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Current and former members share their memories and stories about what makes AAMSE so special to them. Share your AAMSE story by submitting it to and it may be posted here.

Jay W. Millson, MBA

Jay W. Millson, MBA
Past President, 2011-12
Florida Academy of Family Physicians

"My first true AAMSE experience was at the 1996 New Medical Executives Institute in Chicago. Being exposed to all the different aspects of medical society management during this conference encouraged me to look beyond a single department (medical economics) and work toward earning an opportunity to lead an organization as EVP. 

Furthermore, I recognized the value of networking with peers to understand the issues, and how working collaboratively provides ultimate value back to our own organizations.  Serving on committees, the board and eventually as president seemed appropriate because, after all, our own medical societies could not be successful without physician volunteers who serve the profession. I encourage others to engage in AAMSE, remembering the old adage, “you’ll only get out of it what you put into it!"

Donald R. Wall

Donald R. Wall
Past President, 2010-11
North Carolina Medical Society

"My medical society career came to a successful close with my retirement on July 31, 2012, after 30 years in the profession with the North Carolina Medical Society. I came into the profession in 1982 and joined AAMSE a few years later. My first AAMSE Annual Conference was in San Antonio nearly 30 years ago, and I have been a member and participant in AAMSE’s programs and outreach for most of those 30 years.

AAMSE has supported me and my efforts on behalf of my association in so many ways consistently over those 30 years. Being a member of AAMSE also helped me to successfully demonstrate what you and “we” can and must do together to lead and challenge our organizations and our physician members to be the best that they can be. 

As I served on the AAMSE Board of Directors for 6 years, each Board was dedicated to doing whatever possible, at all levels, to help AAMSE deal with the pressures and stresses that are interfering with our ability to represent our members effectively. We are all working in challenging times— with limited financial resources, limited staff and unprecedented political pressures— and it is reassuring and comforting to know that AAMSE is always there whenever we have a need, question, or are looking for a resource to help us meet these job challenges.

Serving AAMSE has been the highlight of my medical society career. As I served AAMSE I always struggled with these questions: How do we deal with all of this?  How do we survive and continue to move forward toward our goals with any hope of meaningful success? I always looked to AAMSE and its peer to peer network for answers, resources and support.

I can truly say that the value of my experiences and support received from AAMSE and the AAMSE staff over the years have more than exceeded the cost of my dues paid over those years by my medical society.

AAMSE is committed to the long-term development of people and organizations in our profession, and can and will provide the support so that you can adapt, change, prosper and grow."

Karen J. Collishaw

Karen J. Collishaw
Past President, 2006-07
American Academy of Dermatology Association

"I know it’s a cliché, but I truly believe that what you’ll get out of AAMSE is in direct relation to what you give to the organization and how engaged you are. Attend an annual meeting and see a new city you’ve never seen before while meeting new people who are facing similar challenges. Take home several new ideas that you can implement right away. Volunteer for committees or councils and learn about an issue at a more complex level. 

Attend the Leadership Academy and take some time for self-reflection while becoming skilled at team-building. Participate in a webinar and find out how to speak knowledgeably with your members about the hot topic of the moment and how best to confront the questions that arise from it. 

Our profession is all about relationships, and it’s within AAMSE that I’ve been able to forge those connections that have helped me enjoy and succeed in my career."

Michael J. Darrouzet

Michael J. Darrouzet
Past President, 2005-06
Dallas County Medical Society

"From a personal perspective, AAMSE has been instrumental in creating personal bonds that stretch beyond reference committee reports. It fosters professional relationships that are meaningful. Through AAMSE I have found more than colleagues; I have found life-long friends.

From a business point of view, AAMSE broadens our perspective. We see what others are doing, we discover their successes, we learn from their challenges and failures, and we share our dreams. We re-energize ourselves and go back home with a better perspective…which makes us better leaders."

Linda A. Lambert, CAE

Linda A. Lambert, CAE 
Past President, 1999-2000
American College of Physicians - New York Chapter

"Using the phrase "I have gotten far more than I've given" is an understatement in reflecting on my AAMSE membership and the opportunity to lead this wonderful organization. AAMSE has been a significant part of my professional career and my personal life. I have made so many wonderful, lifelong friends, and I have had the privilege of networking and "tapping the brains" of some of the most experienced association professionals in the country.

The fact that all of my AAMSE colleagues work for doctors and understand what it's like dealing with physicians as leaders and members is what makes AAMSE truly unique, and my membership worth more than the price of dues."

Timothy Norbeck

Timothy Norbeck
Past President, 1995-96
Connecticut State Medical Society

"I have been a member for 40 of AAMSE’s 60 years. The unique networking opportunities and being able to share ideas with esteemed colleagues provide many pleasant memories, in addition to the help so many of them gave me in performing my duties.

The life-long friendships are also very special to me. Congrats to AAMSE on serving the profession for over 60 years and to those wonderful, hard-working medical society executives who continue to labor in the trenches for physicians, representing the best in the field."

Robert L. Dernedde, CAE

Robert L. Dernedde, CAE
Past President, 1991-92
Oregon Medical Association

"My first exposure to AAMSE was in the Spring of '69, the year I joined the Oregon Medical Association staff as a lobbyist. Orientation at the new med exec's school was led by Whalen Strobhar, then deputy EVP of the AMA.  That summer, AAMSE held its annual education session at a resort in Providence, RI, which preceded the AMA annual that June.

I became the Oregon CEO in 1970, perhaps the youngest state CEO at the time, and I needed all the help I could get. I looked to AAMSE and consulted with AAMSE colleagues extensively for support.

One fond memory I have is when Bob Elsner became AAMSE president in 1975, and his then-president Ralph Crawshaw, MD, attended the installation and showed 8 mm footage of Bob's inability to keep food in his stomach on a salmon fishing trip in the Pacific Ocean. Thus began the hazing and roasting of an incoming AAMSE president.

I always looked forward to attending AAMSE's annual, regional and state CEO meetings over a span of 35 years for two reasons: 1) to network with and meet new colleagues; and 2) to gain insight and knowledge into what was going on elsewhere in medical associations. AAMSE provided the venues and the opportunities for these.

AAMSE was a great organization for my career development and helped make me a better executive. The friendships gained through AAMSE enhanced my life. My wife Karen and I continue to vacation with many AAMSE friends acquired during my working days."

Susan B. Waters, EDM, CAE

Susan B. Waters, EDM, CAE
Past President, 1988-89
San Francisco Medical Society

"I was AAMSE’s first female president, and it was not without controversy. I learned a great deal from the experience about how difficult change is for some people and how support can sometimes come from unexpected places.

My year as AAMSE president toughened me up quite a bit, which I needed. It also deepened my commitment to the medical profession and the talented people who dedicate their careers to representing physicians and their patients. Still today, I remember with much fondness the many friends I made at AAMSE and the strong bonds that came from our shared vision of creating a better world for physicians and patients."

Robert H. Elsner, CAE

Robert H. Elsner, CAE
Past President, 1975-76
Multnomah County Medical Society

"I joined AAMSE back in 1963 when it was known as MSEA (Medical Society Executives Association). Though my background had been in public relations with a statewide employers association (in Oregon), becoming executive director of the Multnomah County Medical Society and working for and with physicians was a whole new challenge. Joining MSEA (AAMSE) was the best thing I could have done. Within one month, I was in Atlantic City to attend MSEA's first annual educational conference, a three-day series of presentations and papers which formed the content of a hard-bound book which MSEA published for medical executives (hotel rooms back then were just $15 per night, and because a new hotel had not been built in Atlantic City since 1928, they were actually considered overpriced).

I was told by some "veteran" execs that MSEA was a tight "clique," and that there was no opportunity for a new exec to get involved, much less be accepted by the "old guard."  As it turned out, this was a total myth, and I'm glad I didn't allow these doom sayers to dissuade me. Fortunately, they were part of a vanishing breed. It was apparent to me that my performance as a medical executive would be enhanced because of the many educational and networking opportunities available through AAMSE. Through the years, I also got involved and active on AAMSE committees, eventually being elected to the Board of Directors. In 1975, back in Atlantic City, I was installed as AAMSE's 30th president. 

Over the years, though I also became active and involved with ASAE, serving as its Board chairman (chief elected officer) in 1993-94, I always urged new (and old) medical executives to join AAMSE first and foremost.

The benefits of AAMSE membership are too numerous to cite.  But I do recall that the many educational seminars, networking opportunities and sharing of knowledge were absolutely essential in my nearly 35 years as a medical society executive. They were memorable, too- both in the knowledge gained and in forming many friendships and professional relationships.

I cannot adequately convey how important and helpful AAMSE was to me. But most prominent in my mind are simply the many opportunities AAMSE membership provided...and particularly the things one learned from sharing ideas, questions and simply communicating with other executives in the field."