Our country is devastated by the recent tragic events that occurred in Florida including the senseless mass murder of 49 innocent people. Social media bursts in support of the families who have lost loved ones, but there are also themes of anger, frustration and discrimination amidst the sadness. The news does not highlight the day-to-day violence in our cities and the catastrophic effects this violence has on our children. Our jobs become harder as we must carefully consider how we educate our young patients about violence, while striving to support their mental health. We must continue to be loud advocates for gun control laws and gun safety to protect our children from both the mental and physical effects of violence. I am terribly saddened by the ongoing bloodshed in our country and the fear that our children and families feel amidst the uncertainty of daily life. On June 30, I will end my year as NAPNAP president. I am proud of this organization’s response to issues that affect the mental and physical health of children and our continued advocacy for child health at both local and national levels. As members, we can always count on NAPNAP to be our voice at the table, promoting the important role of pediatric-focused advanced practice nurses in creating healthy environments for children and their families. The work of NAPNAP members and staff is tireless in our responsibility and motivation to tackle increasingly more difficult issues.
I can’t begin to express my gratitude to Mary Chesney, who will be leaving the NAPNAP board after serving for six years as health policy chair and in the three president roles. Mary has shared her wisdom, insight and past experience to lead our organization and strengthen its position as an advocate for children. She is a teacher, leader and mentor who has undoubtedly demonstrated her strong commitment to NAPNAP. I would also like to give Laura Searcy a very warm welcome as NAPNAP’s 40th president. Laura, who will take the helm on July 1, has been a long-time NAPNAP volunteer with a wealth of experience and expertise in health policy and child advocacy. In today’s constantly shifting and volatile political environment, these skills are critical for supporting child and family health and our interests in being the best practitioners. In reviewing the events of this past year, it is amazing what NAPNAP has accomplished! With the help of Dave Mason, our Washington representative; Michele Stickel, NAPNAP’s director of marketing and strategic projects; and NAPNAP’s Health Policy Committee, led by Raji Koppolu; we have supported key legislation and programs to benefit children. Our recent efforts include urging Congress to approve funding to support research and preventative measures to combat effects of the Zika virus, and supporting legislation and regulation focused on keeping tobacco and nicotine products out of the hands of our children and teens. In addition, we have called on members to urge the Veterans Health Administration system to provide direct access to services provided by all advanced practice registered nurses. Through our improved Advocacy Center, NAPNAP has made it very easy for members to reach senators and representatives and urge them to support new bills that benefit practice and health care for children. A few clicks are all that it takes for you to send a letter of support for important, contemporary issues. The creation of NAPNAP TeamPeds: Volunteers and TeamPeds: Member Network couldn’t have come at a better time! Many national quality healthcare initiatives are going strong, and NAPNAP has been invited to appoint member experts to represent our interests. Thanks to Heather Keesing, our senior manager of professional development and nursing practice, and NAPNAP staff who find the perfect representatives based on bios posted on TeamPeds, more and more NAPNAP members sit at national tables. NAPNAP membership continues to grow, adding more advanced practice pediatric specialists to our numbers. Felicia Taylor, our director of member services and engagement, has worked hard to engage both children’s hospitals and specialty nursing organizations to collaborate with NAPNAP in offering membership discounts. The NAPNAP Executive Board, who welcomed its first at-large members this past year, has been engaged in many activities, including completion of the NAPNAP 2016–2019 Strategic Plan. Our executive assistant, Eileen Arnold, provided the organization for this workgroup. I cannot say enough about the motivation and perseverance of NAPNAP volunteers who worked very hard to write a brand new plan that reflects the current concerns and goals of members. This past year has flown by for me, and it’s hard to remember all of the NAPNAP events and success stories; this organization is definitely on the move! Cate Brennan, NAPNAP executive director, is an extremely talented leader and expert communicator who, along with the NAPNAP board and staff, has accomplished unbelievable goals, which will continue to keep our organization financially “fit” and highly respected. It is also appropriate here to acknowledge our outgoing treasurer, Meg Hannan, who, for the past four years, has worked with finance director, Linda Young, to create budgets that allow the organization to grow, but also to stay fluid for years to come. Finally, I would like to recognize and thank an outstanding NAPNAP member, Sarah Gutknecht, who served on the Executive Board for five years, was a candidate for president-elect this year, and a member of the Strategic Planning Workgroup. Sarah’s knowledge, humor and wit have given so much to me and to NAPNAP over many years, and I wish her all the best. If I had the space, I would list all of the NAPNAP members who have supported me and my incredible adventure over the past year, but I would like to thank everyone once again and say: ciao, adios, sayonara, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye and stay happy and well!