The next step for VACEP

Bob led a VACEP delegation to Congress earlier this year to educate lawmakers on the need to fix surprise billing.

Today, we announce the retirement of our nearly seven-year executive director, Bob Ramsey. And we introduce to you the one who will pick up the baton, Sarah Marshall (meet her here). She’ll officially start on October 15.

First, a note on Bob.

He’s been our leader since April Fool’s Day 2013, and became an irreplaceable part of our VACEP family ever since.

We struck gold with Bob, who began his association management career in 1972. He’s worked for hotels, contractors, auto dealers, international organizations, and many other industry groups around the country. Since 1992, Bob has managed one of the largest emergency medical symposiums in the U.S. for Virginia’s Office of EMS. So he came to us knowing a bit about the emergency medicine ropes.

“When I arrived at VACEP in 2013, I was fortunate to have talented volunteer leaders already in place thanks to former Executive Director of 37 years, Gwen Harry,” Bob recalls.

Over the years, he helped VACEP become more financially sound, moved the association headquarters from Norge to Richmond, and leveraged a unique association business model that involves outsourcing talent, such as lobbying, events, and communications.

Bob was honored last year with the Virginia Society of Association Executives’ CEO Award of Excellence – the highest honor for association CEOs and executive directors in Virginia. He’s pictured here with his wife, Linda, and son, Taylor.

In Bob’s tenure, VACEP membership nearly doubled by focusing on what matters to emergency physicians. VACEP became an active voice in both Virginia and Congressional debates impacting the emergency medicine specialty. He directed VACEP leaders involved in creating the Emergency Department Information Exchange (EDie), a notification system that launched in 2018 to link emergency departments across health systems statewide.

He led delegations to lobby in both Virginia and Washington on issues such as surprise billing, and has consulted with fellow ACEP chapters nationwide on leadership best practices. He enjoys cycling, his beloved X-Team Fitness workouts and “pretending to be a cop” as a Motorist Assistance volunteer in Henrico County. Bob and his wife of nearly 40 years, Linda, have two children and four grandchildren.

He will retire on December 31 and help Sarah with the transition. Even after he’s retired, “I’ll continue waking up early to spoil my grandkids and seek physically challenging adventures,” Bob says. “And I’ll continue to help others succeed.”

Sarah Marshall, VACEP’s new executive director.

To replace Bob took realizing that we were not going to replace Bob, but rather evolve the role of executive director as we look to the future of VACEP as a relationship-driven organization. We found that talent and fire-in-the-belly in Sarah Marshall. She joins us from the Virginia Dental Association, where she focused on building relationships with members, telling stories of VDA successes, and engaging its 3,800 dentist members with benefits to improve their practices.

As part of her role at the VDA, she served as Executive Director of the Shenandoah Valley Dental Association, providing its 300 member dentists with networking, continuing education, and volunteer leadership opportunities. This facet of her employment — managing a small but mighty organization — was of particular interest to us.

Bob led the search. Here’s what he was looking for in the next leader:

• A smart, enthusiastic association professional
• A self-starter interested in making a difference in the lives of others
• A relationship builder who respects emergency physicians

More than an association manager, Bob has dedicated his life to leading and mentoring others. Last year, he spoke to graduates of Blessed Sacrament Huguenot Catholic High School in Powhatan and left them with three life lessons …which of course, apply to us all. We’ll leave you with these.

1. Just show up. Moving outside of your comfort zone is scary, but it’s amazing what you learn and who you meet — people who will help you — if you just show up.

2. Look the part. Fair or not fair, others will judge you on your appearance and personality. Take care of yourself, prepare, and practice life-long learning.

3. Do what makes you happy. Keep a picture in your mind of what you’re doing in the future. If you want something bad enough, you will get it.

— VACEP President Scott Hickey and the Board of Directors