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Reluctant leadership vows to restore AVMF
Minneapolis — In a move to recover from financial criticism that resulted in the resignation of its executive director, a newly appointed leadership rallies around the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF).
MINNEAPOLIS — In a move to recover from financial criticism that resulted in the resignation of its executive director, a newly appointed leadership rallies around the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF).
Dr. George Bishop: Once a critic, now serves on the American Veterinary Medical Foundation Board of Directors.
Some seats remain open, but Dr. Tracy Rhodes has agreed to a two-year term as AVMF chair, replacing New Jersey practitioner Dr. Robert Gordon. Dr. George Bishop, the California delegate who initially criticized AVMF's financial state, now serves on the foundation's board.
The new officials acknowledge they were elected "by default" and therefore bypassed much of the standard application process used to obtain AVMF positions. In July, they were asked by American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) officials to serve because candidates reportedly weren't lined up to fill the seats.
Rhodes, an AVMA Executive Board member from Fort Collins, Colo., says he's "going to give it a shot."
"I did not seek this job, and I didn't want it, but I'm going to devote my energy to it," he says. "We've kind of got a crippled dog here. We're healers in the profession. Let's not euthanize the foundation."
Rhodes identifies himself as "captain of a sinking ship," playing off scrutiny of the foundation's finances and an expense-to-income ratio of 79 percent.
While the old guard blames the ratio on superficial numbers and misunderstandings, the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) introduced a resolution requesting the AVMA Executive Board cease promotion of the non-profit until its financial issues were resolved.
In June, Executive Board members answered with a "proclamation" of support for the foundation.
During July's House of Delegates meeting in Minneapolis, the CVMA-backed resolution failed almost unanimously.
From critic to participant
While California leaders claim their goal was to "inform" members of the issue, they note objection for support.
"I think it's rather disingenuous for AVMA to ask us to donate when they know 70 percent is going to management and fundraising expenses," Bishop says on the House floor. "The money is not going for the purpose it's intended."
The foundation is charged with fueling the Veterinary Medical Assistant Teams, disaster preparedness and scientific research endeavors. Now Bishop is acting as financial adviser to AVMF.
"This was something I didn't seek; I didn't even put in an application," he says. "It is disingenuous for somebody to point out an issue we're concerned about and then be unwilling to work on it. I'm not going to be out there raising millions of dollars. My focus is in the financial affairs of the foundation."
While Bishop's goals include creating strong marketing, budget and business plans, Rhodes learns the ropes. The 69-year-old former practice owner touts his experience in government management, serving as a county commissioner for 12 years.
"When they first asked me to do this job I was concerned that being an Executive Board member left a wrong perception," he says. "But maybe it might be a bridge to make things heal a bit.
"My goal is to make this a successful foundation. I don't have any miracles out there. I'm just trying to restore some of our lost confidence."