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December 01, 2020

AVMA to launch certificate program promoting inclusive workplaces

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The AVMA Brave Space Certificate Program, set to launch this year, will explore the impact of stereotyping, unconscious bias, and workplace harassment.

The seven-module program will concentrate on providing practical tools and strategies for promoting healthier, safer, and more inclusive workplaces.

Workplace team

The concept for Brave Space derived from the idea of a safe space, a place where you don’t have to defend or explain yourself, said Jen Brandt, PhD, director of well-being, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at the AVMA.

“We are excited about this,” Dr. Brandt said. “In the workplace, we think it might just be the boss’s job to have difficult conversations, but we all have a role to play.”

The modules will focus on the following topics and are hosted by the following experts.

  • Dr. Brandt leads two modules, “Interpersonal Violence 1: An Overview” and “Interpersonal Violence 2: Plan, Prevent, Respond.” Dr. Melinda Merck, owner of Veterinary Forensics Consulting in Austin, Texas, co-hosts these sessions. The two modules will focus on the impact of interpersonal violence in the veterinary community, the signs, and its link to animal cruelty. The module will also include information about creating a safety plan and point participants to resources.
  • Dr. Ellen Lowery, director of Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, hosts “LGBTQIA+ 1,” while Kara Burns, immediate past president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, hosts “LGBTQIA+ 2.” These modules will focus on exploring gender identity, vocabulary associated with different identities, and creating supportive and inclusive environments for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual within the veterinary community.
  • Lisa Greenhill, EdD, senior director for institutional research and diversity at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, hosts “Combating Unconscious Bias and Marginalization.” Dr. Greenhill will discuss marginalization and how it can harm the veterinary profession in areas such as recruitment, retention, and meeting client needs. The module will also focus on strategies to limit unconscious bias.
  • Dr. Allen Cannedy, diversity director at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, hosts “Race and Inclusion.” Dr. Cannedy will discuss race and inclusion issues in veterinary medicine.
  • “Preventing Workplace Harassment” was developed in partnership with the AVMA Trust. The module will teach participants how to recognize workplace harassment and steps that can be taken if veterinary team members experience or witness inappropriate actions or behavior.


The Brave Space Certificate Program is sponsored through an educational grant from Royal Canin. More information can be found at AVMA Axon.