The leadership of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) will change in the new year, with a familiar face taking over as executive director.
Melissa DeBilzan, who formerly served as communications director for the chapter, was selected as the new executive director by the chapter’s board, effective January 1, 2019. She replaces Katherine Cairns, MPH, MBA who will continue to serve as the executive director of the chapter’s philanthropic arm, the Minnesota Academy of Pediatrics Foundation (MAPF).
Cairns, a seasoned health care consultant, joined the chapter as executive director in 2007. In addition to steadily growing the chapter’s membership, she initiated multiple grant-funded projects in partnership with pediatricians to help clinics improve pediatric immunization rates, mental health access, implement health care homes/medical homes, promoted use of bilingual Community Health Workers to improve pediatric care, support food insecurity screening, and other efforts.
DeBilzan joined MNAAP in 2009 as the communications director. Initially charged with overseeing the chapter’s quarterly publication and weekly member email, her responsibilities soon included member recruitment, engagement, education, and advocacy efforts. DeBilzan has staffed work groups and overseen grant initiatives aimed at addressing pediatric obesity, child abuse, poverty, and disparities. She is a graduate from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in journalism and lives in White Bear Lake with her husband and five children.
Bethany Venable has assumed the responsibilities of communications manager for MNAAP. Venable joins the chapter with more than a decade of communications experience in news, and non-profit public relations and marketing.