Board of Directors, Profiles

Q-and-A with PAEA’s New President

By Marsea NelsonJanuary 4, 2016

Photo of Jen smiling, looking to her right

Get to know your new leader, Jennifer Snyder, PhD, PA-C.

The facts about PAEA’s new president?

She’s been in PA education for 16 years, is the PA program director at Butler University in Indianapolis, and has served on the Association’s Board of Directors for three years.

What kind of leader will she be?

For that, we went straight to the source.

When you joined the PAEA Board of Directors in 2012, did you have your sights set on the presidency or was that an interest that developed later on?
I believe that the director at large position is an opportunity to get your feet wet. I think if you run for director at large, you should be thinking beyond that position and consider serving as an officer. Whether that’s the presidency or secretary or treasurer remains to be seen, but for me, that was the thought process.

As president, what are you most excited about?
Just the opportunities that the Association has. We have some big challenges in front of us, whether its advocacy, accreditation or the impact we can make in health care and health care education. It’s pretty tremendous.

Any perks of the job that you’re looking forward to?
Absolutely. Working with a great board, incredible people, and staff. And the networking and friendships that are developed. It’s not that we all see eye-to-eye on every issue, but there are great opportunities for discussion, collaboration, and friendship-building that would not happen otherwise.

Over the next year, what is the biggest challenge or decision you anticipate the Association will face?
Making sure we stay focused on our mission: the education of PAs and helping member programs be the best that they can be. There are many opportunities and directions that we can go, but there are limited resources — both financial and human— so we really need to focus on serving our member programs.

What have you learned from observing previous PAEA presidents that will help you in your new role?
I think each president brought a unique perspective to the position. The way each of them handled different situations was always with a great deal of care and respect, but it was very much in different ways, with a different tenor. I appreciated the variety. Their strengths were completely different, but they all did a great job.

group in PAEA jerseys
Then-President Stephane VanderMuelen surprised her fellow Board members with PAEA jerseys during the 2015 Education Forum. (Photo credit: Jennifer Jarmin/PAEA)

Last year, President Stephane VanderMeulen’s present to the Board — the PAEA jerseys — was pretty awesome. Are you feeling the pressure?
She certainly set the bar high. Again, whether you’re talking about [Past President] Connie, [Past President] Karen or Stephane, the pressure is there.

In your career, what is the one accomplishment you’re most proud of?
I mean, this is pretty cool.

Serving as PAEA president is a huge time commitment. How do you plan on juggling that with all of your other responsibilities?
I like to plan ahead; organization is key. My family and the faculty back at Butler are incredibly supportive. I’ll have help from the other Board members. A lot of help from a lot of other people I suppose is the real answer.

Everyone loves a good inspirational quote; is there one that motivates you?
Winston Churchill said, “These are great days.” I think sometimes we get mired in the day-to-day activities of life. It’s important to remind ourselves how fortunate we are in so many ways.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I’m a living organ donor. I donated my kidney to my mom five years ago. It was an awesome opportunity to be able to share that with my mom. She’s doing great; we’re doing great.

What advice would you give to those who are considering volunteer leadership positions but haven’t yet taken the plunge?
With these leadership positions, you always get more than you give. That’s the real truth. Yes, it is time consuming, but it’s paid back 10-fold.

Marsea Nelson
Marsea Nelson

Marsea serves as public affairs manager at the Physician Assistant Education Association. She helps write and edit the Association's external communications.