Whether reading the news as a father or a pediatrician, Warren M. Seigel, M.D., M.B.A., FSAHM, FAAP, sees the issues he has spent his career addressing and the tremendous amount of work that still needs to be done.
Gun violence. Reproductive justice. Women’s rights. LGBTQ rights. Climate change. A worsening mental health crisis for American youths.
“I'm very upset about what's going on in this country,” he said. “This is life and death for so many kids, so I've decided this is my time. I have to do something.”
The past few years have been a call to action for Dr. Seigel, prompting him to accept the nomination for AAP president-elect. If elected, he would serve as president in 2024.
A member of the AAP Board of Directors and its former secretary-treasurer, Dr. Seigel is the first openly gay pediatrician to seek the position. His nomination comes as nearly half of LGBTQ youths seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to a recent survey from the Trevor Project.
The groundbreaking nature of his candidacy isn’t lost on Dr. Seigel, who is chair of pediatrics and director of adolescent medicine at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn. He knows it won’t be lost on LGBTQ youths or their families either.
“LGBTQ youth are under attack, and we’re in the middle of a mental health crisis like we’ve never seen,” he said. “Visibility matters to these kids and their families.”
Inspired by a childhood pediatrician who treated his severe asthma, Dr. Seigel knew he wanted to be a doctor by the time he was 6 years old. Nobody in his family, however, had gone to college, so he had to figure out how to pay for his education on his own.
After graduating from Adelphi University in 1978, he earned his medical degree from CETEC University in the Dominican Republic. He then returned to his native New York for his residency and fellowship at The Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn.
During his residency, he discovered an affinity for working with teenagers, and that realization would come to define his career. Now a leading authority on adolescent medicine, Dr. Seigel has testified before Congress on universal access to comprehensive health care, published dozens of articles on adolescent medicine and co-authored the 2011 AAP policy Male Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Care.
“Adolescence was always tough, but now it’s 10 times tougher,” Dr. Seigel said.
In addition to having directed adolescent medicine at several New York hospitals, Dr. Seigel is an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at SUNY-Health Science Center, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the New York Institute of Technology/New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and professor of clinical pediatrics at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada.
Well-known for his advocacy on behalf of primary care pediatricians, he also is past president of both the Brooklyn Pediatric Society and the New York regional chapter of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.
Dr. Seigel’s involvement in the Academy began early in his career when he was invited to attend a chapter meeting by one of his mentors, Henry Schaeffer, M.D., FAAP. Dr. Seigel found immediate inspiration among the doctors there because, like him, they considered pediatrics a calling and not just a career choice.
Dr. Seigel’s enthusiasm for the Academy’s work led to leadership positions at both the state and national levels. In addition to being past president of the AAP New York Chapter 2 in District II, Dr. Seigel has served on the AAP Section on Adolescent Health Executive Committee and the Committee on Adolescence.
As AAP District II chair, he has represented New York state on the Board of Directors since January 2016. He was re-elected to a second term in 2020.
When he’s not advocating for other people’s children, Dr. Seigel and his husband, Mark Thomas, M.D., enjoy spending time with their 16-year-old twins, Evan and Katherine. He even learned to ski a few years ago, so he could join his children on the slopes and share in their passions.
The family policy has always been to spend as much time as possible together, so the twins grew up traveling all over with their parents, including to AAP district meetings.
Despite the exposure to the AAP from an early age, Dr. Seigel doesn’t think either of his children will become doctors.
“I don't think medicine is in either of their futures,” he said. “Even though my son is science- and math-oriented, I can see him going into engineering. My daughter should absolutely become a lawyer because she’s a very good writer and she loves to argue.”
With voting for AAP president-elect taking place from Aug. 17-31, Dr. Seigel is not taking the nomination — or the honor it represents — for granted. He said he never could have dreamed of such a privilege as a young doctor, and he plans to make the most of the opportunity.
“The Academy has made a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, but we've stopped talking about those issues as much as we used to,” he said. “My goal is for everybody's voice to be heard, for everybody to have a seat at the table and that everybody gets a piece of the pie.”
In the lead-up to the election in which members will choose between him and Benjamin D. Hoffman, M.D., FAAP, Dr. Seigel often finds himself reflecting on something his mentor Dr. Schaeffer repeatedly said over the years in reference to the high-quality candidates nominated.
“He has always said, ‘No matter what happens, every single year, the Academy wins.’ and he’s absolutely right,” Dr. Seigel said. “But I'm hoping with my years of experience on the AAP Board, people will vote for me.”