The future is bright when you’re part of AO CMF

Chairperson Ana Catalina Tobón Trujillo talks about her vision and priorities

Ana Catalina Tobon Trujillo

As Ana Catalina Tobón Trujillo’s first term as AO CMF Community Development Commission (AO CMFCDC) chairperson got underway, she outlined her vision and priorities for developing and managing AO CMF’s diverse worldwide network for surgeons. Here she talks about the role of the commission, the achievements, and the challenges lying ahead.

"AO CMF Community Development Commission is in charge of everything related to our members, connecting them, and fostering the network: keeping our members informed of the many benefits the AO offers, creating and maintaining networking opportunities. We are the connection between AO CMF projects and the community, facilitating communication through different channels, such as events, social media, or our myAO app, and establishing collaborations with other craniomaxillofacial societies. We are also in charge of moderating the myAO app—the AO’s secure, digital gateway to case discussion, knowledge sharing, expertise, and education—for AO CMF.

One of our greatest achievements has been integrating and bringing education online through the AO CMF Study Clubs, which were initiated by AO CMFCDC Immediate Past Chairperson Sabine Girod. During the pandemic, we successfully pivoted to the online or virtual space to deliver education and create ways to communicate with our members. Today, we offer 20 AO CMF Study Clubs around the world annually.

Another achievement was piloting hybrid events during face-to-face, online courses. The CD Commission group in Latin America really pioneered this initiative, and we are planning to expand it globally. Another significant achievement was our launch of an incredibly successful seminar program offering women attending big conferences in Latin America an opportunity to network and engage on leadership topics like the AO’s diversity initiatives, including gender diversity.

A real-world challenge was that, while we had the opportunity to offer online educational events, we were not the only education providers doing this. We had great competition, and this remains a challenge.  For example, we have competitors that virtually copy our formats and ideas and offer them free of charge. But they don’t have what AO CMF has: We have a network of 2,700 members worldwide, including many of the world’s leading surgeon educators who are mentors to young surgeons in our community.

We are the largest global network of clinicians, researchers, and operating room personnel (ORP) striving for excellence in facial surgery across the specialties—oral and maxillofacial surgery; plastic surgery; ear, nose, and throat (ENT); head and neck surgery; ophthalmology; and neurosurgery—and working together for a common goal."

AO CMF Community Development in the driver’s seat connecting people

"I see the AO CMFCDC as a key driver for other AO global commissions—the AO Education Commission, the AO Research and Development Commission, and the AO Technical Commission—and I want to connect these commissions, create networking, dialogue, and collaboration that will ultimate serve not just our surgeons and members, but the AO itself.

I also want to reinforce myAO and leverage it to the greatest possible extent to connect and engage with our community online. I also want to further expand AO Access and our other opportunities for women and young surgeons globally, improve our presence at the main congresses in every country; that is, the AO should have a presence in every important congress related to our mission. It’s also important that we develop our fellowship pathway in order to retain—beyond the duration of their AO fellowships—the talent of surgeons and researchers who come to the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) and our fellowship host centers. I want to see us create a pathway for fellows to remain with the AO and benefit from being part of our community.

This is very important as well: I want to work strategically with the AO to bring the environment of the AO Davos Courses— our annual flagship event—and FACE AHEAD to our members around the world. I want the AO Davos Courses to be a “must” for every AO member in their lifetime, just as some people aspire to visit Disney World after growing up with their movies!

For me, these are all top priorities and I work with the team to achieve this."

What AO CMF offers craniomaxillofacial surgeons that no other organization can

"First, it’s the networking behind that makes AO. We stand on the shoulders of giants: The AO founders were the first real and important surgeons who left us a great legacy in education, research, and innovation all under one umbrella. No other organization can match this legacy.

Second, the unique “AO family” represents opportunities for lifelong professional development—for our members to grow as surgeons, educators, researchers, and innovators—as well as lifelong friendships. This is what I want the world to know about AO CMF and the AO Foundation."

Ana Catalina Tobón Trujillo, MD, Chairperson AO CMF Community Development Commission (2023–26) the head of department/coordinator of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Service at the Panamerican Clinic, Apartadó, Antioquia, Colombia. She practices privately at the Pablo Tobon Uribe Hospital.

“The unique ‘AO family’ represents opportunities for lifelong professional development—for our members to grow as surgeons, educators, researchers, and innovators—as well as lifelong friendships. This is what I want the world to know about AO CMF and the AO.”