2023 AAHB Election Results
Julie Croff, PhD, MPH, FAAHB
Dr. Julie Croff is a Professor, with tenure, in the Department of Rural Health at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. She currently serves as the Associate Director of the NIGMS-funded Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity. She has served in other administrative roles on the OSU campus, including in Director roles of the National Center for Wellness and Recovery, the Center for Family Resilience, and the Master of Public Health program. Dr. Croff’s research focuses on periconceptional and perinatal health behaviors among diverse cohorts of women. She is currently the Principal Investigator of two studies funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, including as PI of the Oklahoma site of the HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) study, a national longitudinal research project which seeks to better understand the role of prenatal exposures on neurodevelopment. She has called AAHB her academic home since 2011 and Fellow (class of 2021), and has served the membership in multiple roles. She has served as Member Delegate (2015), she supported the 2019 Annual Conference Planning Committee, and has also chaired the Membership Council (2016 – 2019).
I am deeply appreciative for the nomination to serve as President of the American Academy of Health Behavior. Like many members, I was first invited to the Academy by a mentor, Dr. John Clapp. At an AAHB conference, you really don’t have to be very extraverted to make a friend or two. Walking through a lobby any afternoon of a conference there are always lots of side conversations about grants, papers, family, and life. I’m confident that a new member today would have these same interactions – meet a stranger, find a new collaborator, and probably make a new friend, too. The focus on small group interactions and dedication to supporting mentoring highlights the lived value of the academy.
If elected President of AAHB, my vision is to continue the collegiality we experience at the annual conference to the other 11-months of the year. Our growth requires emphasis on retention of our membership through expanded opportunities for engagement and multi-level mentorship. Together these will ensure value to our membership by creating opportunities for grants and manuscripts.
Engagement. My vision includes increasing the value to members, by enhancing opportunities for bi-directional engagement. In the age of team science and multi-site R01s, I envision engagement of members in cross-cutting working groups, organized by health behavior topic. These working groups would have two co-chairs who could report into the Professional Development and Mentoring Council structure. Governance of WG would be self-organized, some may consider sub-groups for specific populations (e.g. a healthy eating work group might have a sub-group addressing adolescent nutrition; a sub-group of novel technologies researchers and substance use researchers may form a sub-group in response to an RFP or NOSI). WG meetings could enhance collaboration around special issues in Health Behavior Research or other journals; and enhance collaboration around grants or notices of special interest. Unlike a webinar, these calls will be designed to showcase expertise in the membership and action-oriented follow-up. Like the annual meeting, the goal of these opportunities to interact and engage will be to increase collaboration on scientific grants and manuscripts; and to support multi-level mentoring within the organization. Year-round engagement will enhance the value to members and structuring around the annual meeting will enhance working and networking opportunities each year.
Multi-level Mentorship. I also envision expansion of opportunities for multi-level mentorship, including peer- and near-peer- mentoring. This vision is only possible because of the leadership of previous Presidents and collaborative opportunities between Membership Council, Professional Development and Mentoring Council, and the Diversity and Equity Council. Generate continued opportunities for multi-level mentorship allows an opportunity for engagement by peers and near-peers (folkx just a few steps ahead, but at the same career stage). Peer and near-peer mentoring could be structured with existing mentorship programs to create mentoring teams and maximize benefit.
Value to Members. Together, a focus on development of work groups and multi-level mentorship will add value to the membership by fostering collaborations that can result in manuscripts and grants. The dual-benefit is that these activities can help us retain our conference-vibes, enthusiasm for our science, and dynamic collaborations across the country. As past chair of Membership Council, I understand the critical importance of our Academy membership. While our membership continues to increase year-over-year, many of the new members are replacing members we cannot retain. A focus on retention of members, including provision of value for our members, is critical for our business model.
Thank you for your consideration. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the academy. I have gained by being a member and hope to return the kindness to the membership.
Meg Patterson, PhD, MPH
Member Delegate Statement:
Greetings! I’m Meg Patterson and am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior at Texas A&M University. I earned my MPH in Community Health from Baylor University in 2012, and my PhD in Health Education from Texas A&M University in 2016. My research is focused on using social network analysis to determine the impact social connections and social structure have on various health behaviors and outcomes.
I began attending AAHB's annual meetings as a graduate student in 2012, and have since appreciated and grown from continued participation with the Academy. Specific to AAHB, I have served on an ad-hoc committee led by Dr. Renee Umstattd Meyer in partnership with the Diversity and Equity Council focused on preventing gender and power-based harassment and violence in conference settings, and I served as the 2022 Research Review Chair, where I oversaw and orchestrated the presentation proposal submission, review, and scheduling processes for the 2022 meeting in Key Largo. I also participated as a mentee in AAHB’s 2020 RSMP program with her mentor Dr. Katie Heinrich, who I still collaborate with now. AAHB has been, and continues to be, a fundamental part of my professional journey, and it would be an honor to serve as the newest Member Delegate for this organization.
My AAHB experience has undoubtedly been positive and transformative in my growth, development, and learning as a health behavior researcher and as Member Delegate, I would aim to support and facilitate a similar (or BETTER) membership experience for others. What I love about AAHB is the way the organization prioritizes scientific rigor within a warm and inclusive environment. I want to represent and maintain this structure of good science among great people, while also evolving the organization in ways that make sense for our current membership and changing world. This means being thoughtful and creative about ensuring AAHB remains a rigorous and welcoming place for folks across career phases, research foci, and individual backgrounds, while also being receptive to the membership’s needs and ideas as we collectively press on into the future. Ultimately as Member Delegate, but also as an AAHB member in general, I hope to champion what makes AAHB a community of great people doing good science. Thank you for considering me for this position, it’s an honor to be nominated.