A Year – and So Much More – to Remember

Is it August already? It seems like only yesterday – it was actually Oct. 1, 2008 – that I pushed the SEND button on my computer after several months of contemplating running for AVMA president and submitted my name as a candidate. Then came my election in July 2010 as president-elect, and now my year as president ends at this year’s convention in San Diego.

Did the year go fast? No and yes. Each day was filled with emails, interviews, catching planes and taxis, packing and unpacking, speech and meeting preparation, and deadlines. But each day I also met amazing people all over the country and all over the world. Until you have walked in these shoes, one cannot imagine the breadth and capacity of the AVMA, or appreciate the respect the AVMA has around the world. Our success is due to you, our members, who support your organization and participate in the decision-making, and the 140+ staff members who work for you. Our strength comes from the support and knowledge of our members.

As I stated in an earlier blog, I personally see the role of AVMA president divided into three categories:

  1. Communication with members and leadership teams electronically and in-person;
  2. Leadership in terms of providing vision and influence in an enthusiastic manner at meetings and maintaining an attitude of optimism and hope in the midst of some fear and uncertainly; and
  3. Building relationships with global partners for the benefit of animal, human and environmental health around the globe.

These past two years, and especially this last year as AVMA president, has been one of the greatest privileges of my lifetime – past, present and future. I have met countless veterinarians as I traveled to state, regional and national meetings in an effort to connect with you personally, listen to your concerns and inform you about AVMA initiatives for strategically critical issues. I truly enjoy speaking to groups about topics I am excited to talk about, eager to share with you and have earned the right to talk about these past several years in organized veterinary medicine – the “three E’s” from Dale Carnegie.

I have (hopefully) provided energetic input, guidance and vision for several entities and members these past two years, including the Executive Board, various committees, councils and task forces, strategic planning sessions, our national economic strategy, and with our academic partners at AAVMC for educating our future and current colleagues. That doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges. We have serious challenges, but we are working collaboratively on each one of them with stakeholders who share a common interest of animal health and welfare, and financial security for veterinary medicine. We have concentrated heavily on our own three E’s: Economics, Education and Engagement of AVMA members. Much has been accomplished, but we have to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. It is important we all stay the course and stay engaged. Think Vision 2020.

I have met with veterinarians from all over the world in the World Veterinary Association, the International Veterinary Leader’s Coalition (United States, Canada, South Africa, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand), the North American Veterinary Leaders (Canada, Mexico and the United States), and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe. I will be meeting with veterinarians from the Federation of Asian Veterinary Associations early next year. All of these organizations are important to our profession, our own national security and global health.

Finally, I must thank so many people. Those who encouraged me to run for this office, a tremendous team of individuals on our Executive Board chaired by Dr. Ted Cohn, my Board of Governors, all of you who volunteer and contribute to AVMA activities, and the truly dedicated AVMA staff who listen to every idea and work tirelessly to make us and the AVMA the success that we are.

I have to specifically thank Dr. Ron (and Nancy!) DeHaven and his senior leadership team for their unwavering service to me and to AVMA.

However no one has been more supportive than my husband, Dr. Mark Carlson, who has held our home together for the last two years with his usual sense of humor, all while working in the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and as our town “mayor.” I am so very proud of you, Mark, and privileged to share my life with you. Mark has never complained about my absences, and he always made sure I got enough sleep when I was home.

I cannot thank you all enough for making a huge difference for the future of veterinary medicine. I wish the best to Dr. Doug Aspros as he takes the reins of AVMA president. He has great vision and passion for meeting the needs of our profession and the association.

Remember the pens and seedling trees I distributed when I first announced my candidacy at the 2009 Candidates’ Introductory Breakfast? The seedlings symbolized the importance of planning now for the future; the pens carried a message that read, “Our future is what we plan for, and that future begins today.”

Stay the course, and follow the dream for a better tomorrow. See you in San Diego!

3 thoughts on “A Year – and So Much More – to Remember

  1. Many thanks to you for tackling so many difficult issues head on and being willing to discuss the problems with honesty and integrity. You have truly been a breath of fresh air in AVMA leadership.

  2. We will surely miss your enthusiasm and optimism and have thoroughly enjoyed working and hiking with you during the Montana VMA meeting!
    Best of luck and hope to see you still involved with AVMA.

  3. Thanks Rene! You’ve worked tirelessly on behalf of the profession this year, and we’ve all benefited from your vision, enthusiasm and energy.