Two members of AVMA leadership launched their campaigns for 2019-20 AVMA president-elect during the Candidates' Introductory Breakfast, held July 13 in conjunction with the regular annual session of the AVMA House of Delegates in Denver.
Dr. Gary Brown of Sun Valley, West Virginia, is the District V representative on the AVMA Board of Directors and 2018-19 chair of the Board. Dr. Douglas Kratt of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is his state's delegate in the HOD and just completed a term as chair of the House Advisory Committee.
Speaking first, Dr. Brown highlighted the three pillars of his campaign: advocacy, education, and communication. Veterinarians are duty-bound to advocate on behalf of their profession, to legislators and the public alike, Dr. Brown said.
"We should advocate for the veterinarian. No matter what ways a veterinarian contributes to our profession, our industry, or our practice, support is paramount. The public we serve and protect every day needs to value the veterinarian," he said.
Dr. Brown is a 1984 graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and owner of a small animal practice in Princeton, West Virginia. A former West Virginia VMA president, HOD member, and AVMA vice president, Dr. Brown was elected to the AVMA Board in 2013 as the representative for Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia.
He said the importance of financial education and literacy for veterinary students cannot be underestimated, especially because financial stress can diminish a veterinarian's health and well-being.
Dr. Brown emphasized the value of ongoing and ever-improving communication among the AVMA Board, HOD, councils, and committees and from the AVMA to members and the public. "While doing the work of the AVMA over the past 16 years, I have seen great relationships formed that endure today," he said. "Through communication, we can leverage these powerful relationships and friendships to reach all of our common goals."
Next to speak was Dr. Kratt, who used a Lego block as a metaphor for the versatility of the veterinary profession. "There are so many choices on what to do while being a veterinarian," he said. "What piece do we play? Much like a Lego creation, we are all made up of different parts, which in turn make something great."
Dr. Kratt is a 1998 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and a small animal practitioner. In addition to being a former president of the Wisconsin VMA, he was part of the 2012-13 class of AVMA Future Leaders and is active on several AVMA entities, including the Strategic Management Committee and Working Group on Veterinary Engagement.
The challenges confronting the veterinary profession are many and daunting, Dr. Kratt said. "How we handle these challenges is what defines us," he said.
"We must balance the challenges by exploring opportunities for our profession," Dr. Kratt continued. "Proactively considering the needs of the veterinarian and the challenges of the future allows us to help our profession grow and continue to excel.
"What is my agenda when I become president? I don't have an agenda. A leader listens to the members and follows the strategic plan of the organization and does not push a personal agenda; they are a steward of the organization. A leader may assist in the big vision of the design, but they also play one of the Lego blocks in that design."