October 01, 2016


 AVMA broadens candidate pool for executives

​Also adds treasurer to Board of Directors, adjusts free-roaming owned cat policy

Posted Sept. 14, 2016 

A nonveterinarian could become the AVMA’s CEO or second in command, provided the other of those positions is filled by a veterinarian.

The AVMA House of Delegates voted in August to change the Association’s bylaws to allow one of the top two positions—executive vice president or assistant executive vice president—to be filled by a nonveterinarian. The HOD also voted to make the treasurer a nonvoting member of the Board of Directors, added information to a policy on free-roaming owned cats, and encouraged education on financial literacy for veterinary students and veterinary program applicants.

The delegates held their regular annual session Aug. 4-5 in San Antonio, just ahead of AVMA Convention 2016 in the same city.

Dr. Joseph Kinnarney, outgoing AVMA president, said veterinarians would remain preferred candidates for the AVMA’s top staff jobs, and the bylaw change regarding those top jobs is intended only to give future selection committees and boards of directors flexibility in choosing candidates.

The issue arose with the then-pending retirement of Dr. Ron DeHaven, the AVMA’s CEO of nine years. Dr. Link Welborn, delegate for the American Animal Hospital Association, said during the HOD session that the AVMA was fortunate the candidate pool for a successor was robust in quality, although not in quantity. He advocated trusting Board members to make good decisions when selecting future executives. 

Dr. Link Welborn, AAHA delegate (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Delegates debated whether the CEO’s work as a public figure justifies requiring that a veterinarian fill that role as well as deliberated over whether the AVMA’s primary representative to the public and other organizations is the staff CEO or the Association president. Some delegates expressed more comfort in having a nonveterinarian as the assistant executive when the job becomes available than in having a nonveterinarian as CEO.

Dr. Kinnarney said finding a veterinarian qualified to run the organization could become more difficult as the AVMA increases in size and complexity. He noted that the AVMA is likely to exceed 100,000 members and 200 staff members within the next decade.

“We want absolutely the best CEO we can have for this organization,” he said. 

The delegates also added the AVMA treasurer to the Board of Directors as a nonvoting member. Dr. Timothy Montgomery, delegate from Georgia, indicated in an HOD reference committee meeting prior to the vote that, because the treasurer receives a stipend, the change would avoid the possibility that the treasurer would become classified as an AVMA employee. Dr. John de Jong, outgoing chair of the AVMA Board of Directors, said in committee that the position would remain nonvoting because it is filled by Board appointment. He added that the treasurer would have a conflict if directed to guard Association purse strings while voting on financial matters.

In another vote, the delegates added information to the AVMA’s policy on free-roaming owned cats, which now includes statements on confinement, harm to wildlife species, identification used to return lost cats to their owners, and the potential that allowing cats to roam would violate local laws.

The House also voted to adopt a resolution requesting that the AVMA Council on Education support a standard on financial literacy. Dr. Karen Martens Brandt, director of the AVMA Education and Research Division and staff consultant to the COE, said the following day that the council had already formed a working group intended to bring recommendations to the COE for consideration at its September meeting.  

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