American Academy of Pediatrics Leadership

The Colorado Connection

Since its founding in 1930, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been guided by 88 nationally prominent pediatricians. Colorado has been home to five of these AAP presidents, more than any other state. Their service reflects the commitment to child advocacy—regionally, nationally, and internationally—for which the University of Colorado School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics is recognized. The Department salutes the contributions of these dedicated advocates.

Franklin Gengenbach, MD

Gengenbach1943–1944 (President)

Considered Colorado’s first doctor to practice pediatric medicine exclusively, Franklin Gengenbach, MD, joined the University of Colorado Clinical Faculty in 1911 and became the Department’s first professor and part-time chair when it was established as a new department in 1930. He served in that role for 16 years and retired as Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics from the University. Gengenbach served on the first Board of Directors of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) and was an examiner for the ABP. He was also Chief of Service at Colorado General Hospital, a consultant at National Jewish and Denver General Hospitals and on the Advisory Board at The Children’s Hospital. Gengenbach died in 1955.

James Strain, MD, FAAP

james-strain1982–1983 (President)
1986–1993 (Executive Director)

A private practice physician, James Strain, MD, is the only pediatrician to have served the Academy as both President and Executive Director. As President, he was a strong advocate for legislation to help children with physical and social challenges and became internationally recognized during the “Baby Doe” cases. As Executive Director, he worked diligently for the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program. His leadership also included service as an ABP oral examiner, as chair of the National Advisory Committee on Childhood Vaccines, and as a senior member of the Institute of Medicine. Prestigious tributes accorded him include the James E. Strain Award at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the James E. Strain Community Service Award at the Colorado Chapter of the AAP.


Donald Schiff, MD, FAAP

Donald Schiff1988–1989 (President)

Donald Schiff, MD, served as President of the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics before being elected AAP president for1988–1989. A veteran of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Public Health Service, he was a resident and Chief Resident at the University of Colorado School of Medicine prior to entering private practice with the Littleton Clinic. Schiff served as Chief of Pediatrics at both Porter and Swedish Hospitals during his 30 years as a community pediatrician. He joined the SOM Department of Pediatrics in 1987, was Director of the Child Health Clinic at The Children’s Hospital from 1986-1991, and is currently a Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at the University of Colorado. As president of the AAP, Schiff made securing health insurance for all of our nation’s children part of the Academy’s mission. For this and more, he was awarded the AAP’s Grulee Award for outstanding service. The AAP Senior Section Child Advocacy Award has been established in his honor.


Donald Cook, MD, FAAP

Donald Cook1999–2000 (President)

A U.S. Navy veteran, Donald Cook, MD, earned his medical degree and served both his Pediatric residency and Chief Resident at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and The Children’s Hospital. He completed a general residency in California before joining a private practice in metro Denver in 1959. Relocating to Greeley in 1964 to launch a new practice, Cook became a driving force for improved pediatric health in northern Colorado, helping establish the Monfort Children’s Clinic for low-income and uninsured children. In addition to serving as a clinical professor with the Department of Pediatrics, he was active in the Colorado Chapter of the AAP, served on multiple community boards and chaired the American Medical Association Medical Education Committee on School and College Health. As AAP president, he advocated for universal health care for

Steve Berman, MD, FAAP

Stephen Berman2001–2002 (President)

Stephen Berman, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics in the University of Colorado School of Medicine and of Epidemiology for the Colorado School of Public Health. He currently serves as Director of The Center for Global Health and holds the Children’s Hospital Colorado Chair in General Pediatrics. His connection with Children’s and the Department is strong, reaching back to the mid-1970s when he served as resident and Chief Resident. A passionate advocate for children, Berman helped draft multiple health bills enacted by the Colorado State Legislature to improve access to care and insurance coverage. He carried this focus into his AAP presidency. Berman has served a special advisor to the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Association, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. He continues to be an active clinical and outcomes researcher, as well as an advocacy author.

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