The PAACS Fall 2023 Conference was a remarkable event that brought together participants from around the world on Friday, October 13th, in Chicago. This hybrid meeting continues to be a truly global gathering. Eighty-five individuals attended in person and almost thirty guests attended virtually. It provided a unique opportunity for attendees to gain valuable insights into the inner workings of PAACS. We were honored to welcome both past and present faculty members, including two accomplished PAACS graduates, Dr. Jack Barasa and Dr. Gezahegne Tilahun.
The PAACS Conference -- previously designated as the Board of Directors Open Session -- was attended by members of the PAACS Board of Directors, leadership, faculty, partners, administration, and guests. It featured updates from many current programs and a noteworthy presentation on the upcoming program scheduled to begin in January at Centro Evangélico de Medicina do Lubango (CEML) in Angola. Former PAACS Program Director, Dr. Wendy Wilmore, shared her journey over the last year; and Dr. Beth Steubing spoke of her inspiring path which she started as missionary kid and has now become PAACS faculty.
Additionally, the conference featured special presentations by a few PAACS partners including Dr. Peter Sauders, CEO of ICMDA, Peter Lublink, Executive Director of BethanyKids, and Warren White, Chair of the Christian Healthcare Executive Collaborative (CHEC). We are thankful for the growing number of partnerships that have been created over the last 27 years since PAACS began. Beyond programs and partners, five PAACS graduates presented including Dr. Chege Macharia, the Executive Director at AIC Kijabe Hospital. We also heard from Drs. Mugisha Nkoronko, Dieudonne Lemfuka, Jack Barasa, and Gezahegn Tilahun. The newly-formed Women in Surgery workgroup presented findings from their recent survey and chairs of all PAACS committees provided updates.
As with every conference, at the heart of the event we highlighted the significance of prayer in this ministry. It was woven throughout the entire meeting. Prayer provides a beautiful opportunity for those dedicated to our mission to come together, uniting before our God. We offered praise and thanks for all that He has accomplished through our programs, partners, and graduates.
On Saturday, a special session was held specifically for those interested in serving as a short- or long-term missionary for PAACS. The session included a panel to discuss some Do’s and Don’ts and a discussion around spouses and family engagement. It concluded with discussions on how to become PAACS faculty and how to make an impact after a short-term mission trip.
The Closed Session of the Board of Directors meeting took place on Saturday and was attended by voting members of the PAACS Board of Directors, ex-officio members, and staff. During this session, the Board engaged in discussions covering a range of important topics. The FY 2022-2023 audit was presented and PAACS received a clean and unmodified report. The audit and current finances were approved by the Board of Directors. Other items discussed included a detailed review of the survey conducted by the Women in Surgery workgroup, an update on the strategic plan, reviews of new and future programs, and funding for specialty programs.
Additionally, an election of open positions was held and the results are detailed below:
Chair – Dr. Louis Pisters
Vice Chair – Dr. Mike Skinner
Secretary – Dr. Emad Asham
Member-at-Large – Dr. Kayle Lee and Dr. Mark Snell
Community Representative – Mr. Ervin Barham
Spiritual Representative – Dr. William Wilson
The residency councils nominated Dr. Randall Owen as the Representative for the Consortium of Fellowship Councils. However, the Representative for the Consortium of Residency Councils remains open.
The PAACS 2023 Fall Conference was a great success, and it demonstrated the commitment of PAACS to its mission of training and discipling African surgeons and related specialists to provide excellent care.