The 2021 recipients of the AOA’s recently reinstated Bob E. Jones, CAE Award include Pete Wertheim, former executive director of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association (AOMA), who received the honor posthumously, and Brian Bowles, executive director of the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (MAOPS). Wertheim and Bowles were selected in recognition of their leadership and tremendous contributions toward advancing osteopathic medicine.
This year, the AOA reinstated the award, which is named in honor of Bob E. Jones, CAE, who served as executive director of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association from 1969–1999, and whose 30-year leadership of the association resulted in numerous advances for the profession.
Wertheim served as president of the Association of Osteopathic State Executive Directors (AOSED) and was instrumental in the review and formalization of policies, guidelines, and contracts for the organization. He was inclusive, transparent, and brought a new level of professionalism. Wertheim also made significant contributions to the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association (AOMA), where he served as executive director from 2014–2020. During his tenure with AOMA, legislative advocacy was one of his top priorities.
“Pete embodied dedication, professionalism, and advocacy to the AOSED community,” says Vicki Whitaker, president of AOSED and executive director of the Kansas Association of Osteopathic Medicine. “He strove for excellence for AOSED and took into consideration all of the state affiliates’ needs.”
Wertheim recognized that one size does not fit all in governance with the affiliates as each is unique, notes Whitaker, who nominated Wertheim for the award.
“Pete’s illustrious career as the executive director of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association and President of AOSED was abruptly and tragically cut short with his diagnosis of a brain tumor in December 2019,” she says. “Even facing a terminal diagnosis, he expressed his concern for his association, AOSED and for me personally, which just illustrates his strength and character. He truly deserved the award while living, and this is a way to recognize the legacy of this great man.”
As executive director of MAOPS, Bowles’ accomplishments include virtual CME implementation, development of a Physician Wellness Weekend curriculum, installation of an A.T. Still bust at the Missouri Capitol Hall of Famous Missourians, overall improvements to MAOPS’ infrastructure and organizational efficiency, and his leadership among his peers. Bowles also previously served as president of AOSED.
“MAOPS was ahead of the power curve when it comes to online CME because of Brian’s ingenuity and foresight into the need for more accessible CME for busy physicians, especially this past year,” says Victoria Damba, DO, who nominated Bowles for the award. “He helped guide our education committee in developing Simply CME programs and then reached out to other state affiliates to offer participation, which was hugely successful.”
Earlier this year, MAOPS’ annual meeting had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, but Bowles helped lead a successful online event that offered 48 hours of CME, she notes.
“Brian is always there for us, professionally and personally, when we call,” Dr. Damba says. “He is a very busy person, but he makes us all feel important when he is interacting with us during meetings and other events.”
Wertheim and Bowles will be recognized during the AOA House of Delegates Annual Meeting in July.