Honoring an AVMA original

Nave's singular leadership wins him Association's top prize
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The AVMA has conferred its highest honor on a veterinarian whose natural leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and vision have influenced the course of the profession and inspired countless others.

Dr. James E. Nave (MO '68) of Las Vegas was presented the 2009 AVMA Award for his distinguished contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations. He accepted the honor from AVMA President James O. Cook during the AVMA Opening Session, July 11.

Dr. Nave said, "I will cherish this honor forever. I know what it represents from the point of this Association."

Drs. Nave and Cook
Dr. James E. Nave (left) accepts the 2009 AVMA Award from 2008-2009 AVMA President James O. Cook.

News of the award was delivered to Capitol Hill when Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada took the House floor July 22 to recognize Dr. Nave. She said, "I rise today to congratulate a dear friend and admired leader in our community of Las Vegas, Dr. Jim Nave. Dr. Nave was recently recognized for his outstanding work as a veterinarian at the American Veterinary Medical Association's annual convention, where he received their award for his distinguished contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations. His achievements in the veterinary field are incomparable both in quantity and in quality."

Relating some of Dr. Nave's contributions, Rep. Titus thanked him "on behalf of the people of Las Vegas and their beloved pets for all his compassion and his dedication."

As AVMA president in 2000-2001, Dr. Nave helped create a mentoring program and worked to restructure the AVMA's political process and establish new Executive Board districts. Before becoming president, he represented District X and from 1996-1997 chaired the board. At the award ceremony, he thanked the House of Delegates for having elected him president, calling it the greatest honor he has ever had.

Dr. Nave strongly influenced the profession's economic future by co-founding the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues in 2000 and serving as its first chair, from 2000-2007.

Besides providing leadership on mentoring and economic issues, Dr. Nave has focused on maintaining quality in veterinary education, fostering public respect for veterinarians, and recognizing the importance and impact of globalization.

Dr. Nave is the AVMA director of international veterinary affairs, a position originally called the AVMA globalization monitoring agent when the Executive Board created it in 2001 and appointed Dr. Nave to a term ending in 2007. His initial charge was to conduct surveillance of national and international education, accreditation, and licensing activities. Added to the charge was chairing the Committee on International Veterinary Affairs when it was established in 2007, on recommendation of the Council on Education and Dr. Nave, and he was appointed to a second term ending in 2013. The position now includes monitoring international issues that may affect the AVMA Strategic Plan.

Dr. Nave recently completed serving as a North American councilor to the World Veterinary Association.

"No leader has influenced the growth and stature of the AVMA more than Dr. Nave," wrote former AVMA president Dr. James H. Brandt in nominating Dr. Nave for the AVMA Award. "I haven't met anyone in leadership at AVMA who hasn't been assisted by him. He has been a teacher to all of us."

Following his graduation from the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Nave became a U.S. Army captain, earning a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.

Returning to civilian life, he settled in Las Vegas and opened Tropicana Animal Hospital in 1974, followed by multiple general veterinary hospitals and a veterinary specialty clinic.

In an interview with JAVMA News in early July, Dr. Nave said, "The ability to learn new and different things is, more than anything else, what excites me. The new graduates we have in our hospitals are sharp young veterinarians. They make me think young, and of new ways to improve our abilities to treat our patients and run our business.

"I often say every day I leave work with the full knowledge I didn't get everything done, but we have a lot of opportunities for tomorrow."

He continued, "With my involvement in a lot of other areas, I get to work with some of the brightest people, whether in banking, gaming, or the hotel business."

For example, he has served on and chaired the Nevada Athletic Commission, winning the title of Boxing Commissioner of the Year once from the North American Boxing Federation and five times from the World Boxing Council. He currently serves on the board for Station Casinos Inc., the Western Alliance Bancorporation, and Bank West of Nevada. Opportunities for such positions in other industries often arise out of his hospitals' involvement with top law and investment firms, he said.

In veterinary medicine, Dr. Nave has been president of the Nevada VMA, vice president of the Nevada Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, and delegate or alternate representing Nevada in the AVMA House of Delegates from 1985-1991. He is a former president and board member for the Western Veterinary Conference.

Dr. Nave worked relentlessly with Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada to restore the rank of brigadier general to the chief of the Army Veterinary Corps. He told convention attendees his organizational work was done with his head, but his Corps work was with his heart.

He maintained that other veterinarians are equally deserving of the AVMA Award and that if the award represents accumulated contributions, many individuals have helped him achieve it.

"I have unbelievable respect for AVMA and for this recognition," Dr. Nave said, "but I hope it's not over for me; I hope there is more for me to do at AVMA." He views the AVMA's vision for international involvement with particular importance.

On the personal side, Dr. Nave plans to spend more time with his mother and explore new places. He added, "My daughter is getting married later this fall, and that potentially opens up a whole new world of grandchildren."

Profiles of the other acclaimed AVMA award winners will be featured in the Sept. 15 JAVMA News.