Commission will promote value of DEI in veterinary practices, organizations and colleges
Veterinary leaders from around the country will serve as founding members of the new Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive (DEI) Veterinary Profession to drive change and accountability throughout the field, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) announced today.
“These distinguished and dedicated leaders represent the full spectrum of our profession, from academia to clinical practice to the corporate world,” said Commission co-chairs Dr. Christine Jenkins and Dr. Ruby Perry. “Together, we will lead a coordinated effort to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in veterinary medicine, so that our essential profession reflects the diversity of the society we serve and the evolving needs of our clients.” Dr. Jenkins is U.S. chief medical officer and vice president, veterinary medical services and outcomes research, U.S. operations at Zoetis Inc. Dr. Perry is secretary of the AAVMC and dean of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine.
In addition to the full commission membership, the AVMA and AAVMC also announced an advisory group comprised of veterinarians and other experts committed to DEI who will provide advice and support to the commission on specific topics and serve on working groups.
“We are very grateful to everyone who has stepped forward and volunteered to serve on the commission and in the advisory group to promote DEI throughout the veterinary community,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMA president, and Dr. Mark D. Markel, president of the AAVMC. “Our collective goal is to ensure an equitable, inviting and supportive pathway toward a career in our great profession for everyone and a positive and welcoming environment for all veterinarians, staff and clients.”
The Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Veterinary Profession’s members include individuals affiliated with a variety of key stakeholders in the profession, including leading associations, veterinary students, veterinary technicians, hospital managers, association executives and affinity organizations with a DEI focus, as well as academic institutions and leading corporations in the animal health industry. In announcing the formation of the commission and the two co-chairs last month, the AVMA and AAVMC said the commission will establish actionable outcomes for short-, medium- and long-term goals with defined timeframes. Initial goals for the commission will include:
- Promoting the value of DEI throughout the veterinary profession
- Increasing diversity among veterinarians, veterinary school applicants and enrollees, interns, residents and board-certified specialists
- Encouraging and assisting veterinary medical associations and animal health companies to measure and improve DEI
“To bring about real and lasting change, we need to reach students in high school and even earlier to encourage them to consider pursuing a career in veterinary medicine,” Drs. Jenkins and Perry noted. “This means that careers in veterinary medicine must be accessible and attainable.”
The full list of the 16 members of the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Veterinary Profession includes the following members:
Dr. Christine Jenkins, Co-Chair
Dr. Christine C. Jenkins is U.S. Chief Medical Officer and Vice President, Veterinary Medical Services and Outcomes Research, U.S. Operations at Zoetis. She is responsible for the Zoetis Commitment to Veterinarians™ platform and philanthropic efforts which include support of the veterinary profession through scholarships, veterinary wellness initiatives, disaster relief, and diversity. She represents Zoetis as a fellow for the CEO Action for Racial Equity.
Dr. Ruby Perry, Co-Chair
Dr. Ruby Perry is the first female to serve as dean of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. She also is a two-term president of the Tuskegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association and the first African American female, board-certified veterinary radiologist in the American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR).
Michelle Gonzales-Bryant has worked as a veterinary technician and has her Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM) credentials. She serves as a Regional Operations Director for VCA, overseeing the operations of multiple animal hospitals. She is also the current President of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) Board of Directors.
Dr. Courtney Campbell
Dr. Courtney Campbell is a veterinary surgeon and a veterinary journalist. He practices soft tissue, orthopedic, and minimally invasive surgery in southern California. He serves as a veterinary medical correspondent on daytime talk shows such as The Doctors, Rachael Ray, and Live with Kelly. He was co-host of the veterinary talk show Pet Talk, several podcasts, and is chief creative officer of the multimedia platform Vet Candy. He has received several awards, including Excellence in Veterinary Journalism.
Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II
Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II is executive director of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) and previously served as the organization’s president. A long-time member of the AABP, Dr. Gingrich is also a past winner of the organization’s Preventative Medicine Dairy Award. He was named 2016 Veterinarian of the Year by the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).
Ralph Johnson is CEO of Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE), where he supports veterinary executives in providing effective leadership and creating thriving organizations. He has received many awards from the AVMA, VMAE, Colorado Society of Association Executives, and CVMA. His honors include the Humane Award and the President’s Award from the AVMA.
Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn
Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn (he, him, his) is chief professional veterinary officer at Hill’s Pet Nutrition U.S. and is a member of their DE&I Council. He has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles and given more than 250 lectures worldwide. He has earned prestigious recognition, including the BSAVA Simon Award and the WSAVA President’s Award.
Dr. Andrea Dennis-LaVigne
Dr. Andrea Dennis-LaVigne is the first African-American to serve as president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association. She chairs the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, has published numerous articles in veterinary publications, is host of the radio show Pet Talk and cohosts the Better Pet segment on WFSB-TV in Connecticut.
Dr. Valerie Marcano
Dr. Valerie Marcano is a poultry technical consultant for Elanco Animal Health. She is co-founder of Pawsibilities, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in the veterinary profession, and chair of the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Dr. Kemba Marshall
Dr. Kemba L. Marshall is director of veterinary services for Purina Animal Nutrition. She oversees the health and wellbeing of all animals on the 1700- acre Land O’Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center complex and serves as Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Officer. Dr. Marshall embarked on her latest venture in 2020 when she founded Marshall Recruiting Consortium to address the lack of diversity in agriculture and animal health sciences.
Dr. Krista Miller
Dr. Krista Miller is an associate veterinarian at Thrive Affordable Vet Care in Baton Rouge, LA, where she practices veterinary medicine, dentistry, and surgery. Previously, she has practiced in the states of Mississippi, Arkansas and California. She has recently consulted on media publications with NPR Radio pertaining to Covid-19 and veterinary medicine, as well as a recent publication with DVM360 addressing systemic racism in the profession.
Pallavi Oruganti is a third-year veterinary student at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She is the SAVMA national cultural outreach officer-elect, responsible for shaping DEI and Wellness initiatives for SAVMA. Ms. Oruganti has an MPH in Public Health from OSU and is interested in a career in global One Health, epidemiology and public policy.
Dr. Neeraj Sharma
After serving as a large animal veterinarian for the federal government in India for almost a decade, Dr. Neeraj Sharma moved to Canada, where he is a veterinary practice owner and small animal practitioner in British Columbia. He has experience in developing and implementing various animal husbandry programs and projects.
Erin Spencer is a certified veterinary technician with a specialty certification in emergency and critical care. She provides training to veterinary practices and consultation on team utilization. She has run field clinics in underserved Native American communities. She is president-elect of the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians and Nurses, Treasurer of PrideVMC and a past president of NAVTA.
Dr. Jean-Yin Tan
Dr. Jean-Yin Tan is an equine internal medicine specialist and teaches equine medicine, business skills and clinical skills at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The recipient of the 2019 AAEP Good Works for Horses Honor and Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2020, she has served as chair of the ACVIM Advanced Continuing Education committee, member of the ACVIM Board of Regents and chair of the AAEP Diversity Equity and Inclusion taskforce.
Dr. Kimberly-Ann Therrien
Dr. Kimberly-Ann Therrien is vice president of veterinary quality at Banfield Pet Hospital, ensuring high-quality medicine across multiple markets and 300+ hospitals within the Central and Midwest region. She is president of the Women Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI) and serves as a board member of the Banfield Foundation.