• Typically, the AAFP Foundation Board President might wrap up the year with a look back at all the events that brought us together and a review of how our well-laid plans worked out. But, my term in office was not exactly … typical. 

    Our plans continually evolved to meet the changing demands of the pandemic. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Foundation staff for their flexibility, creativity, and dedication. No matter what the year threw at us, we worked together – our staff, our Board, and you – to achieve some amazing accomplishments. 

    Our meetings were virtual, but our success was real thanks in large part to your generous donations and exceptional support from our corporate partners. Together, throughout this unexpected year, we’ve continued to care for our patients, our teams, and one another. 

    We’ve expanded the good work of family medicine and built on our commitment to improve the health of people and communities. We’ve helped medical students and residents discover a love for family medicine by providing Family Medicine Leads scholarships to 567 future colleagues. We’ve revamped the Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute curriculum and led a virtual program that provided leadership development and networking for medical students and residents – preparing our 30 scholars to thrive.

    Despite the pandemic, we fulfilled an ambitious goal: We wanted to match Doug and Mary Henley’s endowment commitment to the Henley Fund, and we did it! A major gift from Bob Graham, former CEO of the Academy, and his wife, Jane Henney, pushed us over the top for the fundraising drive. We appreciate their support and leadership tremendously. The Henley Fund will provide 20 National Conference scholarships to medical students in perpetuity and for that we are forever grateful.  

    By working together in 2020, we also helped our most vulnerable, the uninsured and under-insured, receive the care they need through Family Medicine Cares USA grants to free health clinics. At the start of the pandemic, support from the Eisai and Pfizer Foundations enabled us to send past award recipients $1,000 to help with immediate COVID-19 related needs. The generous $1 million grant from The Humana Foundation supported additional rounds of larger grants, with funding targeted to communities with high need and socioeconomic indicators known to contribute to health disparity. 

    Last year, as I looked forward to my time at the helm of the AAFP Foundation, I could never have imagined how this year would develop or the challenges we would face as family physicians – and family members. Along with the professional strain this pandemic has created, Foundation supporters and team members have also been personally impacted by COVID-19. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost family or friends or been ill yourself. 

    Many of you have also struggled to adapt to the new reality of home-schooling children, adjusting to a partner’s WFH needs, and finding ways to keep clinic staff safe and employed. The lessons you learned along the way could help others. I encourage you to read The Compass story explaining how our Center for the History of Family Medicine is capturing COVID-19 stories, and then share yours – you can sign up for a brief interview time here. 

    I wanted to make it through this letter without using the word, “unprecedented,” but let’s face it: 2020 was an unprecedented year. It was a continual challenge – a year where family medicine bravely stood at the forefront, protecting our patients and our communities. 

    Was it the year I expected? No. But, as expected, I remain filled with gratitude for you and pride in this Foundation. It’s a true honor to have served as your president, and I look forward to seeing all we accomplish in 2021 and the years ahead.

    Stay safe. Stay healthy.