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Acupuncture Today – February, 2005, Vol. 06, Issue 02

Inside the National Acupuncture Foundation: An Interview With Executive Director Tierney Tully

By Editorial Staff

Last June, Tierney Tully left her position as executive director of the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance to devote more time to the National Acupuncture Foundation (NAF), an organization she has been associated with since 2001.  Before joining the Foundation, she operated a pair of successful private practices, first in New Mexico and then in Rhode Island.  While in Rhode Island, Ms.

Tully was the president of the Rhode Island Society of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and served as a consultant and expert witness to the state's Department of Health on issues concerning acupuncture and Oriental medicine. She also served as an observer for the Department of Health at meetings of the Federation of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Regulatory Agencies (FAOMRA). She has also served on several task forces and committees on various aspects of acupuncture and Oriental medicine practice at the state and national levels.

Ms. Tully is considered an expert on legislative and regulatory issues related to acupuncture and Oriental medicine.  As the executive director of the NAF, she helps to promote the Foundation to the rest of the profession, and is responsible for helping to further the Foundation's mission.

Recently, Acupuncture Today contacted Ms. Tully to learn more about the Foundation, her role in the organization, and the role the NAF plays in the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession.

Acupuncture Today (AT): Good morning, Ms. Tully.  Exactly what is the National Acupuncture Foundation?  What is its purpose?

Tierney Tully (TT): The National Acupuncture Foundation is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization.  It was formed exclusively for education and charitable purposes, including, but not limited to, the promotion of acupuncture and its allied health modalities in the United States through encouraging and distributing publications, encouraging scholarship and research and education, encouraging students to attend schools of acupuncture and allied health modalities, disseminating to the public and to public officials information about acupuncture and allied health modalities.

AT: How long has the Foundation been in business, and how many members does it have?

TT: The National Acupuncture Foundation was founded in 1991 as a research and education foundation.  It is not a membership, or professional, organization, so it doesn't have "members."

AT: What is, or was, the relationship between the Foundation and the AOM Alliance?

TT: The NAF has shared management personnel and office space with the Alliance for a number of years. The executive director of the Alliance served as the executive director of the Foundation during that time. However, the Foundation has always been a separate organization, with its own charter and board of directors. Sharing management has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage to both organizations has been the reduction of expenses through sharing equipment, space and employees. The greatest disadvantage was having executive staff attention split between two organizations. The NAF's board wished to expand its programs and desired staff that was fully dedicated to the Foundation and its development.

In June of 2004, when I left the Alliance, the Foundation's board asked me to continue the management of the NAF, and I agreed. The change was entirely about separation of management.

AT: What about other organizations, such as the AAOM?

TT: The Foundation maintains collegial relations with all AOM organizations and seeks to be of service to the AOM community wherever it can.

AT: Why did you leave the Alliance for the Foundation?

TT: I came to the Alliance position from the AOM profession, not the association management profession. While I learned a great deal during my tenure with the Alliance, its needs were growing faster than my capacity to meet them.  I felt it would be better for the Alliance to engage professional management with greater experience in association management.  The Foundation is a smaller organization, with different needs that match my personal goals and expertise more compatibly.

AT: Has the relationship changed between NAF and the Alliance since you left?

TT: We no longer share staff or office space, and that is a very big change. However, as I mentioned before, we maintain collegial relations with the Alliance, and it is still a distributor of NAF publications.

AT: What do you hope to accomplish at the Foundation?

TT: I hope to assist the NAF board to realize the potential of the Foundation to further the advancement of AOM in American health care. The NAF is a 501(c)(3), and therefore is open to be used as a vehicle where other organizations perhaps cannot serve.  The NAF is interested in working with the AOM community wherever it can serve in a positive role. The board and myself invite and welcome suggestions and recommendations for future NAF projects.

AT: The Foundation's board of directors met last October to discuss some new projects.  What can you tell us about these projects?

TT: At the moment, I am putting my background in publishing to good use by working on two book projects for the Foundation. We are updating the AOM laws book, and we are publishing a book by Michael H. Cohen on legal issues in integrative medicine. Michael is a widely published author, and currently serves as assistant professor of medicine and director of legal programs at the Harvard Medical School Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies and Harvard Medical School's Osher Institute. Both of these books will be out by the time this interview is published.  Other potential projects are under discussion.

AT: How can people find out more about the Foundation?

TT: We just launched our new Web site at www.nationalacupuncturefoundation.org.  People can also contact us by phone; the number here at the office is (253) 851-6538.

AT: Thank you.

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