AVMA welcomes two assistant directors

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Dr. Kendall Houlihan and certified veterinary technician Laura Lien joined the AVMA staff this August as assistant directors in the Animal Welfare and the Education and Research divisions, respectively.

Dr. Houlihan
Dr. Kendall Houlihan (Photos by R. Scott Nolen)
Laura Lien
Laura Lien

A 2009 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Houlihan worked for five years in companion animal practices in the Chicago area prior to coming to the AVMA. She had been searching for opportunities to advocate for animal welfare and the human-animal bond on a broader scale than private practice when the job with the Association became available.

“I realized that I couldn’t have designed a more appropriate position,” Dr. Houlihan said. “I would be able to use my knowledge and experience as a veterinarian to help support the voice of our profession on animal welfare issues as we work with our volunteers to refine existing policies, develop new ones, and educate the public.”

Dr. Houlihan said her experience as a practitioner dealing with declawing, early spay-neuter, and sources of new pets will help her understand all sides of such controversial welfare issues. Her interests in shelter, laboratory animal, and zoo animal medicine complement the division’s work in these areas, she added.

“This is an exciting time in the realm of animal welfare, and I’m thrilled to be able to embrace the AVMA’s mission and assist the profession in responding to challenging welfare issues,” Dr. Houlihan said.

Laura Lien holds a veterinary technician specialization in large animal internal medicine with the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians.

A 1996 graduate of Madison Area Technical College’s veterinary technology program in Wisconsin, Lien has 18 years of experience in clinical practice and academia. She worked for eight years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary Teaching Hospital in the large animal section while she taught part time at Madison Area Technical College.

Lien then left in 2006 to start the distance learning program at Moraine Park Technical College based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where she was director and an instructor for five years. Later, Lien would go on to serve as director of the veterinary technology programs at the Pima Medical Institute in Mesa, Arizona, and Milwaukee Career College.

Lien said her experience as a program director, who often dealt with the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities and was responsible for implementing its policies into the curriculum, was a challenging but also positive experience. The CVTEA accredits veterinary technology programs.

Lien jumped at the chance when she saw the opening for the AVMA Education and Research assistant director position, which entails working with the CVTEA and going on veterinary technology program site visits.

“I feel AVMA placing veterinary technicians in this kind of role is a wonderful step in the right direction for our young profession. It’s great that more veterinary technicians are overseeing their educational process,” she said.

In May, Lien published the textbook “Large Animal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians.” She received her bachelor’s degree in technical management from Franklin University in Ohio and her master’s degree in instructional design for online learning from Capella University.