The AVMA House of Delegates has sent a clear message regarding its thinking about proposed changes to the AVMA governance structure: We’re not going anywhere.
Delegates discussed at length—first in reference committees and district caucuses on July 18 and then for an hour and a half during their regular annual session July 19—the Task Force on Governance and Member Participation’s report, which includes recommendations the task force believes will make the Association more nimble and more open to member involvement.
||Proposed governance changes were a major topic of debate for AVMA House of Delegates members. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)
In its report, the task force outlines a revamped governance structure for the AVMA that has a board of directors; advisory councils; a volunteer resources committee, which would identify and recruit candidates for volunteer leadership positions; and a veterinary issues forum, which would bring together stakeholders to solicit feedback and identify strategic issues. The report doesn’t mention the HOD.
Because the task force delivered its report, and, therefore, concluded its work and was sunset, the Executive Board in June formed a team, the Governance Engagement Team, composed of AVMA volunteer leaders to communicate with AVMA members about the report, solicit feedback, and submit a final governance proposal to the board.
Delegates chose to send their message to the team by submitting a last-minute resolution, introduced by District X, requesting that any final proposal for governance change for the AVMA include the HOD. It passed, with 72.5 percent of delegates voting in favor.
Parliamentarian Nancy Sylvester explained to the delegates that they cannot tell the team to include the HOD in their final report, because that entity “reports to the Executive Board, not to the HOD.
“So, this is a recommendation. It doesn’t guarantee anything except that the board would consider this recommendation,” she said.
That said, any changes made to the Association’s governance structure would have to be approved by the HOD.
During the governance discussion, many delegates expressed a desire to keep the HOD, but perhaps revamp it to be more effective by imposing term limits or having AVMA members directly elect delegates.
Dr. Myron Downs, Georgia alternate delegate, said throughout the process of developing a new governance structure for the AVMA—which was initiated by a resolution from the HOD during its 2011 regular annual session—many delegates have not thought they had a voice in the process or were being listened to, which contributed to the introduction of the resolution.
“And now, we can start to have a conversation about making the AVMA the best it can be,” he said.
Not everyone in the HOD believes the entity should remain, however.
Dr. Link Welborn, American Animal Hospital Association delegate, spoke against the resolution.
“First, if you were developing governance of a new organization, would you conceive this (current) structure? We have overlapping and conflicting responsibilities (with the board). Today, there were seven resolutions and three bylaws amendments, and all were brought by the Executive Board, and there was minimal wordsmithing, which begs the question if bringing this group of people for this event was necessary. Was it a good use of your time or a good use of resources for members?” he asked. “Don’t try to impose restrictions to maintain the HOD because it’s personally fulfilling for us, and not recognizing there’s a better way to do it.”
On July 23, the board recommended keeping an HOD-like structure in the governance model and underscored the importance of ongoing dialogue with the HOD.