The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and the Cleft Palate Foundation announced their decision to merge operations at the end of June, responding to changes in healthcare and a desire to have a greater voice.
After conducting an internal assessment, the boards of both the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and the Cleft Palate Foundation came to one conclusion: The two organizations would be the most effective and have the greatest impact by working together.
“The leadership of ACPA and CPF agreed that joining forces will increase our collective impact and reduce barriers to achieving the best possible outcomes for patients with cleft lip, palate and craniofacial conditions through education, support, research, advocacy and interdisciplinary team care,” said ACPA President Robert Havlik and CPF President Marilyn Cohen in a joint statement.
ACPA was founded in 1943 to serve healthcare professionals who treat patients with oral cleft and craniofacial conditions, while CPF formed several decades later to serve the needs of those patients and their families.
“If you look at healthcare—it’s really evolved since 1943,” said Wendy-Jo Toyama, executive director of the newly merged association. “Patients are much more active in their own medical journeys.”
The merger allows the association to serve those in the cleft palate and craniofacial community in a more holistic way, which reflects where medicine is today. “It just makes both organizations richer,” she said.
Because both organizations are located in the same office building in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, there’s a lot that won’t change with the new merger. But Toyama is excited about the increased operational efficiencies that will free up staff to have a larger impact. For example, the merged group will support one board instead of two, and it will also develop one budget and conduct one audit. “This will free up time for generative work in support of donor cultivation and program development and delivery,” she said.
Toyama is also looking forward to having a louder voice together. Cleft palate “is one of the most common birth defects in the United States,” Toyama said. “It effects more than 700 babies a year. People think that it’s something that occurs abroad and not here, so it’s very important that we shine a light on what’s happening here and the work that our professionals are doing to help ensure that children who are born with cleft palates will thrive.”
For now, ACPA will simply absorb CPF, but down the road, Toyama said the organization will consider rebranding.
“Our goal is to create greater impact and reduce barriers to achieving the best possible outcomes for those affected by cleft lip and palate and craniofacial anomalies through education, support, research, advocacy, and interdisciplinary team care,” Toyama said. “Ultimately, our vision is to create a world, through team care, where individuals with oral cleft and craniofacial conditions thrive.”