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Women's Dermatologic Society: New President Shares Hopes for Enduring Positive Change on Organization and Dermatology

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Dermatology Times recently spoke with Latanya Benjamin, MD, FAAD, FAAP, the newly-appointed president of the WDS, to discuss her hopes and goals for her presidency.

During the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, Latanya Benjamin, MD, FAAD, FAAP, was inducted as the president of the Women's Dermatologic Society (WDS).

Benjamin is a board-certified and fellowship trained pediatric dermatologist, an associate professor of pediatric dermatology at Florida Atlantic University, and founder of Young Skin, a private medical practice based in South Florida. She is also a published author, speaker, and media health contributor.

Prior to beginning her tenure as president, Benjamin served as vice president of the WDS.

She recently spoke with Dermatology Times to discuss her vision and outline her goals for the WDS as she embarks on her presidency.

"I just want others to understand there is strength in supporting and honoring individual choices. I say this with the understanding that we are here to protect, serve, and champion each other," she said. "One thing I believe is that women need to be celebrated always, and I want to step intentionally into the next 50 years and leave enduring positive change."

Q&A

Q: What inspired you to take on this leadership role, and what do you hope to achieve during your tenure?

A: I think it was definitely a natural progression to make a difference in an organization that I love so much. It has given me so many opportunities and beautiful friendships, with other lead dermatologists around the country that I probably would not have been exposed to in my silo of being a pediatric dermatologist. So having already served as a vice president and president elect, it's just a natural progression.

Q: Can you share your vision for the Women's Dermatologic Society under your leadership? What specific goals do you have for advancing the organization's mission and impact?

A: I have multiple visions. I think my three primary goals are that this organization will remain a place of inclusion.

My second goal is to have the WDS remain as a place to celebrate other female dermatologists and to learn to celebrate oneself.

My third goal is to have the WDS remain a place for professional development and mentorship at every stage in one's career.

Q: How do you plan to further enhance opportunities for women within the field during your presidency?

A: There are multiple ways to go about that. I'm really excited for some exciting changes in the upcoming Women's Dermatologic Forum in Nashville that will occur on September 13th through 15th. This is going to be an opportunity for our leadership, our membership industry, sponsors, to retreat, reflect, and rest. It's going to be a beautiful time for networking, re-engaging, collaborating, and celebrating one another.

Q: How do you hope to intend or intend to foster a more diverse and inclusive environment within the Women's Dermatologic Society?

A: One of my goals is to continue to foster an environment where everyone feels that they have a place and purpose in our society. That is not exclusive to just women, but we actually welcome and encourage men who appreciate and support our mission.

My other goal is to welcome all our sister societies to be represented and engaged in partnership with us. For example, my personal mission, being a pediatric dermatologist, is to encourage collaboration between the Society of Pediatric Dermatology--and leading with transparency. I also want to embrace people of all different stations in their life, whether they're single, married, embrace those of all sexual orientations, and to honor people that have diverse career choices and paths. So for example, if they're trying to move from full time to part time, or they are shifting from academic to private practice and vice versa, or those that want to learn, or are considering career options within dermatology, that's a way to expand what I consider inclusivity.

I also feel that international colleagues are important to our mission, and so I want to extend globally with warm invitations to our international colleagues to join forces and enrich our community in our efforts.

Q: What are some key projects or programs that you plan to implement to promote professional growth and development of women dermatologists?

A: There are wonderful programs that are currently in place and launched, and I want to continue to develop that along with new initiatives and make it very accessible to our membership.

I will be building a pipeline to shepherd new mentors into the organization. Oftentimes, when new members are brought into any professional society, sometimes they're not really sure how they can become better involved, or participate, or develop into leadership positions. I'm going to ensure that there's a transparent pipeline for that. I'm going to house a new,
special program with the WDS Forum, and make that more of a professional retreat where we'll have programming for professional development.

Q: What message would you like to convey to members of the WDS, or your fellow women dermatologists, as you embark on your journey as president?

A: As their new president, I pledge to be a conduit of their voices, a reflector of their ambitions, and a steward of our collective mission, that every WDS woman is empowered to realize her full potential.

I feel that at this time in history, as we write our next chapter,
the WDS has just concluded 50 years of trailblazing work, and we're going to continue and launch in the pursuit of unyielding excellence in the next 50 years.

I just want others to understand there is strength in supporting and honoring individual choices. I say this with the understanding that we are here to protect, serve, and champion each other. One thing I believe is that
women need to be celebrated always, and I want to step intentionally into the next 50 years and leave enduring positive change.

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