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Sharon Granskog
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 AVMA Publishes Report that Proposes Revamping the Association’s Governance Structure

​The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Executive Board has made available to membership a detailed report that examines the association’s current governance structure and makes recommendations for a proposed system that will be more nimble and provide for greater member involvement in the activities of the Association. The Task Force on Governance and Member Participation’s report (pdf) is the result of more than a year of extensive internal and external research on issues facing the association and other similar professional organizations across the United States and which took into consideration hundreds of comments made by AVMA members.

The Task Force, formed by the AVMA Executive Board as a result of a House of Delegates resolution at its 2011 regular annual session, was charged with reviewing and evaluating the association’s governance system and determining if the current system is optimal to meet the future needs of the membership, association and profession. Using AVMA’s 20/20 Vision Commission Report as the basis for the creation of an evolved organizational structure and governance process, the Task Force sought to propose a governance model that will:

  • Be more responsive to membership needs;
  • Provide better value on investment;
  • Serve members and the profession more efficiently and effectively;
  • Be nimble enough to meet future governance challenges; and
  • Provide volunteer opportunities that are rewarding.

In its newly released report, the Task Force outlines a revamped governance structure for the AVMA that includes:


  • A Board of Directors, which will act as one body with management responsibility, policy authority, and fiduciary duty, in conjunction with Illinois’ state law.
  • Advisory Councils, which will support AVMA’s core strategic areas including Economics and Practice, Animal Welfare and Ethics, Education, Governmental and External Relations, Scientific Activities, and Membership and Governance.
  • A Volunteer Resources Committee (VRC), which will be responsible for identifying and recruiting the best candidates for various volunteer leadership positions.
  • A Veterinary Issues Forum (VIF), which will bring together key stakeholders, including state and allied veterinary associations, to solicit feedback and identify strategic issues where AVMA can strengthen and enhance the future of the veterinary profession.

"Reflecting on AVMA's rich 150-year history, I can’t help but be amazed at the number of advances in global veterinary medicine, technology, communication, business operations, and human capital over this time," said AVMA President Dr. Douglas G. Aspros. "It's because of AVMA's ability to adapt to those changes that that has allowed us to remain one of the world's leading veterinary associations. Now, we face another pivotal fork-in-the-road where we must decide whether to embrace a new governance structure, one that can evolve with society and the changing face and needs of our members. I applaud the Task Force for developing a deep understanding of the challenges facing professional associations today and thank them for their dedication in proposing a model that will ensure AVMA can continue leading in the future."

“At AVMA, I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the number of members who are actively seeking ways to get more involved in their association. Whether it is through conducting research to help inform future policy, engaging with stakeholders and others in-person and online to discuss current issues, or serving in working groups or in leadership positions--there is just no way to describe the depth of the dedication that AVMA members exhibit for the veterinary profession and the association,” said Ralph Johnson, chair of the TFGMP. “The Task Force’s proposed governance model builds on the foundation laid by previous leaders and visionaries, who established and grew the AVMA into the prestigious organization it is today, by providing a means to help AVMA operate more efficiently and by building in opportunities for increased member engagement and growth that are more in tune with how our society functions today. I am confident that this new model will help AVMA to be more nimble and transparent as it moves forward.”  

The Executive Board will form a new Governance Engagement Team (GET), which will be comprised of AVMA volunteer leaders and members, who will lead the next phase of the project by discussing the report during the July House of Delegates meeting in Chicago. The team will solicit feedback about the proposed structure from AVMA members, the House of Delegates, and councils and committees at large, adjust the model as needed, and submit a final governance proposal to the Executive Board.
The report and its appendices can be found on AVMA’s website.

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