Due to the scarcity of funds for educational research it is difficult for many clinician educators to conduct meaningful educational research. The Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) was created to provide an infrastructure to facilitate educational research in family medicine. CERA's first major initiative was an omnibus survey of family medicine residency directors. This survey incorporated several distinct subprojects focusing on different topic areas. Members of the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors (AFMRD) were surveyed electronically in 2011 using the infrastructure of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. The response rate for the survey was 38% (172/452). The majority of the programs were community based, university affiliated, and well established, with a mean of 31.2 years of providing residency training. Program directors were predominantly male (72%) and had a mean duration of 6.8 years in that role. This 2011 Family Medicine Residency Director survey is the first step in building the CERA infrastructure. Several more CERA surveys of other distinct populations have already been put into the field. CERA represents an important conduit for academic family physicians to produce high-quality educational research. The creation of CERA is a key step toward making educational research in family medicine more achievable, more rigorous, and more generalizable.