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Michael San Filippo
Phone: 847-285-6687
Cell: 847-732-6194



 Visionary leaders announced at veterinary convention

​(SAN ANTONIO) August 6, 2016—Every profession looks to its leaders to take it decisively into the future by embracing its strengths, eagerly accepting challenges and not settling for status quo. A new class of “movers and shakers” in veterinary medicine was announced at the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) Convention today, August 6, in San Antonio.

2016-2017 AVMA Future Leaders Class
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“We are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the AVMA Future Leaders program,” said Dr. Joe Kinnarney, AVMA president. “This unique program was developed to further prepare veterinarians who have a demonstrated interest in organized veterinary medicine to be leaders for the AVMA, other veterinary medical associations, and society.” Dr. Kinnarney spoke at the 2016 Future Leaders Press Conference.

The Future Leaders program, supported by Zoetis Animal Health and its Chief Veterinary Medical Officer Dr. Christine Jenkins, has created a variety of materials and spearheaded programs on career transitions, cultural competency, work-life balance, wellness and more. The program is open to professionals who have demonstrated leadership skills and have been out of veterinary school 15 years or less. Up to 10 participants are selected each year.

Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Ken Andrews of High Impact Facilitation, who have served as mentors for every Future Leaders class, were recognized with a commemorative “compass” for their instrumental involvement. “Thank you for being our guiding star and ‘true North’ over the past five years,” said Dr. Kinnarney.

“We’ve never needed these leaders more than we do today. These are challenging times,” said Dr. Jenkins. “We believe these challenges can be tackled if we select candidates with strong leadership attributes early in their careers and develop them into stronger leaders.”

The challenge of the outgoing class was to implement wellness in the workplace. “As veterinarians we are always focused on the wellness of our patients,” said Dr. Sarah Allison, Future Leaders Class of 2015-2016. “However, we need to focus on making ourselves and our colleagues well. We know the statistics of our profession, such as increased risks of depression, psychological distress and burnout.”

Dr. Allison’s class addressed these wellness issues by creating a five-step wellness toolkit. The kit includes a short video, ideas for creating a culture of wellness, work-team discussion points, a game plan for work group “huddles” and how to appoint a wellness champion. “We know the benefits of implementing wellness…improved morale, increased productivity, lower turnover” said Dr. Allison. “More importantly, though, when we are well, we are better able to serve.”

The outgoing class also invited key leaders throughout the profession to make wellness a priority and sign the AVMA Future Leaders Pledge. Drs. Kinnarney and Jenkins were the first to sign the document, followed by other leaders in attendance at the conference.

Each year, the AVMA receives many nominations for Future Leaders from state and local VMAs, specialty organizations and also individual veterinarians. Selected candidates communicate and work well in team settings and have a strong interest in organized veterinary medicine and advocacy. They are also AVMA members.

The Future Leaders Class of 2016-2017 is:

  • Dr. Joshua Ames, companion animal private practitioner, Spartanburg, SC
  • Dr. Jennifer Bornkamp, clinical instructor in anesthesiology, Ames, Iowa
  • Dr. Kirk Brueniger, corporate veterinary medicine practitioner, Vancouver, Wash.
  • Dr. Tracey Hlede, companion animal private practitioner, Chicago
  • Dr. Christina Larson, comparative medicine practitioner, Minneapolis
  • Dr. Jessica Larson, industrial practitioner, Nashville
  • Dr. Ian Rubinoff, poultry medicine practitioner, Wakefield, RI
  • Dr. Nicki Wise, university/specialty medicine, Walterboro, SC
  • Jennifer Wishnie, food animal industry practitioner, Seattle

To learn more about the AVMA Annual Convention, visit For more information on media opportunities at the AVMA Convention, and to register as a press attendee, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA senior media relations specialist, at 847-285-6687 (office), 847-732-6194 (cell) or Members of the media must register with the AVMA prior to the convention to validate their press credentials and ensure that their press badges and materials are ready for them when they arrive. Registration for the press is free.

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