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 198 staff. Under Rydell's leadership, AAN membership has grown from 16,000 to over 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 is a member and past chair of 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. 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. She was also the director of Women’s and Children’s Services as well as Surgical Services for St. Alexius Medical Center, a tertiary care center in Bismarck, ND. Rydell has served on numerous national, regional, and state boards and commissions including Robert Wood Johnson North Dakota Single Payer Study Commission, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, American Medical Association CEO Advisory Committee, Council of Medical Specialty Societies, the American Brain Coalition, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, and the American Society of Association Executives.

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