APTA has selected J. Michael Bowers as its new chief executive officer, effective February 28, 2014. The announcement comes after an extensive nationwide search that spanned more than 6 months and attracted roughly 160 potential candidates.
Bowers comes to APTA with recent experience as the CEO of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). He worked at AAMFT in a variety of leadership positions for more than 25 years, developing expertise in many aspects of association management, including advocacy, governance, volunteer development, financial management, and member relations. While at AAMFT, he led the effort to achieve universal licensure for marriage and family therapists, and also improved the association’s financial position by overseeing the purchase of and full payment for a headquarters building.
"On behalf of the APTA Board of Directors, I am thrilled that Michael will be joining us as CEO, and I look forward to working with him," said APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS. "Throughout his career, Michael has proven himself to be an innovative and visionary leader who cares deeply about members and staff. He also exhibits a passion for the types of quality of life issues that are so important to mission-based organizations like APTA and to the physical therapy profession."
Bowers will succeed Bonnie Polvinale, CMP, who has been serving as Interim CEO since June 2013.
"I couldn't be more excited or honored to join the staff of APTA in advancing physical therapy," Bowers said. "I look forward to getting to know as many members as possible. My commitment to members and the organization is to work collaboratively, with all my energy, to achieve outcomes that matter for patients and for the profession."
During his tenure at AAMFT, Bowers presented testimony in 22 state legislatures, the US House of Representatives, and US Senate, and has appeared on CNN and NBC Nightly News. He was instrumental in AAMFT becoming a part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Minority Fellowship Program, and having marriage and family therapy recognized as a core mental health profession. He also led AAMFT to its highest student membership in the organization's history.
Bowers is trained as a marriage and family therapist and has bachelor's and master's degrees from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He has prior experience as a therapist in the justice system and also as a minister. He is also an active member of the American Society of Association Executives.
Away from work, Bowers enjoys writing and playing acoustic music, scuba diving, creating great wine and food pairings, and cheering for the Washington Nationals. He also has a special appreciation for the benefits physical therapy. His first grandchild was born prematurely in 2012, and after a diagnosis of mild cerebral palsy she has been receiving physical therapy since her earliest days.
Bowers lives in Alexandria, Virginia, where he and his wife participate in the music community as singer-songwriters.
An Extensive Nationwide Search
APTA's search for a new CEO began early in the summer of 2013 by engaging the search firm Isaacson, Miller (IM) and appointing a CEO search work group (CEOSWG). The CEOSWG included APTA Vice President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, OCS, and Secretary Laurie Hack, PT, DPT, MBA, PhD, FAPTA, as co-chairs. Also serving on the CEOSWG were Rockar, Treasurer Elmer Platz, PT, Director Roger Herr, PT, MPA, COS-C, and members Steve Anderson, PT, DPT, Susan Appling, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, Daniel Dale, PT, DPT, David Emerick Sr, PTA, BBA, Colleen Kigin, PT, DPT, MS, MPA, FAPTA, and Craig Moore, PT, MS.
Isaacson, Miller began its work with the CEOSWG to frame the position description, opportunities, and challenges through focused conversations with stakeholders, meetings with staff, and a staff survey. A scope of work document, which included a profile of the ideal candidate, was presented to the Board of Directors at the August board meeting. This information was distributed broadly to all members and beyond, inviting referrals and interested parties to submit applications, potential candidates, and suggestions. IM used these suggestions and additional networks to solicit potential applicants for the position.
The CEOSWG met 4 times in fall 2013 to review the candidate pool (roughly 160 persons of interest), provide guidance to IM about potential prospects to pursue (about 30-45), and to determine which candidates to interview. The CEOSWG conducted preliminary interviews (8 candidates) in early December, and 4 finalists were selected to submit to the Board of Directors.
The Board met in early January this year to interview the finalists and select the CEO.
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