VMAE DEI Committee Working (and playing) Hard

Following action by the VMAE Board of Directors on November 10, 2020 to approve its charge, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) was promptly appointed by President Susan Blevins.  Kim D’Abreu, principal at Diversity Dimensions LLC and a thought leader at VMAE’s program on DEI delivered in Houston, was engaged to support the committee in fulfilling its charge.

The charge defines the committee’s role: “The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) is appointed to support veterinary medical associations (VMAs) in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in veterinary associations and veterinary workplaces, with veterinary clientele, and throughout the veterinary community.  The committee will be a key component of VMAE’s DEI initiative, and is being empaneled and empowered to undertake an ambitious portfolio of work with significant outcomes in the first year of the committee’s life.  The committee will support VMA executives as their organizations articulate a strategic commitment to DEI and as their organizations undertake programmatic efforts that bring the commitment to life.”

At its first meeting on December 9, the committee adopted Community Agreements to govern its work, ranging from valuing authenticity and compassion to acknowledging that tears and emotions are okay.  After each member shared a superpower, which ranged from encouraging people to engage and find purpose in work to the ability to engage without judgment, Kim D’Abreu noted that “this amazing complement of superpowers will serve our work well.”

The group agreed that the creation of a guidebook for VMAs, to help them make a strategic commitment to DEI and to provide a menu of resources and tactics that VMAs can utilize in implementing their strategy, would be the initial priority for the committee.  Since establishing that priority, the committee has undertaken review of some 100 DEI resources to curate them for relevance to VMA efforts in advancing DEI.  The committee is now focused on writing materials and preparing resources for the Journey Guide: A guidebook for veterinary medical associations to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.  The Journey Guide will be unveiled on July 20 during the VMAE | Summer Conference 2021 and will be available on the VMAE website and as a downloadable PDF document.

In true form for VMAE work groups, a proper balance of work and play is demonstrated during meetings (and during small team meetings that occur between monthly committee meetings).  The screen shot accompanying this article illustrates that good humor need not inhibit good thinking (and indeed it heightens productivity and engagement!).  VMAE members will soon have access to a valuable and significant resource in the Journey Guide, thanks to support from the VMAE board and as a result of the effort being invested by these individuals who comprise the DEI Committee:

  • Candace Joy – Washington State VMA (chair)
  • Chumkee Aziz, DVM – Association of Shelter Veterinarians
  • Jamie Falzone – Massachusetts VMA
  • John Tramontana, CAE – Michigan VMA
  • Kim D’Abreu – Diverse Dimensions LLC (consultant)
  • Mia Cary, DVM – Pride VMC
  • Ralph Johnson – VMAE (staff consultant)
  • Tierra Price, DVM, MPH – BlackDVM Network
  • Tim Atkinson – New York State VMS
  • Tina Tran, DVM – Multicultural VMA
  • Tyra Brown, DVM – National Association for Black Veterinarians