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Public Volunteers Contribute to ABP Mission

Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 00:30

Rutledge Hutson is a child advocate and a mom. She also volunteers as one of two public (non-physician) members* of the 15-member ABP Board of Directors.

“It’s important that the Board has people who are not physicians to bring a different perspective to decisions,” she says.

Public members represent parents and other members of the public who rely on certification as a way of knowing that a pediatrician has completed an accredited pediatric training program and continues to stay up to date on the latest medical knowledge and best practices.

“To parents, certification means that a doctor has made the effort to go above and beyond what’s required for a state license and that they care about high standards,” Hutson says.

Hutson, an attorney, started her career working for a commercial law firm in Atlanta. She also volunteered on a foster care review board set up to help relieve juvenile court backlogs by hearing cases and making recommendations to the judges.

“I was helping one family at a time,” she says, “but the whole system was broken.”

She then earned a Master of Public Health so she could better discuss research on factors that impact children’s well-being (including health, poverty, and maltreatment) with policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels. She worked for 15 years in Washington, DC, for the Center for Law and Social Policy and for the Children’s Defense Fund.

In 2008, Hutson was asked to participate on the ABP Long-Range Planning Committee. She was on that committee, which became the Strategic Planning Committee, until 2015. She also chaired the Conflict of Interest Committee from 2011 until 2016. In that role, she helped the ABP update its conflict of interest (COI) policy and formalize COI oversight. She was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2014 for a six-year term.

In 2016, her daughter, Khadija (pictured with Hutson), was diagnosed with a chronic, debilitating condition that has required frequent appointments with specialists, weekly therapies, and trips to the hospital.

“I brought an additional perspective to the Board then, as the parent of a chronically ill child,” she says. “I know firsthand how vital it is to have confidence in the training, knowledge, professionalism, thoroughness, and teamwork of your child’s doctors. When your child is admitted to the hospital unexpectedly, you don’t have time to research the doctors caring for your child, but knowing they are board certified reassures you that they meet very rigorous standards.”

“Rutledge has a very analytical mind,” says Ann Burke, MD, Chair of the ABP Board of Directors and Professor of Pediatrics at Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University Medical School in Ohio. “She helps us see any unintentional consequences that might be hidden in our decisions and policies. Her perspectives always enrich our discussions.”

*Diane Pickles, a public health advocate from Massachusetts, also is a public member of the ABP Board. Six ABP committees and the ABP Foundation Board of Directors also have public members.