AVMA Board elects Donlin as new CEO

First woman to hold top staff leadership position with Association
Published on August 31, 2016
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When Dr. Janet Donlin became AVMA executive vice president and CEO on Sept. 12, it marked the first time a woman has held the highest staff leadership position in the Association since the office was created in 1922. In August, the AVMA announced the Board of Directors had elected Dr. Donlin, a former executive staffer with the AVMA, to succeed Dr. Ron DeHaven when he retired as the Association’s chief executive after nine years.

AVMA President Tom Meyer cited Dr. Donlin’s decades-long service to the veterinary profession and her extensive professional achievements as key factors in her being named AVMA CEO. “Dr. Donlin is one of the true champions of veterinary medicine and all it stands for,” Dr. Meyer said. “She has an outstanding record of success in both the veterinary association arena and in the animal health industry. She is a skilled strategist with a proven background of diverse AVMA experience and a known reputation for working with leaders from all segments of the veterinary profession, key stakeholders, and staff members to drive innovation, growth, and success.

Dr. Donlin
Dr. Janet Donlin

“Janet is highly skilled at building teams that can identify member needs and drive programs that deliver the products and services our members want, need, and expect. The AVMA is fortunate to welcome Janet to the helm of our national association. She understands the importance of working collaboratively to achieve our shared objectives. She is uniquely qualified to take the role of AVMA executive vice president and chief executive officer.”

Dr. Donlin has been CEO of the AVMA PLIT since April 2013.

The Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative hailed Dr. Donlin’s election as a tremendous milestone for veterinary leadership. “We believe that she is an excellent choice for the association and will help with the AVMA’s investment in leadership development,” the WVLDI board of directors said in a statement. “While CEO of the AVMA PLIT, Dr. Donlin implemented leadership development programs for veterinary students—the majority of whom are female. This guidance and foresight is exactly what is needed to continue the advancement of veterinary professionals from diverse backgrounds.”

Dr. Donlin is one of the true champions of veterinary medicine and all it stands for.

AVMA President Tom Meyer

Dr. Donlin returns to the Association where she first started working in 1991 as an assistant director in what was then the AVMA Scientific Activities Division. Over the next 17 years, Dr. Donlin was an interim division director, associate executive vice president, and assistant executive vice president. She was also, from 2000-2001, interim CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, where she oversaw the establishment of the commission as a nonprofit organization, and for which she received the AVMA President’s Award.

“My time at the AVMA and my experiences across the profession have reinforced for me time and again that our membership is very diverse, our needs are constantly evolving, and our profession continues to face new challenges and opportunities,” Dr. Donlin said. “That’s why I’m committed to making certain we continue to build on the AVMA’s core strengths so that we are even more responsive to the needs of our members, and that we advocate with a strong, clear voice on behalf of our entire profession.”

Drs. Donlin and DeHaven
Dr. Janet Donlin speaks to AVMA staff Aug. 11 following Dr. Ron DeHaven’s announcement that she had been chosen to succeed him as AVMA CEO.

“I’m excited to work closely with AVMA leadership and staff, and our colleagues and strategic partners, to advance the AVMA’s mission ‘to lead the profession by advocating for its members and advancing the science and practice of veterinary medicine to improve animal and human health.’”

Retiring CEO DeHaven said Dr. Donlin will bring skilled leadership, as well as sound foundational knowledge, to an association that continues to evolve to best meet its members’ needs.

“Dr. Donlin is an experienced association professional with an exceptional amount of knowledge of and experience with the AVMA and our membership,” Dr. DeHaven said. “She is exactly the right person to continue what we are doing to meet member needs and to take us to the next level.”

I’m passionate about member service, and I am honored and humbled to be entrusted with what I consider to be one of the most important positions in veterinary medicine.

Dr. Janet Donlin, incoming AVMA CEO

Before joining the AVMA staff, Dr. Donlin was director of the veterinary technology program at the University of Minnesota-Waseca campus and was assistant professor of veterinary technology for two years. Previously, she was director of the veterinary technology program at the Medical Institute of Minnesota. Dr. Donlin graduated with a DVM degree from the University of Minnesota in 1981 and worked in practice for 10 years while teaching veterinary technicians.

After she left the AVMA staff, Dr. Donlin was chief veterinary officer in the Global Veterinary Business Channel of Hill’s Pet Nutrition from August 2007 to March 2013, providing veterinary insights to drive development of innovative products and services to meet the evolving needs of the veterinary profession and pet owners.

Dr. Donlin has membership in several associations, including the American Animal Hospital Association, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, Illinois State VMA, American Society of Association Executives, and American Association of Industry Veterinarians.

In 2006, Dr. Donlin became the first veterinarian to obtain the “certified association executive” credential from the ASAE. She is a former trustee of the AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust (now known as AVMA Life), and she is a former board member of the American Association of Industry Veterinarians.

“I’m passionate about member service, and I am honored and humbled to be entrusted with what I consider to be one of the most important positions in veterinary medicine,” Dr. Donlin said.