In 1987, attendees at the San Antonio annual meeting of the American Association of Electromyography & Electrodiagnosis’ (AAEE, AANEM’s predecessor) were introduced to a new Meeting Manager, Kathy Smith. Twenty-seven years and 27 annual meetings later, Kathy has announced her retirement, effective December 12, 2014.
“While we all wish her the best in the coming years, we also know that her smiles … and hugs … and dogged determination … are going to be always remembered,” stated Past-President Francis O. Walker, MD.
Kathy was hired by retired Executive Director Ella Van Laningham who noted that Kathy had the “perfect assets for her position. She is a people person -- radiant and warm -- and yet also had organizational and administrative abilities … When she turned down my initial salary offer, I thought ‘yep,’ she also has the backbone to stand up to the challenges you face in preparing for and handling the logistics of the annual meeting itself.”
Named Meeting Director in 2002, Kathy ably faced those organizational and administrative challenges. Comparing three of the first meetings she planned – 1989-1991, when average attendance was 752 physicians -- to three of the most recent meetings she planned – 2011-2013, when attendance averaged 1,015 – is testament to her abilities.
Executive Director Shirlyn Adkins added, “Throughout her time with AANEM, Kathy has worked with her committees to ensure our annual meeting included the latest information in electrodiagnostic and neuromuscular medicine. But anyone that knows Kathy recognizes that what will really be missed is the way she made everyone feel like part of the family. Her smile greeted you when you arrived … she embraced you in a hug … then asked about your family, your pets, your latest travel plans … before putting you to work.”
In recognition of her dedicated service to the association, Dr. Walker presented Kathy with a sailboat plaque at this year’s Savannah annual meeting. “Eleanor Roosevelt once said: ‘To handle yourself, use your head, to handle others, use your heart,’” he said during the presentation. “Kathy, you have been the ideal role model for the AANEM in this way. On behalf of the Board of Directors, committees, and all of our members, we thank you for your years of dedicated service to the association. You will be missed.”
To hear Kathy’s words of farewell to all of you, check out this video