The American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives is making some changes to start a new era of carrying out its mission, starting with a new name and its own CEO.
Looking to expand the role of the group in the industry, the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives has shortened its name to Veterinary Medical Association Executives and introduced its first CEO.
“This is really reflective or symbolic of where VMAE is going,” new CEO Ralph Johnson said. “It’s a time for us to enjoy participating in dialogue at the various tables of discussion and collaboration that have thankfully emerged within veterinary medicine, because it’s an ecosystem, and the veterinary associations play a huge role in that ecosystem.”
Previously, VMAE was run by member volunteers—executives representing state veterinary medical associations (VMAs), the American Veterinary Medical Association, the local and national Canadian VMAs, and other specialized groups. Following a gradual transition and the introduction of an association manager and partnerships with commercial industry groups, VMAE has restructured its leadership to now include its own CEO.
Johnson, who was the Colorado VMA CEO and VMAE past-president, will not only continue working with VMAE’s volunteer boards but will also expand the group’s ability to advocate for and connect those it represents.
“I’m not trying to take over jobs that volunteers or the association manager have been capably fulfilling,” Johnson said. “I want to accelerate how they’re able to perform and to keep uncovering and keep unleashing the ideas that members have been storing for the point that we’d have some more capacity.”
Johnson explained that members have a number of ideas and potential opportunities “for VMAE to connect, to collaborate, to undertake something, and there just hasn’t been the capacity to do that.”
The leadership restructuring and rebranding was needed as the importance of state-level advocacy grew and as the role of VMA executives changed from administrative to requiring a sense of advocacy, strategy, and vision, Johnson said. This also led to a need for new professional development opportunities, new strategic partnerships, and a better connected organization.
“It’s a variety of things where we’ve just not had the focal point and the bandwidth … to engage more fully and to be able to collaborate,” Johnson said.
With the organizational shifts, VMAE will also begin expanding education programming, developing partnerships, and engaging in industry discussions, such as those on the current challenges facing veterinary professionals’ physical and emotional health. VMAE has already launched a campaign in collaboration with Partners for Healthy Pets on the need to pre-book vet appointments.
“If we can do a more effective job at leveraging our resources, think of the power we have in creating one resource and rolling it out through 75 organizations,” Johnson said. “There’s just amazing opportunity that is held within VMAE.”