January 19, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

ACPA is off to a strong start in 2024. The Annual Meeting program is nearly complete, and registration is open. We remain focused on our strategic plan, including efforts to improve patient outcomes, expand research, and grow the field of cleft and craniofacial care. We will do this by finding the difficult problems, seeking solutions, and ensuring that our members have what is needed to be successful in the year ahead.

As I begin the new year with ACPA, I want to address the loss of several members last year who made significant contributions to ACPA over their lifetimes. It is impossible to adequately describe their impact on the field and our lives, and to fit all their accomplishments and personal stories into this message; however, as an organization, we wanted to notify our ACPA community at this time of their passing. We plan on recognizing their contributions further in the year ahead, as well as at the upcoming 2024 Annual Meeting.

In 2023, Dr. John “Jay” Riski was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from ACPA, and this was to be acknowledged on stage in April 2024 as Dr. Riski was not able to attend the Annual Meeting last year. Sadly, Dr. Riski passed away just a few weeks ago. His contributions to ACPA were immense and included his service as President of ACPA in 2000, as well as his mentorship and friendship, which has been noted by many.

Dr. Samuel Berkowitz, whose service to ACPA also spanned decades, passed away earlier in 2023. As the recipient of Honors of the Association from ACPA, Dr. Berkowitz also has a long-term study award established in his name. Dr. Berkowitz was a highly regarded colleague and educator and contributed not only to our field and our clinical journal, but also created many fond memories for us at our Annual Meetings over the years.

Also a recipient of Honors of the Association, Dr. Harold “Hal” Slavkin passed away earlier last year. Dr. Slavkin’s longtime support of ACPA and influence in cleft and craniofacial care extended beyond our organization, as he served as the Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

The Cleft Palate Craniofacial Journal’s first Editor in Chief, Dr. Hughlett “Hugh” Morris, also passed away last year. Dr. Morris’ tenure as Editor goes back to 1964, and all of us can see the progress made in our Journal and be grateful for his vision and initiative in setting ACPA on this course. Dr. Morris received the Distinguished Service Award in 2970, and served as President of ACPA in 1973.

And sadly, we lost Dr. Ramon Ruiz in late 2023. Dr. Ruiz was known as a friend to many; his service and volunteerism to ACPA date back more than twenty years, including through 2023 until he could no longer attend. It is this type of dedication that makes our organization so special, and Dr. Ruiz set a strong example for all.

This message only scratches the surface of these individuals’ contributions and their impact as friends, colleagues, and care providers for hundreds of patients. Again, we plan on further acknowledging these individuals and celebrating their contributions at the Annual Meeting later this year. In addition, if you know of an ACPA member who has passed, you are welcome to post on the ACPA Community and/or contact ACPA. New mechanisms to share member news will also be announced soon.

When we consider the impact of those mentioned above, along with the exponential effect our members and volunteers have today, it is no wonder that our organization continues to thrive. We are grateful for the steadfast leadership of ACPA’s 2023 President, John Caccamese, and the Board Members whose service concluded last year. I look forward to working with the 2024 Board of Directors, all our committees, our entire community of members, patients, and families.

I am honored to serve as President of ACPA in 2024, reminded of the contributions of those before me, and look forward to creating an impact in the year ahead.

Kind regards,


Adriane L. Baylis, PhD, CCC-SLP
President of the Board
American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association