Executive Director and CEO
American Academy of Neurology

Catherine M. Rydell, CAE, has been the American Academy of Neurology's executive director and chief executive officer since 1999. Along with her executive team, she oversees 185 staff. Under Rydell's leadership, AAN membership has grown from 16,000 to 34,000 members. Since joining the AAN, Rydell has focused on strengthening advocacy and coalition-building efforts, increasing staff development, improving communication with members, and implementing its strategic plan. Under her leadership, the Academy increased educational offerings and established a companion organization to help support new member services and advocacy. Rydell also has been instrumental in expanding the influence and reach of the AAN by creating entities and initiatives to promote and advance the specialty of neurology. Rydell is a Certified Association Executive (CAE), the highest professional credential in the association industry. Less than five percent of all association professionals have earned a CAE designation. 

Rydell serves on the Board of Directors of the American Brain Foundation and as a member of the American Medical Association CEO Advisory Committee and the Specialty Society CEO Coalition. She serves as an ex officio member of the Neurology Residency Review Committee and the United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS). She also serves on the Board of the University of North Dakota Foundation and Alumni Association. 

Prior to joining the AAN, Rydell served as executive director of the North Dakota Medical Association. From 1984 through 1996, Rydell served as a state representative in the North Dakota State Legislature, where she chaired the House Human Services Committee and the House Education Committee.

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