AVMA fills key staff positions

Division directors, corporate manager hired; welfare division fully staffed
Published on August 01, 2009
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Dr. Kevin J. Dajka

Dr. Kevin J. Dajka

Kelly Fox
Kelly Fox

 Dr. Joan M. Arnoldi
Dr. Joan M. Arnoldi

Dr. Cia L. Johnson
Dr. Cia L. Johnson

 Jodie Taggett
Jodie Taggett

The AVMA filled several key staff positions this spring, hiring two division directors, a corporate relations manager, and two assistant directors in the Animal Welfare Division—marking the first time the welfare division has been fully staffed since its creation in 2005.  

"With this new talent on board, I don't think AVMA will miss a beat, and we will ultimately see tremendous benefit from their fresh ideas and the enthusiasm that they bring to the Association," Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO, said.  

Membership and field services  

Dr. Kevin J. Dajka first came to the AVMA in 2004 as an assistant director of the Membership and Field Services Division. After nearly four years of service with the AVMA, he joined Hill's Pet Nutrition as a veterinary affairs manager. Dr. Dajka is now back at the AVMA, this time as head of the M&FS Division. 

As director, Dr. Dajka will work with the membership team to increase the use of the AVMA as a resource for its members. By engaging current members and reaching out to future members through various student programs, he also looks forward to helping the Association expand.

"Our members are the strength behind making an impact when advocating for the profession, and we need to continue our growth to make sure our small yet unified profession remains connected," he said.

Dr. Dajka attended the University of Illinois. After graduating in 2003, Dr. Dajka was a small animal medicine and surgery intern at a Los Angeles practice for three months and then became a small animal practitioner at a clinic in Rockford, Ill.

During his first stint with the AVMA, Dr. Dajka was an adviser to the Student AVMA on policies and issues, and assisted with increasing the student membership to more than 11,000 members. In that capacity, he also worked with the AVMA vice president to make annual visits to U.S. and Canadian veterinary schools.

"Being a part of the professional organization in veterinary medicine is a goal I wanted to achieve during my veterinary career, and I am excited to have the opportunity to work for the entire profession," Dr. Dajka said.  

Convention and meeting planning 

Kelly Fox joined the Convention and Meeting Planning Division as director this June.

As director, Fox will support the Association's Convention Management and Program Committee to maintain the quality of the continuing education program at the AVMA's annual convention and to enhance other AVMA convention and meeting programs.

"I am excited to be a part of the team and to assist in taking the AVMA convention to the next level," Fox said.

Previously, Fox was the associate executive director of member programs at the Academy of General Dentistry in Chicago—a position she held since 2006. Prior to that, Fox was the director of meetings for the American Health Information Management Association from 1994-2006, where she was responsible for national and international meeting planning.

From 1989-1994, Fox was with the American Academy of Pediatrics, overseeing its annual meeting and spring session.

A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Fox also has her Certified Meeting Professional and Certified Association Executive designations.  

Animal welfare

Dr. Gail C. Golab, Animal Welfare Division director, welcomed Drs. Joan M. Arnoldi and Cia L. Johnson as assistant directors to her staff this June.  

"The addition of Drs. Arnoldi and Johnson to the Animal Welfare Division staff will greatly enhance the AVMA's ongoing work in advocating for a science-based and socially responsible approach to animal welfare at a time when society is increasingly concerned about ensuring animals are treated humanely," Dr. Golab said.

Dr. Arnoldi has held several influential positions within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She served as deputy administrator for Regulatory Enforcement and Animal Care, now the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Animal Care program, and as director of the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, deputy administrator for Veterinary Services, and APHIS associate administrator.

Additionally, Dr. Arnoldi has worked for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection as director of the Wisconsin Animal Health Laboratories and as state veterinarian. With the Michigan Department of Agriculture, she was director of the Animal Industry Division and state veterinarian.

After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1963, Dr. Arnoldi worked in a mixed animal practice in Wausau, Wis., focusing primarily on companion animals.

As an AVMA assistant director, she will be dealing with welfare issues relating to horses and species used for food.

"I hope to use the experience I gained in federal and state government and as a veterinary clinician to bring insight to the field," Dr. Arnoldi said. "Animal welfare is one of the most challenging and fascinating aspects of veterinary medicine today, so I look forward to working for the betterment of the lives of all animal species."

Dr. Johnson received her DVM degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia this past May and is finishing a master's in animal science with an emphasis on reproductive physiology of beef cattle.

As a veterinary student, Dr. Johnson participated in the 2008 Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging Competition and placed in the individual and team competitions. She has also served as a member of the Missouri VMA Animal Welfare Committee.

Dr. Johnson will share responsibilities for welfare issues associated with food animal species with Dr. Arnoldi.

"I have worked with livestock from an early age and enjoy working with producers and large animal veterinarians," Dr. Johnson said. "I think that it is very important that someone who has a working knowledge of being a producer and being involved with large animal medicine be sitting at the table when livestock welfare is being discussed."  

Corporate relations  

Jodie Taggett is the AVMA's first corporate relations director.

The Executive Board recently created the position as the primary point of contact for the development, coordination, and management of relationships between the Association and commercial partners regarding sponsorships, affinity programs, and other types of support.

Additionally, Taggett is responsible for identifying, developing, and managing relationships between the AVMA and commercial partners inside and outside the veterinary industry, as well as identifying existing and potential opportunities to sponsor events, products, and services.

Taggett, who came to the AVMA in June, has more than 12 years of experience in creating and managing corporate relations programs, primarily in the not-for-profit arena. Since 2005, she has owned her own consulting firm dedicated to creating sponsorship programs for a variety of organizations.

Previously, Taggett held various positions in corporate relations and development including with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Resurrection Health Care, and Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.

Taggett earned her undergraduate degree in communications arts and psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.

"I have learned that strategic partnerships are key to ensuring the success of any organization—whether it's a worldwide Fortune 500 company or a local charity," Taggett said. "Each partner brings valuable resources to the table that can be tangible, such as financial, or intangible, such as brand awareness and consumer loyalty.

"Guided by such a compelling and broad-reaching mission, I am excited for the opportunity to build on the success of AVMA's current corporate program."