As I write my final column as president of the ACR Research and Education Foundation (REF), I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the advances we have made over my years of service in a leadership capacity.
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Explore This IssueSeptember 2009
I have had the great pleasure of serving on the executive committee and board of directors of both the ACR and the REF. These are incredibly strong organizations with staff and volunteers of the highest quality who demonstrate unwavering commitment to the advancement of our organizations.
As with any organization that has passionate, committed people at the helm, there are always debates and intense discussions. Throughout these discussions, I have never once felt that any decision was made for the wrong reasons and without thoughtful consideration of the missions of our organizations, needs of our members, and benefits to our patients. Of the many decisions made over the last four years, one of the most important was to empower the REF to become a true fundraising and grant-making organization.
The mission that guides the activities of the REF is, first and foremost, to support the goals of the ACR to ensure a bright future for our profession and for our patients with rheumatic diseases by providing awards to recruit, train, and develop the careers of rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. In order to meet this goal, the REF’s core awards portfolio is geared towards maintaining healthy academic rheumatology units—without which our subspecialty would cease to exist.
Healthy academic units are composed of clinical scholars, skilled educators, and researchers who inspire the best and brightest young people to become committed to our field. We have increased our annual funding for these awards from $500,000 in 2000 to $5 million in the 2009 budget. To support this increase, we have increased our Annual Giving Campaign and have a long-term goal of raising $1 million a year from non-industry sources, which include ACR and ARHP members, other foundations, and the community.
We have started to build an endowment that will sustain our ability to fund the core portfolio in perpetuity and have developed a full-service Planned Giving Program that will ultimately be the most effective way to build the endowment. My hope is that, as we continue to provide a portfolio of grants that meet the needs of the rheumatology community and promote the awards we support, we will be successful at raising the $1 million a year from non-industry sources and building our endowment.