AAD presidency 'icing on the cake'

March 1, 2006

Stephen Stone, M.D., dermatologist, professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Ill., and new president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), says that an organization worth volunteering for is, probably, worth leading.

Stephen Stone, M.D., dermatologist, professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Ill., and new president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), says that an organization worth volunteering for is, probably, worth leading.

Dr. Stone, who practices in Springfield, Ill., walks the talk. He has volunteered for a long list of professional and community service organizations - leading many of them.

Long history

Dr. Stone helped to launch the Illinois Dermatological Society in the late 1970s and served as secretary-treasurer and later, president. He also presided over the Noah Worcester Dermatological Society in 2001.

Community and faith have driven Dr. Stone to volunteer. He has served as treasurer of the board of directors of the Hope School for multiply handicapped children, has been very active in the Jewish community, and was chairman of the board of trustees for Springfield's public library and, subsequently, the Library Foundation.

Lessons in leadership

As a volunteer active in many organizations, Dr. Stone learned important lessons in leadership.

"People do not respond to letters; they respond to people," he says. "Your commitment has to come first in any organization. If you are going to be a leader or fundraiser for the organization, if you do not back up your own commitment, no one else will."

For nearly three decades, he has made nearly annual visits to Israel because of his involvement in various Jewish organizations. For the past 15 years, he has been going to Israel on information-gathering trips, to report back to the community about what is going on in Israel - the politics, economy and the country's relationship with the Palestinians.

"We spend a week going to academic centers in Tel Aviv and meeting with foreign journalists and government ministers, often including the foreign minister and, sometimes, the prime minister," he says. "It is fascinating. When the peace process was going stronger, we were the last American group to meet with (former Prime Minister Yitzhak) Rabin before he was killed. We also were the first American Jewish group to meet (Yassir) Arafat in Gaza."

Lessons learned

Dr. Stone's advice to anyone who is interested in getting involved in medical leadership is that 80 percent of success is, simply, showing up.

"Most of us in dermatology are bright and capable, but for various reasons we do not want to take the time to go to meetings, speak out and be involved," Dr. Stone says.

Dr. Stone has managed to balance his professional, personal and advocacy lives. He says that his wife, Lisa, and he are very much alike. Retired from her job as a systems analyst for the Department of Public Health for the State of Illinois, Mrs. Stone has been involved in many of the same community organizations he has, also rising to the level of president with some.

His children have been influenced by the family's devotion to advocacy as well.

"When my daughter was 5 or 6 years old, at the dinner table one night, she said, 'I can't wait until I grow up, so that I can go to meetings,' " Dr. Stone says.

AAD focus

Taking the helm of the AAD at this month's annual meeting is the icing on the cake for Dr. Stone's long volunteer career.

"It is an organization that I have devoted so much of my life to that to be the president is just an incredible honor," he says.