Elissa Matulis Myers, Executive Director of the Academy for Eating Disorders, took contact with us when she got the second issue of Boardroom. With all the nice things she had to say about the content and the look of the magazine, which we will humbly not express here, we could not but ask her how she relates to the topics we deal with in Boardroom. Elissa tells Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé how the Academy operates and what her life as an association executive is like.
How did the Academy come about?
The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) began in 1993 with a meeting organized by Craig Johnson, PhD, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thirty-three clinicians and researchers met to discuss concerns about the deleterious effects of managed care and other insurance practices on providing quality treatment for patients with eating disorders.
This group saw the need for an organization of eating disorders professionals that embodied excellence in education, treatment and research that could advocate for patients with eating disorders, provide professional training and development and, in general, represent the field of eating disorders. The AED was formed to meet these goals and today, the AED includes over 1,600 professionals – physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and academic researchers from 42 countries around the world.
Our vision is truly global access to knowledge, research and best treatment practice for those suffering from eating disorders. Our mission is to raise awareness of this serious disease, and to facilitate the sharing of empirically based experience and research on how to diagnose and treat eating disorders. A major focus of our work remains to provide platforms for the exchange of scientific information between members, but over the years we have recognized the need to share that insight and knowledge with all front line health professionals – nutritionists, dieticians, obstetricians, school nurses, and more!
It’s an academy – any special meaning to that?
By definition, an academy is “a society or institution of distinguished scholars, artists, or scientists, that aims to promote and maintain standards in its particular field.” That describes AED perfectly. There are quite a few associations around the world that represent local groups of ED professionals; patients; patient’s families; related disciplines. AED uniquely stands as the global home of the distinguished scholars and practitioners in this field.
Can you tell us about the events you organize?
We have an annual conference, the International Conference on Eating Disorders. This year – our 24th anniversary – we meet in Prague from June 7-10 for an intensive week of meetings, 73 workshops, and seminars and poster presentations, a major keynote address, and four general plenary sessions. We began last year to do simultaneous translation throughout the conference, and are exploring ways to create satellite conferences around the content offered.
The AED headquarters staff does most the management of the meeting – from promotion, staging and registration to on-site management. But when we are in a city – like Prague – where there isn’t a lot of local expertise on the staff, we hire a local PCO to help us offer the delegates the best that the city has to offer in between the hard work of the educational programming. For example, on the final night we are hosting our closing event at St. Agnes Convent, the oldest Gothic building in Bohemia. That exciting opportunity was suggested by our PCO.
The full interview of Elissa can be read in the third issue of Boardroom to be downloaded here.