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AAZV Strategic Planning Supplementary 2009

American Association of Zoo Veterinarians 


Thinking about and creating


the future of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians 

Strategic Plan:  2009-2020 


Strategic Planning Workshop


February 26-29, 2009 








March 18, 2009 


Carl H. Neu, Jr.



Neu and Company


Lakewood, Colorado 80227 

ÓNeu and Company and the Center for the Future of Local GovernanceÔ, 2009


American Association of Zoo Veterinarians 

Thinking about and creating

The future of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians 

Strategic Plan:  2009-2020 

Strategic Planning Workshop

February 26-29, 2009 




March 18, 2009 


    On February 26-29, 2009, members of the Association and the Executive Director of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians conducted a strategic planning workshop.  A copy of the objectives and agenda for the workshop are attached as Appendix A to the report. 

      Attendees were: 

      Dr. Julie Napier

      Dr. Tom Meehan

      Dr. Wm Kirk Suedmeyer

      Dr. Jan Ramer

      Dr. Scott Larsen

      Dr. Kay Backues

      Dr. Rob Hilsenroth

      Dr. Mitch  Finnegan

      Dr. Scott Citino

      Dr. Sonia Hernandez-Divers

      Dr. Vickie Clyde

      Dr. Gary Riggs

      Dr. Jonathan Sleeman

      Dr. Mary Denver

      Dr. Cora Singleton

      Dr. Marty Haluenda

      Dr. Bruce Rideout

      Carl Neu, Facilitator 


      A. Introduction to the Workshop 

      The facilitator presented an overview of the strategic planning process to be used during the workshop. The overview materials are contained in the participant workbook distributed at the workshop. 

    B. AAZV’s projection of its role, and vision in Zoo (wildlife) Veterinary  Medicine and Health Delivery – 2020. 

          The participants, working in two groups, were asked to respond to the  following: 

          1. For whom does AAZV exist? 

          2. What are needs and opportunities AAZV can affect toward     positive contributions/outcomes? 

          3. What are the trends, challenges, and threats AAZV needs to    anticipate? 

          4. Where can AAZV make its biggest contribution to zoo/wildlife    medicine, health and well being? 

            The responses to these four questions are shared in Appendix B. 

      C. Look Forward: How does AAZV see Itself in the Future (2020) as    Contrasted to Today (February, 2009)? 


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          Responses from the two teams and a list of vision elements are listed in 

          Appendix C. 

      The overwhelming consensus is to pursue making AAZV a premier association with robust and assertive programs, membership services and outreach to a number of critical constituencies and partners. 

      Team One also identified elements of a Vision  Statement for AAZV. 


    D. Basic Structure of a Strategic Plan 

          All strategic plans are a blueprint for defining the future an organization  desires and inventing the ways to make that future happen – become an  accomplished reality. 

    Basic Structure of a Strategic Leadership Plan 

            The key elements are: 

      • Mission Statement  -  what does the organization do for whom, how?



      • Vision Statement - a vision of the future that the organization aspires to attain.



      • Strategic Focus Areas -  the predominant factors of strategic importance contributing to the nature and quality of an organization’s future.



      • Five-Year Goals - specific leadership direction that provides the basis for leadership priorities, policy setting, performance management, and revenue and resource generation and allocation.



      • Two-Year Performance Objectives - precise results to be pursued toward accomplishing goals, addressing the strategic focus areas, and ultimately achieving the vision.







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Strategic Plan



APPENDIX A         

American Association of Zoo Veterinarians 

Thinking about and creating

the future of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians 

Strategic Plan: 2009-2020 

Strategic Planning Workshop

February 26-29, 2009 

I. Introduction 

    In 2002, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians conducted a strategic planning workshop which led to the creation of “VISIONING THE AAZV OF THE FUTURE”.  It now is appropriate to establish a new-updated version of the strategic plan to set the Association’s strategic priorities and direction for the next ten years, define five-year goals to be pursued toward fulfillment of the strategic priorities, and to create specific measureable objectives and accompanying work plans to be completed by the Executive Director, Association staff, and Association Board members, standing committee chairs or program chairs during the remainder of 2009-2011.  To keep the strategic plan, its goals and work plans current and focused, a rolling “three-year” review is recommended (2012-2014, 2015-17 and 2018-2020). 

II. Strategic Planning Workshop Objectives and Agenda 

      A. Workshop Objectives 

            Upon completion of this workshop, the participants will have: 

            1. reviewed accomplishments made by AAZV relative to the strategic    vision, themes and goals presented in the 2002 Strategic Plan. 

            2. completed an assessment of the AAZV’s role and vision in Zoo     Veterinary Medicine and Health Delivery – 2020. 

            3. defined the key success factors (Strategic Focus Areas – themes)     essential to achieving AAZV’s vision and projected role. 

            4. identified issues and needs to be addressed relative to each      Strategic Focus Area. 

            5. established five-year goals and 3-year interim measureable specific    operational performance objectives to be pursued by the      Association toward the disciplined and successful implementation     of the Strategic Plan. 

            6. established guidelines for creating appropriate action plans and     budgets necessary to support the operational performance plans. 

      B. Agenda 

            1. Day 1: February 26, 2009 (Thursday evening session) 

                  8:00 p.m. Welcome, introductions and review of workshop       objectives and agenda. 

                  8:30 p.m. AAZV’s accomplishments, successes and        frustrations in implementing the 2002 Strategic       Plan.  (Lessons learned:  2002-2008) 

                  9:15 p.m. Overview of the next 2 days’ activities 

                  9:30 p.m. Adjourn 

            2. Day 2:  February 27, 2009  (Friday) 

                  7:30 a.m. Continental breakfast 

                  8:00 a.m. AAZV’s projection of its role and vision in Zoo       (and wildlife) Veterinary Medicine and Health       Delivery – 2020: 

            • AAZV:  For whom/what do we exist?
            • Needs and opportunities
            • Trends, challenges and threats
            • Where can AAZV make its biggest contribution to Zoo (and wildlife) Veterinary Medicine and Health Delivery?



                  11:00 a.m. AAZV Role and Vision: 2020 

                  12:30 p.m. Lunch 

                  1:30 p.m. Key Success Factors:  where must we focus our       strategic energy and resources to achieve the role       and vision we foresee for AAZV: 2020? 

                  2:30 p.m. White Oak Animal Tour 

                  5:30 p.m. Adjourn 

                  7:00 p.m. Cocktails and dinner 

            3. Day 3:  February 28, 2009  (Saturday) 

                  7:30 a.m. Continental breakfast 

                  8:00 a.m. Issues and needs to be addressed relative to each       Strategic Focus Area. 

                  10:00 a.m. Proposed five-year goals to be pursued relative to       each Strategic Focus Area. 

                  12:30 p.m. Lunch 

                  1:30 p.m. Refinement of proposed five-year goals and        outlining proposed measureable organization and       performance objectives for each goal. 

                  5:00 p.m. Adjourn 

                  6:00 p.m. Cocktails and dinner 

            4. Day 4:  February 29, 2009 (Sunday) 

                  7:30 a.m. Continental breakfast 

                  8:00 a.m. Work assignments (post workshop):  establishing       action plans and budgets to support operational       performance plans. 

                  10:00 a.m. Post-workshop steps to create draft and final       Strategic Plans to be: 

            • reviewed by the workshop participants
            • reviewed by the AAZV elected officers
            • presented for acceptance and approval by the AAZV Executive Board.



                  11:00 a.m. Conclusion of Workshop 

      CPost-Workshop Activities: 

      • Completing Action Plans and Budgets
      • Drafting of Strategic Plan
      • Review of Draft Strategic Plan
      • Presentation of Strategic Plan to AAZV Executive Board for acceptance and approval.



      D. Pre-Workshop Activities: 

      • Strategic Planning Focus Groups at AAZV Annual Conference (October 11, 2008)
      • Pre-workshop participant materials to read in preparation for the workshop.



      E. Pre-Workshop Readings: 

      • Strategic Planning:  What is it, why do it?



      • AAZV Strategic Planning Workshop Objectives and Agenda



      • Summary of Comments from focus groups conducted on October 11, 2008




AAZV’s Projection of its Role and Vision in Zoo (Wildlife)

Veterinary Medicine and Health Delivery 

1. For whom does AAZV exist? 

      a. Responses from Team One

      • For the animals?
      • We exist for the membership?
      • Who is the membership?  Who are our members?  Zoo vets, wildlife vets, aquatic vets, private practitioners
      • We exist for all individuals who care for all animals, ecosystems, habitats
      • Who is the membership?  What do the members have in common?
        • Need to grow, inclusive membership, expand as an international organization
        • Members like to belong to an advocacy group that represents the needs and challenges of institutions that hold captive animals
        • Suggest no definition of a member, but rather a definition of goals and missions and then a person can choose
        • We serve those that care for animals (and their ecosystems, habitats, etc)
        • We exist for anyone who wants to learn about captive and wildlife animal care
        • We exist to improve in what we do and to share information
        • We exist to enable veterinarians to provide the best care for animals
        • We exist to help our members and society → who are individuals that are interested in enhancing the health of free-ranging and captive wildlife, ecosystems and habitats.



      b. Responses from Team Two

      • Exist for zoo/wildlife veterinarians/zoo/state regulatory agencies
      • Public-authority-other individuals have risen above us
      • Here for animals/zoos
      • Decide conceptually who we are for?
      • Scott-?
        • First for the members
        • Ex-AVMA-serves more than the members – is an advocate for the profession
        • Surprised to see little discussion between zoo and wildlife
      • Needs to be more advocacy
      • Services needed in the field – Bruce
      • Identity-field veterinarians don’t look at the “zoo” field, etc.
      • Need to strengthen the “bond” between zoos and field settings
      • Can play role in “managed” care.
      • Need to communicate to members better.



      2. What are needs and opportunities AAZV can affect toward positive    contributions/outcomes? 

            a. Responses from  Team One: 

        • Adding to expertise of vets engaged in care of captive and free-ranging wildlife
        • Need to cultivate our students
        • Need to strengthen our ties with AVMA-get them to represent our needs!
        • Need to change our own perception about exclusivity within our own members
          • Structure within the group so that if a member wants to be involved they can be (organization)
        • Improving public perception/PR
          • General public-why are we cool?
          • Ecologists/biologists
          • Within zoos, improving PR to other zoo personnel
        • Advocacy
          • Policy making
          • We want to be called when policy makers are making legislation
          • Provide support when a member finds themselves in trouble.



            b. Responses from  Team Two: 

        • Communication
          • Membership
          • AVMA
          • Zoo professionals
          • Partnering with other organizations
          • Are we big enough to do all this?
          • Targeted/internet
          • Bridge the gap
        • Must be the source of information
        • Additional sources of revenue
        • Education-“worldwide dissemination/access”
        • Consolidate/partner
        • Examine governance/stability in the leadership structure of the organization
          • Length of terms, etc.
        • Opportunity map?



      3. What are the trends, challenges and threats AAZV needs to anticipate? 

            a. Responses from Team One 

        • We’ve been bad about passing down information from generation to generation; (institutional memory)
        • Need committees’ responsibilities to be mentioned in bylaws
        • Need Guidelines/Procedures Manual
        • Need reevaluate the journal
          • Can it do a better job?
          • Is there a better format?
          • Is there better content?
          • Move towards evidence-based field
          • Move towards research
        • Need towards more research
        • Species diversity in zoos has decreased – without animals
        • Animal rights/welfare movement – have independent voice
        • Brand ourselves as animal welfare organizations!??
          • General public supports welfare
          • Animal rights people use the ignorance about animal welfare to engage the public
          • Create a way to actively promote zoo veterinarians as welfare advocates – media packages?
            • Get a spokesperson?
        • Challenge-are we an offspring of AZA?  Are we viewed as a part of AZA?
          • Can we moderate discussions between animal rights groups and AZA
        • Big challenge-balancing life and work!  Few zoo vets are doing most of the work
        • Inequity in salaries, inequity of number of animals per vet
        • Representation of institutional zoo vets
        • Address the splintering of groups (other veterinary associations, ARAV, AAV, etc.)
          • Strategic alliances with these groups



            b. Responses from Team Two 

        • Animal rights have important role
          • We are the go to source, not them
          • Can be threat
        • Losing the journal?
          • Online free access
        • Lose conference?
          • Diluted-fragmented
        • Become non-essential
        • Major disease outbreak in a zoo
        • Increase demand for disease surveillance
        • Global threat of disease
        • Communication with regulatory officials
        • Shift toward “entertainment” venue/away from conservation?
          • Shift towards sanctuary
        • Shift towards “business method”
        • Higher standard of health care
        • Identify and not lose our focus
        • Egos/toxic board? – unlikely-although change in governance could
        • Further fragmentation-dilution with other organizations
        • Information management/access?
        • Provide accurate information “solo” veterinarian
        • Stewards vs. exploitation.



      4. Where can  AAZV make its biggest contribution to zoo/wildlife medicine,    health and well being? 

            a. Responses from Team One 

        • Technology – putting information out there
        • Education for non-domestic animal medicine
        • Expertise for non-domestic animal medicine
        • Perspective that a zoo veterinarian has working with both captive and free-ranging animals
        • Go to people for hands-on technical skills (anesthesia, surgery, etc)
          • Facilitate connections between AAZV members and in-state wildlife biologists
        • Provide broader perspective of zoo vets (not one specialized discipline)
        • Provide intellectual skills
        • Providing the best care for the animals.



            b. Responses form Team Two 

        • Be the source of information
          • Animal welfare
          • Zoo/wildlife
        • Education
          • Research/advancing the knowledge
        • Effecting policy
        • Advocacy for the animals
          • Proactive “Brochure”
          • Set standards
          • Animal rights/prevent them from setting vocabulary
          • Actively solving problems that will help animals

            - Scientific credibility 

        • “Outreach” programs
          • Recognized as the source for information
          • Could influence donors
          • Provide the persons 

          APPENDIX C 

2020 – What do you propose AAZV should be in 2020? 

            1. Response from Team One: 

        • We are leaders in One Health initiative
        • We are the specialists that politicians and general public go to for expertise
        • WE are the Go To group for animal welfare
        • We have positioned ourselves as organization that people “quote” for expertise
        • WE have convergence of captive and wildlife
        • We are much more international
        • We are larger, more inclusive
        • We have a Journal that includes Letter to Editors, Review papers, Focus papers, Position Letters and a name change (Zoological Medicine)
        • Our name as changed!  Association of Zoological Health (take focus away from people, more on what is done)
        • We are participating more in the human-animal connection at the zoo
        • We are linking the captive had free-ranging wildlife
        • We are a resource for the public on how to coexist with wildlife
        • Becoming a resource for emerging diseases and zoonotics.



            2. Response from Team Two: 

        • Do what we do best, better
        • AAZV – The umbrella that can bring all the professional animal organizations together – the team builder
        • Collaborate with other scientists
        • Work with veterinarians from outside USA
        • Use science based veterinary medicine to improve the health and well being of captive and free ranging wildlife
          • Create research
          • Dissemination
            • Journal
            • Conference
            • Website
            • Internet
            • Education:
              • Veterinarians
              • Students

        Other Comments: 

        •  “Want AVMA to envy AAZV” as the organization

        •  The “think-tank” 



Proposed Elements of a

Vision Statement

For AAZV – 2020 

            A word picture written from the future to today, describing AAZV in    2020:  the characteristics of the organization one can see and identify. 

      • The Association is an inclusive, vibrant, international organization committed to promoting wildlife health
      • We participate in strong and strategic alliances with like-minded organizations
      • We advance the study of ecosystem health – the interdependence of humans, animals and the environment
      • We are a leading resource for expertise in health and welfare of wildlife
      • We are an influential resource in the development of policies that affect the health, welfare and conservation of wildlife
      • Our education and outreach efforts include
        • A preeminent Journal
        • An international Conference
        • State-of-the-art dissemination of knowledge in the field of zoological medicine/health
      • We promote and fund scientific research essential to our mission
      • We are leaders in fostering the positive relationship among humans, wildlife and their shared environment
      • We have accomplished:


(Not completed by the Team)


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