Published: May 1, 2024

2024 Above and Beyond Awards

Dr. Denneny recognizes extraordinary individual efforts that reach “above and beyond” the expected performance on critical needs of the specialty and organization.

(From left to right) Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD, R. Peter Manes, MD, Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, Jeffrey S. Weingarten, MD.(From left to right) Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD, R. Peter Manes, MD, Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, Jeffrey S. Weingarten, MD.Our specialty and Academy are blessed with a loyal, engaged membership that generously donates hundreds of hours of their limited free time to participate in a wide range of Academy and Foundation activities and projects designed to advance otolaryngology and improve patient care. Our organization couldn’t operate without the hundreds of committee members sharing clinical expertise, elected and appointed leadership providing essential strategic direction, and the legion of presenters and speakers serving as expert faculty at our meetings all over the world.

On occasion within this group of volunteers, extraordinary individual efforts reach a level “above and beyond” the expected performance on critical needs of the specialty and organization and result in seminal changes that benefit all involved for the foreseeable future. The contribution of last year’s awardees have already resulted in measurable value to our organization and specialty.

Eugene G. Brown III, MD, RPh, was a driving factor in the creation of the Private Practice Study Group (PPSG), which evolved into the Otolaryngology Private Practice Section (OPPS) that has reinvigorated private practitioners’ involvement in Academy activities. He also pioneered the model that was used to create our new OTO FORUM, which just had a successful debut in April. Marc G. Dubin, MD, provided exceptional leadership in taking the PPSG to section status last fall and was integral in facilitating the programming for the OTO FORUM this year. The Academy began a thorough, longitudinal process to look at the otolaryngology workforce under the leadership of Andrew J. Tompkins, MD, MBA, in 2022 and followed that up with another survey in 2023. The information received has already proven valuable in many situations and will only become more critical over time.

This year’s recipients have also gone “above and beyond” in championing critical services provided by our organization through hard work and innovative concepts. I will be presenting this year’s CEO Above and Beyond awards at this year’s Opening Ceremony of the AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPOSM in Miami Beach, Florida.

2024 Above and Beyond Awardees

Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MDDaniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD

Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD, started his role as Coordinator-elect, Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC), fully expecting to plan an eagerly awaited, in-person Annual Meeting that would mark the 10th anniversary of the Women in Otolaryngology (WIO). Little did he, Coordinator Mark K. Wax, MD, or anyone else know when we left the 2019 meeting in New Orleans that the dark cloud of COVID-19 would rear its ugly head and force a sudden change from an in-person meeting to a virtual meeting over a several-month period. Drs. Wax and Chelius were able to work with the AMPC to maintain an exceptional program in a virtual venue we had never experienced while helping us select a platform to run the innovative meeting.

The following year, there were big plans for our 125th Anniversary Annual Meeting & OTO Experience in Los Angeles, California. At the time, it was unclear whether we were going to be able to hold an in-person meeting or if we would need to continue in a virtual mode. Dr. Chelius oversaw a memorable in-person meeting with a hybrid component, which turned out to be the first city-wide meeting in California, post-COVID, and one of only a handful held nationwide in 2021.

As we gradually returned to normalcy over the next three years, we witnessed a flurry of innovative programming put forward in Philadelphia (2022), Nashville (2023), and now Miami (2024) under the leadership of Dr. Chelius. These included additional content tracts, such as the CMEnthusiast, the Great Debates, Crucial Conversations, International Day, Coffee Talk with the OPPS, expanded Simulation Courses, and a record number of program submissions. Dr. Chelius has championed broad diversity in all aspects of the scientific program throughout his term as Coordinator. He has maintained an incredible collaborative spirit and work ethic that has advanced our meeting in every area under his watch in the face of challenges few would have believed.

R. Peter Manes, MDR. Peter Manes, MDR. Peter Manes, MD, has been a pillar of strength and excellence as the face of our Advocacy Program since he became the Coordinator for Advocacy in 2017. At that time, the existing roles of Coordinator for Practice Affairs and Coordinator for Socioeconomic Affairs were combined into a single position overseeing both areas of interest. When he accepted this role, he was also serving as our RUC Advisor, a job that he excelled at where he presented new otolaryngology codes for valuation to the RVS Update Committee (RUC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). He continues in that role currently and is recognized as one of the most effective advisors in the house of medicine. The Coordinator for Advocacy also serves as the Chair of the Physician Payment Policy (3P) Workgroup, which serves as the senior advisory body to Academy leadership and staff on issues relating to socioeconomic advocacy, regulatory activity, coding/reimbursement, and practice services/management.  

Together, the combination of responsibilities that Dr. Manes has accepted has him overseeing all of our private payer and clinical regulatory activities, and his expertise is directly responsible for many successful interactions related to CMS and private payer payment issues. As you might imagine, the time commitment that Dr. Manes cheerfully donates is significant each month. His ability to work successfully with the subspecialty societies in otolaryngology and the understanding he has developed of the payment system has allowed him to be one of the most effective and respected coordinators that I have known.

Dr. Manes will be ending a seven-year term as the Coordinator for Advocacy. He agreed to add several years to his term during a critical period of heavy activity in these areas while the Academy was in the process of training potential successors. During his time as the Coordinator, his leadership has been responsible for many favorable payment policies for our members. 

Sonya Malekzadeh, MDSonya Malekzadeh, MDSonya Malekzadeh, MD, served as Coordinator for Education from 2011-2015, which included my first year as EVP/CEO. During that year, we had multiple conversations discussing the importance and value that creating a “core curriculum” that we would bring to otolaryngology training for the future. The concept had been discussed over the past decade, but no progress has been made. She convinced me that this would be a great investment by the Foundation to continue to move otolaryngology forward as a specialty. We started the creation of an outline for the core curriculum during her tenure as Coordinator, and she worked with Richard V. Smith, MD, her successor, to bring this to fruition.

Working as a leader of Otolaryngology Program Directors Organization (OPDO), she continued her efforts to fully to complete and operationalize the existing core curriculum outline and reach a consensus among her fellow residency program directors. These efforts led to an agreement between the academic community and the AAO-HNSF to work collaboratively to create the Otolaryngology Core Curriculum (OCC). She will act as the liaison between OPDO and the Foundation along with Jeffrey P. Simons, MD, MMM, Immediate Past Coordinator for Education. Our current Coordinator, Meredith Merz Lind, MD, will oversee the production of the 100 module, two-year cycle for the complete curriculum that will debut with the first 50 modules on July 1, 2024.

Dr. Malekzadeh was the first woman Coordinator for Education in the organization’s history, and she also has played a great role in the advancement of the COCLIA education program offered by the Foundation. I am convinced that without Dr. Malekzadeh’s tenacity and persistence we would not be producing this cutting-edge program today. I believe the legacy of her leadership and the OCC will be of value not just to residency training programs, but also to otolaryngology practices around the world.

Jeffrey S. Weingarten, MDJeffrey S. Weingarten, MDJeffrey S. Weingarten, MD, has been a true warrior for otolaryngology and the Academy for the last 20 years, working in the less glamorous but foundational areas to move our specialty forward. He has been a consistent advocate as a private practitioner in Michigan, working with the Michigan Otolaryngologic Society related to audiology and speech language pathology issues. He served on the Michigan Board of Speech-Language Pathology from 2012 to 2018 as an appointee of the Governor of Michigan. He was the co-author of the Michigan Audiology Licensure Law in 2006 and the Michigan Speech-Language Pathologists Licensure Law in 2008. In addition, he has helped author bills that are before the Michigan legislature in 2024, including the “Insurance Coverage for Children” bill and the “CT Certificate of Need Exemption for ENT” bill, which are both currently in committee discussions at the writing of this.

Dr. Weingarten was one of the original Course Directors of the AAO-HNSF Certificate Program for Otolaryngology Personnel (CPOP) in 2002 and has continued as the only Course Director for the program since 2006. This program initially was conceived through the Coalition for Hearing and Balance to teach basic audiology and vestibular principles, including testing, to office-based personnel sponsored by a member of the Academy. From 2002 to 2007, both the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and private payers reimbursed physician practices for testing done by CPOP graduates under supervision in an otolaryngologist’s office. That was rescinded by CMS in 2007. Dr. Weingarten has single-handedly kept the program alive for the past 17 years, giving two courses annually. The CPOP program has now become a key part of planning expanded access to hearing healthcare in collaboration with organizations by increasing the initial point-of-contact opportunities for patients in underserved areas.

Dr. Weingarten has also developed a highly effective model for dispensing hearing aids in his practice and lectures on this topic broadly both within otolaryngology and related fields. He has developed a network of contacts in the hearing aid industry that has helped benefit many otolaryngology practices that dispense hearing aids.

More from May 2024 – Vol. 43, No. 5