Monday, November 14, 2011

President's Message: Thanking and Honoring Karen Howard

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

Exiting Executive Director Karen Howard poses with AANP President Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc (left),
and Bill Benda, MD, FACEP, FAAEM (right), at the 2010 AANP Convention.
It is a time of great change for the AANP and perhaps the most significant is that Karen Howard, our Executive Director for the past nine years, will be moving on at the end of November. Karen has left a huge mark on the AANP and the naturopathic profession and she will be missed. As I pondered what fitting words to say to mark this occasion, I turned to other AANP Past-Presidents to ask them what they would like for us to remember about Karen as we thank her and honor her work. So, without further ado...

From Michael Traub, ND, DHANP, FABNO (AANP President 2002-03):
Today I was telling a new Bastyr grad the story of how the AANP moved its headquarters across the country shortly before I became AANP President. We left all our staff behind in Seattle and put ourselves in the hands of a professional association management firm outside of Washington, D.C. Although initially we made some improvements in the professionalism of the AANP, in less than a year, the executive director (ED) that the management firm had hired for us resigned. Little by little, the remainder of the staff they had assigned to us dwindled and we found ourselves in debt by half a million dollars. It was in this context that the AANP decided to break our contract with the management firm and return to being a self-managed organization.

After several months of essentially serving both as President and de facto ED, I needed to hire a new ED and I hired Karen Howard. It was a complicated operation to extricate the heart, soul, membership and financial records and bank accounts from this cancerous relationship that had developed between the AANP and the management firm, and it was Karen’s first task as ED. It took several months, but the operation was successful, we rebuilt the AANP from the ashes, and in a year's time of severe financial austerity, we turned around our $500K deficit to a $250K net profit.

Karen Howard deserves most of the credit for saving the AANP in its darkest hour. She also deserves most of the credit for all the progress the AANP has made since that time.

From Nancy Dunne, ND, MA (AANP President 2004-05):
Karen Howard came to us a powerful and skillful woman. From Day One, we have challenged her, and she has challenged us. And she has lead us throughout the single most fruitful and effective era of achievement and maturity our profession has yet known.

Karen's fiscal acumen, political savvy and extensive, beyond-the-fold relationships have embedded in our institutions, as well as in our expectations, a level of sophistication and professionalism that is precisely what we have needed and had not heretofore owned. She has not become everyone’s friendthat’s normal. She has sown many seeds and not all have takenthat’s natural. She has stabilized and massively enhanced our economic position; she has established naturopathic physicians as a presence on Capitol Hill with consistency and wit; she has created leadership training and opportunities for inclusion and advancement that honor and engage each successive generation of new doctors. She has stabilized our rocky foundations and given us a resilient ground from which we can continue to grow. She has changed us, for so much the better, and she has allowed herself to be changed and grow as well. Karen Howard exemplifies passion and mature discernment, unflinching self-assessment and integrity. We are so much better for what she has done.

From Jane Guiltinan, ND (AANP President 2006-07)
I’d like to thank Karen for her outstanding stewardship of the AANP over the last nine years. What did Karen accomplish? Here are a few achievements:

  • When she was hired, we were on the verge of bankruptcy; now we’re financially solvent with a solid revenue base and reserves in the bank.
  • Membership has grown significantly and the vast majority of members are very satisfied with the direction the AANP has taken during Karen’s tenure.
  • Six states and territories have gained legal recognition for naturopathic doctors.
  • The DC FLI has become a signature event on Capitol Hill, with many important impacts.
  • The convention continues to be brilliant.  Our smaller state associations are stronger and more organized.
  • Partnerships and collaborations with external groups have flourished and resulted in increased awareness of naturopathic medicine.

All these things are great accomplishments and deserve appreciation and thanks. Most of all though I thank and honor Karen for her passion and dedication to help us achieve our dreams. She believed in us, embraced our vision, and worked tirelessly on our behalf every single day. She did this because she believes with all her heart and soul that naturopathic medicine can improve the health of families, communities and the planet. She believes that the principles of naturopathic medicine can help create a better world for her own children, grandchildren and their children.

Thank you Karen for walking with us these last years. Your legacy is stellar. Namaste, dear friend. I bow to the divine in you, with great love, appreciation, gratitude and best wishes for your next journey.

From Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO (AANP President 2008-09):
The AANP will be forever indebted to Karen Howard. Karen’s passionate embrace of naturopathic medicine motivated an incredible stewardship of the AANP at a critical time in the organization’s history.

From the outset, Karen saw how the principles of naturopathic medicine could be used to guide the organization from the brink of disaster to tremendous success. She identified the root causes of the financial challenges, she rallied the innate healing powers of the organization by mobilizing and organizing members into political action. Karen removed obstacles to our success by creating collaborative relationships with like-minded organizations. She used the healing powers of Nature to set recurrent inspirational themes for our increasingly successful conferences. All of this resulted in AANP stability and growth during a time period in which most other non-profit associations were struggling and even collapsing.

Karen is leaving the AANP in much, much better shape than she found it in. Over the past several years, the AANP has become a strong, vital force in health care and a resource and source of inspiration for its members.

I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to have worked so closely with Karen throughout her tenure at the AANP. She is a strong woman, a visionary, highly intelligent and someone who leaves her heart on the table in every endeavor that matters. I have learned much from Karen and I am personally grateful for her amazing dedication to the AANP and to naturopathic medicine. The world is in desperate need of visionary leaders. The AANP benefited from one such leader, in the person of Karen Howard, and we are so much better for it.

From Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc (Current AANP President 2010-11):
What more can I add? I  have worked closely with Karen for the past four years as a board member, President-Elect and as President. I will be departing on her heels once my term ends December 31st. Over this period I have worked closely with and have gotten to know Karen quite well.

I continue to be amazed at how much she can hold in her head as she does the work of three people. She has worked not only with the AANP but with the Naturopathic Coordinating Counsel, Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges, and has been our link to such organizations at the Coalition for Patient Rights and National Foundation of Women Legislators to name just a few.

Under her leadership and guidance, we have grown from a small, new presence in Washington, D.C., to a known organization and profession who's footprint appears much larger than we truly are. She has helped us grow up, and we are forever in her debt.

So, Karen, thank you so much for everything you have done and for your many accomplishments, and personally for all of the guidance and support you have given me. We will miss you and wish you much happiness and success in whatever the future holds for you. You will always be a part of the naturopathic community.

1 comment:

  1. As a student, I am eternally grateful for the work of the AANP as well as the dedication of Karen Howard. Having participated in the DCFLI, I have seen first hand her personal investment in the success of the AANP and in my future as a naturopath. Thank you, Karen! Wishing you the best on your next journey.