President Jennifer M. Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Bartlett, Illinois | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/22
Jennifer M. Orozco is President of the American Academy of PAs. This is her third term on the AAPA Board of Directors having previously served as Director-at-Large from 2017-2021. Previously she served four terms as a delegate in AAPA’s House of Delegates, representing the Illinois Academy of PAs, and three years on AAPA’s Commission on Government Relations and Practice Advancement (GRPA). In addition to her service in the House of Delegates, her leadership career also extends to multiple constituent organizations, where she served in multiple leadership roles, including president of the Illinois chapter and a member of the PA, Administrators, Managers, and Supervisors (PAAMS) Special Interest Group.
Much of Orozco’s career has been dedicated to both the clinical and academic leadership teams at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Currently, she is the Director of Advanced Practice Providers across the hospital system and she also continues to practice vascular surgery. In addition, Orozco is a member of Rush University’s faculty and an Assistant Professor in the Department of PA Studies.
Orozco is a strong advocate for the advancement of the PA profession and a champion of advocacy efforts on both the state and federal levels. In addition to her work with GRPA, she serves as legislative chair of the Illinois Academy of PAs, as a national-level advisor on the advanced practice provider workforce, and frequently lectures to PA, nursing, and physician audiences on current legislative initiatives impacting the medical team.
Orozco earned a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology at University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master of Medical Sciences in PA Studies from Midwestern University. When not working to advance the profession, Orozco spends most of her free time outdoors and traveling with her three children (Maddux, Matias, and Belicia) in Bartlett, Illinois.
Immediate Past President Beth R. Smolko, DMSc, PA-C
New York City, New York | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/22
Dr. Beth Smolko is the immediate past president of the American Academy of PAs. She has served on AAPA’s Board of Directors since 2016, following several years of service and leadership in AAPA’s House of Delegates. She also served in multiple leadership positions and as president of the Association of Family Practice PAs (AFPPA). She has served as the PA profession representative to national discussions on COVID vaccine strategy, behavioral health and substance use disorder priorities and consultations with national medical organizations, non-profits, government committees and the White House. She is also a member of the Medscape steering committee for Advances in Prevention and Management of COVID-19.
She currently serves as Associate Corporate Medical Director for JPMorgan Chase, one of the top Fortune 50 companies in the world. She is based in New York City and is responsible for the 27 Health & Wellness Centers, providing oversight and service enhancements, such as telemedicine. She also provides direction and strategic planning for Wellness Center operations & processes, clinical services, and support of Global Benefits initiatives.
Dr. Smolko is also a nationally recognized speaker and author on topics in telemedicine including legislative barriers and access to care issues. She was the Lead Clinical Advisor and Telemedicine Lead for Wellness Center Operations for Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the world. She authored Lockheed’s telemedicine white paper used by the corporation to address access-to-care for employees and detailed the financial benefits to the corporation when employees have access to the right care, at the right time, in the right setting.
She was the founding Program Director and Department Chair for Frostburg State University’s PA Medicine Program in rural western Maryland. The program was created to increase access to healthcare in Appalachia and medically underserved areas across the country. She worked to create a state-wide telemedicine curriculum for PA programs across Maryland. She was also Chair of the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) – Maryland West. She also is a board member for the Rocky Vista University Board of Trustees.
Smolko’s passion for accessible, effective, and compassionate patient care led her to found a nonprofit called The Heart of Medicine, dedicated to delivering primary care to poor and underserved communities. As President, she coordinates volunteer medical trips for healthcare professionals, including leading teams of volunteers to deliver healthcare in mobile clinics and non-traditional healthcare settings in Haiti.
Smolko earned a BA in Biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a Master of Medical Science in PA Studies from Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona and a Doctor of Medical Science degree from Lynchburg College. She has also earned Six Sigma Greenbelt certification and is a nationally certified health coach (NSHC).
Vice President and Speaker of the House Todd Pickard, MMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, FASCO
Houston, Texas | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/22
Todd Pickard is serving his sixth term on the AAPA Board of Directors and first term as Speaker of the House of Delegates, building on his 15-plus years of service in the House of Delegates representing the Association of PAs in Oncology (APAO) and the Texas Academy of PAs. He has also served as the president and on leadership boards of both constituent organizations
Specializing in oncology, PA Pickard has spent two decades fighting cancer at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Joining the MD Anderson team as a PA in the department of Urology, PA Pickard has served in other roles including clinical cancer prevention, head and neck medical oncology, lymphoma, and administrative leadership. He currently serves as executive director of advanced practice, while continuing to practice in the urology department.
Inquisitive by nature, PA Pickard has spent a lifetime asking questions and seeking answers. As the PA always asking “how” or “why,” he was often tasked with finding answers when none existed or solutions when the answers weren’t good enough. PA Pickard’s reputation as a problem solver goes well beyond his work at MD Anderson, and extends to his work as a policy maker, legislative advocate, and mentor. Often reflecting on the challenges he’s faced as a PA and administrator, he enjoys being a resource for others and seeing his colleagues empowered.
His leadership journey began by volunteering to solve operational issues early in his career as a clinical PA. When Texas approved prescriptive authority for PAs, PA Pickard volunteered to help design the implementation process for his institution. As a result of these experiences, he was given the opportunity to create, and then interview for, the first PA administrative position in the newly-designated Office of PA Programs at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Advocacy for PAs has led him to other opportunities to serve. PA Pickard was the legislative chair for the Texas Academy of PAs. During his tenure he strengthened the inclusion of PA trainees and pre-PA students in legislative activity. One of his accomplishments was the elimination of PA supervision limits in Texas.
PA Pickard’s passion for oncology practice and increasing the recognition of PAs for their clinical roles in the care of patients with cancer, led him to help create and then serve as the AAPA/APAO Medical Liaison to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, where he worked with others to secure a stronger voice for PAs in Oncology.
PA Pickard earned his Bachelor of Arts in biology from the University of Texas, Austin and his Master of Medical Science from Emory University School of Medicine. A believer in life-long learning, he has also acquired a graduate certificate in health care management from Rice University, and completed MD Anderson certificate programs in administrative leadership and clinical safety and effectiveness. He has earned the designation of AAPA Distinguished Fellow.
Director-at-Large, Desmond Watt, MMS, PA-C
Glen Ellyn, Illinois | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/23
Desmond Watt joins the AAPA Board of Directors as Director-at-Large in 2021. Previously, he chaired the AAPA ad hoc committee on Virtual Health/Telemedicine. He has served as chief delegate to the House of Delegates from the Illinois Academy of PAs (IAPA). He also served as a regional director on the Student Academy Board of Directors.
Watt has practiced for over nine years in primary care and internal medicine and currently serves as Medical Director for Virtual Care Delivery at Eden Health, an independent primary care startup. As a medical director, his practice includes leading clinical teams of PAs, NPs and physicians, as well as development and implementation of a novel virtual care delivery platform.
Watt has prioritized PA advocacy throughout his career, with a focus in the area of telemedicine in recent years. He has increased awareness of PA legislative challenges and worked to improve PA opportunities in this rapidly growing healthcare space. In 2018, Watt co-founded the AAPA special interest group PAs in Virtual Medicine and Telemedicine (PAVMT), serving as its first executive board president and participating on multiple committees. He is also a regular speaker on the topic of telemedicine and telehealth implementation.
Watt earned a Bachelor of Science in molecular and cellular biology at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a Master of Medical Sciences in PA Studies from Midwestern University. He lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters, and enjoys live music, camping, and hiking.
Student Director, Mariah Leroux, PA-C
Durham, North Carolina | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/22
Mariah Leroux (she/her) is the Student Director of the AAPA Board of Directors and President of the AAPA Student Academy. She is a recent graduate of the Duke PA Program in Durham, North Carolina and is excited to be moving to New York to pursue a career in Women’s Health. She is a member of the African Heritage PA Caucus, LBGT PA Caucus, and Association of PAs in OBGYN (APAOG).
Prior to PA school, she worked as a medical assistant for nearly four years in pediatrics, dermatology, and primary care. She participated in the planning of a new free clinic in Norcross, Georgia, and went on to serve as a medical assistant there. She also volunteered at Grace Village Medical Center, another free clinic dedicated to serving the uninsured and underserved populations within the metro Atlanta area.
Since she decided to become a PA, Leroux has been passionate about increasing diversity in the PA profession. She is a firm believer that the PA profession must better reflect the patients it serves, and she is determined to help move the profession forward in this regard.
Originally from southern California, she moved to the Metro Atlanta area as a teenager with her family where she completed her secondary and undergraduate education. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia with her Bachelor of Science and a minor in chemistry. She later earned her Certificate of Graduate Studies in biomedical science from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) Georgia. Throughout her undergraduate and post-baccalaureate studies, she has continued to serve in various leadership roles with the ultimate goal of representation and uplifting others.
In her free time, Leroux enjoys reading, bingeing her favorite TV shows with her partner and spending time with friends and family.
Secretary-Treasurer Lauren G. Dobbs, MMS, PA-C
Aledo, TX | Term: 07/01/20 – 6/30/22
Lauren G. Dobbs is Secretary-Treasurer of the American Academy of PAs. She has experienced a broad spectrum of AAPA leadership opportunities including the AAPA House of Delegates, constituent organizations, and the Student Academy Assembly of Representatives prior to her first election to the AAPA Board of Directors in 2014.
Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Dobbs is a PA, associate professor, department chair and program director at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) Department of PA Studies. She practices clinically at the UNTHSC Department of Pediatrics and directs the department’s Children’s Literacy Program which provides books and literacy education to patients and their parents as part of their well-child checks. The program partners with the local Red Oak Foundation. She also worked in family medicine when she resided in Oklahoma.
Dobbs’ commitment to childhood and professional education is reflective of her start in the profession. As a college student, she knew she wanted a career in healthcare, but wasn’t sure which path to pursue until she shadowed a PA in a rural Kansas clinic and emergency room. She credits her success to family, friends, teachers, students, and patients who encourage and challenge her to keep learning and explore new ideas. Dobbs hopes to offer that same opportunity to others. She has been honored with the UNTHSC Outstanding Preceptor Award six times.
Dobbs believes strongly in the potential for PAs to improve the state of healthcare and has been a dynamic advocate for legislative change in both Texas and Oklahoma. During her term as president of the Texas Academy of PAs (TAPA), the organization was able to work with lawmakers to eliminate practice barriers for PAs and increase the number of AAPA-recognized key elements of PA practice. She was awarded the TAPA Legislative Advocate Award in 2014.
Dobbs received a Bachelor of Science degree in health and exercise science at Wake Forest University and her Master of Medical Science degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine Department of PA Studies.
Director-at-Large, Jeremy A. Adler, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
San Diego, CA | Term: 07/01/20 – 6/30/22
Jeremy A. Adler joined the AAPA Board of Directors in 2020 with diverse leadership experience at national, state, and local levels. He has served AAPA in the House of Delegates, as a member of AAPA commissions and task forces, and as an AAPA representative to other professional associations. Adler has served as president of the California Academy of PAs and was the founding president of the San Diego Society of PAs. He has additionally held leadership positions for the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
For over 20 years, Adler has practiced in the specialty of pain medicine. He practices in a suburb community of San Diego, California, and is a partner, chief operating officer, and provider at Pacific Pain Medicine Consultants. The practice is a group partnership between PAs and physicians which provides the full spectrum of comprehensive pain treatments for people experiencing cancer and non- cancer pain conditions.
As an advocate for advancing both the PA profession and the specialty of pain medicine, Adler has testified in front of California legislative bodies and regulatory agencies. He additionally has served as a medical expert for civil and criminal legal cases.
In the field of pain medicine, Adler has published in peer-reviewed literature, including co-authoring clinical practice guidelines addressing opioids and urine drug monitoring endorsed by national professional organizations. He is a frequent lecturer and has presented to the majority of PAs in California through his work with a PA-specific Controlled Substance Education regulatory course.
In recognition of his service to the PA profession, in 2018 Adler was awarded the California Academy of PAs’ highest honor, Pride of the Profession. He is an AAPA Distinguished Fellow.
Adler’s educational background includes a Doctor of Medical Science from the University of Lynchburg, a Master of PA Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a PA degree from SUNY Stony Brook, and an undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego.
Director/Second Vice Speaker of the House, Peggy Walsh, MS, PA-C
Denver, Colorado | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/22
Peggy Walsh is serving her first term as Director/Second Vice Speaker of the House of Delegates on the AAPA Board of Directors. In 2011, she served on the Board as the Student Director and was concurrently the president of the Student Academy. Since then, she has served in various leadership roles in AAPA House of Delegates. Walsh also served on state chapter boards in Colorado and Texas.
PA Walsh has practiced clinically in surgical specialties for the past 10 years. In her role as a PA in pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery, PA Walsh ran the pediatric outpatient wound care program and played an instrumental role in the development of a multidisciplinary pediatric burn reconstruction clinic. PA Walsh has roots in education, completing a graduate teaching fellowship prior to entering PA school, and has recently transitioned to academia, serving as the director of clinical education for Rocky Vista University PA Program.
PA Walsh has been passionate about advocacy and building engagement in the PA profession since her time as a student. She was selected as a Paul Ambrose Scholar by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research and served as president of her PA program student society prior to her election as Student Academy president. Seeing a need for additional support and engagement early in the PA career, Walsh and other former Student Academy leaders established the Society for Early Career PAs. She continues to advocate for student involvement and has been a legislative advocate at the state and federal levels. She is intentional in engaging PAs and PA students in leadership and the advocacy process. As someone who was mentored by great leaders throughout her career, Walsh hopes to inspire the next generation of PAs who will impact their communities, patients, and healthcare as a whole.
PA Walsh earned her Bachelor of Science in health and exercise science and Master of Science in food science and human nutrition from Colorado State University. She completed her Master of Science in PA Studies from Baylor College of Medicine.
Director-at-Large, Eric P. Martinez, MPAS, PA-C
Houston, Texas | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/23
Eric P. Martinez is excited to join the Board of Directors as Director-at-Large having served in the AAPA House of Delegates since 2014. Martinez brings a history of leadership and service to the profession and the Texas Academy of PAs (TAPA). He has served as student director, legislative chair, and, most recently, as president of TAPA.
Martinez practices emergency medicine at a leading level one trauma center in Houston, Texas. He is currently the director of the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) Emergency Medicine PA Fellowship program and is the clerkship coordinator for PA students rotating through the emergency department. Martinez serves on many departmental committees and was recently elected to the BCM Faculty Senate. He also practices part-time in telemedicine and is a member of a team tasked to incorporate telemedicine into the emergency department for quality improvement and expansion of access to care.
Martinez is fortunate to have several mentors who have helped shape his career. He is passionate about mentoring the new generation of PA clinicians and leaders. He participates in the Texas Gulf Coast Regional PA Society, and the Texas A&M Mentorship Program mentoring pre-PA and PA students.
In recognition of his service to the PA profession he was inducted to the PAEA Pi Alpha Honors Society in 2019 by his PA school alma mater.
Martinez received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Texas A&M University and a Master of PA Studies from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He completed a post-graduate fellowship in emergency medicine at BCM in 2012 and holds a certificate of added qualification (CAQ) in emergency medicine.
Director/First Vice Speaker of the House Leslie Clayton, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Maple Grove, Minnesota | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/22
Leslie Clayton is serving her third term on the AAPA Board of Directors, building on her extensive record of service to the Academy. Beginning her leadership career in the Student Academy’s Assembly of Representatives, she has since held progressive leadership roles in the House of Delegates, representing the Minnesota Academy of PAs, on the Standing Rules Committee, and leading multiple Reference Committees. She also represented the Academy on important policy issues by serving as a member of the PA Full Practice Authority Task Force and representing AAPA on the National Committee for Quality Assurance Patient Centered Medical Home. Her leadership career also extends to multiple constituent organizations, where she served in multiple leadership roles, including president and legislative chair of the Minnesota chapter.
PA Clayton practices family medicine with North Memorial Health in Golden Valley, Minnesota, and holds a formal clinical leadership position as a Primary Care Provider Lead. In this role, she provides administrative support and oversite for three family medicine clinics’ providers, including physicians, PAs, and nurse practitioners (NPs). She is also adjunct faculty at Saint Catherine University Master of PA Studies program, where she has taught since 2014, and guest lecturer at other Minnesota PA programs throughout the year.
PA Clayton is a fierce advocate for improvement of the practice capacity of PAs. As the Minnesota Academy of PAs Legislative Co-Chair she was the lead advocate and writer of the recently passed PA Practice Modernization Act, which removed supervision and delegation of scope of practice from PA practice regulations in the state of Minnesota. This progressive legislation was the result of PA Clayton’s leadership of the legislative efforts and her personal diligence in handling all legislative meetings and lobbyist management over the last four years.
During her career, PA Clayton has worked closely with NPs, often representing both the NP and PA professions on clinical committees, and lecturing on the differences and similarities of each profession.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology at Texas A&M University and a Certificate of PA Studies from Saint Francis University (formerly Saint Francis College) in Pennsylvania. She earned her Master of PA Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a graduate certificate in Integrating High-Value Patient Care and Performance Improvement in Healthcare from Arizona State University.
Director-at-Large, Deanna Bridge Najera, MPAS, MS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Mount Airy, Maryland | Term: 07/01/21 – 6/30/23
Deanna Bridge Najera is serving her first term on the AAPA Board of Directors as Director-at-Large. She previously served AAPA as the chair of the Commission on the Health of the Public, and as a member of the Health Disparities Workgroup. She has also represented Maryland in the AAPA House of Delegates and served as president of the Maryland Academy of PAs from 2019-2020.
Clinically, PA Najera works part-time at a suburban emergency department where she also assists on the system-wide emergency medicine PA advisory council as a legislative and engagement advisor. At a local health department, she serves as the lead clinician of the county’s reproductive health program. She also works at a community mental health clinic, providing outpatient psychiatric services.
With these varied roles, PA Najera has gained an understanding of the complexities of the healthcare and mental health systems, and has seen the various barriers that the public encounters in accessing those systems. PA Najera has also been a regular speaker on a variety of topics at AAPA national conferences and state PA conferences. She has lectured for state and national mental health organizations and has been a guest speaker for PA and mental health graduate programs.
PA Najera attended the University of Maryland, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physiology and neurobiology; Chatham University, earning a master’s degree in PA studies; and Shippensburg University, earning a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.
Director-at-Large, Bethany Grubb, MPH, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Dallas, Texas | Term: 07/01/20 – 6/30/22
Bethany Grubb is serving her first term on the AAPA Board of Directors. She previously served two terms as a delegate in the AAPA House of Delegates representing the Texas Academy of PAs. Her leadership career extends to multiple constituent organizations including President of the Society of Dermatology PAs (SDPA), Founding Trustee and Treasurer of the Dermatology PA Foundation (DPAF), and member of the Professional Education and Development Council for AAPA.
Grubb has advocated for the PA profession nationally for two decades. She has regularly published clinical journal articles and lectured to PA and physician audiences on PA workforce issues, evidence-based medicine, and clinical practice. She has devoted her career to both advocacy and educational programs for PAs in dermatology. She practiced in a private clinical setting for 17 years, six of which she also spent serving as a Faculty Associate in the Department of Dermatology at UT-Southwestern (UTSW). Grubb has now joined the UTSW faculty full time as an Assistant Professor in the Department of PA Studies.
Grubb earned a Bachelor of Science in Education at Baylor University and a Bachelor of Science in PA Studies from UTSW. She completed a post-graduate fellowship in Dermatology at UTSW after completing her PA education. She earned a Master of Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska and a Master of Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. She will begin studies for a PhD program in Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine in the fall.
Grubb is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion within the PA profession and is dedicated to creating opportunities for PA student admission. Grubb has also enjoyed traveling internationally to provide medical care in the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and South Africa.
Chief Executive Officer Lisa Gables
Lisa Gables is an association executive with extensive experience in health care and aging services. She is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Development Officer for the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), responsible for fostering external strategic outreach to individuals and like-minded organizations. She is also responsible for developing and implementing an overarching and integrated strategy that generates opportunities to provide the PAF and AAPA funding to support their missions.
Prior to joining AAPA and the PA Foundation, Gables was the executive director of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) Foundation and the chief development officer of ASCP where she was responsible for similar roles. Before that she was the executive director of the National Adult Day Services Association, where she increased awareness of adult day services with federal regulators while managing all aspects of the association’s operations. Prior to that, she was the chief financial officer of the National Council on the Aging and vice president of finance and business development for Active Services Corporation, the nation’s largest adult day services, home care and rehabilitation network.
Gables also served as finance manager and senior financial analyst for Birmingham Baptist Medical Center and held financial positions with ReLife, Inc. and Ernst & Young. She is a certified public accountant with a degree in business administration and accounting from the University of Louisville, KY.
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Governance Documents and Polices
Please refer to Governance Documents and Policies webpage.
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