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Peer To Peer Newsletter Fall 2016

Welcome New Members!
Since April 2016

Pat Anderson - North Dakota VMA
Amanda Meeks- Oklahoma VMA
James Penrod - American Association of Veterinary State Boards
Julie Legred - Executive Director of National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
Heather Prendergast - Editor in Chief of National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
Katie Park - Utah VMA
Harry Snelson - American Association of Swine Veterinarians
Katherine Soverel - Maine VMA
Christina Lucente - State Policy Analyst for AVMA

We look forward to your active participation in VMAE and hope you find your membership valuable!

President's Column

Candace Joy - Washington State VMA

Since we met in San Antonio in August, VMAE has begun an exciting year complete with our new brand and our new CEO, Ralph Johnson. I’m honored to serve as your president over the coming months and I’m grateful to my predecessor, Adrian Hochstadt, for his outstanding leadership and contributions during his presidency.

I am grateful for the opportunity to work closely with Ralph as our new CEO. We all know he comes with a glass half-full attitude and brings a particular level of excellence to everything he does. Ralph will inspire all of us to greater ways of serving our members and our beloved veterinary profession.

We have so much to be proud of in the many great things VMAE has recently accomplished. The Board of Directors developed a strategic plan last year and it contains 16 objectives that we’ve been working on steadily since that time. I’m pleased to report that we’ve completed several of these objectives including our re-branding, the hiring of a CEO, providing best practice resources for social media and website management, establishing the Forward Booking initiative, providing members with the Ontario VMA’s practice articles for our newsletters, and holding ThinkWorks on competition from shelters and non-profit veterinary practices. Wow! What a year!

I trust that you’re as excited as I am about all the great things VMAE is doing. Thank you to our many members who serve as volunteers. We’re a small organization but we pack a lot of punch! A while back, I sent a call for volunteers to serve on VMAE committees. Would you like to serve but don’t know how to fit another thing into your schedule? Just like we tell our own volunteer leaders, what you put into it comes back tenfold, so please consider joining us.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming VMAE Fall Conference, October 27 – 29 in Austin, the city of great music, and the place to be for excellent CE and sharing with colleagues. Our annual ThinkWORKS meeting will take place March 10 – 11, 2017 in New Orleans. We’ll explore how telehealth and technology innovation are changing the veterinary care experience. It’s shaping up to be a very exciting and innovation-focused program.

Don’t forget that a limited number of scholarships are available to attend the Summer or Fall Conferences, or ThinkWORKS for VMAE members who would not be able to attend due to a limited operating budget. Scholarships waive the meeting registration fee and provide a stipend up to $500 for travel and lodging costs.

If you don’t know me well, I’m a pretty touchy-feely kind of person. So let me just say how much I love VMAE! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me over the course of the year. I’m here for you and excited to serve the organization and the people who have given me so much. Thank you for your membership.

CEO Conjecture

Ralph Johnson

First-ever moments seem significant and special, and that was indeed true as I stood before VMAE colleagues at the membership meeting in San Antonio. I expressed how amazing it felt to be entrusted by valued colleagues and dear friends with the new role of CEO, and the opportunity it embodies for service to our association and to the veterinary profession. The words of my mother, as a good Mennonite, came to mind about being “humbly proud” to assume this new position. I shared some thoughts about how I will work to accelerate the implementation of “what” VMAE does, and to advance the “why” of VMAE – including, ultimately, nourishing the ecosystem that creates healthy communities and better outcomes for animals.

In the many conversations that flowed after that meeting, I was struck by how many ideas are percolating in the minds of VMAE members about things that VMAE could do for its members. Several members approached me with ideas they’ve been harboring for a while. What struck me about this, aside from how good these ideas were, is that VMAE now has a new capacity to turn good ideas into reality. It affirmed to me that VMAE creating the CEO position was the right action at the right time.

I’ve also been struck by the growing number of tables of discussion and decision that VMAE is – or should be – at. Examples of the former include Partners for Healthy Pets, CATalyst Council, and Pet Nutrition Alliance. And additional opportunities have emerged since San Antonio; for example, VMAE was invited to join the steering committee (along with AVMA, AAHA, AAVMC, NAVC and mental health professionals) to help focus and align collaborative efforts that support veterinary wellbeing. We’ve also joined the inter-organizational conversation that was sparked by the recent Fix the Debt summit. Clearly, these are significant issues for the veterinary profession and they present opportunities for VMAs – individually, and collectively through VMAE – to help advance solutions by participating in conversations about collaborative initiatives and by utilizing the amazing channels of education, communication, and grassroots action that exist in the network of VMAs connected through VMAE.

It’s exciting to see these ideas and opportunities emerging. And a bit daunting! But I have every confidence that VMAE has embarked on a journey that will successfully build on the exceptional legacy created by committed volunteers, expand the organization’s ability to contribute to the veterinary profession, and engage a wonderful group of talented executives in navigating (indeed, charting!) the course. I look forward to working with you to advance these mutual interests – and please, keep those ideas and suggestions coming!

Register today if you haven’t already!


  • You won’t want to miss our speaker on Friday, Mary Byers, CAE, author of Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations. Mary challenges the current thinking of association management and suggests changes you should be considering. From membership dues to governance; from face to face to online, Mary will encourage and inspire you by what she's seeing and hearing from associations.

  • Saturday morning we will hear from Cathi Hight, Kaizen consultant and President of Hight Performance Group. She will be presenting on members’ values, concerns, and reasons for joining and renewing. A “one-size-fits-all” approach to communicating value is ineffective. Explore how to develop targeted value propositions that resonate with members and future members.

  • Join your colleagues at several networking events during the conference. We start Thursday afternoon with a “Real Austin” tour to see the bucket list highlights around the city. Following the tour enjoy an evening of hors d'oeuvres, libations, and friendly conversation at the welcome reception. Finally, after Friday’s full day program enjoy a group dinner at Fixe, a progressive southern restaurant that brings a piece of porch-swing living and warm hospitality to downtown Austin.

REGISTER TODAY at We look forward to seeing you there! 



Thanks to everyone who attended the VMAE Summer Conference in San Antonio this past August. It was a fantastic event full of networking, professional development and fun! Conference highlights:

  • The Nitty-Gritty of Stimulating Health and Excellence in Veterinarians: Dr. Elizabeth Strand presented on the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress in the profession of veterinary medicine. Her presentation created a conceptual framework for understanding how poor health outcomes occur, are maintained, and can be reversed. Click here to access her presentation handout.

  • Navigating Student Debt, Income-Based Loan Repayment: Dr. Tony Bartels provided a background on the current student debt landscape and the challenges facing recent and future graduates as they prepare for their educational loan repayment, he also provided an overview of the various loan repayment options, and how "forgiveness" works under the income-driven repayment plan. Click here to access his presentation handout.

  • At our annual membership meeting Candace Joy unveiled the new name and logo for our organization. She communicated that the rebranding effort was undertaken to simplify reference to the organization and reflect our growing activity and visibility. VMAE is represented at many tables throughout the profession and industry - our new name and logo more effectively represent VMAE as the strategic, professional, and future-focused organization it has become.

  • The 2016-2017 VMAE Board of Directors was also voted on and approved by the membership.

Candace Joy
Washington State VMA

Deloris Green Gaines
Tennessee VMA

Gary Stamp

Dan Tjornehoj
Minnesota VMA

Past President
Adrian Hochstadt, JD, CAE

Directors 2015-2017
Megan Kilgore
Kansas VMA

Marie Queen
South Carolina VMA

Directors 2016-2018
Phil Hinkle
Florida VMA

Jennifer Mauer
New York State VMA


Front row: Gary Stamp, Candace Joy, Deloris Green Gaines, Megan Kilgore, Marie Queen

Back row: Adrian Hochstadt, Dan Tjornehoj

Not pictured: Phil Hinkle and Jennifer Mauer

VMAE 2016 Best in the Business Award Recipient
Arizona VMA

The VMAE Awards Committee is pleased to announce the worthy recipient of the 2016 Best in the Business Award, the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association. The program awarded is the “Professional Veterinary Health Care Team Certificate Program”, a program that began as a grass-roots effort amongst their members in 2016.

According to the AZVMA’s Executive Director, our very own Emily Kane, this program was a roaring success in 2016. The genesis of this certificate program was from the veterinary clinic staff, they observed a need in the industry. These needs included skill-building for the entire veterinary team in order to ultimate support their members. Once developed, it was launched as a membership benefit, but has since become so successful that it may be reconsidered for other uses.

The program awards a certificate to veterinary staff members. The course includes 12 hours of education focused on communication, team-management, turnover and helping staff reach their highest potential in the office. Education includes a series of courses held at three location options around the state; providing manager-only, manager + team, and combined online sessions. The AZVMAE plans to develop an annual ‘tune-up’ program for those recipients wanting to keep up their skills.

The membership’s response has been so positive that the AZVMAE has already recouped their investment and are planning to hold another set of sessions this fall, and as long as it remains useful to their members.

Emily Kane, AZVMA Executive Director, accepted and spoke about the award at the meeting this summer.

Congratulations to Emily and her team!

Stacee Daniels
American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
VMAE Awards Committee Chair

VMAE 2016 Executive of the Year Award Recipient
Candace Joy, Washington State VMA

This year the Awards Committee received several, highly worthy nominations for the Executive of the Year Award, but as we all know… only one award can be given annually. VMAE members represent the best of the best in non-profit association management; not only through the programs have they innovated, but also through the warmth and heart demonstrated by their generous contributions and tireless dedication.

The 2016 Executive of the Year winner is lacking none of these qualities. The Awardee has worked diligently on behalf of her veterinary association for 14 years. Under her leadership the organization has realized over 20%, organizational assets have grown over 71% and gross income has increased 72% in the past five years.

Just the highlights of this winner’s accomplishments for her State Veterinary Medical Association include:

  • Recently transforming their governance model from 19-member Executive Board to a nimble six-member Board of Directors;
  • Increased annual conference attendance by 145% and sponsorship by 300%;
  • Implemented the new One Health veterinary committee and the Power of Ten Leadership program;
  • Achieved several strong wins for her membership legislatively;
  • Increased donations to the PAC by 25%;
  • Created new communication tools with membership and for new student involvement and financial planning;
  • Developed an online CE portal and created a stronger member benefits package.

This person has been a strong supporter of the VMAE, its ThinkWORKS program, and has served over 21 years (many concurrently) on VMAE committees and the board. She is actively involved in her local Society of Associations Executives, the American Vet. Medical Law Assn., AVMA relations and local business organizations. Additionally, she has found time to serve her community by volunteering at her children’s school through the PTA, the local Humane Society Board, and various parent and church groups.

The President of the Washington State VMA summarized her support letter nicely stating, “…Yes, I would whole heartedly and with the backing of our entire membership, volunteer leadership, and her employees recommend her for this award. She is without a doubt the best executive director of an association I have worked with in the last 16 years of volunteering for veterinary professional associations. Candace Joy is the best executive director and should be recognized.”

We warmly congratulate Candace on this nomination and her award of the VMAE Executive of the Year, 2016, presented to her at the meeting this summer.

Stacee Daniels
American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
VMAE Awards Committee Chair

VMAE 2016 Distinguished Service Award Recipient
Karlene Belyea, Michigan VMA

Karlene Belyea is the 2016 recipient of the VMAE Distinguished Service Award. This prestigious award honors an individual who has shown initiative, integrity, and commitment in serving the veterinary profession and association colleagues.

Karlene has been the CEO for the Michigan VMA since 2003 and has more than 28 years of experience in association management. She is a passionate advocate for the veterinary industry and association management. Karlene served on the VMAE Board of Directors from 2008-2014 including VMAE President from 2012-2013. She also has been involved in many VMAE committees and task forces including the AVMA/VMAE Joint Committee, VMAE Awards Committee, Survey Task Force, and Power of Ten Task Force.

Karlene has been a featured speaker for VMAE conferences, the AVMA VLC President/President-elect Forum, and at numerous state and national VMA meetings. She is a certified Everything DiSC® Trainer and presents sessions on behavioral styles, generational differences, working with millennials, body language, leadership and influence, happiness in the workplace, and work/life balance.

Karlene embodies all that we should celebrate in our members and it is for that reason we are proud to award her with the 2016 Distinguished Service Award.

Board Action Items

The VMAE Board met in person in April and in August and also by conference call in July and passed the following action items:

April Meeting:

  • Approved to move forward with contract negotiations with Ralph Johnson for the position of VMAE CEO.
  • Accepted the proposal from Breightly for rebranding ASVMAE and form a task force to work with Breightly on the project.
  • Tabled the Train the Trainer program.
  • Approved revisions to the Bylaws.
  • Recommended that states promote a continuing education requirement on wellness, a recommendation which came from the AVMA Wellness Roundtable held in March and attended by Candace Joy.
  • Approved funding for Dr. Betsy Charles to assemble two 45-minute-1 hour videos and a training manual which will be made available to Power of Ten participants for use in their programs.
  • Approved a recommendation from the Task Force for Practice Management regarding a Partners for Healthy Pets program on Key to Forward Booking and charge the Task Force to develop a plan to market it to ASVMAE members.

July Meeting:

  • Approved the name change to Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE) and logo.

August Meeting:

  • Welcomed Ralph Johnson to his first Board meeting as VMAE CEO.
  • Approved recommendation to rotate ThinkWORKS between the last week of March and the first two weeks of April beginning 2018.
  • Proposed Bylaws amendment to remove the provision that the President-Elect chooses the site for the Fall Conference.
  • Decided to offer the benchmarking survey every three years with the next one in 2017.
  • Approved recommendation for development of dues policy.
  • Strategic Plan follow-up:
    • Development of marketing materials has begun.
    • Review on committee/task forces will be completed focusing on areas for new leadership to work along with experienced members and to set term limits.
    • Re-branding Task Force will bring a mission statement and tagline to the board for consideration
    • Decided to table the Train the Trainer program as it has become more complicated than first thought.

LGBT+ Veterinary Wellness Survey

September 21, 2016

Dear Veterinary Colleagues and Educators;

As part of the current wellness discussion in the veterinary profession, the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association (LGVMA) and a researcher from Auburn University invite you to participate in a survey open through December 1.

Veterinarians are at an increased risk of suicide, and relatively little is known regarding the risk for suicide and other negative mental health outcomes in veterinary assistants, technologists, and technicians. Furthermore, a recent survey indicated that almost 40% of LGBT+ veterinary professionals experience some form of discrimination in the workplace related to gender identity or sexual orientation. Given these troubling research findings, we have established a partnership to examine negative mental health outcomes and negative work and school experiences among LGBT veterinary professionals and students. We are also interested in gathering this information from individuals who do not identify as LGBT+.

You are cordially invited to complete this electronic survey by clicking on the link here or go directly to our website The survey takes only about 15-20 minutes to complete, and is voluntary and anonymous. If you choose to participate, you will be given the opportunity to provide your name and email address in a separate survey, which will enter you into a raffle for one of ten $25 prizes. Your identifying information will never be linked with your responses and will only be used to identify winners of the raffle. If you do not wish to provide your name and email address, you are not required to; however, please note that this will make it impossible for you to be entered into the raffle.

We thank you very much for helping us to learn more how we can better assist LGBT+ veterinary professionals and students.


Mike Chaddock, DVM, EML
Vice President, LGVMA

K. Paige Carmichael, DVM, PhD, DACVP
At-Large Board Member, LGVMA

Tracy Witte, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Auburn University

Lisa Greenhill, MPA, EdD
Associate Executive Director for Institutional Research and Diversity at the AAVMC

Power of 10 Is Transforming VMAs

Lisa Perius
Indiana Veterinary Medical Association
VMAE Power of 10 Task Force Chair


By now, many of you are familiar with the VMAE’s signature program, the Power of 10 (P10), which has been in place for the last five years. During this time, over 28 VMAs have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, the P10 program. P10 is generously sponsored by Elanco, AVMA PLIT, and VMAE resources.

So, if you are one of the VMAs that haven’t yet considered implementing P10, you might consider the following questions:

  • Does your VMA desire to connect with younger members?
  • Does your VMA have a sustainable future?
  • Do you want to know what a recent graduate values in their profession?

If you answered “yes”, then the Power of 10 program is for you!

The mission of the VMAE Power of 10 Task Force is to engage and develop recent graduates through the broadest possible adoption of a dynamic and evolving leadership program.

What is the P10 program?

  • A collaborative initiative to cultivate leadership capacity
  • A learning experience that will benefit the individual (and the VMA, their practice, and their community)
  • A network of peers with similar challenges

We know most executive directors are telling themselves – do I really need one more thing to do? The answer to that question is YES – and we have developed the resources to assist you and your organization. You can find a wealth of information at

How much does this program cost to deliver?
That varies, depending on what local resources you may have available to deliver content. Most VMAs can operate this program on $5000-$7500 a year.

How much time does this take?
Most VMAs have between 3-7 sessions over the course of 12 months. Once the program sessions are developed (assisted by our great resources), you are then just tweaking and scheduling the program in subsequent years. And, spending a day with these terrific members will keep you energized and engaged in your job!

What will my VMA get in return for delivering a Power of 10 program in my VMA?
You will get back an incredible group of high-energy, enthusiastic recent graduates that will likely become active in your organization. They will spread the word about the wonderful work you are doing! You will also be affirming your VMA’s commitment to helping recent graduates develop foundational skills in leadership, communications and business that will advance their individual success. And, you will find your VMA with a much deeper understanding of what recent graduates find to be relevant and meaningful in their relationship with the VMA and with the veterinary profession. You will find that the Power of 10 leadership initiative pays dividends that far surpass your investment.

How do I get started?
Elanco generously sponsors a training session in Indianapolis for you and your P10 facilitator in March, 2017. The dates will be in mid-March (TBD). Attendees cover their travel cost to Indianapolis, and then Elanco covers all other costs associated with the meeting (food, hotel, training). At this session, we will cover content delivery, networking opportunities, and Q&A on how to bring this program to life. This includes how to recruit, sample documents, and testimonials. Additionally, once you get back to your VMA and get your program implemented, you will receive a $1500 grant from VMAE to assist your VMA with costs in the first year.

Further, Elanco is generously opening this training for VMAs who have previously attended but would like to attend again, or send a new facilitator for the training. Elanco will cover the training and food costs; you will need to cover travel and hotel room costs.

The return on investment for this innovative program is endless. Please consider making this program part of the fabric of your VMA. You won’t regret it!

Contact me at for question or to sign up for the training hosted by Elanco next March. Don’t miss out!

Forward Booking

We now have 41 VMAs that have pledged to participate in the campaign, and several more that are reviewing the campaign with leadership. The campaign will kick off in January and materials have been added to the VMAE website for your VMA's use such as ads to promote the campaign to your members, graphic resources, newsletter articles, and a blog post. More materials are still coming.

Check the VMAE website on October 17, and you’ll find a webinar by Dr. Karen Felsted. It is being recorded and archived so you can access it at any time, and so you can share it with your team. The purpose of the webinar is to review the rationale for and benefits of forward booking – from the perspective of one of the leading authorities in the economics of veterinary medicine.

Barrier breakers – There’s another item for your calendar. On Tuesday, November 1, at 1 PM Eastern / 10 AM Pacific time, Dr. Karen Felsted will be available to all of us “live” via conference call (dial-in instructions will be provided in a coming reminder). The purpose of the call is to address any questions that VMAE members might have about implementing the forward booking campaign, discuss barriers that might be perceived by clinic teams and ideas on how to respond, and share ideas amongst each other (a VMAE hallmark!) about getting VMA members aware of – and IMPLEMENTING – forward booking in their clinics.



The VMAE ThinkWORKS program will be held
March 10-11, 2017 in New Orleans, LA
on the topic of Telehealth.

Stay tuned for more information!


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2017 Annual Summer Conference

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