AVMA task force proposes governance structure revamp


Report reveals changes to meet future needs of veterinarians and association.

It’s no secret the veterinary profession is changing, and now the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) may be modifying its governance structure to accommodate those changes. The AVMA’s executive board recently released a report that examines the association’s current model and recommends a new system that will be “more nimble and provide for greater member involvement in the activities of the AVMA.”

The Task Force on Governance and Member Participation report is the result of more than a year of research on issues facing the association and other similar organizations across the United States, according to a release issued by the AVMA. It is also based on hundreds of comments from AVMA members.

The task force, formed in response to a result of a House of Delegates resolution at its 2011 annual session, was charged with evaluating the association’s governance system to determine if it’s optimal to meet the future needs of the membership, association and profession. Using AVMA’s 20/20 Vision Commission Report as the basis for its review, the task force sought to propose a governance model that will accomplish the following:

  • Be more responsive to membership needs

  • Provide better value on member investment

  • Serve members and the profession more efficiently and effectively

  • Be nimble enough to meet future governance challenges

  • Provide rewarding volunteer opportunities.

In the report, the task force outlines a revamped governance structure for the AVMA that includes:

  • A board of directors that will act as one body with management responsibility, policy authority and fiduciary duty, in conjunction with Illinois state law.
  • Advisory councils that will support AVMA’s core strategic areas, including economics and practice, animal welfare and ethics, education, governmental and external relations, scientific activities and membership and governance.
  • A volunteer resources committee that will help identify and recruit the best candidates for various volunteer leadership positions.
  • A veterinary issues forum that will bring together key stakeholders, including state and allied veterinary associations, to solicit feedback and identify areas where AVMA can strengthen and enhance the future of the veterinary profession.

“Reflecting on AVMA’s rich 150-year history, I can’t help but be amazed at the number of advances in global veterinary medicine, technology, communication, business operations and human capital over this time,” says AVMA President Douglas Aspros, DVM, in the AVMA release. "It's because of AVMA's ability to adapt to those changes that that has allowed us to remain one of the world's leading veterinary associations. Now, we face another pivotal fork-in-the-road where we must decide whether to embrace a new governance structure, one that can evolve with society and the changing face and needs of our members.”

Task Force Chairman Ralph Johnson says he’s confident that the new model will help AVMA be more nimble and transparent as it moves forward. “The Task Force’s proposed governance model builds on the foundation laid by previous leaders and visionaries, who established and grew the AVMA into the prestigious organization it is today, by providing a means to help AVMA operate more efficiently and by building in opportunities for increased member engagement and growth that are more in tune with how our society functions today,” Johnson says.

The executive board will form a new Governance Engagement Team made up of AVMA volunteer leaders and members, who will lead the next phase of the project by discussing the report during the July House of Delegates meeting in Chicago. The team will solicit feedback about the proposed structure from AVMA members, the House of Delegates and councils and committees at large, adjust the model as needed and submit a final governance proposal to the executive board.

To read over the report and its appendices, visit the AVMA’s website.

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