Categories: Newsletter Issue 2022:1

Interview with the New ASHEcon Executive Director

By Sebastian Tello-Trillo

As you may have read in the latest ASHEcon email, David Slusky has been announced as the next Executive Director for ASHEcon. In this article, we sat down with David to get to know him better and understand the role he will play.    

Sebastian: Good morning David, thank you for being here with us today. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what has David been up to this past few years?

David: I moved to Kansas in 2014 to take a job on the faculty in the economics department. I research a variety of topics in health economics and teach students from first year undergraduates to Ph.D. students. This past August I moved to Stockholm for the year on sabbatical where I am visiting a couple different institutions in the area.  I am planning to be at ASHEcon’s conference in Austin in June, and then will move back to the U.S. in August.

Sebastian: Congratulations on your new role! Can you tell us what does this role entail? What is the Executive Director in charge of and not in charge of?

David: The Executive Director role at ASHEcon has two components – 1) serving as (often eventually the longest serving) voting member of the governance structure (Executive Committee, Officers, Board of Directors) and 2) functioning as the senior member of the staff, alongside our Program and Conference Manager and the other individuals we bring in on routine accounting and legal matters. 

The Executive Director is in charge of and responsible for almost everything. However, the Executive Director also serves at the pleasure of the Board of Directors and therefore must ensure alignment with their vision and priorities. I think ASHEcon’s model is relatively uncommon, having a tenured faculty member serving as Executive Director, but I think it has the benefit of me being able to bring the general perspective of the membership to discussions with staff and vendors.

Sebastian: That is a great segue to my next question, which I believe is of interest to many professionals who are thinking about this type of leadership position. What drives a tenured professor to serve in a role like this one? Do you still have to fulfill all of your duties as a professor and researcher in addition to being an executive director?

David: I love this kind of work. I always have. In addition, I see this as an opportunity to make a difference in the profession and in the country.

In terms of my other duties, I am grateful that the University of Kansas has been nothing but excited and supportive and is willing to let me buyout some of my teaching in an analogous way to how I would with an external research grant. That makes this position effectively akin to an internal administrative one, which substitutes for some of a professor’s regular duties.

Sebastian: Do you have a particular vision about ASHEcon? Asides from the stated organizational goals, are there any exciting new things you are thinking about trying?

David: First and foremost: get us back to our in person annual conference as safely as possible. It is too soon to tell what that will look like, but I am committed to maximizing both the experience of and the safety of our members. 

I am also especially excited about the ASHEcon-EHEC partnership, given my role in creating and running EHEC and negotiating its relationship with ASHEcon. I think we have created something great here, and I think that with ASHEcon’s help EHEC can outlast the pandemic.

Finally, I am also excited about the work on the economics of health equity and on diversity in general that many amazing individuals are doing under the auspices of ASHEcon. I want to do whatever I can to support that work.

Sebastian: That is great to hear. What would you like to communicate to the new and old members of ASHEcon?

David: This is your organization! Please get more involved. Send me your ideas. Propose exciting things you want to do. Come to the conference. Bring your friends.