After more than two decades of service in the AVMA, Dr. Larry R. Corry of Buford, Ga., is on track to becoming the Association's highest elected officer. Last year in Washington, D.C., the University of Georgia alumnus announced his candidacy for AVMA president-elect.
As the only nominee for the office, it is all but certain the AVMA House of Delegates will declare Dr. Corry the winner when it convenes in New Orleans this July, making him next in line for the AVMA presidency.
Dr. Corry's career spans years spent in public service and private practice. After receiving his DVM degree in 1966, Dr. Corry served two years in the U.S. Air Force Veterinary Corps. Later, he entered private practice, and today he owns two small animal practices. In addition to the AVMA, Dr. Corry's also been engaged in organized veterinary medicine at the state level, including a term as president of the Georgia VMA in 1981.
Dr. Corry recently spoke to JAVMA News about what he see as important to the veterinary profession and what he hopes to accomplish as AVMA president.
Q: Why are you running for AVMA president-elect?
A: It will be an honor, privilege, and challenge of the highest order to represent the greatest profession in the world.
Q: What do you want to accomplish as AVMA president?
A: Most presidents have a project. My idea is to help advance strategic goals of the AVMA. My favorites are education and state and federal legislative advocacy.
Q: What skills and experience do you bring to the job?
A: I served 15 years in the House of Delegates, six of them on the House Advisory Committee. I served as vice chair and chair of that committee. This is my sixth year on the Executive Board, of which I have also served as vice chair and the current chair. I was on the Political Action Committee Policy Board for two years, and served three years on the Legislative Advisory Committee with one year as chair. I was a member of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation board for a few years and raised substantial funds for the AVMF and PAC.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges to the veterinary profession?
A: Adapting to societal change and educating veterinarians to meet the demands of this change. I know that there is a shortage of veterinarians in food animal practice and in public health service. However, I believe the greatest challenge at this particular time is the economy.
Q: Do AVMA members know enough about what the AVMA is doing for them?
A: No, and the overwhelming majority never will. Given the many areas in which the AVMA's engaged, from professional liability coverage and college accreditation to political advocacy and public education, the average AVMA member isn't likely to realize the full value of their professional association.
Q: At the candidates' breakfast in Washington, D.C., last year, you spoke about the importance of veterinary education and the AVMA's participation in the political process. Explain why these issues are critical to the veterinary profession.
A: Societal changes, emerging diseases, and technological advances create constant challenges. The need for new veterinary services, such as aquatic medicine, presents unique opportunities. All of these issues will call for a change in educational attitudes and curricula.
The political process in our country depends on access to the decision makers—whether the legislators themselves or staff members. Once access is gained and relationships and trust are established, opportunities will exist to educate the staff and policymakers about the veterinary agenda.
Q: As Executive Board chair, what have you learned about leadership and the responsibilities of the board?
A: The chair is similar to the general practitioner. He or she must have broad knowledge of the entire agenda, while members of the board need be experts only on particular areas of the agenda, both background and details. The chair must conduct the meetings in a manner fair to all the participants. At all times and at the end of the day, the Executive Board must do what is best for the profession and maintain fiscal responsibility.
Q: Is there anything else you want to talk about?
A: I mentioned gaining access to legislators and their staffs. Monetary contributions do not buy votes, but they do generate invitations to functions with legislators present, thus gaining face-to-face contact and opportunities for establishing lasting relationships. Only 4 percent of the AVMA membership contributes to the PAC. This is pathetic! The goal of the AVMA PAC is to be a million-dollar PAC in a two-year voting cycle. If all AVMA members would contribute at least $10 a year, more than $1.52 million would be produced in that cycle. Of course, each member, by law, may contribute up to $5,000 a year. Imagine what could be done for the AVMA legislative agenda with that extent of participation and support by the membership!