For Outgoing AVMA Chief, the Show Must Go On

The 2016 North American Veterinary Community Conference may be the last time to chance AVMA Chief Ron DeHaven.

AVMA’s Ron DeHaven testifies in 2013 in Washington, D.C., in support of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act.


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This week may be the last chance for NAVC attendees to say goodbye—and congratulations—to Ron DeHaven, who has led the American Veterinary Medical Association since 2007 as its CEO and executive vice president.

Dr. DeHaven, DVM, MBA, announced last week that he will retire this year. He said after his arrival in Orlando that he will become a bicoastal resident, living in California and Maryland so he and his wife, Nancy, can be closer to and spend more time with their son, daughter and four grandchildren.

“We’ve been planning this for a long time,” said DeHaven, who resides in Chicago. “Because of my previous career with USDA I left a daughter in California. She now has two sons. We moved from there to Maryland, so I left a son in the D.C. area. He has two daughters.

“For five years the plan has been [to buy] a small house in California and then a small house in Maryland. We would travel back and forth.”

The decision by DeHaven, 64, to retire and maybe “do a little bit of consulting” may surprise veterinary professionals he has met or worked with, but a few dozen people got advance notice.

“I sent out personal emails to 50 or 60 people that I have close contact with in the profession, and I would say 90 percent of the responses have been, ‘Congratulations, I look forward to working with you for the next seven months,’” he said. “And then a few saying, ‘We’ll continue to see you if and when the consulting role comes about.’”

The plan at AVMA (Gaylord, Booth 312) is for his successor to take over shortly after the group’s August convention in San Antonio.

AVMA’s immediate past president, Ted Cohn, DVM, said a search committee is expected to be formed this month.

“Once that’s been named we’ll have an outside headhunter firm to advise us on how to proceed,” Dr. Cohn said.

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Cohn called DeHaven “a godsend for AVMA.”

“He’s done a tremendous job for us,” Cohn said. “He has a work ethic unlike anyone I’ve ever met. He’s going to be a loss, but it also is an opportunity for us to go even further than where Ron has taken us.”

Cohn credited DeHaven for AVMA’s reorganization, which includes a recently unveiled rebranding campaign, a new strategic plan and additional business units.

“All of that will filter down to the membership,” Cohn said. “We’re trying to provide greater member value and better efficiency so AVMA can hopefully become a more agile operation.”

DeHaven, who earned his veterinary degree at Purdue University, joined AVMA in August 2007 after service with the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps and two decades with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“In my previous career, I felt I was able to make a difference in American agriculture, and this was an opportunity to make a difference in the veterinary profession,” he said of his jump to AVMA. “Together, we have faced a lot of challenges during what appears to be an ongoing period of transformational change for the profession.

“The need for a strong, national, umbrella organization is more important than ever, and I believe I will be leaving the AVMA well-positioned to serve in that role as the leading advocate for veterinary medicine.”

See the March issue of Veterinary Practice News for an in-depth question-and-answer article with DeHaven.

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