Congratulations to Dr. Cynthia Bulik on receiving the 2011 AED Advocacy Award!

Dr. Cynthia Bulik received the Meehan-Hartley Advocacy Award from the International Academy for Eating Disorders on April 30, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Meehan-Hartley Award recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring advocates who have made and continue to make significant contributions in advancing patient rights and access to quality care for those who suffer from eating disorders. Below is the speech given by Kitty Westin, Past-President of the Eating Disorders Coalition who presented the award to Cindy.

What a joy and privilege! This is so much fun and I am honored to present the AED 2011 Meehan-Hartley Advocacy Award to Cindy Bulik. A couple of months ago I e-mailed Cindy and asked her to send me her CV. I wanted to “get it right” when I talked about her accomplishments in the field of eating disorders. She has a very impressive resume – stunning actually! There are literally hundreds of publications, presentations, conferences and awards. Cindy is a world renowned researcher, esteemed professor and mentor. Her accomplishments and contributions to the field are incredible and have moved us forward in ways that help professionals, clients and families alike. However, I know that Cindy is most proud of her work in advocacy. She sent me this message along with her CV: “this award is not about papers published, grants received or any of that academic stuff – it’s about pouring your heart and soul into advocacy – in a deeply human way – it means more than all of those others combined.”

My fondest memories of Cindy is when we were president and vice-president of the Eating Disorders Coalition – the Washington based advocacy organization that brings eating disorder issues to our federal policy makers. Cindy was always there for me – she “had my back” whenever I got myself into trouble and we worked closely together to fight eating disorders by educating policy makers and changing public policy.  She has participated in nearly all of the EDC Advocacy Training and Lobby Days and she has participated in several Congressional Briefings.

Cindy has been a tireless advocate for her colleagues, her clients and families across the globe. She has spoken out publically and encouraged the field to work together to reach the shared goal – recovery! One time she spoke the following words that impacted and empowered parents around the world: “There is no evidence to suggest that there is a parenting style that causes eating disorders. Families are our best allies in treating this illness and should not be blamed.”

Cindy, these two sentences changed everything and gave parents a voice and the confidence we needed to be part of our daughter’s and son’s treatment teams. Thank you for helping us find a voice!

Thank you Cindy for your words, your passion and your commitment. It is my great honor to present you with the AED 2011 Meehan-Hartley Advocacy Award.

In accepting the award, Dr. Bulik stated,

Advocacy gives meaning to what we do. It puts a face and a family to the numbers we crunch. It unites sufferers, families, loved ones, clinicians, and researchers toward one common goal. On those days when we all come together, we are all working together—it is not patient and clinician, or participant and researcher—it is a room brimming with advocates.

To be acknowledged for advocacy is truly the highest praise. I am deeply grateful for this honor and humbled to join the rainbow of dedicated past honorees. At the same time, participating in advocacy is sufficient reward.

Wherever you live, speak to politicians in your country on the national and local level, reach out to influential people in your community to spread awareness and build partnerships, strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on a plane or your taxi driver. These sorts of experiences will impart meaning to your work and open up new dimensions of belonging and community that are not always apparent in the lab or in the clinic.