AVMA presidency belongs to Jack Walther


Longtime DVM to be sworn in next month; promises action will jumpstart organization

Schaumburg, Ill.- With a list long list of accolades and accomplishments, it seems only natural that Dr. Jack O. Walther adds to his resume the title, "President, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)."

After all, the 64-year-old Nevada veterinarian has spent his career chairingmore than a dozen veterinary medical- and community-related boards, runningthree practices and raising five children. He even had a short stint inthe Army.

But as the current AVMA vice president moves into what should be hisretirement years, Walther's pace shows no sign of slowing. In the AVMA'sfirst contested presidential race in eight years, Walther beat Dr. Jan Bartelsfor the 2003-2004 presidency last July, putting an end to the adage thatthe job of the vice president culminates a political career.

"No vice president has been elected president since 1907. The feelinghas been that the vice presidency is a political dead end when you're inthe AVMA," Walther says. "I think I've proved that wrong."

Beefing up AVMA's role

While the AVMA president's traditional role is one of a spokesperson,Walther promises more involvement, pledging to take part in the organization'sbusiness, not just leave it to executive board members. In the next year,Walther says he will work toward making AVMA a resource for its members,guiding state associations in dealing with legislative and political issuespertaining to veterinary medicine.

"I want AVMA to become a clearinghouse on how to deal with politicalissues at the state level," he says. "I'm very much in favor ofthe AVMA getting more involved."

Getting involved means acting as a guide for state associations tacklingissues such as a recent proposal to ban cat declaws, which, at presstime,was thrown out of the California Legislature, or taking a stand on whetherpets should be deemed worth more than property in malpractice or wrongfuldeath claims.

"I'm a great believer that politics is local, which is why AVMAsometimes can't be directly involved," Walther says. "But I dotake a very strong stance in AVMA becoming a better informational sourcefor our membership.

"I am strongly focused on taking AVMA from where the leadershipis right now to new heights."

Not just a figurehead

Walther has big plans for the organization. While his primary role isto "get out and be visible," that doesn't mean he can't get startedin-house, expanding projects such as the National Commission on VeterinaryEconomic Issues, mentoring programs and modernizing communication betweenAVMA, the media and its membership.

"It's all about the philosophy you take as president," Walthersays. "I'm going to start and continue programs I know won't finishin my time. They have to be finished by those who come up behind me. That'show we're going to keep AVMA moving along."

Tracking Dr. Jack Walther's career

Known for his spirited nature, Dr. Jack Walther brings with him yearsof political and veterinary experience to the American Vet- erinary MedicalAssociation's (AVMA) presidency. A self-described competitive streak haskept him going all these years, he says, affording him the time and energyto become a leader in veterinary medicine as well as actively pursue a hobbyflying airplanes.

"Veterinary medicine is my number one passion; flying airplanesis number two," Walther says. "I had the opportunity long agoto go into veterinary school or the Air Force Academy. Flying is a greatlove, but I know I made the right decision in choosing my veterinary career."

n 1963 - Receives DVM degree from University of California-Davis Schoolof Veterinary Medicine.

n 1965 - Drafted and spends two years in the Army Veterinary Corps stationedin Maryland.

n 1967 - Partners in small animal practice in Reno, Nev., and buildsthree hospitals in the area in 35 years.

n 1973 - Elected president of the Nevada Veterinary Medical Associationand chairs the legislative committee in 1974, serving for 25 years.

n 1978 - Authors a complete revision of the Nevada Veterinary PracticeAct, which remains largely in use today. Forms and chairs the Nevada PoliticalAction Committee.

n 1977 - Appointed to the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners,which he chairs for 10 years.

n 1981 - Serves as president of Reno Rodeo Association.

n 1983 - Named Nevada's Veterinarian of the Year.

n 1987 - Appointed to the Airport Authority of Washoe County and chairsfor two years.

n 1989 - Chairs the Reno-Tahoe Air Service Task Force for six years.

n 1990 - Named Man of the Decade by the Reno Rodeo Association.

n 1992 - Selected as Nevada's delegate to the AVMA.

n 1995 - Chairs the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority Board.

n 1996 - Receives Community Gold Service Award for promotion of the Reno/Sparksarea.

n 1997 - Chairs the National Championship Air Races for three years.

n 1999 - Appointed to chair the AVMA Political Action Committee.

n 1999 - Elected to the board of director of the Western Veterinary Conferenceand serves as vice president.

n 2001 - Named Man of the Year by the Air Race Association.

n 2001 - Elected AVMA Vice President.

n 2002 - Elected AVMA President-Elect.

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