As I write this message, I am sitting in Long Beach, California looking out at the palm trees and sand, and I am smiling to myself. It is wonderful to have long summer days. The extra time gives me the opportunity to ride my bike, visit friends or watch my pups run at the dog park. It means time with friends and family, summer barbecues and chilled white wine. It also is a time of transition. Our graduates from every level anxiously await next steps in their education, sick season winds down and illnesses shift to milder viruses, bug bites and contact dermatitis. Even the kids I see with mood disorders seem to do a little better with the increased sunshine. And, at NAPNAP, our board transitions. Our retiring members move on to bigger and better things, and our new members start their roles. Tresa Zielinski is a warrior for kids, someone who is ethically grounded and passionate about moving the dial forward in brave and courageous ways, and truly someone who loves being a PNP with her whole heart. Her leadership and approach shaped mine, and I am thankful God let me follow in her huge footsteps. Brenda Cassidy is a kind, thoughtful, compassionate leader who brings a wealth of experiences and unique perspectives to everything she does. Beth Bolick is a true rock star: she is a mentor to hundreds, a role model, strategic and enterprising, and she exudes leadership. These amazing women transition off the board while three dynamic people start: Schnese Boddie-Williams, Jennifer Sonney and Jessica Peck. And fortunately, Raji Koppolu steps up as president with her intelligent, systems-thinking, calming presence to push us towards greater heights than I can even imagine.
Coming out of this board meeting, I am deeply impressed by how resilient NAPNAP is. In the six years I’ve been on the board (two terms), I have witnessed many thoughtful conversations about serious topics facing our association, but also countless moments of true inspiration. We are in good hands, I just wish many more of our members understood all the good work in professional and child advocacy that we and our committees, special interest groups and chapters do. We are the top in pediatric education; no one has our expertise and talents. I go to lots of conferences and the highest quality sessions are always at NAPNAP chapter and national meetings. We are on the cusp of a breakthrough in membership and voice, and it will be a delight to see where things go. We will do well and continue to climb because of the deep talent and health of the organization. It brings me joy to know NAPNAP will lead for decades to come.
There are so many big and small ways for members to get involved. One of our board members started a Facebook fundraiser for her birthday, many of us followed. I did it for my birthday and raised $500 with very little effort. If you use Facebook, you can easily create a fundraiser for the NAPNAP Foundation or NAPNAP Partners for Vulnerable Youth. All you need to do is click on the fundraiser icon in the right margin of your Facebook Home page, search for one of our non-profit partners, follow the easy steps, and you too can help support their critical work. It takes less than five minutes! Many of my donations came from folks who aren’t even members, but who at $5 intervals, helped make a difference in children’s lives. Currently, 100 percent of the money you raise will go back to these important organizations. I encourage you to consider this mechanism.
It is now time to say my last words as president, so let me be self-indulgent and take some time to thank you. I’ve been the recipient of countless personal and professional blessings, but this moment is a unique one. I am deeply honored to have been president of this amazing organization. You, the members, blessed me in ways big and small. From conversations with members in New Orleans, to messages via email and social media, you’ve personally inspired me and challenged me to be better and to do better. With your confidence, I’ve sat in rooms this average student never dreamed of sitting in and helped make sure our kids are not left further behind. Gracias mi gente, thank you my family, for this immense blessing. I will never do anything more professionally fulfilling. Good luck, Godspeed, and keep fighting. And blessings to each and every one of you. I am forever in your debt.