New Jersey leaves delegate seats empty

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Empty NJ delegate seat
Photo by Malinda Larkin

The New Jersey VMA declined to send delegates to January's House of Delegates regular winter session.

Richard Alampi, executive director of the New Jersey VMA, said the organization's Executive Board is waiting for an AVMA task force's evaluation of AVMA governance before it decides whether to fill vacancies that were created when its delegate and alternate delegate left those positions in 2011.

"We are still supportive of AVMA, and all we're really looking for is to have the best AVMA that we can," Alampi said. "And I think that, periodically, any entity needs to critically re-examine how it is put together and how it operates."

Alampi noted that he, two New Jersey VMA Executive Board members, and an emerging leader from the state attended the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference connected with the January HOD session.

Dr. Robert P. Gordon was New Jersey's most recent delegate, but he left the position following the July 2011 House of Delegates session. Dr. Mark P. Helfat was the state's alternate delegate, but he was elected to the AVMA Executive Board and also left the HOD following the July session.

At that session, the NJVMA had called for creation of a task force that would evaluate the role of the House of Delegates, its costs, and its benefits. The NJVMA's statement on the resolution maintained that the HOD was "increasingly ineffective" as a policymaking body, and the cost of the governing body's two annual sessions needed examination.

"A governance structure that includes a policy making body that meets twice a year is no longer relevant in the 21st Century," the resolution stated.

The resolution also noted that the Association's other policymaking body, the AVMA Executive Board, could determine whether to implement HOD recommendations, and the lack of consensus has led to repetitive debate.

Delegates voted in July against the resolution but in favor of creating a task force that would evaluate the AVMA's entire governance structure and the role of member participation. In August, the Executive Board approved a recommendation to form the AVMA Task Force on Governance and Member Participation and spend up to $45,000 for three meetings.