AVMA congressional fellows take posts on Capitol Hill

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Members of the newest class of AVMA Congressional Science Fellows have received their congressional office placements, the Association announced in September.

Dr. Ackley
Dr. Elise Ackley
Dr. Crawford
Dr. Chase Crawford
Dr. La Jeunesse
Dr. Carrie La Jeunesse

Dr. Elise Ackley has accepted a position with Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Dr. Chase Crawford with Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, and Dr. Carrie La Jeunesse with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska.

During their yearlong assignments, the AVMA fellows 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,” Dr. Lutschaunig said.

The AVMA fellowship program is funded by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and sponsored through the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which places scientific experts in congressional offices where they are needed. To date, more than 60 veterinarians have participated in the AVMA program.

Drs. Ackley, Crawford, and La Jeunesse were selected out of 20 applicants earlier this year after completing a three-phase, competitive selection process (see JAVMA, July 1, 2014). 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. AVMA fellows are neither AVMA employees nor lobbyists.

Dr. Ackley is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, and a 2014 graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. She will concentrate on public health and higher education issues in Durbin’s office. Dr. Ackley has worked for the Department of Homeland Security, the World Health Organization, and the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. She has also served as president of the Student AVMA and as a student extern in AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division.

Dr. Crawford is originally from Houston and a 2014 graduate of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. He will focus primarily on agricultural issues in Franken’s office. Prior to this post, Dr. Crawford worked on issues related to the one-health concept with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the WHO.

Dr. La Jeunesse is from Port Orchard, Washington, and a 1983 graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She will work on international development issues in Fortenberry’s office. Dr. La Jeunesse has practiced small companion animal emergency and critical care medicine. As president of the Washington State VMA, she worked on issues and policy pertaining to veterinary practice and animal health and welfare.