How the ABP's Next CEO Was Selected

Bottom line: The ABP CEO search committee cast a wide net among the pediatric community, ultimately selecting Dr. Judy Schaechter.

Guest post by Drs. Victoria F. Norwood and H. Stacy Nicholson
ABP CEO Search Committee Co-Chairs

Finding a new CEO for the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) seemed at first to be a daunting task. Although David G. Nichols, MD, MBA, has been planning his retirement for some time, he has set an extraordinarily high bar as ABP President and CEO. We struggled to imagine the ABP without him. Dr. Nichols has been the President and CEO of the ABP since 2013 and will retire at the end of 2021.

Working closely as co-chairs of the search committee, however, eased the load for each of us. Our strong partnership ensured success and made the process enjoyable. We used a marvelous mixture of hard work, listening, intuition, and a big dose of humor to get the job done. We also were aided by search firm Isaacson-Miller, specifically the stunningly capable Ariannah Mirick and Micah Pierce, who pieced together a position profile after conducting interviews and surveys to better define the position.

One of our first steps as search committee co-chairs was to build a balanced, diverse, hard-working, and dedicated search committee comprised of board-certified pediatricians and a member of the ABP’s Family Leadership Committee. After listing the critical components of the CEO’s job, we scoured current and past lists of ABP volunteers to find people with expertise in the required job areas. And we found exactly what we needed (see list of search committee members below).

The committee members met every box on our checklist. They came to each (virtual) meeting well-prepared, and our discussions were forthright and respectful. Our first Zoom call erased any worries we might have had about the group process, and we never looked back. They worked hard and made thoughtful, difficult decisions at each step. It was heartening to see that the ABP has such strong volunteers who were willing to commit to the hard work of being on the committee.

Once we had our committee in place, the real work began. In addition to posting the position in multiple locations in October 2020, Isaacson-Miller cast a wide net and spoke with 220 sources and prospective candidates. We did not want to miss the right candidate who might not be on our radar!

We needed to fulfill two major requirements: We needed someone who would be a good external “face” of the ABP, and we needed someone who would be an inspirational leader of the ABP’s Senior Management Team and staff. And of course, they had to be an accomplished pediatrician with a passion for improving child health!

Equally as important, we wanted to ensure that the candidate pool was diverse. We were thrilled that at each stage of the process, as we went from 20 candidates to seven semi-finalists to three finalists (see diversity data below), our pool included at least 50% women and at least 20% people of color.

The candidates who threw their hats in the ring were impressive! Our biggest challenge was turning away so many very competent leaders, but we appreciate their desire to consider the role and their professionalism when tough decisions had to be made.

We are enormously enthusiastic about the committee’s unanimous choice: Judy Schaechter, MD, MBA. She is a strong leader who has a track record of success and taking good care of her people, which is exactly what we set out to find. You can learn more about her in the ABP’s news story.

We are so excited to have been a part of bringing Dr. Schaechter to the ABP and the national pediatric community and to see how the ABP grows and changes under her leadership. Although she has already started some informal onboarding, Dr. Schaechter will officially begin shadowing Dr. Nichols in October 2021 and will assume her new role on Jan. 1, 2022.

ABP CEO Search Committee

  • Victoria Norwood, MD
  • Stacy Nicholson, MD, MPH
  • William (Bill) Adams, MD
  • John Barnard, MD
  • Debra Boyer, MD
  • Laura Brooks, MD
  • Norman Ferrari, MD
  • Kathy Sabadosa, MPH
  • Lindsay Thompson, MD, MS
  • Brad Weselman, MD
  • Yolanda Wimberly, MD, MSc

Candidate Diversity Data

January 2021
20 candidates
10 (50%)
4 (20%)
February 2021
7 semi-finalists
4 (57%)
2 (28%)
Feb./March 2021
3 finalists
2 (67%)
1 (33%)

About the Authors

Dr. Victoria Norwood

Victoria F. Norwood, MD, is the Immediate Past Chair of the ABP Board of Directors and the ABP Foundation Board of Directors. She became an ABP volunteer in 2002 when she joined the Nephrology Subboard. She later chaired the subboard and served on the Credentials Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and many other committees before joining the Board of Directors in 2015, where she was Secretary-Treasurer in 2018 and Chair-Elect in 2019. Dr. Norwood is a Professor of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Nephrology Program Director at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She maintains her certification in Pediatric Nephrology.


Dr. Stacy Nicholson

H. Stacy Nicholson, MD, MPH, serves as the 2021 Chair of the ABP Board of Directors and the ABP Foundation Board of Directors. He has been a volunteer with the ABP since 2010, when he joined the Hematology-Oncology Subboard. He served as subboard chair in 2014-15 and joined the Board of Directors in 2015, where he previously served as secretary-treasurer in 2019 and chair-elect in 2020. Currently the President of Children’s Services and Chair of Pediatrics at Atrium Health Levine Children's based in Charlotte, NC, Dr. Nicholson is maintaining certification in both General Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology-Oncology.