Leadership Blog

PAEA Season of Gratitude: Michel Statler Offers Presidential Reflections & Member Opportunity

Introducing PAEA Season of Gratitude

When I began my presidency in January 2021, I knew there would be challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our members have been operating at surge capacity since March 2020 and have been stressed by the uncertainty of how many more continency plans they would need to make. Aware of these challenges, it wasn’t hard to choose my focus for the year ahead: of course, it would be wellness. Because – though there were many challenges – I knew there would also be opportunities. I know now, as I near the end of my PAEA presidency, that there were more opportunities waiting than I had even imagined.   

As PA educators, how do we describe the past two years? How do we take an experience that brought so much collective grief and use it to our benefit and the benefit of future generations? By practicing gratitude. Throughout the pandemic, in the moments that were especially difficult, practicing gratitude allowed me to refocus on the small wins and what was going right, which in turn helped to restore perspective and allow me to reframe.

In this end-of-year season, I invite you to join me in one last wellness practice. Let’s finish this year by reflecting on all we have to be grateful for: our PA education colleagues, bright and passionate students, loved ones that remind us of the good in our lives, and much more.

You can join our PAEA Season of Gratitude by posting what you’re grateful for to your social media accounts, tagging PAEA, and using the hashtag #PAEASeasonofGratitude.

If you don’t have social media, you can still share your reflections! Email our communications manager, Katie Shelton, at kshelton@jenningsco.com to share why you’re grateful for the chance to be featured in the Networker and on PAEA’s communication channels. 

My 2021 Reflections

As I invite you to join me in sharing what you’re grateful for, I couldn’t miss the chance to share my gratitude with all of you. I am incredibly thankful for my colleagues on the PAEA Board of Directors, who came together beautifully in our virtual world to draft PAEA’s new strategic plan, which will launch next year. Our updated mission statement, which members recently approved, sets the stage for our work over the coming years. Adding equity and inclusion to our mission statement establishes our efforts in this area as a critical priority. 

The work of our volunteer leaders has been outstanding, and I’d like to give a special shout-out and “thank you” to PAEA’s Mission Advancement Commissions (MACs). This year, they each presented a webinar on diversity through their respective lens of research, faculty development, leadership, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Each MAC provided practical strategies for our members to promote DEI at their respective programs and enhance their efforts. You can view the series here.

The ongoing efforts of the PAEA staff to not just maintain the status quo but to develop innovative and thoughtful resources for our member programs have been humbling to see in real-time. The staff has continued to offer support and guide our members through challenging times. From releasing the DEI toolkit to launching our new, member-centric website, creating the virtual Jump Start academy for new faculty, and releasing the Rapid Response Reports to gauge program responses to the pandemic, they have truly gone above and beyond to serve our members.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to focus on wellness this year. I will always be amazed at how tremendously resilient and resourceful program faculty, staff, students, volunteer leaders, and PAEA staff have been throughout the most difficult moments in their careers.

Lastly, I am extremely thankful for the support and encouragement of my fellow board members, the PAEA staff, my UTSW colleagues, and my PAEA family. I look forward to the opportunities of the new year as we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary!