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Transition at IHPC: Sheila Quinn Steps Down as Chair, Len Wisneski, MD Takes Interim Role PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Transition at IHPC: Sheila Quinn Steps Down as Chair, Len Wisneski, MD Takes Interim Role

Summary: A decade ago US Senator Tom Harkin told Sheila Quinn and other leaders of what would become the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) that a unified voice across diverse integrative practice interests could be helpful in lobbying ideas through Congress. Since IHPC's incorporation in 2002, the team Quinn has chaired has worked hard to play that role, endured periods of low budget and virtually no budget on the volunteerism of board and staff alike as IHPC accrued a growing list of accomplishments. On March 17, 2010, IHPC announced a transition at its helm. Quinn is stepping down and long-time integrative medicine leader Len Wisneski, MD will become IHPC's interim chair. Here is the IHPC release on the transition, with reflections on what IHPC has accomplished in the Quinn era, and the challenges ahead.
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Transition in boiard chair
Building coalitions to support federal policy advances for integrative practice has both the excitement of pioneering and the exasperation of carrying big ideas on puny budgets. Since 2002, under the direction of founding chair Sheila Quinn, the
Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium has made significant contributions while operating with little to no paid staff. Quinn recently chose to step down as chair. Long-time integrative medicine leader and IHPC board member Len Wisneski, MD, will take over as IHPC's interim chair. This is the release from IHPC on the transition, with comments below.

Changing of the Guard at Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium

Press Release from IHPC, Sent by Janet Kahn, PhD, IHPC Executive Director
(with minor changes in layout and links added)

March 16, 2010: The Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC)  today announced that Board Chair Sheila Quinn has decided to retire from that role, and will complete her duties at the close of the March 2010 board meeting.  Quinn has guided the organization since its inception.

Sheila Quinn: IHPOC's founding chair steps down
IHPC's executive director, Janet Kahn, in making the announcement, expressed the organization's deep gratitude for Quinn's guidance over the years.
"She has been a steady hand at the helm as she oversaw our growth from an idea to an organization that has earned respect from the integrated healthcare community, and has real effect on Capitol Hill. Her knowledge of the field, the players, and the needs of a developing organization has served us w ell. We wish her joy and satisfaction in her next endeavors, and we trust that we will always be in touch."
Quinn will be succeeded by Leonard Wisneski, MD, a long-term member of the IHPC board and a leader in the field of integrative health care who has agreed to serve as Interim Board Chair.
Of her time at IHPC, Quinn said:
"I have regarded it as an honor and a serious responsibility to fill the role of Chair of IHPC's Board of Directors since its inception as an independent nonprofit organization 8 years ago. At the time, it was a natural segue from the work I had done (along with Candace Campbell and Pamela Snider, ND) on the National Plan to Advance Integrated Health Care and (with many others) the National Dialogue on Integrated Health Care: Finding Common Ground. These years have been filled with excitement about important achievements, wonderful collaborations with dedicated and talented colleagues, and - inevitably - the stresses associated with securing funding and the natural setbacks that accompany any political endeavor. My deepest thanks and respect to all my IHPC colleagues over the years, and to everyone who has contributed to what is now a very broad-based national effort to create an effective integrated healthcare system for all."
Wisneski said, about assuming his new duties:
"It is an honor to serve as interim Chair of IHPC. With discussions of healthcare reform as a major Capitol Hill focus now and for the coming years, IHPC is in a pivotal position to affect legislation to assist in providing a level playing field for all licensed healthcare providers and access for consumers to the range of healthcare approaches that they want. I have personally witnessed the beneficial responses of patients, including quality of life parameters, when exposed to an integrated approach to treatment over the three decades of my medical practice in Bethesda, Maryland. IHPC as an umbrella organization representing a broad range of healthcare associations, professionals, and consumers, can help move American healthcare to an expanded, integrated system that not only approaches the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and pathology, but also incorporates and supports those practices and lifestyle changes that will lead individuals toward optimal vitality."
Dr. Wisneski is author of the well-reviewed book The Scientific Basis of Integrative Medicine.

Len Wisneski, MD: IHPC's incoming chair
Quinn, now a freelance medical writer and editor, previously served as co-founder and Vice President of Bastyr University (1978-1990), Executive Director of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (1993-2000), and Senior Editor at The Institute for Functional Medicine (2000-2007). She recently co-authored and edited 21st Century Medicine: A New Model for Medical Education and Practice for the Institute for Functional Medicine.

The Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium is a broad coalition of healthcare professionals, consumers, and organizations driving public policy. The organization's mission is to ensure all Americans access to safe, high quality, integrated health care-and to the building blocks of health, including whole foods and clean air and water. IHPC has created the field's first Online Action Network for consumers and practitioners of complementary, alternative, and integrated healthcare, and all people interested in creating policy that supports healthy lifestyles. You can learn more about IHPC at and join the network at that site by clicking on Take Action.

US Senator Tom Harkin: Urging the value of combined action for integrative practice
: Alignment of interest note: I have had a close relationship with Quinn that goes back 27 years, a collegial relationship with Wisneski that goes back a decade and with the IHPC that dates to its beginning when
commitments of $2000-$5000 each from 10 organizations made roughly $30,000 was available for start-up with then executive director Matt Russell.

Do the math. That's not a lot of capital. Quinn references "the stresses associated with securing funding." She understates the challenges IHPC has faced. The organization's track record under Quinn, including roles this past year in placing integrative practice in health reform legislation, is exemplary given its low level of financial support. One example:
Quinn took the initial lead in the grant proposal that led to the National Education Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care and the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care. A part of this success can certainly be attributed to the quality of people Quinn, her board and current executive director Janet Kahn, PhD, attracted and retained over time.

Yet for some reason the organization has not yet gained lift off in a big way. Are integrative practice organizations actually lousy policy collaborators? Is there something in IHPC's organization, structure or make-up which has kept organizations from joining? Are funds so scarce that financial commitment to collaboration is simply beyond budget boundaries?  

I have learned from Kahn that IHPC's transition in leadership is coming at a time in which IHPC is also re-working its bylaws and clarifying its structure for participation and representation. Perhaps these changes will strengthen its appeal as a working coalition. I hope so.

Meantime, my advice to IHPC and to Wisneski in IHPC's transition is to do what IHPC was established to do. That is: Be the 501c4 lobbying organization that you legally are. Use the agreements on priorities you already have created and forge more. Then lobby, lobby, lobby for inclusion and change. Make inroads on the ground in DC and build support for what, as a consortium, IHPC is uniquely capable of delivering. Develop partnerships, where appropriate, with similarly-disposed national organizations. (The Alliance for Natural Health-USA (ANH) comes to mind. Though of different origin, make-up, culture and philosophical bent, on some campaigns the two organization's strengths can complement each other.) Develop relationships and work them.

I hope that Wisneski, whose experience includes operating an early integrative medicine clinic, diverse roles in academic medicine and
years of living inside the energy of the Beltway, will prove just the fellow to take IHPC's realized and potential energy and give it a boost. Harkin gave us all wise counsel. As I explore in this recent column, I agree with the value of consortium.  IHPC, in its strengths and "stressors" under Quinn, remains our present best bet for multi-stakeholder action at the federal level.

So, my earnest good luck, Len and Janet and your board. And thanks, Sheila.

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