A Promise to Keep: Ruth Fox Endowment Renews Commitment to Goal

The Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund, established to secure the future of ASAM, is marking its 25th anniversary with a re-energized campaign drive—A Promise to Keep—and a reception to honor its first chair, the late Max Schneider, MD, FASAM, Saturday night.

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Andrea Barthwell, MD, FASAM, DABAM

“There is a double meaning to ‘A Promise to Keep,’ a promise to medicine that we will always be here to make sure physicians are capable and qualified to help people who suffer from this disorder and to keep our original promise to generate $10 million in the reserve fund to make sure ASAM has a sustained future to grow and expand,” said Andrea Barthwell, MD, FASAM, DABAM, Chair of the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund Committee.

When it was established, the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund’s goal was to ensure that ASAM always had adequate funding to better serve addiction medicine professionals, but the fundraising effort has plateaued about halfway to the goal. A Promise to Keep is refocusing the fundraising campaign. The endowment earnings are used to help medical students and residents attend the ASAM Annual Conference and to support other organizational priorities.

“A Promise to Keep is recognizing that we have done something, but we have not done enough,” Dr. Barthwell said. “It is recognizing that as a Society we are aging, and there are a lot of opportunities for us who have grown up in this Society to look back at our professional lives and make sure we are doing what we need to do as we wind down our careers—meaning those in my generation are making sure to take care of the Society that took care of us.”

The campaign establishes new tiers for donors, who will now be recognized as their donations grow and move to higher tiers to encourage continued giving by members. In addition, members of ASAM leadership are being asked to make financial commitments to demonstrate their support as they work with outside donors, she said.

Details of the campaign will be shared at the annual ASAM Donors/Ruth Fox Reception Saturday night (invitation-only event), when Dr. Schneider, who died last fall, will be honored. He was a Past President of ASAM and Chair of the Endowment for 22 years.

“Max was a leader in the field. He was very welcoming to all,” said Dr. Barthwell, a Past President of ASAM. “He was known for his tremendous sense of humor and his ability to be very graceful in asking for more money. He was very involved until the end of his life, and his passing was very sad.

“Max recruited me to take over, and it was quite an honor to have him ask and for the Board to appoint me to this position. I hope I can do a fraction of what he did. It is with that in mind that we have attacked with new vigor our activities to make sure our promise is kept. We have a lot of people who are trying to help us achieve our goals in carrying on the work that Max set in motion.”

Interest from the fund also is used to attract young physicians to the specialty through the Ruth Fox Scholars program, which offers scholarships to applicants to increase their opportunities to learn about the diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders. See a related story about how being a Ruth Fox Scholar helped the careers of two ASAM members.

“Last year we doubled the number we were able to invite, and we want to continue to promote that because it is important for the growth and vitality of our Society that we attract young people to the meeting,” Dr. Barthwell said.

This year, 10 Ruth Fox Scholars are attending the Annual Conference and will be recognized during the Saturday night reception. The scholarship winners are:

  • Sarah Bur, MD
  • Jenna Butner, MD
  • Smita Das, MD, PhD, MPH
  • David Dayan-Rosenman, MD
  • Gibson George, MD
  • Aaron Greenblatt, MD
  • Michael Mirbaba, MD, PhD
  • Enrique Oviedo, MD
  • Wesley Ryan, MD
  • Zoe Weinstein, MD