Dr. René Carlson, who served as president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the World Veterinary Association (WVA), has died.
“René was an exceptional leader and voice for our profession,” said Dr. John de Jong, president of the AVMA. “She had been incredibly strong these past few years as she battled her illness and fought with the optimism and dignity that we will always remember her for. Personally, I will always remember her positive energy, her humility and her love of her husband, the AVMA and the profession.”
A resident of Chetek, Wis., Dr. Carlson graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1978 and served as a small animal practitioner in Wisconsin for several years before taking on an active role in AVMA leadership. In addition to serving as AVMA president from 2011-2012, Dr. Carlson took on several other leadership roles at the AVMA as a member of the AVMA House of Delegates, the AVMA Council on Education, and as AVMA vice president. She also served as the AVMA director of international affairs and as chair of the association’s Committee on International Veterinary Affairs.
In 2014, Dr. Carlson was elected president of the WVA. “It’s amazing. I’m this person from a town of 2,000 people in Wisconsin, and I’m president of an international organization representing fellow veterinarians around the world,” she said in a 2017 interview with JAVMA News.
At the 2018 Convention in Denver, Dr. Carlson was honored with a lifetime honorary membership in the WVA and the AVMA awarded her with the Global Veterinary Service Award for promoting veterinary medicine worldwide.
Dr. Carlson is survived by her husband, Dr. Mark Carlson, who was also her veterinary school classmate.
“Dr. Carlson’s accomplishments are reflective of her lifelong dedication and commitment to the veterinary profession,” said Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA chief executive officer. “We will all miss René so much, as she had such a profound impact on all of us and our profession for so long. Let us all keep her husband, Mark, and her family in our prayers and thoughts.”
The family suggests sending memorial contributions in Dr. Carlson’s name to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the Chetek Lutheran Church or the University of Minnesota, where plans are underway to establish a scholarship in her name.
For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA senior media relations specialist, at 847-285-6687 (office), 847-732-6194 (cell), or [email protected].