Auxiliary delegates approve exploring partnership with AVMF

Published on September 15, 2009
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Leaders of the Auxiliary to the AVMA have approved exploring a partnership that could change the organization's structure.

The Auxiliary's House of Delegates voted during the AVMA Annual Convention to explore a partnership with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, though some delegates expressed concerns about maintaining the organization's function and identity. The approved resolution will allow the Auxiliary's Executive Board to consult with the AVMF about a partnership and, if both parties agree on some basic terms, hire an attorney for further discussions. 

Beverly Richardson, immediate past president of the Auxiliary, said during her last meeting as president that the Auxiliary is having difficulty finding members to serve on its Executive Board. The resolution passed July 13 does not restrict the Auxiliary to partnering with the AVMF, she said, and the delegates would vote on proposed partnerships during their meeting at the 2010 AVMA Annual Convention.

Richardson previously said the Auxiliary's membership had dropped from a peak of 8,000 in 1983 to 1,150 this year. Not all those remaining members pay dues, which are waived after 40 years of membership. 

Beverly Richardson
Beverly Richardson, immediate past president of the
Auxiliary to the AVMA

Richardson said during the meeting that she thinks Auxiliary members want to continue a dues-based membership, maintain visibility, increase communication with veterinary students and their spouses, and maintain control of the Auxiliary to the AVMA Student Loan Fund. Data from the Auxiliary indicate the organization granted 135 loans totaling $675,000 from 2005 to 2008.

Richardson also said that, if the Auxiliary hires an attorney, that attorney would be involved in protecting the student loan fund, some of which could be used to help pay attorney fees.

Doris Blalock of Evans, Ga., who was president of the Auxiliary in 1966-1967, said after the meeting that Auxiliary delegates will investigate and study options before deciding on changes, but the organization needs to change.

"We only have 500 dues-paying members now," Blalock said.

Ginger Brainard, PhD, who became president of the Auxiliary July 13, said after the meeting that the Auxiliary will investigate what a partnership with the AVMF would entail for her organization, and that the Auxiliary needs to consider restructuring and streamlining operations as well.

The Auxiliary leadership has been considering other options to change the organization, including hiring a paid executive director as well as dropping dues and becoming an organization of friends of the AVMA.

Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO, told the Auxiliary HOD there is no such thing as status quo for organizations, which are either staying relevant through improvements or declining in membership. He encouraged the delegates to consider their organization's mission, focus on that mission, and determine what projects will help the Auxiliary accomplish goals in line with their mission.

Dr. DeHaven noted that change is not easy, but he said the delegates need to agree that it will be necessary. He also said the AVMA is prepared to assist the Auxiliary and is the primary beneficiary of the Auxiliary's success.