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Meet AAOE President Karen Sollar

Tuesday, July 10, 2018   (0 Comments)
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AAOE’s 2018-2019 President, Karen Sollar, CMPE, took office in April during the Closing General Session at AAOE’s 2018 Annual Conference. She will serve during the association’s 50th anniversary in 2019, an honor that seems fitting given her nearly 30 years of membership.

To help members get to know her a bit, Sollar recently took some time to share her experience as an orthopaedic practice executive and her involvement in AAOE, and to discuss what she sees ahead in her presidential term.

Path to the Presidency

Sollar, who is Chief Executive Officer of Webster Orthopedics in San Ramon, California, did not always aspire to become an orthopaedic practice executive. In school, she studied ornamental horticulture and retail floristry, but upon finishing the program realized this was not her true calling. Searching for a new direction, she turned to her father, who was a psychologist. His suggestion to consider healthcare led her back to school to pursue a degree in medical assisting.

“I realized I’m not a clinical person by any stretch of the imagination, so that led me into the business side,” Sollar shares.

She spent several years in different specialties before eventually starting a role in orthopaedics, where she worked her way up into a practice manager position.

“That position is how I got involved in AAOE, formerly known as BONES,” she says. “And I always say ‘the rest is history.’”

Sollar has served in various volunteering capacities for the majority of her membership. She first got involved on the conference committee, explaining how different the volunteering experience is today than it once was. “That was before we had any staff management support so volunteers were planning everything.”

A pivotal moment was when she was asked to be the chair for the Annual Conference Committee, which eventually led to her position on the Board of Directors.

Volunteer leadership roles have played an important part in Sollar’s membership experience and her professional development. “It has given me so much confidence,” she says. “Being recognized by your peers is probably one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things that you can have in a professional environment.”

She encourages other members to get involved despite any natural reservations. “There’s always an avenue of opportunity to get involved,” she says. “Don’t ever discount yourself because sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and put yourself forward.”

Life Outside the Office and AAOE

When she is not in the office or serving for AAOE, Sollar helps run her family’s restaurant, Bogie’s Café in San Rafael, California, working as a server one to two weekends a month. She describes the restaurant as a “funky, fun diner.” It was bought by her brother, a chef. 

The menu consists of breakfast and lunch favorites such as omelets, pancakes, burgers, 
salads, and sandwiches.

“If you’re ever in the area and looking for a good breakfast and lunch place, it’s a fun and funky place to go,” she says.

In her spare time she enjoys dining, shopping, wine tasting, and live music with her friends and her husband of 38 years, a 60s pop rock drummer who plays all over the Bay Area as a member of several bands.

“One thing I’m proudest of is that I have met somebody, and in 38 years we still like each other,” she shares.

The Year Ahead

When Sollar talks about the year ahead, she focuses on momentum. “I’m not someone who goes in and changes things for the sake of change,” she explains. “I like to move things to the next level … into the next realm of survivability and independence.”

She discusses the association’s recent growth and shares that she wants to “continue to build on the successes that we’ve had.”

Her other focus? The next generation of practice professionals and AAOE members. She stresses the importance of getting more young professionals involved in the association. Their voice is vital to ensure that AAOE keeps up with the technology and solutions young practice managers need.

“I want to engage the younger people to make a difference,” she says. “So they ensure that AAOE reaches the 60th, the 75th, the 100th anniversary.”

When discussing what it means to her to be the president during the 50th anniversary, she expresses an abundance of gratitude. “For me and where I am at in my career, it means everything to be the President during the 50th anniversary year.”

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