Advocacy in action

Interview with Dr Harry Snelson, AASV Communications Director

Dr Snelson accepted the newly created position of communications director this summer. At the time of the interview, he had been on the job for 1 month.

Q. What are your responsibilities as director of communications?

A. Overall, the responsibilities of this new position are to enhance the exchange of information among our membership, and to advance the policies of the association to our industry, regulatory, and legislative partners. With regard to enhancing the exchange of information, I've been specifically charged with working with the AASV's communications committee and e-Letter section editors. One of our goals is to increase the value of our e-Letter and website as communication, education, and information tools for our membership. Another goal is to facilitate AASV committee input into the association's policy-making process by providing additional opportunities for interaction between the committees and our board. Volunteering to serve on an AASV committee is an excellent way to become involved in the association and have input on issues of particular interest to the membership.

In reviewing the need for this position, the board also recognized that there are a number of issues (such as antibiotic usage, animal welfare, promotion of food animal veterinary practice, and animal health emergency preparedness) where input from our association is critical. My role will be to serve as an advocate for our association and to keep members informed about the ongoing discussions involving those issues.

Q. Why did you want to go beyond a membership and volunteer role to a staff role for the AASV?

A. Over the years I've derived great value from my membership in the association. I've been fortunate to participate on several different levels. Like a lot of members, I joined the AASV as a student. Since graduation, I've volunteered to serve on various committees that support the educational and informational missions of the association, including serving as a section editor of the e-Letter since its inception and as chair of the Foreign Animal Disease Committee. I recently completed a second term on the board as District 2 representative. Besides my AASV activities, I was on the staff at the National Pork Producers Council, where I saw firsthand the need for a strong voice for swine producers and veterinarians in today's regulatory and legislative climate.

That's a long way of saying that I saw the AASV position as a way of using my background and experiences to promote our profession in a more direct way.

Q. What are some of your current projects?

A. Right now I'm building on the excellent foundation that Drs Sandy Amass and Morgan Morrow and the AASV Communications Committee began with the AASV e-Letter. The e-Letter has the potential to greatly improve our ability to provide members with the current news and scientific publications. Each day, swine veterinarians have an unbelievable amount of information available to them. The e-Letter can be the resource that our members use to access and manage this information.

Next on the agenda is to focus on our committee interaction. The board has established a number of issue-based committees to provide insight and guidance to the leadership on policy development and to help direct the association's resource focus. The committees are a vital link between the leadership and our members - they represent one of the most effective ways for our members to impact issues of importance to them. We would like to determine how we can best utilize this resource.

Q. What are the challenges that you face in your new role?

A. The biggest challenge I face is understanding how the association can best serve its members. Members are the best source for insights and answers. I encourage members to let us know what activities and resources have value for you, and what tools are needed to increase your ability to be successful in your professional endeavors. The AASV is your association. Volunteer to serve on committees, and speak up regarding your professional needs.

Q. What is the best advice you ever received regarding communications?

A. It is a quote attributed to former president Franklin D. Roosevelt: Be sincere, be brief, be seated. And, yes, I do find that odd advice coming from a politician.

Share your views, insights, and suggestions with Dr Snelson by e-mailing him at snelson@aasv.orgor telephoning him at 910-221-5316.