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Antoinette Parisi Eaton

Dr. Eaton, first woman to serve as AAP president, remembered as pioneer, advocate for children

June 29, 2023

Antoinette Parisi Eaton, M.D., FAAP, the first woman to serve as AAP president, died June 22 at age 92. Dr. Eaton, who served as president of the Academy from 1990-’91, is remembered as a passionate advocate for children and an inspirational leader.

Renée R. Jenkins, M.D., FAAP, the first African American AAP president, praised Dr. Eaton as a trailblazer in the field.

“I just loved Toni’s no nonsense ‘Get ’er done’ attitude,” said Dr. Jenkins, who served as AAP president from 2007-’08. “As a ‘first,’ she encouraged me and served as an inspiration for me to be a ‘first’ as well. She was a great role model for leaders, women or men, and she maintained her advocacy passion her entire career. She impacted the careers of many AAP members.”

In a 1991 interview with AAP News, Dr. Eaton highlighted collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote breastfeeding, partnering with the Children’s Action Network and Surgeon General’s Office on immunization campaigns and pushing for higher Medicaid payment rates as key accomplishments during her AAP presidency. She also talked about her work and the gratification she received from her efforts as AAP president.

“I get a sense of satisfaction and achievement about making a contribution to child health on a national level,” Dr. Eaton said. “In relationship to the Academy, that means advancing children as a priority in this country. There is tremendous satisfaction that comes from being an advocate for children and youth.”

During her tenure, she also oversaw construction of a $10 million, 57,000-square-foot addition to the Academy’s former headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Ill.

Dr. Eaton was professor and professor emerita of pediatric and preventive medicine at Ohio State University. She held several positions at Children’s Hospital of Columbus, Ohio, now known as Nationwide Children’s Hospital, including director of governmental affairs, assistant medical director, chief of the Handicapped Children’s Section, director of the Birth Defects Center and associate medical director for ambulatory services.

In her home state, she also served as chairperson of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Academy of Medicine of Columbus and Franklin County.

AAP Past President Colleen A. Kraft, M.D., M.B.A., FAAP, who led the Academy in 2018, joined the organization during Dr. Eaton’s tenure as president and recalled the impact she had in motivating and uplifting others.

“I will always remember her leadership and how encouraging she was to me between my first and second run (for president) to be someone who inspires others,” Dr. Kraft said. “She did this so well.”

At the AAP, Dr. Eaton served as Ohio Chapter president, chair of the Provisional Committee on Careers and Opportunities, chair the Committee on Community Health Services and chair of the Section on Community Pediatrics. She also was a member of the Council on Pediatric Practice, Task Force on Home Care of the Chronically Ill Child and Section on Breastfeeding.

In 2004, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the March of Dimes’ Central Ohio Division for her professional commitment to maternal and child health.

The AAP Ohio Chapter presents the Dr. Antoinette Eaton Advocacy Award annually to recognize individuals with exemplary commitment to improving the health and safety of Ohio’s children and adolescents through strong advocacy.

“Dr. Eaton was a trailblazer, an incredible leader and an inspiration for generations of pediatricians,” said AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Mark Del Monte, J.D. “Her contributions to the profession of pediatrics and to the American Academy of Pediatrics will endure.”

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