President elect candidate: Advocate, former Navy pediatrician Dr. Beers forges wide-ranging career path
WynnSt. Clair, Correspondent
When she was about 5 years old, Lee Savio Beers, M.D., FAAP, told her parents she
intended to become a doctor.
While it may not have been obvious to a kindergartner, Dr. Beers later realized pediatrics
was the ideal melding of her parents’ careers. Her father was a nuclear engineer,
and her mother was a teacher.
“I was drawn to medicine because of the marrying of science and thinking analytically
with the ability to work with children and families,” she said. “It's the perfect
coming together of the scientific process with my desire to help people.”
With her decision made, she embarked on a fascinating career that has included joining
the Navy, meeting her future husband and becoming a national voice on pediatric issues.
In her career path’s latest turn, she is running for AAP president-elect.
“The AAP is my professional home but in a lot of ways, it’s my personal home, too,”
Dr. Beers said. “This is a way to give back to an organization that has lifted me
up in so many ways.”
After earning a chemistry degree from the College of William & Mary in 1992, Dr. Beers
attended Emory University School of Medicine. She joined the Navy after graduation
and completed her residency at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va.
Toward the end of her intern year, she became involved in what was then known as the
Academy’s residents’ section. She met her now-husband, Nathaniel Savio Beers, M.D.,
M.P.A., FAAP, at an AAP meeting in Chicago in 1998, sparking a long-distance relationship
helped greatly by Academy meetings. The couple lived in separate cities until about
two weeks before their wedding.
“There are a lot of people in the Academy who take credit for our marriage and kids,”
Dr. Beers said, laughing.
After completing her residency, Dr. Beers was assigned to the Guantanamo Bay Naval
Station in 1999. She was the only pediatrician on the base, an isolating job where
she was responsible for inpatient and outpatient care at all times. During her 18-month
assignment in which she cared for every child on the base, she also ran the station’s
immunization clinic, served on the child abuse committee and worked on Joint Commission
issues. There were no CT scanners or other equipment that her stateside colleagues
relied on regularly.
“I did it all, and it was clinically very challenging,” she said. “In retrospect,
it was very formative. I was the only pediatrician, and I was thinking about public
Dr. Beers returned stateside in 2001, working as a staff pediatrician at the National
Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington,
D.C., for two years. She left the military in 2003 and joined Children’s National
Medical Center, where she continues to practice.
As a staff pediatrician, her responsibilities include graduate medical education and
serving as medical provider at a clinic for teen parents and their children. She also
has been the center’s medical director of municipal and regional affairs since 2011,
advocating tirelessly for programs that address child health needs. Leadership style
“She reaches out across party lines and through the community and convenes groups
together who haven't been in the same room before,” said Lanre Falusi, M.D., FAAP,
the center’s assistant director of municipal and regional affairs. “That’s what we
need in D.C., someone who is able to collaborate with people as well as she does.
People like Lee give hope to others. She's optimistic but also realistic about child
health and what needs to improve.”
Her advocacy efforts include several leadership positions within the AAP, including
serving as president of the AAP District of Columbia Chapter and as a leader in the
Uniformed Services East Chapter. During her tenure, the D.C. chapter was named the
AAP Outstanding Small Chapter of the Year.
In 2014, Dr. Beers served as a member of the search committee for the Academy’s CEO/executive
vice president. She currently works on the AAP national steering committee for the
Zero to Three “Think Babies” campaign.
“As a leader, she listens and empowers. Dr. Beers is always learning, connecting people
and ideas and is not afraid to challenge the status quo to come up with innovative
solutions,” said Susan J. Kressly, M.D., FAAP, who has chaired or served on AAP national
committees. “The current climate of health care delivery and support for children
is difficult but ripe with opportunity. Lee’s leadership style is to find the passion
in others and empower them to do great things.”
If elected, Dr. Beers wants to continue the Academy’s strong work in advocacy and
shaping policy. She also intends to accelerate AAP efforts to enhance diversity and
inclusion among its members.
Her agenda includes addressing workplace wellness and physician burnout, with a focus
on changing systems to make them less stressful. Like many of her colleagues, she
spends at least two hours a night catching up on paperwork or charting.
“It’s just not time well-spent. It's taking away from the things that you love about
medicine,” she said. “We have to really start figuring out how to improve these systems
so people can do things that are most meaningful for them in medicine.”
Family, D.C. involvements
Dr. Beers and her family live in Washington, D.C. Her husband is president and CEO
of the nonprofit HSC Health Care System and has been an unwavering support system
throughout her career.
Dr. Nathaniel Savio Beers also is a rare D.C. native. The couple purchased his childhood
home, and their two children go to the same public grade schools that their father
Both children — Charlotte, 14, and Jonah, 10 — play competitive soccer, so the family
spends a lot of time at the local fields. They’re also avid fans of professional soccer
and had planned to attend the Women’s World Cup in Paris this year.
Neither Charlotte nor Jonah has expressed an interest in medicine, but they both care
about social justice and helping others, so their mother won’t be surprised if they
follow in their parents’ footsteps. After all, they’ve been attending AAP conferences
“We joke that our kids have been to more NCEs (National Conference & Exhibition) than
some of our members,” Dr. Beers said. “We love to spend time together, and we love
to travel, so we incorporate both with AAP meetings.”