Twenty years ago, Phyl Naragon was working in a research/marketing position at the AAFP, and wishing she had more to do, new challenges to conquer. On what felt like a typical workday, she stepped into an elevator at Academy headquarters and quietly watched the elevator doors close.
She had no idea that a new chapter of her life was about to open.
“I was in the elevator with Sandy Panther, who was executive director of the AAFP Foundation,” Naragon says. “She asked me how my job was going, and I told her I was enjoying my work, but that I wasn’t busy enough. She knew my background and asked if I would consider applying at the Foundation.”
One thing quickly led to another, and Naragon moved from the Academy to the Foundation, where, as she says, “I knew this was it.”
From day one, Naragon’s passion for program evaluation and leadership made a powerful, positive difference.
“I really believe in making constant program improvements based on evaluations,” Naragon says. “For example, if we’re looking at an application process, are we getting the applicants we want? What worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved? Do we need to change the questions?”
There’s no question about this: Naragon’s retirement at the end of March 2021 will mark the end of a very special era. Now the Foundation’s deputy executive director, Naragon leaves a legacy of accomplishments. She helped create the Foundation’s signature programs, supported Board of Trustees’ initiatives, and mentored the next generation of family medicine leaders. The impact of her dedication and influence ripples throughout the Foundation.
“I’d sum up Phyl’s impact on the Foundation in one word: kindness,” says Jason Marker, MD, and former co-chair of the Family Medicine Leads work group. “She has done her work with gentleness, kindness, grace, and love. She has made her biggest impact not in the actions, but in the spirit with which she has acted.”
In that spirit, Naragon says she is proud that the Foundation has come into its own in the past 20 years, and is considered important in its own right – not solely as the philanthropic arm of the Academy. She’s also pleased with how the Foundation relates now to the state chapters.
“We understand the true work of family medicine gets done at the grassroots level,” she says. “State chapters recognize that we really do respect the extremely important work they do.”
As she evaluates the culmination of her career at the AAFP Foundation, Naragon says she’s excited about the possibilities ahead – for her and for us.
“I have a lot of energy, a lot to give, and I’m looking forward to helping other organizations,” she says. “I love family medicine and I know I’m leaving the Foundation in great hands. You’re going to achieve so much more; you have such a bright future. I’ll be checking in now and then!”
Phyl, we’re counting on that.
Join us in celebrating the dedication and accomplishments of Phyl Naragon as she retires.