. It also calls for a strong skill set that spans both left and right sides of the brain: You need to be as skilled in finance and budgeting as you are in relationship and consensus building. 

Yes, it’s a demanding job. So, why do it? In my experience, the rewards far outweigh the challenges. It is an incredible opportunity for a six-year position in Academy leadership (three years as assistant secretary-treasurer and then three as Secretary-Treasurer), with the privilege of working with six different presidents and vice-presidents, and numerous directors of the Board, and in doing so to be in a position to help guide the Academy, support the members, and help shape the future of dermatology.

A pivotal role at the Academy

The six-year AST-ST role is pivotal to the organizational structure of the AAD/A. While the president changes every year, the AST-ST position provides continuity and, at times, useful historical insights and experience. The ST works closely with both the president and the AAD/A Executive Director and CEO Elaine Weiss, helping to ensure that priorities are established, projects are funded, and problems facing dermatology and the Academy are addressed
and there seem to be new ones every day!

Responsibilities of the AST include participation in all Board of Directors and Executive Committee meetings; serving as a content reviewer for member publications such as Dermatology World and Member to Member, and advertiser reviewer for these publications and JAAD; reviewing and approving  technical exhibits for the Annual and Summer meetings; and serving on councils, committees, and task forces. Working alongside the ST and the Academy’s professional staff, involvement in the budgeting process, financial oversight of investments, and audits are part of the job. Over the course of my AST tenure, I’ve been given increased responsibility as part of the learning process in preparation for taking on the ST role in 2016 and worked closely with Dr. Olbricht. I hope to have a similar working relationship with my successor.

This is a critical time for the Academy and our specialty — we will have many challenges in the coming years. If you have the time, flexibility, skills, and determination required for this position, I encourage you to apply. Your reward will be working with colleagues who share your passion for dermatology and a commitment to  helping the Academy thrive for many years to come.

Dr. Mathes, assistant secretary-treasurer of the Academy, is a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and staff physician and professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center. She is a former treasurer and chair of the finance and audit committees of the Women’s Dermatology Society.

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