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Executive Staff Bios

  • Jo Buyske, M.D.
    President & Chief Executive Officer
  • Dr. Jo Buyske has been on staff at the ABS since 2008, initially as an associate executive director and director of evaluation. She was named executive director in 2017, and president and chief executive officer in 2019. Prior to that, Dr. Buyske was chief of surgery and director of minimally invasive surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia, and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Still clinically active, she remains on staff at the university as an adjunct professor of surgery. Her clinical experience focuses on applications of minimally invasive surgery to all areas of general and gastrointestinal surgery.
  • Originally from New Jersey, she attended medical school at Columbia University and completed her general surgery residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She began her career at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts, before coming to Philadelphia.
  • Dr. Buyske is a past president of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and a former ABS director. She was elected to the ABS in 2006, serving on the board of directors for two years before being hired as associate executive director. Dr. Buyske is also on the board of directors of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), ensuring that the voice of the surgical community is heard in ABMS deliberations. She is certified by the ABS in general surgery.
  • Bruce A. Perler, M.D.
    Vice President
  • Dr. Bruce Perler joined the ABS in 2016, succeeding Dr. Robert Rhodes as associate executive director for vascular surgery. He was named vice president in 2019. Dr. Perler is clinically active, and in addition to his ABS position, he is the Julius H. Jacobson II Professor of Surgery and vice chair for clinical operations and financial affairs at Johns Hopkins University, as well as director of the vascular noninvasive laboratory. He previously served for more than a decade as chief of the division of vascular surgery and endovascular therapy, and is the founder and past director of the vascular surgery training program. Originally from New Bedford, Massachusetts, he completed his medical degree at Duke University and his general surgery residency and vascular surgery fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Dr. Perler has served as president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, Southern Association for Vascular Surgery, Eastern Vascular Society, and Chesapeake Vascular Society, and on the executive council of the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery. He is co-editor of Rutherford's Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, 9th Edition and past senior editor of the Journal of Vascular Surgery. Dr. Perler is certified by the ABS in vascular surgery and previously in general surgery.
  • John D. Mellinger, M.D.
    Vice President
  • Dr. John Mellinger first joined the ABS in 2014 when he was elected to the original board of directors (now the ABS Council), having been nominated by the Association of Program Directors in Surgery (APDS). He was selected as vice chair-elect in 2018, and joined the new ABS Board of Directors following the ABS governance redesign in 2019. He served as vice chair and chair of the board of directors in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
  • Dr. Mellinger was named ABS vice president in 2021, succeding Dr. Mary Klingensmith. In this role, Dr. Mellinger works closely with ABS executive leadership and staff, the ABS Board of Directors, the ABS Council and Council Committees, ABS Specialty Boards, and national stakeholders so as to provide oversight and management and lead the development and implementation of the ABS Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA) multi-year initiative.
  • Dr. Mellinger is a United States Air Force veteran, and completed medical school at Case Western Reserve University and general surgery residency training at the Blodgett/St. Mary's Hospitals (now Michigan State University Program), followed by a surgical endoscopy fellowship at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and a Surgical Education Research Fellowship through the Association for Surgical Education (ASE).
  • In addition to his ABS role, Dr. Mellinger is Professor Emeritus at Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine in Springfield, IL. His most recent roles there, until 2021, included serving as the J. Roland Folse, M.D. Endowed Chair in Surgery, and professor and vice chair of the Department of Surgery. He also served as Director of Leadership and Excellence for the Center for Human and Organizational Potential at SIU.
  • Dr. Mellinger previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA), as well as academic dean for the Commission on Medical and Dental Education of the CMDA. He is a director of the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), president-elect of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), and a past president of the APDS, and has served on the editorial board for Annals of Surgery and the Journal of Surgical Education. Dr. Mellinger has been the recipient of more than 30 teaching awards including three national-level awards, has presented over 300 national, international, or visiting professor presentations, and has authored over 130 peer-reviewed primary scientific or review articles, as well as 28 book chapters and one book.
  • Jessica A. Schreader
    Chief of Staff and Chief Administrative Officer
  • Jessica Schreader joined ABS in 1993 as a part-time employee while attending law school. Over the years, she has held many various positions, including Vascular Surgery Examination Coordinator, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Examination Coordinator, Arrangements Coordinator and Operations Manager, prior to her appointment to Chief Operations Officer. In this role, Ms. Schreader works closely with all ABS employees as she oversees ongoing operations and procedures. She also handles contracts and arrangements for all of ABS's examinations and meetings.
  • Ms. Schreader is a graduate of Loyola University and holds a J.D. from Rutgers School of Law.
  • Adanwimo "Ada" Okafor, Esq.
    General Counsel and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer
  • Adanwimo "Ada" Okafor joined ABS in 2021, assuming the dual roles of associate general counsel and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer (CDEIO). Shortly after joining ABS, she was promoted to general counsel. In her role as general counsel, Ms. Okafor leads the ABS legal department and oversees the organization's legal, compliance, ethics and enterprise risk management functions. In her role as CDEIO, she leverages data analytics, coaching, facilitated discussions, workshops, and educational training to promote diversity within the house of surgery, cultivate a culture of belonging, and foster employee well-being, innovation, productivity and retention.
  • Ms. Okafor is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and American University, Washington College of Law.

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