Washington, D.C.—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) announced today that its 2014-2015 fellows have accepted placements into three congressional offices: Dr. Elise Ackley in Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) office; Dr. Chase Crawford in Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn.) office; and Dr. Carrie La Jeunesse in Rep. Jeff Fortenberry's (R-Neb.) office. During their yearlong assignments, the fellows will use their scientific expertise and training in veterinary medicine to advise their respective members of Congress on a variety of policy issues, including: agriculture, animal health and welfare, appropriations, food safety, biosecurity, and public health.
"Across the nation and around the world, we are facing incredible animal and public health and environmental challenges," said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of AVMA's Governmental Relations Division. "Veterinarians like Ackley, Crawford and La Jeunesse have a unique opportunity to use their scientific training and expertise to help our nation's leaders craft sound legislative policies that will enhance animal health and welfare, protect our food supply, promote public health and preserve our environment for the future. On behalf of the AVMA, we would like to thank the three fellows for their commitment to public service and welcome them to Washington."
Individual placements are:
Ackley, a native of Shreveport, La., and a 2014 graduate from Louisiana State University, will concentrate on public health and higher education issues in Durbin's office. Throughout her veterinary education, Ackley has worked for the Department of Homeland Security, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. She has also served as the president of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association and as a student extern in AVMA's Governmental Relations Division.
Crawford, originally from Houston, Texas, and a 2014 graduate from Texas A&M University, will focus primarily on agricultural issues in Franken's office. Prior to this post, he worked on issues related to the One Health concept in positions at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the WHO.
La Jeunesse, from Port Orchard, Wash., and a 1983 graduate from the University of California-Davis, will work on international development issues in Fortenberry's office. As a clinician, she has practiced small companion animal emergency and critical care medicine. She has also previously served as the president of the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association, where she collaborated on issues and policy related to veterinary practice and animal health and welfare at the local, state and national levels.
The fellows were selected out of 20 applicants earlier this year after completing a three-phased, competitive selection process. They will serve as full-time employees to their members of Congress, supporting the needs and activities of their respective congressional offices, until August 2015. They are not AVMA employees or lobbyists.
The AVMA Fellowship Program receives funding from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and is sponsored through the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which works to place qualified, scientific experts in congressional offices where they are needed. To date, more than 60 veterinarians have participated in the AVMA program.