AVMA wants YOU!

Volunteer opportunities abound; leaders welcome nominations

August 20, 2008 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Schaumburg, Ill. — Want to weigh in on politics and policies of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)? Get involved, group officials suggest.

It takes more than 500 volunteers to run AVMA operations, from councils and committees to task forces and delegate representation.

That translates to lots of opportunity for membership participation, and it’s why AVMA is stepping up efforts to publicize such seats, many of which go uncontested. In the coming weeks, the association’s Web site will reflect a design facelift, offering easier access to information on open positions and the how-tos of volunteering within the nation’s largest membership group for veterinarians.

“We have approximately 23 committees, seven councils and occasional task forces,” says Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA executive vice president. “We are very dependent upon the work of volunteers. You don’t have to be in a state association to be active in AVMA, but that is often the route volunteers take.”

To get active, DeHaven suggests members’ visit the association’s Web site to view group descriptions as well as the forms necessary for name consideration. Timing often is an issue, with deadlines for candidate entries. Council positions are six-year terms, and elections go before the House of Delegates, which meets annually in July to approve placements, he explains.
The Executive Board elects committee candidates. The positions operate on three-year cycles with the option to serve a second term. AVMA officials advise potential nominees to get to know their board representative before making a run for committee seats.

The House of Delegates — AVMA’s policy-making arm — includes roughly 300 volunteers who are elected by a state or organization to serve as a representative to the national association. The group meets formally twice a year, in January and July. The seats run on four-year cycles with no term limits.

AVMA elections sometimes go unchallenged because potential candidates fear losing to incumbents and see no easy avenue to earning a position. But AVMA’s J. Karl Wise explains that the group does a better job of representing members when there’s a steady stream of new faces.

“When someone good gets nominated, sometimes that squelches the submission of other names,” says Wise, AVMA associate executive vice president. “We want to get away from that. We’re getting our own leadership to champion the idea that volunteering is very rewarding and fulfilling.”

Look for AVMA’s latest call for nominations in the Oct. 15 or Nov. 1 issues of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, which should include a chart illustrating current and upcoming volunteer vacancies.

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