Our History

The PA Foundation was established in 1977 as the AAPA Educational and Research Foundation (ERF) and had six initial trustees. Its initial focus was “research on behalf of the federal government in the health field” and “grants to educational programs.”

In 1991 the Foundation officially became the “Physician Assistant Foundation.”  With the name change came a focus on a new mission – “fostering knowledge and philanthropy that enhance the delivery of quality health care” with the tag line of “advancing health care through philanthropy.”

Today, the PA Foundation continues to look to the future and explore new ways that we can increase our reach and our philanthropy. Our current mission is to empower PAs to improve health through philanthropy and service.

Key Milestones in PA Foundation’s History

  • 1977: The Foundation began its existence as the AAPA Educational and Research Foundation with its initial focus on “research on behalf of the federal government in the health field” and “grants to educational programs”.
  • 1985: The Foundation launched its scholarship program which continues today.  Over $1 million in scholarships have been awarded, benefiting more than 1,400 future PAs.
  • 1990: The President’s Philanthropic Project was launched and later became the Host City Prevention Campaign before acquiring its current name, Caring for Communities.
  • 1991: The Foundation changed its name and officially became the Physician Assistant Foundation and had a new focus as well as a new mission, vision and goals.  The new mission was “fostering knowledge and philanthropy that enhance the delivery of quality health care” with a tag line “advancing health care through philanthropy.”
  • 1991: Innovations in Health Care Program was launched.  This program recognized unique innovations in clinical practice and in PA educational programs.
  • 1997: The Foundation began its Community-based Projects Grants program that began with one grant that went to a PA-run tattoo-removal clinic for teens that were ex-members of street gangs. This program continues today and cultivates a legacy of PAs and PA students giving back to their patients, community and profession and in improving health care.
  • 1997: A program entitled “Bridges: Building PA Constituent Organization Leadership” and “Gateways: Developing Tomorrow’s PA Leaders,” programs were launched with the goal of developing leadership skills within the PA community.
  • 1998: The Foundation received its first endowment from an individual, Jerald Breitman.  Breitman made a gift of $40,000 in memory of Steven Dorn.  The gift was used to establish the Breitman-Dorn Research Fellowship program.
  • 2001: The Foundation sponsored health policy fellowships for PAs and offered a year-long fellowship in the Office of the Surgeon General.
  • 2001: Launched Matching Grant Program which provided funding to constituent organizations and PA programs who offered grants to individuals or organizations who significantly contributed to the delivery of healthcare.
  • 2005: Robert K. Pedersen Global Outreach Humanitarian Assistance Grant Program was established through a gift from the Don and Kathy Pedersen Family Foundation to create an endowment in memory of Don’s father, who was an international businessman. The Global Outreach Grants program continues today and has funded over 30 projects globally.
  • 2010: Launched Community Health Navigators program that addressed the unmet needs of the Burmese refugee community in Houston, Texas.
  • 2010: The Foundation’s first annual fundraising dinner, A PAramount Evening, in conjunction with AAPA’s 38th Annual Physician Assistant Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • 2011: The Foundation received a generous contribution from Johnson & Johnson to establish scholarships for underrepresented minority pre-PA students.
  • 2015: The Foundation launched is new strategic 3 year plan with a new mission “to empower PA engagement in philanthropic programs that will improve health.
  • 2015: Launched IMPACT Grants program that funds up to 10 grants per year that supports PAs and PA students involvement in the development of programs that foster innovation and improve health.


Historical List of PA Foundation Board of Trustees Presidents

  • Don Fisher, 1979-80
  • Noel McFarlane, 1980-81
  • James Konopa, 1981-83
  • Jarrett Wise, 1983-85
  • James Konopa, 1985-86
  • Jim Cawley, 1986-88
  • Jeff Heinrich, 1988-91
  • Lorraine Atkinson, 1991-95
  • Paul Lombardo, 1995-97
  • Ann Elderkin, 1997-99
  • Robin Hunter Buskey, 1999-2001
  • John Byrnes, 2001-03
  • Mary Ettari, 2003-05
  • Don Pedersen, 2005-07
  • Kent Wallace, 2007-09
  • Agnes Compagnone, 2009-11
  • Rick Kilgore, 2011-13
  • Lisa Mustone Alexander, 2013-15
  • Rick Rohrs, 2015-17
  • James Cawley, 2017-18
  • Stephanie McGilvray, 2018-19
  • Jerry Erickson, 2019-20
  • Jacqueline J. Spiegel, 2020-Present