SVS Continues to Chart Its Course in Addressing DEI

Aug 17, 2022

Without question, the 2022 Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM )in Boston was a great celebration. It was a celebration of the 75th Anniversary of both SVS and the VAM; it was a celebration of members, colleagues, and friends having the chance to see each other, learn from state-of-the-art experts, and dance together at the VAM Gala benefiting the SVS Foundation and its programs. In many ways, it was also a celebration of diversity and the future generation of vascular surgeons. By a long shot, it was the most diverse faculty and member attendance ever to participate at a VAM, and the positive energy was uplifting and palpable. Yet, for all the profoundly positive and warm feelings VAM generated for members, and acknowledgment that SVS has made significant progress in many ways, it was clear that SVS must not rest on its laurels and needs to stay vigilant and committed to the current trajectory of change. A major DEI session at VAM was sparsely attended and lacked sufficient SVS leadership attendance. In addition, the level of online voter engagement, while double that of previous officer elections confined to the on-site Annual Business Meeting, is still substantially below desired expectations.

Following the VAM I reached out to multiple groups and member constituencies and listened very carefully to their perspectives. As SVS plans forward it is strengthened by having “more voices at the table” to increase engagement and diversity of perspective in leadership deliberations and to develop critical steps needed to keep moving forward in both the short- and long-term.   

As a first step, I proposed and received approval from the EB to appoint two additional special liaisons to the SVS Executive Board to increase diversity of perspective. I am pleased to let you know Dr. Vince Rowe and Dr. Palma Shaw will serve on the SVS Executive Board for the duration of the current year, joining Dr. Linda Harris as the recently re-elected representative of the Strategic Board to the Executive Board.

In late July I convened an Executive Board Retreat where the EB deliberated for over 90 Minutes on a dozen potential ideas for continued improvement in advancing and embracing DEI principles and values. Several steps were implemented immediately, including engaging a DEI Consultant to help accelerate culture change by developing a translational webinar and guide for “living” DEI principles and values in Board, Council, Committee, Section, and Task Force work that will be mandatory for all elected and appointed leaders to complete. The SVS will facilitate a follow-up “Summit” on DEI across Vascular Surgery in January at the Strategic Board Retreat.  Also, the collaboration between the DEI and Communications Committees will be enhanced to shape the SVS focus and messaging on DEI as a consistent and dedicated effort. 

Other ideas from the EB Retreat require deeper thought and may lead to substantive changes in SVS Governance and Bylaws. To address this need, I am assembling a Special Bylaws Subcommittee to review potential changes and to determine if any revisions can/should be proposed and implemented for the current 2022-2023 year. If any revisions are recommended and approved that impact the Bylaws, such as officer elections or governance structure, a special member referendum would need to be held by end of January to approve changes before they could go into effect within this business year.

My message to SVS members is to stay positive, hopeful and deeply engaged with SVS.  It is the only way to ensure that the Society will advance and meet its optimal potential for all members. 

This is only the beginning and there is much more to come in the months ahead.

Many thanks for all you do on behalf of our patients, and the SVS.

Mike Dalsing, MD, DFSVS
SVS President