October 15, 2016


 AAAP gets new CEO

Suzanne Dougherty takes over from Charles Hofacre

Posted Sept. 28, 2016 

The American Association of Avian Pathologists gained a new CEO in August after their leader of 13 years stepped down.

Dr. Suzanne Dougherty, a consulting poultry veterinarian and owner of Pecking Around Consulting, is the new executive vice president. She took over Aug. 7 during the AAAP’s annual meeting, which was held in conjunction with AVMA Convention 2016. Dr. Dougherty spent a year shadowing her predecessor, Dr. Charles L. Hofacre, who is a professor and director of clinical services in the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center. 

​​Drs. Charles Hofacre and Suzanne Dougherty (Courtesy of Dr. Suzanne Dougherty)

The AAAP’s executive vice president is a volunteer position with an honorarium.

Dr. Dougherty joined the AAAP as a student member in 2001, when she decided to go into poultry medicine. She started her volunteer work for the AAAP with the Epidemiology Committee, which she would chair. She also joined the Kenneth Eskelund Preceptorship Committee, which gives money to students planning to participate in externships, in an effort to help others  as she had been aided by a previous preceptorship committee, she said. 

She spent six years representing the AAAP on the AVMA Food Safety Advisory Committee starting in 2008, one as committee chair, and she was a member of the AAAP board of directors from 2011-2013. 

Having shadowed Dr. Hofacre, Dr. Dougherty said she has worked with him and other AAAP leaders on initiatives intended to establish student AAAP chapters, give students more financial aid, provide more public education, and increase advocacy. 

Dr. Dougherty plans for the AAAP to improve networking opportunities among veterinary students, veterinarians, and poultry scientists as well. The networking changes include establishing a mentorship program pairing young AAAP members with long-term members who can introduce them to others with shared interests, bring them to committee meetings and other events, and help them identify AAAP members who could help their careers. 

At universities with AAAP members who can act as liaisons, the AAAP also will try to introduce students to poultry medicine and give information on the financial assistance available for students and externs pursuing poultry medicine careers, Dr. Dougherty said. 

Dr. Dougherty said the AAAP has been a great help in her career, and she hopes to give the same help to others.

“It’s just something that I really wanted to be a part of, and, hopefully, can pass that on to the generations after me,” she said. 

The AAAP also will continue work to expand its charitable foundation, improve relationships with the AVMA and other veterinary associations involved in food animal medicine, improve communication with the public and members, and help members find AAAP information. 

Her predecessor, Dr. Hofacre, has been an AAAP member more than 30 years, having joined while he was in veterinary college at The Ohio State University. He said in an interview, “If you’re a poultry veterinarian in the United States or Canada, the poultry veterinary community is the AAAP.” 

He held 10 leadership positions in the AAAP and American College of Poultry Veterinarians before he became the secretary treasurer, the CEO position that was renamed executive vice president in 2014, according to an AAAP newsletter article written and provided by member services director Janece Bevans-Kerr.

Since he became CEO, Dr. Hofacre has seen food animal veterinarians increase their efforts to address environmental concerns, the debate about antimicrobial usage, and the rise in production and marketing of meats from birds raised without receiving any antimicrobials. Veterinarians also have faced greater public demands related to animal welfare.

Dr. Hofacre also said the AAAP has become more involved in national discussions on legislation and regulations affecting poultry veterinarians. He expects Dr. Dougherty will continue that trend, and he noted that she had created a Legislative Advisory Committee.

Dr. Hofacre said he also is excited about the close relationship the AAAP has developed with the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Through collaboration among themselves and with the AVMA, he expects those groups will be better able to address national issues affecting their members.

Dr. Dougherty said Dr. Hofacre has been one of her mentors since she was a student at the University of Georgia. He gave her necropsy instruction, clinical experience, an introduction to the AAAP, and advice on roles she could take as a volunteer leader, plus he was lead professor for all her research toward a master’s degree in avian medicine.

Dr. Hofacre said that, in retrospect, he is not surprised that Dr. Dougherty would set and achieve a goal of becoming the AAAP’s executive, through which she could help others. Even as a student, she was a good communicator and anxious to help with research and case studies.

He also noted that she interacts quite well with the poultry science community and the poultry industry.

Dr. Dougherty praised Dr. Hofacre as the leader who brought the AAAP out of its university setting and improved communication and efficiency, a transition that started as his proposal and led to the hiring of a management company in 2008.

“He’s really taken AAAP to another level in the last 13 years, and I hope to do the same during my tenure,” she said.