Three veterinarians launched their campaigns for the AVMA presidency and vice presidency during the Candidates' Introductory Breakfast July 21 in Indianapolis. Drs. John Howe and Angela Demaree are vying for the office of 2018-19 president-elect, while Dr. Grace Bransford is running for 2018-20 vice president.
Elections will be held next July during the AVMA House of Delegates' regular annual session in Denver.
First to speak was Dr. Howe, a mixed animal practitioner and former practice owner from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. He likened the AVMA to a bridge that not only links the veterinary profession to the veterinarian but also bypasses obstacles to their success. "My vision for AVMA consists of strengthening this bridge," Dr. Howe said.
"AVMA must continue to be the bridge that holds us together with shared goals and objectives, and AVMA must continue to strive for diversity and inclusiveness because that makes us stronger," he explained. "Listening to the concerns of membership is part of maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of the AVMA."
Since 2012, Dr. Howe has represented Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota on the AVMA Board of Directors. He has also served on several AVMA committees and currently chairs the State Advocacy Committee.
A 1977 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Howe spent seven years on the governor-appointed Minnesota Board of Animal Health and was president of the Minnesota VMA, which has endorsed his candidacy for AVMA president-elect.
"I can personally relate to many of your concerns and challenges because I have experienced them," Dr. Howe said. "I am familiar with AVMA operations, and I am an advocate for unity in our profession as we cross our bridge and confront our challenges together."
Next to speak was Dr. Demaree, whose candidacy is endorsed by the Indiana VMA. The sixth-generation Hoosier and Indianapolis native credited determination and commitment to service—core values instilled in her at an early age—for her career in veterinary medicine and the U.S. Army Reserve Veterinary Corps.
Advocacy remains the top concern of AVMA members, according to Dr. Demaree, a former associate director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division. "(E)nsuring we are effective advocates for the profession and small business owners will remain a top priority as your 2018 president-elect," she said.
"By using the skill sets that we know veterinarians are best trained for—working together, embracing our diversity, and thinking outside of the box—we can ensure that we will have a sustainable and thriving veterinary profession for generations to come," Dr. Demaree said.
After receiving her veterinary degree from Purdue University in 2002, Dr. Demaree practiced companion animal and equine medicine before joining the AVMA staff in 2007. Three years later, she joined the Indiana Horse Racing Commission as its equine medical director.
In 2009, Dr. Demaree was commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserve Veterinary Corps, and in 2012, she was deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She is currently a major in the Army Reserve.
"Our members want the AVMA to continue to provide resources on how to make health and wellness a priority, not just for our patients but also for us, the busy professionals who often put the needs of others above our own," Dr. Demaree said. "As your 2018 president-elect, health and wellness will remain a top priority."
The final speaker, Dr. Bransford, is so far the only candidate for the office of AVMA vice president, currently held by Dr. Stacy Pritt, who is in the final year of her term. The vice president is the Association's official liaison to the Student AVMA and its chapters and is a voting member on the AVMA Board.
Veterinary student debt and wellness are the key issues Dr. Bransford would focus on as vice president. She is a 1998 graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and owns a small animal practice in San Anselmo, California.
Dr. Bransford has served on several AVMA entities, including the 20/20 Vision Commission and the Task Force on Governance and Membership Participation, and is currently a member of the Council on Veterinary Service. Prior to becoming a veterinarian, she worked in advertising for some of the top advertising agencies in the country.
"What do I have to offer?" Dr. Bransford asked. "I have the skills and knowledge from a decade in marketing and advertising working on leading brands. I have nearly 20 years of AVMA volunteer experience working with many different AVMA volunteer staff entities. I've worked in the profession for nearly two decades as an associate and practice owner. And I have the ability to integrate and leverage the unique combination of skills to help drive AVMA's efforts for students and schools forward."