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President's Message

Last Updated:
June 21, 2021

Susan Sienko, PhD

Goodbye 2020 and welcome 2021! Little did we know at the midyear meeting in early March 2020 that we would be dealing with a global pandemic and the impacts it would have on us personally and professionally. Limitations in large group gatherings and travel restrictions required the Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) to pivot the 74th Annual Meeting slated for New Orleans to the first ever virtual meeting. The theme of the meeting was “Unmasking Potential”, and the shift to a virtual format unmasked the potential of everyone including: program co-chairs Jeremy Bauer and Joline Brandenburg, presenters, vendors and attendees. While we missed the in-person connections with friends and colleagues, the online platform allowed us to bring the meeting to you in its entirety in addition to providing the attendees the opportunity to access greater content through both the live and on-demand sessions. We want to thank all of the presenters, sponsors, vendors, and meeting attendees for making our first ever virtual meeting a success.

Events of 2020 have compelled AACPDM, and other organizations, to examine systemic racism. On June 10th, the Academy, with the assistance of our Advocacy Committee and Ad Hoc Committee, released a statement condemning systemic racism against Black people and other people of color. You can read the full statement here. We, as an Academy, are committed to formulating an authentic action plan to address systemic discrimination. We have identified strategies to do so and will continue to identify more opportunities for our Academy to improve the experience for all Black members and other people of color.

  • The board has committed to engage in self-reflection courses on implicit bias and will encourage the membership at large to do the same. Information on these courses will be provided to the membership.
  • We will solicit information on race and ethnicity from our members so that we can begin to address representation of Black and other visible minority members within our Academy at large and within our leadership.
  • We have encouraged 2021 meeting submissions that directly address diversity, equity, and inclusion in the call for abstracts.
  • We are evaluating strategies to address diversity, equity, and inclusion at the 2021 meeting, including seeking information from businesses that are minority owned.

We feel that we must have greater engagement of our membership to ensure a plan that will lead to meaningful change within the organization. We also welcome your input by clicking on this link to provide feedback to the Academy leadership. We will continue to keep the membership updated as a plan is developed and the actions taken to address our deficiencies and shortcomings. Visit the recently added Diversity and Inclusion section of our website for updates throughout the year.

As part of the strategic plan, the Academy has been implementing Special Interest Groups (SIGs) into the structure of the Academy. Thus far, two groups have been granted status as our initial SIGs. These SIGS address Adults and Aging (transitional and ongoing care of adults with childhood onset conditions) and Complex Care (care of those with medical complexity) and facilitate members to meet, network and learn from each other. Both SIGs held meetings during the 2020 virtual annual meeting and will provide additional opportunities for interested individuals to remain engaged over the year. The SIG networking opportunities are open to all members and non-members. Please contact the AACPDM at to be added to the Adults and Aging list of SIG members so that you’ll receive updates about their activities. To be added to the complex care listserv please email:

The Care Pathways committee has been hard at work and we now have six Care Pathways available for use in your practice. These tools are available on the website and are a great resource for you, your trainees and patients and families. As the Care Pathways are living documents, they will be reviewed and updated when new information becomes available. Additional Care Pathways are currently in development and we anticipate that they will be available in 2021.

The momentous events of this past year have presented us with unforeseen challenges, yet we, as individuals and as an Academy, have learned important life lessons that will prepare us for the future. As we move into 2021, we want to thank you for being a member of the AACPDM and we hope that you continue to accept the challenge to Unmask your potential!