The success of the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) in its many missions is driven by the passion and commitment of its members. Each year, the Appointments Committee seeks to fill committee and council positions with member volunteers who have demonstrated interest and ability in specific topics relevant to the work of the Society. All member categories are eligible to apply.
The overall appointments process spans the first six months of the calendar year. SVS Governance Office staff, liaisons from each council and committee, and the Appointments Committee itself—which is comprised of the president, president-elect and vice president, and chaired by the president-elect—all contribute to the process.
Members are encouraged to apply via a web application page specifically developed for the SVS. Each volunteer is required to provide a statement of interest and disclose potential conflicts of commitment with their applications. Only completed applications are considered for appointment.
The actual work of the Appointments Committee encompasses approximately 10 hours of teleconferences and file reviews, including the evaluations of existing members from council and committee leadership, and appointing new leadership based on term expiration or member request for removal. The workflow proceeds council by council, reviewing the committees within respective councils, affirming term expirations of members, and appointing new members from the list of existing members and volunteers. During this process, the size of each respective committee is weighed against their respective responsibilities, function and workflow.
As a rule, members are appointed only to committees for which they have specifically volunteered. Following a reorganization process completed a few years ago, council chairs and vice chairs are chosen from the leadership of their constituent committees rather than the membership at large.
In selecting committee members, the Appointments Committee takes into consideration multiple variables including domain expertise, relevancy of the candidate statement to the work of the specified committee, practice type, geographic location, career stage, ethnicity, gender, and existing commitments to other SVS initiatives and work groups. For assistance in this latter assessment, the SVS keeps a master file of member volunteers and their current and prior SVS activities. In making their annual committee assignments, the goal of the Appointments Committee is to create—to the greatest extent possible—capable, diverse and representative work groups to meet the overall needs of the SVS.
In addition to the candidate’s statement of interest, the evaluation process is informed by liaison and chair evaluations regarding the performance and participation of existing committee members who desire to continue in their assignments. A full term of membership is generally considered to be three years for most positions, with the expectation that members are evaluated for re-appointment annually based on performance metrics. All evaluation information is kept confidential within the Appointments Committee process.
Once the initial appointments are completed, the Appointments Committee reviews all at a higher level to ensure that no single member is burdened with too many (no more than three councils and/or committees each), and that committee composition reflects SVS diversity, equity and inclusion goals.
Once this final review is complete, appointment notification, term expiration, and non-appointed member letters are completed and sent. In a typical year, these activities conclude in early June to allow new committee members to join their new committees at the Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM). The 2020 timeline was extended somewhat due to disruptions related to COVID-19.
Improvements undertaken in the last four years include requiring more specific interest statements from candidate volunteers, leveraging chair and staff evaluations to judge performance and the fit of existing appointments, and enhanced attention to SVS diversity and inclusion metrics in the appointments process. Work is ongoing to more completely characterize the demographic makeup of existing committees to facilitate meeting diversity and inclusivity goals. That, in combination with requesting more detail from new applicants, will best serve the overall interests of the SVS in future Appointments Committee activities.
Given that the number of volunteers exceeds that of available positions, interested applicants should pay specific attention to how their candidate statement addresses their strengths vis-à-vis the perceived needs of desired committees. Similarly, to improve the impact of their statements, applicants may want to reach out to specific staff liaisons or chairs to gain additional insight into the work of desired committees.
Re-applications in future years are not biased by prior application status, so interested applicants should continue to apply in future years to a variety of positions to gain insight into the process as their interests and expertise develop. Elsa Hall, SVS staff liaison for the Appointments Committee, is available throughout the year to answer inquiries regarding opportunities, process and deadlines at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SVS is grateful to its hundreds of member volunteers who enable the work of the Society. The title of this summary notwithstanding, the work of the Appointments Committee should not be cloaked in secrecy. Our goal is to make the process as transparent, inclusive and equitable as possible. Great progress has been made towards these goals, but there still is much more to do. On behalf of the 2020 Appointments Committee and its staff liaisons, we thank you for your continued participation in—and support of—the annual appointments process.
Ronald L. Dalman, MD, is SVS president.