Academy for Eating Disorders President Acceptance Speech
Delivered by S. Bryn Austin, ScD, FAED at the
International Conference on Eating Disorders in New York City
March 16, 2019
I want to begin my tenure as President of AED with a thank you. I am honored and deeply humbled to be given this opportunity to serve: To serve the Academy and you, our vibrant, fabulously talented, and committed membership. To serve our field of eating disorders research, practice, and advocacy. And to serve the wider community of experts by experience - hard won experience of countless individuals and loved ones around the globe in the trenches of battling an eating disorder. I am here to serve you, all of you.
As I look forward to the next year as your President, I am very grateful for all the guidance I've received from President Kyle DeYoung, who very ably and deftly has led our organization over the past year. I am also very grateful for our unflaggingly buoyant and capable Executive Director, Lisa Myers, who has brought boundless energy and vision for the Academy to grow our network of collaborators and enhance our reach and impact far beyond what has been possible before. I am grateful to the many talented and wise members of our Board of Directors, past and present, whom I've learned so much from by watching and emulating.
And most of all, I have the deepest gratitude for my wife, Liz, who has been my companion and inspiration, sage advisor and sometimes - when needed - my course corrector on our journey together as life partners.
If there is one theme that I see as tying together my vision for my time as your president, it is community. My aspiration over the next year will be to have at the core of all our activities the goal of enriching, expanding, and increasing the impact of our community.
How will we do this? In many ways, but I want to touch on three important ones.
First, the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee to the Board, which met for the first time at ICED in New York, guided by board member Marisol Perez, will begin its important work to identify ways -- large and small -- that we can enrich our community by putting a premium on diversity, equity, and inclusion in all of our programs, policies, and communications. With the committee's guidance, we will work harder and more effectively to create space to center the voices of people who for too long have been pushed to the margins or silenced.
Next, the vital Partners, Chapters, Affiliates, and Friends Committee - or PCAC -- will continue to be a powerful force to expand our community. The PCAC's growth is accelerating and covering more of the globe than ever before. It now includes 36 partner, chapter, and affiliate member organizations, more than ever before, with the longtime leaders from Hispano Latino American Chapter - or HLA - the vibrant European Chapter, and the newest member, the Middle Eastern Eating Disorders Association - or MEEDA - which to our delight was able to send a strong contingent of members to participate in ICED this year. Welcome!
Hopefully it won't be too long before new national partners from across Asia join the PCAC along with the Japan Eating Disorders Association, and perhaps an Asia-wide chapter will coalesce to join the PCAC. If you are from East or South Asia and you are interested in making this happen, talk to me, Lisa Myers, and board member Rachel Bachner-Melman.
And finally, over the next year, you have my guarantee that we will double down on increasing the impact of our community through our civic engagement, policy advocacy, and communications. As researchers, like myself, as clinicians, and as experts by experience, we have a moral and pragmatic responsibility to translate our research findings, our clinical observations, and our hard-won personal experience into sound policy and law to promote health and well-being and reduce health inequities. Working together in savvy civic engagement with city, state or province, and federal governments, we can transform our world into one where the tens of millions of people who need treatment but are shut out can have access to high quality care.
Savvy and dogged advocates in Australia inspired and amazed us just a few months ago with their major Medicare coverage victory. And intrepid advocates in the United Kingdom scored a major victory a few years ago in getting tens of millions of pounds dedicated to eating disorders in the National Health Service system. We must be buoyed by these victories and work together to transform our world to no longer be one that drives children to develop eating disorders and then abandons them in their hour of most need -- but instead to be a world that supports healthy development and well-being in all children and people of all ages. We must engage with the world to change the world.
I want to close with a quote for you to carry with you -- a quote by American civil rights activist and feminist Reverend Pauli Murray that was shared with me recently on the occasion of International Women's Day by my friend and fellow advocate, Chase Bannister, President of the Eating Disorders Coalition:
Reverend Murray said: "True community is based upon equality, mutuality, and reciprocity. It affirms the richness of individual diversity as well as the common human ties that bind us together."
I pledge to you that I will serve humbly and earnestly as your president to enrich, expand, and increase the impact of our community. Always with the goal of getting ever closer to the vision that Reverend Murray so eloquently invites us -- and challenges us -- to strive for. It is when we are in true community that we can together change this world.
Thank you, and please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have thoughts on how to strengthen AED!
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