Dr. Shannon Connolly, who practices in Orange County, this month begins a one-year term at the helm of the 10,000-plus-member California Academy of Family Physicians.

As CAFP president, Connolly “will help set the Academy’s health policy priorities; work with colleagues, educators, lawmakers and others to advocate for system transformation; address racism and health inequity; and help to raise awareness of the important work of family physicians,” according to a statement released by the organization.

“With our broad training in providing primary care regardless of age, gender or condition, family physicians are an essential component of building a better health care system. Family physicians are at the frontlines of improving the health of our patients and communities,” she said.

“We are in the midst of a national reckoning about racism and health inequity in America. We are at a moment where change is possible if we are brave enough to take it on as the work of family medicine,” said Connolly, who cited her experiences working in a clinic that serves low-income patients.

“Family doctors were trained to navigate difficult journeys. While this year was extraordinary in what family medicine achieved, I believe our best work is still yet to come.”

Connolly is associate medical director at Melody Health in Anaheim, where she also sees patients.

She grew up on the East Coast and earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical ethics from Brown University. After college, she worked in an urban family planning clinic.

Connolly moved to California to attend medical school at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, and then completed a residency in family medicine at UCLA and a fellowship in primary care psychiatry at UC Irvine.

She has held numerous leadership positions at the American Academy of Family Physicians, including currently serving as chair of the Subcommittee on Health Equity and as a member of the Commission on Health of the Public and Science.

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