President's Message

Hi everyone,

August is here, which means that September, and the 2017 AVAHO Meeting, are right around the corner! This year’s program promises to be informative and the Program Committee worked hard to ensure there would be something for everyone. I hope you will agree!

Since not all of you will be able to attend the meeting, I want to take this opportunity to inform you of some important changes that we are making to improve the organization. While I have mentioned some of these changes previously, given their importance, I will reiterate some, as well as identify new changes.

This year, the Executive Committee and Board have examined our business practices extensively. Many of our recommendations for change resulted from a SWOT analysis performed by the Executive Committee which was presented to the Board in January. While nothing untoward has happened, we quickly realized that many of our processes need to be more rigorous than what have existed for many years.

We realized that our checks and balance system for our financial transactions needed strengthening. After vetting several agencies, we have hired the Accounting Firm of Fohrman & Fohrman to provide a higher level of oversight than currently exists. Thus far, they are getting acclimated with our systems and processes and we will present an initial report from them at the Business Meeting.

A significant change is that the Board approved a recommendation from the Executive Committee to hire a part time Executive Director. We took great care to develop a position description, and carefully vetted the applicants. We are pleased that our first choice, Julie Lawson, agreed to join The AVAHO team. Julie brings a wealth of experience in the role in working with other non-profits and in the four weeks since she started, has hit the road running. To be clear, this decision is in no way a negative reflection on Sue’s work and dedication. Rather, having two part-time people affords us the ability to use the strengths of each individual. Moreover, Sue can concentrate her efforts at creating fabulous educational venues for our membership, while Julie can ensure our business practices are strong. We are confident you will agree with this decision.

We have also worked to enhance communication with our industry partners. These partnerships are crucial for the sustainability of AVAHO, and it is important that tangible benefits are realized on the industry side as well as ours. Our communication has been open and, I hope, mutually beneficial. I am confident that these relationships will continue to strengthen over time.

Another important function has been to draft a revision of our Bylaws. These revisions are imperative if we are to further the quality of the activities of our Board and Committees. So that we ensure our actions are approved by all of our members, perhaps the most important change will permit electronic voting rather than having voting limited only to those who are able to attend the annual conference (and thus, the business meeting). These revisions will be submitted for your review in the near future.

The Communications Committee has worked hard to modernize our website. As with most projects, it has taken a bit longer than expected, but I suspect you will be pleased with the results. We plan to have more current content and platforms for other informational and educational venues. These will complement what already exists on the Fed Practitioner AVAHO microsite.

Our Research Committee has been extremely active. We are pleased that an annual Research Award has been established and the recipient will be formally announced at the meeting. We have also developed a partnership with NAVREF (National Association of Veterans’ Research and Education Foundations), which strives to assist VA facilities with developing the necessary infrastructure within to facilitate conducting research. Our goal is to assist interested facilities in being able to enroll patients in relevant clinical trials, and to facilitate developing relevant studies with our industry colleagues.

Finally, I want to mention that the Board will convene another in-person meeting in early August. We have found periodic in-person meetings to be crucial to ensure progress on various initiative and projects continues in a timely fashion. We have a packed agenda for our August meeting, and hope to create more specific goals and action items related to implementing our strategic plan. Our next President, Rusty Crawford, will inform you of our decisions and progress throughout the coming year.

It’s been an honor and privilege to serve you as President. It’s been a privilege and an honor to work with our Board of Directors and our administrative director. Please make an effort to thank them for their service.

I hope to see many of you in Denver!

Best regards,


Mary L. Thomas, MS, CNS, AOCN President, AVAHO

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