Governance Task Force Updates

IVMA Governance Task Force

Purpose: The purpose of the IVMA Governance Task Force is to review and modernize the IVMA structure and strengthen the districts in order to engage as many members as possible in the organization.

Task force members: Dr. Tony Rumschlag, Chair, Dr. James Stepusin, Dr. Steve Sunbury, Dr. Jim Weisman, Dr. Aaron Smiley, Dr. Kyle Shipman, Dr. Hilary Reinhold, Dr. Devin Kistler, Dr. Carrie Spencer, Dr. Matt Cantrell, and Lisa Perius, Executive Director
Meetings: The TF met five times in person and twice via conference call from July – April 2017.  Each meeting lasted two hours and provided an open forum to discuss all concepts and ideas on how to engage, improve, and implement changes to the IVMA.

Landscape Review: The TF reviewed the landscape of the current IVMA Board structure, which is comprised of geographic representation from 10 districts and 5 species areas. Additionally, the 5 officers (president, president-elect, vice president, immediate past president and treasurer) are a part of the board, as well as the 2 delegates to the American Veterinary Medical Association, for a total of 22 voting board members.

What is the Primary Purpose of Restructure and Why?

The TF surveyed the districts to determine the following:
Does your district have bylaws?
List district officers and number of members in your district.
How many times a year does your district meet?
Does your district have a current tax ID number and do you file yearly taxes?
What is the cost of yearly membership in your district?
In discussions with TF members, the following was identified:
Districts and Board Representation

What is the primary purposes that Districts fill:

  • Network with other veterinarians
  • Especially vets in similar situations/practice demographics
  • Forum to discuss local issue
  • Provide CE opportunities
  • Representation to state organization
  • Conduit for information back from IVMA

Issues:

  • Districts and their organization
  • Lack of awareness of districts/boundaries/meeting information
  • Lack of understanding of the role of the district by members
  • New veterinarians in the district largely rely on existing veterinarians to provide information
  • There is no easy access for veterinarians to see the information regarding
    Districts they may be interested in joining
  • Current system primarily relies on practices informing new associates of
    where/when the District meets are scheduled
  • Distance to get to meeting
  • Legal aspects
  • Fiduciary responsibilities being addressed?
  • Districts vary tremendously in capabilities
  • Depends on current officers or use of admin help
  • Capabilities can vary significantly from year to year

Board of Director organization:

  • Disconnect between districts and IVMA
  • Lack of awareness of the relationship
  • Large 22 member Board is cumbersome
  • Ability of members to contribute?
  • Representation doesn’t rotate frequently to give new member opportunities for participation

Representation:

  • Does IVMA Board Rep really understand their members
  • Do they speak for the district members or represent their own opinion
  • Do they reach out to the district members for perspective on issues
  • Do they consistently report back to the district members

Executive Board organization:

  • Officer rotation through President requires a long 4-year commitment
  • We questioned need for VP role?

Concerns if making changes to Districts:

  • Will meeting frequency decline
  • Will they maintain representation to IVMA
  • Will they continue to exist

The Proposal

Positive aspects for making changes

  • Expand ability of members to represent the areas
  • Increase visibility of district to veterinarians in the area
  • Ease to scheduling CE Speakers
  • Centralize payments and tax responsibilities
  • Facilitate communication from IVMA to members
  • Consistency of what the District provide
  • Lastly, the TF reviewed the current IVMA Bylaws that establish 4 standing committees of the IVMA – Executive, Financial, Public Affairs, and Membership Services.
  • There are 12 sub-committees of the IVMA. The TF spent considerable time exploring how the current committees and sub-committees
    operate, and sometimes, don’t operate. The TF concluded that having members on a sub-committee that is not functional provides for a bad experience for the IVMA member and thus, may reduce their
    engagement in the organization. The TF also determined that it’s time to modernize the terminology;  using the word “committee” can provide a designation that serving would become a “life sentence”, if you will. The bottom line is that task forces and working groups, as directed by the IVMA Board of Directors, can determine who is involved each year in carrying out the goals of the association. This allows for focused participation by more members on identified issues that they have an interest in, with a more defined timeline for participation.

Recommendations:
IVMA Board of Directors
It is the recommendation of the TF to amend the IVMA Bylaws to construct an IVMA Board of Directors that is nimble, smaller and more representative of a 21st century model of association structure.
Proposal – The TF recommends an IVMA Board of eleven (11) voting members – this would include 3 representatives of the geographic areas of the state (north, mid, south), and 4 at-large members. The TF
recommends that these 7 board members serve one, three-year term. They could serve again, but not in back-to-back terms. This would provide more rotation of new representation on the Board, on staggered terms.

Implementation of this new model would take place over several years to roll to the new board composition. Further, the focus of future board compositions would include a balance of representation of practice types, etc. This mindset will also be used when putting together task forces, working groups, etc. The veterinary profession is diverse and it must be reflected in the structure of the
association.
The TF recommends there be 3 voting officers (President, President-elect, and Treasurer) plus the AVMA Delegate on the Board (Alternate Delegate votes in absence of Delegate). The TF recommends eliminating the office of Vice President, so that an officer would serve a three-year term – President elect,
President, and Immediate Past President. The Immediate Past President and the AVMA Alternate Delegate would be non-voting ex officio members of the Board. The office of Treasurer would remain a two-year term, with the ability to be reelected with no term limit.

Nominations would be requested for each region (the three regions would be divided by counties/or use the BOAH district map to determine these regions) as well as for the at-large positions. The IVMA Leadership Development Committee (or similarly-named task force if the committees are restructured)
will process the names (similar to the current process for identifying the IVMA vice president candidates) and, if more than one candidate’s name is submitted, an election will be held to elect the board member (i.e. Voting can occur via Survey-monkey). Attention will be paid to representation on the
Board across a broad section of the profession (small animal, large animal, industry, etc.)

A candidate wishing to run for the IVMA Board must submit an application.

Justification: This structure will allow more members the opportunity to serve on the IVMA Board of Directors. This proposal allows the districts to remain functional if they wish, but takes the burden off of
them to select/elect a representative from their district. IVMA will assist board members in communicating with membership of districts to share information after board meetings. Electronic communications make this process much more timely and efficient.
This proposal provides a board structure that becomes nimble and fluid in leading the association.

How Does This Affect The Districts And Committees?

IVMA Districts: 
It is the recommendation of the TF to not disrupt the district structure. This will allow those districts that have a functioning infrastructure to continue to meet and engage members. It is suggested that IVMA assist districts, if warranted, with the following resources:

  • Each district will have a sub-page on the IVMA website to list the districts’ meetings, officers, dues fees, and other pertinent information.
  • IVMA will supply a sample bylaws document to assist districts with their governance structure.
  • IVMA will assist districts with information concerning the regulations regarding tax ID status, filing of tax forms, etc.
  • IVMA will assist districts with IVMA member information to let all veterinarians in the district know about the district association. This is especially important for younger veterinarians or new veterinarians who move to the district.
  • IVMA will assist with a “speakers’ bureau”-type listing of possible speakers for district meetings.

IVMA Committees: 
The Governance Task Force recommends eliminating the four standing committees and the subcommittees currently listed in the IVMA Bylaws.

The TF proposes that the IVMA Board of Governors (which is currently the IVMA Executive Committee – the officers of the association) would appoint the task forces and working groups needed each year to carry out the goals directed by the Board of Directors. The IVMA Board of Directors would continue to develop a strategic plan for the IVMA on an annual basis.
Justification: This would allow for the Board of Governors (the IVMA officers) to collectively work together to establish the groups needed to carry out the goals each year. Within this, the Board of Governors can identify new volunteers depending on the strategic goal that needs accomplished. By
working together to provide a robust method for selecting volunteers each year, with openness and transparency, the work of the IVMA can be inclusive and far-reaching in its impact on the profession and its members.

The definition of governance from the American Society of Association Executives: Associations are driven by their missions and largely measured by their success in achieving mission-related goals. Good governance provides the vision and direction to ensure that an association is on the right path. The responsibility for governing an association typically rests with a volunteer board of directors, operating according to a set of bylaws and working in close collaboration with the organization’s chief staff executive to set strategic direction, provide necessary resources, and make key decisions that association staff then implement to meet member needs. Volunteer leadership is often distributed among committees, sections, task forces, and other groups, making volunteer management an important operational function for association staff. In many associations, governance also involves the management of regional or local chapters or other components that support the national organization in fulfilling its mission.

Implementation Plan

1. Proposed Regional Map – Divide into three regions

  • Region 1 – # of IVMA members = 397
  • Region 2 – # of IVMA members = 429
  • Region 3 – # of IVMA members = 366

2. Election Process:  Regional representation – each IVMA member in that region will be notified via electronic and/or mailing from the IVMA office that the board position is open. Anyone interested in running for the position will submit their name and candidate application to the Leadership Council for consideration.  After review by the Leadership Council, names will be placed on a ballot for members in that region to vote. Electronic voting will be used so there is no printing and mailing costs for the IVMA. The candidate
with the most votes will be elected to one 3-year term on the IVMA Board of Directors. Attention will be paid to representation on the Board across a broad section of the profession (small animal, large animal, industry, etc.) 3 Regional Representatives At-large representation – all IVMA members will be notified via electronic and/or mailing from the IVMA office that an at-large board position is open. Anyone interested in running for the position will submit
their name and candidate application to the Leadership Council for consideration. After review by the Leadership Council, names will be placed on a ballot for IVMA members to vote on. Electronic voting will be used so there is no printing and mailing costs for the IVMA. The candidate with the most votes will be elected to one 3-year term on the IVMA Board of Directors. Attention will be paid to representation on the Board across a broad section of the profession (small animal, large animal, industry, etc.) 4 At-Large Representatives.

Criteria and processes are identified to recruit and vet board candidates. See attached documents.
a) Criteria for Board nomination:
a. Competency based
b. Experience and background
c. Have a management perspective
d. Be visionary (have the ability to see around corners)
e. Be resilient
f. Be flexible and open-minded
g. Be passionate and have commitment to the profession and the NJVMA
h. Must be a graduate veterinarian and a member of the NJVMA for a minimum of three
years
i. It is anticipated that candidates for Board membership would be interviewed to
determine their qualifications and possession of the above criteria
4. Implementation
If passed in March, 2018, the implementation plan would begin in 2019. See attached Excel document for schedule of implementation of board slots.

How this Restructure Benefits IVMA and its Members: 
The genesis of this discussion is to create a board structure that provides a transparent selection of board members and offers opportunities to all IVMA board members to serve on the board:

  • This provides one pathway to involvement in the organization.
  • The current system doesn’t provide clear transparency for all IVMA members regarding their board representation. This does not reflect true representation.
  • Having our IVMA members know that they can run for office will help them understand what IVMA does and create more potential involvement in the organization.
  • The proposed change allows for transparency in the election of board members so that all IVMA members are notified about the possibility to serve. While the IVMA has excellent board members currently serving, this new process allows for the opportunity for all members to have
    access to serve on the board of directors.
  • This proposal allows the districts to remain functional if they wish, but takes the burden off of them to select/elect a representative. This proposal decouples IVMA from the districts.
  • The current process relies on the districts (geographic or species representation) to send the board member to IVMA; the new process allows the IVMA to proactively fill the slots on the board. This will provide that all board seats are filled.
  • Many IVMA members don’t even know what district they live in or what the purpose of the district is. Many have a lack of understanding about the role of the district, what the boundaries are, and when they meet. The new structure, with the board members understanding their roles in reporting back to members and providing means of communication,
    provides for clearer roles.
  • The elected regional representatives will have a responsibility to report to all members currently
    residing in their region. With contact information from the IVMA, this allows these three board members to have direct access and contact with the members of the area they represent. This can be an added benefit to the IVMA members.
  • The trend in association management in the 21st century is a move to a smaller, more nimble board structure. This allows for less time demand of volunteers and allows for varied representation of the profession on the board.
  • There are currently at least six other veterinary medical associations around the country that have completed a similar restructure of the governance process.
  • Having an open comment period for IVMA members is critical to gain their feedback and input on this concept.

How this Proposal Benefits the Active Districts

  • Positive aspects for making changes include:
  • Expand ability of members to represent the areas
  • Increase visibility of districts to veterinarians in the area
  • Facilitate communication from IVMA to members
  • Consistency of what the District provides
  • Allows for IVMA staff to assist districts, as needed, with legal questions, CE speakers, etc.
  • Allows for IVMA to provide additional assistance, if asked in the following areas:
    • Website content placed on IVMA website
    • Template documents to assist the district
    • Assistance with scheduling/coordinating district CE meetings and identifying speakers and sponsors
    • Open Period for Public Comment from IVMA Members

If approved by the IVMA Board of Directors on June 8, 2017, after the following public comment period the schedule can be implemented.

Implementation Schedule:
1. Send mailing to all IVMA members with the attached Q&A and explanation letter – by June 15, 2017 –
allow IVMA members to email comments/feedback to IVMA office staff
2. Also email IVMA members a copy of the report and Q&A information – June 15, 2017
3. Deadline for submission of any feedback to IVMA – July 31, 2017
4. Compile feedback from IVMA members in a report and share with Board at board meeting –September 7, 2017 – if final Governance Task Force report approved by the Board, then draft Bylaws
proposal would be available the day of the board meeting for Board to review, edit and approve.
5. If Board proposes bylaws changes, this information will be share with the IVMA members in the November, 2017, and January, 2018, Hoosier Veterinarian newsletter
6. Membership vote on proposed bylaws changes would be approved at Membership event at IVMA Annual Meeting, March 1-4, 2018.