Today the American Academy of Pediatrics welcomes Karen Remley, MD, MBA, MPH, FAAP, as executive director/CEO of the organization, which represents 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists.

“I’ve been a pediatrician and member of the Academy for nearly 30 years, and I’m incredibly proud to be leading this organization,” Remley says in a release. “The Academy and its members are powerful advocates for children. As we look at the threats to children’s health today—including poverty, obesity, toxic stress, and hunger—it’s critical that we continue the Academy’s important work to advocate for children, educate our profession, and publish guidance and recommendations for pediatricians here and around the world.”

Remley replaces Errol Alden, MD, FAAP, who was executive director/CEO for 11 years before stepping down this summer.

Remley previously served as chief medical officer of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Virginia, which provides service to more than 4 million Virginians. From 2008 to 2012, she served as commissioner of health for the Commonwealth of Virginia, where she acted as the lead advisor to the governor on public health issues. During her tenure, the state saw significant improvement in key public health indicators including teen pregnancy, infant mortality, and cardiovascular disease. Remley has also served in a number of senior leadership roles in hospitals and medical non-profits.

Remley earned her medical degree at University of Missouri in Kansas City and completed her pediatrics residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital-Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She began her career in a small pediatric practice and worked for 15 years as an attending physician in the emergency department at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va.

Her career includes senior leadership positions for several health care organizations, including Operation Smile Inc, Physicians for Peace, and Sentara Healthcare, in addition to a prior position at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Virginia. She was the founding director of the M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where she led the institute’s effort connect the medical school’s clinical, research and educational programs to specific health concerns in the community. Remley earned an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and an MPH at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Dr. Remley is the first female CEO of the AAP. She is married to John Onufer, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist, and they have two daughters.