When I concluded my incoming president’s speech last year, I said, “Our future is bright, but we must transform, be proactive, and work quickly.” I still believe that.
Over the last 92 years, as healthcare came to appreciate reliable data where and when it is needed, our work has become increasingly valuable. The work of AHIMA and health information professionals has never been more crucial than these past eight months. The pandemic has emphasized our commitment to AHIMA’s mission of empowering people to impact health, and we see that health data is a critical element in healthcare. As we read the news or social media, we see the importance of accurate data to guide public health policy and decision-making. We also see its importance to patients.
Our mission is supported by our vision of a world where trusted information transforms health and healthcare by connecting people, systems, and ideas. To help us make our mission a reality, we have been working deliberatively on our professional enhancement campaign (PEC). Developed using member and industry input, this campaign teaches us new ways to talk about the profession so that others will understand the importance and value of our work and our value as professionals within the healthcare ecosystem.
One of the messages of the PEC campaign stands out to me: the importance of acknowledging that there is a person or individual tied to each healthcare data element. Regardless of what form the health information takes, the bottom line is that each data element is human information. As health information experts, we understand that.
Each of us is working to ensure that every complex, nuanced piece of health data is complete, accurate, and protected. In addition, we hold the keys for access to the data. When you put all this together, HIM professionals hold the future of effective and protected health data in our own hands. Our diversity of knowledge and expertise is our strength. We are linked by one common thread—we see the person connected to the data.
As HIM professionals, we ascribe to the following mantras:
Health information is human information.
Health information drives innovation.
Health information impacts wellbeing.
I ask each of you to commit to continuing the conversation on ways each of us can support our strategy so we can all work together. Healthcare is constantly changing, so we must always seek to learn and grow as professionals. Think about what is at stake for us as a profession and association. AHIMA is the leading voice and authority in health information wherever it is found. I ask each of you to commit to developing your own personal story around the value you bring as an HIM professional.
I shared these words from a song by Coldplay back in September 2019 as I looked toward the year ahead: “The sky is full of stars for us to reach. Let’s light up the path.”
While the stars may have shifted, we have truly reached for the stars and lit up our path as a board and as an association. It has been an extraordinary year—one of accomplishment, one of opportunity, and at times one of difficult changes. The purpose of AHIMA, which is “to commit to excellence in the management of health information for the benefit of patients and providers,” has been at the forefront of all decisions. As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we as an association are continuing to transform and maximize the value of health information in a post-pandemic world. And now, more than ever, we all must lead together. Your inspiring impact and influence is just as important as what the board does. 2021 will offer some of the same challenges, but new ones as well. Be open to change and be willing to step up and lead with us.
I’d like to extend a very special recognition of our outgoing board members:

Valerie Watzlaf, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA
Kim Theodos, JD, MS, RHIA
Melinda Wilkins, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA

Thank you for your time, commitment, and dedication to the AHIMA Board and our members.
While my year isn’t quite over, thank you for allowing me this opportunity to serve as your 2020 president/board chair. My heartfelt thanks to the AHIMA 2020 Board of Directors and to Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE, and the AHIMA staff who support the board. Together, despite many obstacles, we’ve continued to move AHIMA forward this year. And thank you to each of you as members of AHIMA. It has been an unprecedented year and I know that our work as an association has made a difference.
Ginna Evans ( is coding educator, internal medicine specialties division, Emory Clinic, Emory Healthcare.

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