AVMA executive vice president, Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, introduced himself to AVMA staff Aug. 15 and talked about his priorities as the Association's top administrative officer. Dr. DeHaven, the former head of the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, officially succeeded Dr. Bruce W. Little on Aug. 9.
"This is a particularly challenging time for our profession as we are at several crossroads, but with those challenges come many opportunities," he said. "That makes this a particularly exciting time for me to be joining the outstanding staff at the AVMA."
Dr. DeHaven said the experience of working at APHIS for 28 years has prepared him for his new job at the AVMA. "These two positions—as administrator of APHIS and now executive vice president of the AVMA—are very complementary in terms of large organizations with broad scope and responsibility," he explained.
One of the challenges Dr. DeHaven said he faced as APHIS administrator was the variety of the agency's activities, ranging from ensuring the health of the nation's animals and plants to field testing genetically modified crops. "That's what made the job challenging, but it also made the job fun and exciting," he said.
Dr. DeHaven acknowledged he would be on a "steep learning curve" for the immediate future as he familiarizes himself with AVMA activities and priorities as well as its many stakeholders. Prior to the all-staff assembly, Dr. DeHaven met separately with each of the 10 AVMA divisions as well as with their directors.
As executive vice president, Dr. DeHaven will put his primary focus on providing leadership in implementing the strategic planning goals for the Association endorsed by the Executive Board, he said. These goals entail the AVMA being a leading advocate for veterinary-related legislation, addressing critical shortages in the veterinary workforce, maintaining high-level accreditation standards for veterinary education, strengthening the profession's economic viability, and being the top proponent and resource for animal welfare.
Dr. DeHaven first heard the strategic plan during the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference this past January. "It's exactly where I think we need to be focusing our energies as a profession. It represents a lot of foresight on the part of this Association and the Executive Board to identify those areas we need to be focusing on in the future," he said.