Call for Proposals

The deadline has passed for proposals. We will be contacting approved proposals in late March 2021.

The 2021 AHA Leadership Summit and Virtual Conference will feature senior health care executives, clinicians and experts in the field presenting high level, transformational strategies and innovative approaches for achieving financial sustainability while delivering greater value through operational excellence, creative partnerships, and redefined delivery models. This hybrid event will explore such critical issues as approaches to build leadership capacity for innovation and enhance workforce resilience; advances in virtual care; post-pandemic recovery and rebuilding; achieving equity and eliminating care disparities; behavioral health integration; and governance excellence.

The majority of Summit sessions will be delivered at the in-person event and captured and repurposed for on-demand airing in the virtual conference. Some sessions may be delivered at only one venue due to instructional delivery requirements. In light of potential travel restrictions in 2021, we realize presenters may not be able to commit to presenting in-person. The abstract submission form will ask you to indicate your intent to travel to Nashville in July 2021.

Leadership, innovation, and transformation are a team sport. Thus, of particular interest are proposals that demonstrate how to accelerate, sustain, and scale change in the particular issue areas with preference given to proposals that feature hospital and health system teams of presenters, helping to highlight on-the-ground perspectives with the strategic insights and direction of the senior-most organizational leaders.

Proposals must be non-commercial in nature.

Presentation Formats

There are four presentation formats offered at the AHA Leadership Summit and Virtual Conference. Submitters must choose a preferred presentation format and may choose more than one option. AHA will consider the submitter’s format preference taking into consideration the best venue for the topic given the slots available. AHA reserves the right to make the final decision on presentation format and whether the session will be delivered in person or virtually, depending on the suitability of the format. AHA will communicate this in the notification of acceptance.

  • Knowledge Exchange Sessions: 45-60-minute presentation including Q&A that may take a variety of forms such as panels, case study presentations, and story slams.
  • Roundtable Discussions: A 15-minute presentation followed by 30-minute facilitated conversation. The purpose of the Roundtables is to raise critical issues and encourage attendees to share their own experiences, challenges, and successes with active facilitation to stimulate discussion. The emphasis is on getting participants engaged in a robust conversation – rather than on having speakers deliver lengthy presentations in more of a didactic manner.
  • Intensives: Intensives are longer sessions of 1.5 to 2.25 hours that are structured to provide attendees with active learning opportunities and immersion in an important topic. The proposed session should utilize an instructional format, e.g., design thinking, that engages participants in collaboration with their peers to develop innovative solutions to persistent challenges. Successful proposals will demonstrate that presenters have expertise with facilitation.
  • Poster Presentations: Posters will be on display in the exhibit hall. Poster presenters are encouraged to stand by their posters for discussion with attendees during exhibit hours.

Content Areas

Speaking proposals should address one of the following content areas:

  • Leading complex organizations and maintaining the confidence of stakeholders during a period of sustained crisis has tested even the most resilient leaders. What are the solutions, foundational leadership approaches and frameworks to develop and nurture innovative and resilient leaders? What are the strategies and practices that enable health care executives to sustain leadership in crisis and adapt to disruptive change? How do leaders best develop their team’s skills, competencies and organizational capacity to understand the job to be done and to identify and test breakthrough ideas?

  • As the field recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, what are the near-term implications and approaches to deal with financial challenges caused by the pandemic? Moving through to rebuilding and reimaging, what emerging care delivery and operating models will enable health care organizations to weather the next storm by producing value and reducing risk? Emphasis may be placed on how strategic collaborations and key stakeholder relationships can be integrated to strengthen the models, provide for greater accountability for performance, and improve affordability.

  • Hospitals and health systems are driving health equity, diversity and inclusion, improving the health and well-being of their communities, and pursuing innovative partnerships to support individuals in reaching their highest potential for health. How are providers working in partnership with community stakeholders to understand and address social and structural determinants of health that negatively impact equity? How do organizations best develop sustainable partnerships, build more integrated community improvement plans, adopt anchor strategies, tackle persistent issues like violence and the opioid crisis, and understand the measures of success at the community level?

  • A decade into the digitization of medicine, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, clinical-grade wearables and other personalized technologies, and virtual medicine have enormous potential to alter health care as we know it. For many organizations, COVID-19 has accelerated rapid adoption of new technologies. What’s the upside and what’s the fall out? How do health system leaders start, sustain, and scale digital health transformation to meet consumer and environmental demand for convenience and access? When do you partner with non-traditional market entrants versus build and how do health systems create critical buy-in with clinicians and governing boards?

  • Designed for trustees and governing board members, this track is focused issues of strategic priority for governing bodies, including how the pandemic response is transforming the board’s role and oversight responsibilities. What are the leading innovative governance practices and critical leadership competencies that will move the board from good governance to excellent governance?

  • The health care workforce is dealing with an unprecedented level of stress exacerbated by the pandemic. Workload demands have tested the resiliency, emotional and mental health of caregivers, with the long-term impact of the pandemic on the health care workforce still to be determined. What are the proven best practices for taking a holistic approach to support clinicians. What human capital management approaches will enable providers to think innovatively to address the shortages of doctors and nurses that have been exacerbated by the pandemic?

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has taxed the mental health of all Americans and particularly health care workers, intensifying an already stressed behavioral health care delivery system. How are providers re-engineering behavioral health care processes, developing new care protocols for effectively treating behavioral health patients and improving access to services?

Discounted Conference Registration Fee

Accepted speakers will receive a discounted registration rate of $500 if chosen to present at the live Summit in Nashville. Speakers chosen to present only in the virtual format may register at a discounted rate of $100. Please note that we do not pay honoraria and speakers are expected to cover their own travel and lodging expenses. Presenters are responsible for registering for the conference and making all necessary travel arrangements.

Notification Timeline

We will contact you in late March 2021 to notify you of our decisions. Please contact Laura Woodburn at with any questions.

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