AAHA to Change Executive Leadership

Lakewood, Colorado—February 13, 2020—AAHA announced today that current CEO Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP (C/F) Emeritus, will serve through the end of AAHA’s fiscal year, June 30, 2020, and then will move on to pursue other opportunities.

Lakewood, Colorado—February 13, 2020—AAHA announced today that current CEO Michael Cavanaugh DVM, DABVP (C/F) Emeritus, will serve through the end of AAHA’s fiscal year, June 30, 2020, and then will move on to pursue other opportunities.

Since joining AAHA in 2010, Dr. Cavanaugh has helped facilitate a cultural transformation at AAHA, overseeing many new programs and initiatives, including AAHA Advantage, AAHA’s Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative, and AAHA Learning. In 2012, Dr. Cavanaugh assisted the Board of Directors with an overhaul of AAHA’s governance model, including reducing the size of the board, updating term limits for directors and officers, and revising the selection process for board members and officers.

Under his leadership, AAHA’s Member Experience team has aimed to provide “legendary service” to AAHA-accredited animal hospitals by shifting from the provision of basic customer service to addressing the whole experience of veterinary practitioners, including personal wellbeing.

Dr. Cavanaugh helped transform AAHA’s yearly conference from a large, impersonal expo to a curated continuing education and networking event renamed Connexity, for the “intersection between connection and community.” During his tenure, AAHA increased its social media following, raised pet owner awareness about the value of accreditation, and started a thriving private Facebook group exclusively for AAHA-accredited members.

He also led the charge to improve AAHA’s educational offerings for the whole veterinary team—from the Indispensable Associate program to the Veterinary Management Series (VMS) for practice managers, to executive-level programs such as the Veterinary Management Institute (VMI) and “Adventure CE” for veterinary professionals to complete education requirements while relaxing on a ski getaway or summer pack trip including horseback riding, fishing, and hiking.

What’s next

Upon leaving AAHA, Dr. Cavanaugh looks forward to camping, rafting, and kayaking with his wife of nearly 40 years, Beth, and their border collies, Seamus and Holly. He also enjoys time with his children, Caitlyn and Kevin.

“I am a huge supporter of AAHA and our mission,” Dr. Cavanaugh said. “I believe in our staff and our members, and I see a very bright future for the association. While I’m not sure exactly what’s in store for me personally, I still have a lot to contribute to the veterinary profession.”

The future of AAHA

AAHA’s Board of Directors and executive team will conduct a search for a new CEO throughout spring 2020 and will continue to support AAHA through the transition to ensure long-term success.

“This is an exciting time for the association as we evolve our strategy,” said Guylaine Charette, DMV, president of the board. “Dr. Cavanaugh has had an invaluable impact on this association and our members, and we are thankful for his contributions. As we look to the future, there are new opportunities for our great association, and together we can lead AAHA into a new chapter.”


About AAHA

The American Animal Hospital Association is the only organization that accredits companion animal practices throughout the United States and Canada according to high standards of veterinary care. AAHA-accredited hospitals are recognized among the finest in the industry and are consistently at the forefront of advanced veterinary medicine. Pet owners look for AAHA-accredited hospitals because they value their pets’ health and trust the consistent, expert care provided by the entire healthcare team. For more information, visit aaha.org.

About Dr. Cavanaugh

CEO Transition FAQs

When will AAHA get a new CEO?

The search for a new CEO has begun. Dr. Cavanaugh will complete his contract and maintain his role through June.

Who will hire the new CEO?

The AAHA Board of Directors is responsible for the search for a new CEO.

Does that mean AAHA is going in a completely new direction?

Not at all. AAHA’s future growth strategy has been in the works for a while now, and the new CEO will be selected to support those existing goals.

Should we expect any changes in our benefits?

No, the mission and vision of AAHA remains unchanged. We are still committed to the success of our accredited practices and individual members and will continue to provide benefits for you.

Why is Dr. Cavanaugh leaving?

This decision was a mutual decision from the board and Dr. Cavanaugh based on the future direction of the association.