Meet the New PVMA Executive Director Christian D. Malesic 

in Keystone Veterinarian, Vol 2019, Issue 1 (1 Apr 19)

When an organization passes its 135th birthday as one of the Commonwealth’s premier professional associations and the torch-bearer for protecting and enhancing both animal and human health, it knows a few things about leadership. So, when the PVMA and the PVF began their search for the next Executive Director to lead the association and charity into and through the next decade, that person had to be a visionary, an educator, a financial craftsman, a manager, a professional, and a leader of the most ethical and highest moral character.

A Deliberate, Methodical Process

After an extensive national search, Christian D. Malesic, MBA, CAE, IOM was appointed the new Executive Director, commencing on December 3, 2018. “Christian’s understanding of PVMA’s strategic plan was demonstrated from the beginning. Christian did his research about the current issues in veterinary medicine and was well prepared for the challenging and intellectually stimulating interview questions,” said Dr. Kate J. Harnish, DVM, Chair of the Search Committee and current President-Elect of PVMA. “We look forward to the great ideas and experience Christian has to offer."
Impressed with the extremely large pool of well-credentialed candidates, Dr. Harnish further outlined: “The nationwide search began in late August and ended just after the holiday season. Over 300 applications were received and narrowed down by job expectations and experience.” Thus, the initial narrowing of the field was, in itself, a daunting task. Through diligent effort and research, the 300-plus were reduced to 15 for more serious consideration. “Six of those candidates went through the active interviewing process,” continued Harnish. “First a telephone interview with two Search Committee Members lasting about one hour. Then, three of the six went into in-person interviewing at PVMA headquarters with Search Committee Members, Trustees from the Board, and staff. Malesic was chosen by Search Committee deliberation and final decision.”

Who He Is: From There to Here

As a native Pennsylvanian, Malesic was born and raised in Harrisburg.

“Other than the rare out-of-state vacation, Pennsylvania was not only my home, it was my world,” he recalled. 

After skipping his senior year of high school to attend Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, he transferred to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering followed by a Bachelor of Arts in Government. He was also commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program. 

 “It all goes back to service. Today the term is ‘servant leader.’ That works for me. That’s what I strive to be.” Malesic had the concept of service almost baked in: “As the grandson of four immigrant grandparents, each who fled communism, it was the way I was raised. Service was understood. We owed, as we had been given so much.” 

After almost six years as a United States Air Force Officer, attaining the rank of Captain, it was time for him to return home to his native Pennsylvania to start his family and begin a new career. 

“I met [my wife] Valerie at the end of my service time. I knew she was the one. She still doesn’t believe me when I tell her it was love at first sight — it was. And, if it was time to settle down, the only place I wanted to raise a family was back home.” 

Though not yet married, she agreed to move to Pennsylvania to be near him as he started on his next big thing: CM Squared Inc., a lighting design and electrical contracting firm.

“I could have never grown from a startup to a multi-million-dollar corporation with 16 employees without two people — Valerie and my partner and best friend, Craig.” (Craig G. Malesic, PE, PMP, LC is Christian’s younger brother.) It was in the CM Squared days that Malesic first became an association leader. “I did three things. I did politics — running campaigns and serving as an elected official myself. I did associations — I was that super-involved, everpresent kind of member. And, of course, I was the CM Squared President/CEO.” 

And, while doing all this, he returned to Elizabethtown College for his third bachelor’s degree, a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing.

Malesic brings with him more than 40 cumulative years of experience on Boards of Directors from regional, to state, to national Boards, including corporate, association, and publicly elected Boards. 

“I still like to think of myself as a young man, at 49,” explained Malesic, “so that statistic doesn’t even sound right to me. But the math adds up. For many years I served on numerous Boards at the same time.” 

Certainly, the years will continue to accumulate rapidly in his current role as Executive Director for four closely affiliated but legally distinct entities: PVMA, PVF, pvmaAssure, and the PA Veterinary PAC, each with separate Boards, bylaws, accounting systems, and missions.

After 16 years, he began to rethink. 

“CM Squared was my passion. I just began to prioritize differently. If CM Squared was my Clark Kent, then my advocacy and association time was my Superman. I wanted to be part of super things more often.” 

And for him, the concept of moving one seat over at the Board table from Board Chair to association executive was born. 

“Craig and I sat down to talk about my departure. I planned to get my MBA and train in the association industry first. So, we developed a two-year departure plan.” 

Malesic went on to Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in Shippensburg, where he earned his Master of Business Administration with distinguished honors. He also graduated from the prestigious four-year Institute for Organizational Management (IOM), the most highly-respected program nationwide for nonprofit and association management.

An Experienced Association Expert 

After six years on the Board at Harrisburg Home Builders Association (HBA), it made sense for his first job in the new career as an association executive to be in another HBA. As Executive Officer at the Home Builders Association of Berks County in the Reading, Pennsylvania area, he was challenged out of the gate. With only $36,000 in the bank and a newly passed deficit budget to spend $116,000, he had only a few months to turn things around. 

“The Board made it clear when I accepted the position. They knew there were issues but didn’t have the data or a clear path to fix them. I had a few months to figure it out or the organization would go under and my new job with it.” 

Over the next four years, not only did Malesic lead the organization to a balanced budget, the HBA was recognized with four best-in-nation awards:
  • Best-in-Nation Publication for At Home in Berks magazine 
  • Best-in-Nation Community Service for Restoring Hope Extreme Home Makeover 
  • Best-in-Nation Social Media 
  • Best-in-Nation Web 2.0 

During his tenure with the HBA, Malesic was personally recognized as a trend-setting and dynamic leader earning the Best-in-Nation New Executive Officer Award in 2013.

“This was a humbling experience. To be recognized by my peers as the best among them … when there were 736 other CEOs who could have been chosen instead … it brought an overwhelming feeling of quiet reflection; and, of course, gratitude to the Board and staff and Members who had nominated me.”

“I had lived in Melbourne, Florida, before while I was in the service. So, when I learned that a 90-plus-year-old Chamber of Commerce needed a turn-around artist, I was intrigued.” 

The Melbourne Regional Chamber had just posted its eighth annual loss in a row, draining all the reserve funds saved over the previous decades. Moreover, the Chamber’s Board of Directors was looking to freshen up what they believed was a stale, tired marketing image and outdated Tourism Information Center, while also digging the organization out of its financial rut. 

“It certainly helped me to convince the family that it was a beach town, with the world-famous Cocoa Beach, astronauts and Mickey Mouse just down the street.” 

Within a year, Malesic had the building refinanced, reserves back in the bank, and the marketing program had a whole new fresh, vibrant look. Six months following, the Tourism Information Center was completely remodeled to match the marketing and color scheme, plus the budget was balanced. On top of that, event attendance was at an all- time high with over six months of sold out Business Breakfasts and an annual Valor Awards ceremony, celebrating military, fire and police, so big that the largest venue in town couldn’t contain it. 

“I have nothing but positive things to say about Melbourne. It was great. Well, except we missed home. Florida is flat. We missed the mountains. It is always hot and muggy. We missed not seeing snow for three years. We missed the seasons.” 

It was time for the Malesic clan to, once again, come home. This time, for good. There is always more to tell. There are always holes in every story that take pages to fill. But that is one thing you will like about Christian Malesic — it might even be the thing you like the most about him. Sure, he is a visionary. He’s a businessman. He makes financial magic happen with a keen understanding of accounting and management. He is a student and an educator, a huge fan of continuous improvement. But, most of all, he is all about the stories. When you meet him, ask him to fill the gap in his story that made you wonder. Or, tell him your story. Or, best of all, help to plan out the future story of PVMA — that’s the story we are all looking forward to telling as we watch the next chapter unfold.

Malesic lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with Hera (a rescued Great Dane), Dionysus (a Siamese), Atlas (a grey tabby), and Perseus (an orange tabby), plus four humans: his wife of 20 years, Valerie, and children Sarah, Skylar, and Damon.