posted August 15, 2005
This July, Dr. Leon H. Russell Jr. of College Station, Texas, became the first American elected president of the World Veterinary Association.
For the next three years, Dr. Russell, whose candidacy was endorsed by the AVMA, will head the world's oldest international professional organization, comprising nearly a hundred member countries.
"I'm very honored and humbled by your vote," Dr. Russell told members of the WVA Presidents Assembly who voted overwhelmingly in his favor. "I will be president to everyone, and I will hear you when you speak."
Dr. Johnson S. M. Chiang of Taiwan and Dr. Faouzi Kechrid of Tunisia were elected as the association's two vice presidents. The Presidents Assembly was convened July 19 in Minneapolis for the 28th World Veterinary Congress, which was last held in the United States in 1934.
The WVA works closely with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization, and similar organizations on matters of food safety, food security, antimicrobial resistance, animal welfare, and zoonotic diseases.
After the vote, Dr. Russell said his election shows the AVMA is recognized as a supporter of veterinary medicine around the world. The AVMA is increasing its presence internationally through the WVA, along with the Pan-American Association of Veterinary Sciences and ongoing visits to foreign veterinary colleges, he added.
"This election was about the AVMA, not Leon Russell," he said.
Dr. Russell is a professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. He also has a PhD degree in veterinary microbiology, as well as a master's in public health.
The former AVMA president was elected one of two WVA vice presidents in 2002 at the WVC in Tunis, Tunisia. Dr. Russell had previously been a councilor for the North American continent representing the United States in the association.