President’s Message—October 2018

Source: Susan M. Ballou, MS, 2018-19 AAFS President

Disney World® opened to the public in 1971. As the first guests passed through the entryway onto magical Main Street, the majestic railroad soared above. Ahead, Cinderella’s castle promised entrance into a dream world of rides and shows. Walt Disney knew how to give each guest the best experience. He did this by keeping all non-magical, everyday chores out of view. Beneath the fantasy world was an underground city where the real work took place. Cavernous rooms stored costumes, decorations, merchandise, and security units. An intricate underground tunnel system did more than allowing Disney® characters to surprise guests by popping suddenly to the surface. It also kept trash collection and other mundane tasks out of view and allowed employees to quickly respond to anyone’s needs, whether by administering first aid, assisting a lost child, or addressing a ride malfunction. The work performed behind the scenes was impressive and essential to guarantee the best experience for all guests.

The same is true of the behind-the-scenes preparation for the AAFS 71st Annual Scientific Meeting to be held February 18-23, 2019, in Baltimore, MD. In a well laid-out registration area at the Baltimore Convention Center, attendees will be greeted by volunteer staff and colleagues. Announcements will spark excitement and intrigue about what the meeting has to offer. A trove of papers, workshops, posters, and special sessions will all have been choreographed into suitable spaces.

What the meeting attendees won’t see is that the assigned space is a result of contract negotiations conducted years earlier. The AAFS staff does its best to anticipate the future needs of the Academy, allowing AAFS to obtain the lowest meeting room rental cost available at the time of negotiation. When unforeseen events occur, the staff scrambles to identify additional needed space. These activities are kept from view, allowing attendees to concentrate on their scheduled events and meetings. Early contract negotiations for hotel lodging also happen behind the scenes. The reduced prices require conference goers to fill a set number of hotel rooms. Should these rooms not be completely filled during the annual meeting, AAFS must pay a fee to the hotel.

Walt Disney worked hard to hide the work taking place behind the scenes of his kingdom. To do otherwise would have diminished the fantasy he worked so hard to create. We at AAFS, on the other hand, are revealing our efforts so you can help us mount a successful meeting. The AAFS website lists four contracted hotelsHilton Baltimore, Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor, Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor, and Sheraton Inner Harbor. All are conveniently located near the Baltimore Convention Center. You may make your room reservation by clicking on this link: By booking at a contracted hotel, you will help us avoid paying fees that would be better spent on Academy programs. While some nearby hotels might offer lower rates, they do not offer complimentary or reduced conference room rentals or other amenities used by attendees. If you have already made reservations outside the contracted hotels or are considering doing so, please reconsider. Your decision about where to stay in Baltimore can contribute to a successful and cost-effective annual meeting.