From the Executive Director

I am at a loss to find words to adequately describe my experiences over the last 6 years with the AASP. I was new on the job in 1994 when Steve Henry asked me why I would take a job with the AASP. I replied, "I like working without a net!" I replied in that manner because that is how association work had been described to me: association employees walking a tightrope, working at the whim of officers, boards, and committees. Now as I look back, I realize that reply does not do justice to the AASP. I have had a net the entire time I have been with the AASP. This net is made up of some of the most dedicated and inspired people I have ever experienced.

Ken Blanchard, management expert, describes a style of management in which you are "catching people doing things right." This also describes my experiences while working for the AASP. This is an organization that has had people "doing things right" since the formation of the AASP in 1969. This is an organization filled with people willing to look beyond the philosophy of "what's in it for me?" It is amazing how many times in 6 years I have heard the words "how can I help?" The AASP is blessed with members willing to provide countless hours as volunteers so that all swine practitioners might benefit.

The veterinarians who volunteer for the AASP fill many roles. Some roles are more visible than others. Yet all roles directly affect the success of the Association. The AASP would not be the strong organization of today without the time and effort put forth in past years by active and engaged members. These members saw their efforts as an investment in the AASP and not as a cost to themselves.

Having said all of the above is the easy part. Now comes the part that sometimes turns my hair gray: How does the AASP continue its success? How does the AASP continue to educate and inform swine veterinarians? How does the AASP continue to effectively advocate for the veterinary profession and the swine industry? The questions could continue for a long time. Fortunately, the answers can be found within the same premise that has brought the AASP this far: encouraging and facilitating the philosophy of members serving members.

The following are a few of my observations of the drivers for the future success of the AASP:

  • Ensuring that the right people are in the right place at the right time.
  • Providing resources to do what needs to be done.
  • Allowing younger members to assume leadership roles.
  • Keeping long-time members engaged and accessible.
  • Maintaining a "lean and mean" organizational structure, staff, and office.
  • Segmenting the membership to ensure that all needs are adequately met.
  • Surpassing the expectations of all who interact with the AASP.
  • Providing the best education, information, networking, and advocacy for swine practitioners.

The best advice I can give to any member is to get involved. Your involvement may be in the form of service as an officer, director, committee member, or representative to another organization. Just as vital, however, is your involvement as a member who contributes ongoing input to the AASP on how well the association is meeting your needs as a swine practitioner. Let the AASP know how we are doing and what we can be doing better.

Finally, to all AASP members, I send a thank you for the honor of receiving the AASP Meritorious Service Award. It is a gross understatement to say that I was surprised. It is also very humbling, knowing of the hard work done by so many others that often goes unrecognized. I can say without reservation that I can think of no better organization to work for than the AASP. Thank you!