Chevese expresses her thanks:
“I want to humbly thank those who made the receipt of the Academy for Eating Disorders‘ Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy possible. I was truly humbled by Cindy Bulik’s introduction and will be eternally grateful to her for understanding that research, clinical, and advocacy communities can and must work together to take the field to the places it needs to go. I appreciate your ability to really listen to patient/carers and advocacy groups and reflect our lived experiences in your own work.
“Another thank you to Judith Banker for your relentless determination to bring the stakeholders together within the Academy. I so admire your gusto, spirit, and true belief in what we can accomplish together.”
Read 9 Truths About Eating Disorders, the AED stakeholders’ first collaborative effort.
Cynthia Bulik’s introduction
It is with honor and awe that I stand here today to bestow the AED Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy on Chevese Turner, founder, president, and CEO of the Binge Eating Disorder Association.
Our field had a momentous year with binge eating disorder finally finding its way into the DSM-5, and, frankly, without the efforts of Chevese and the organization that she built with her own two hands (and two cents), BED might not have made it into the front of the book.
Chevese has a background in political science, nonprofit management, and working in the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, as chronicled in the poignant documentary, Beneath the Floorboards, she has struggled with BED herself and has been on the receiving end of weight stigmatization and discrimination. She has drawn richly on every one of those experiences to build BEDA into the powerhouse it is today.
BED was neglected in the ED advocacy world
Chevese observed that BED was being neglected in the eating disorders advocacy world, and she set out to rectify that. I think it only dawned on her after she dove into the pool head first that she had taken a radical and high-risk step of sinking her time and fortune into starting an organization that catered to BED. It’s not that the eating disorders world didn’t have advocacy organizations. It was just that Chevese saw the need for individuals with BED to have a voice of their own, one that wasn’t being adequately represented elsewhere.
I generally don’t like to use war terminology, but bringing BED out of the shadows has not been an easy battle. And, frankly, assaults continue to fly from skeptics and disbelievers. Think Allen Frances’ ongoing onslaughts about BED as the medicalization of gluttony. And Chevese’s thoughtful, heartfelt response. But Chevese remains in the trenches, providing a balanced and rational counterpoint to each critique.
Diving into controversy
Coalition builder and diplomat. These are perhaps the two terms that capture the critical characteristics that she has displayed in building and growing BEDA. Chevese does not shy away from. Rather, she dives right into controversy. She brings people together who, under normal circumstances, might stay on opposite sides of the room. She gets people to listen to each other by listening to them.
Ultimately, Chevese gets people to change their language and develop a common vocabulary that allows them to collaborate, instead of obstruct.
She penetrated The White House and met with the First Lady and her Let’s Move campaign heads.
She has worked toward obliterating prejudice and misconception about BED and weight in the public, as well as professionals in the field.
Chevese has legitimized BED. I have said this about her before, but it becomes even more impressive as she matures further into her leadership role. Chevese reminds me of one of my all time favorite quarterbacks during a two-minute drill—Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers.
For those of you who don’t know football, one of the most clutch scenarios is when you’re behind, the game is about to end, and you have two minutes of ball possession time to put points on the board. Montana could have packs of men running toward him trying to take him down. But, almost as if he lacked adrenal glands, his calm prevailed and he moved that ball down the field for a score.
Controversy can erupt around Chevese. Factions can dig in their feet. Victory can be slipping through her hands. But her diplomatic calm prevails. And she makes success happen.
Chevese deserves this award for all she has done and all she has sacrificed. I love that, every once in a while, she’ll announce on Facebook that she is going off the grid to recharge, where she digs back into the deep support and trust she gets from her family. Our gratitude to her husband and her boys for their ongoing support of their mom’s efforts, as well!
On behalf of AED and every person with BED who, for years and, perhaps, decades, has just thought that they had a lack of willpower or has suffered in silence, I present this year’s Meehan/Hartley Leadership Award for Public Service and Advocacy to Chevese Turner for shedding light on BED.
Cynthia Bulik, PhD, FAED