AVMA FDP Lifetime Achievement award, President’s Awards recipients honored

Updated July 2, 2024

Four award winners were recognized at events on June 21 during AVMA Convention 2024 in Austin, Texas.

During the AVMA House of Delegates' regular annual session, Dr. Ruby Perry received the AVMA Frederick Douglass Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes an AVMA member veterinarian who has made significant contributions to the veterinary profession through innovative and transformative leadership in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and who has demonstrated a commitment to advancing these values within the veterinary profession and has brought honor and distinction to the field through their exemplary efforts.

Two smiling women sit side by side at a press conference table
Latonia Craig, EdD, chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at the AVMA, hosts an interview with Dr. Ruby Perry on June 23 during AVMA Convention 2024 in Austin, Texas. Dr. Perry is the 2024 recipient of the AVMA Frederick Douglass Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photos by Lucy Kennedy)

Dr. Perry (Tuskegee ’77) is dean and professor of radiology at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, the nation’s only veterinary college at a historically Black university. She is immediate past-president of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and a member of the association’s Minority Serving Institutions Working Group. Dr. Perry previously co-chaired the now sunset AVMA-AAVMC Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Veterinary Profession.

At Tuskegee since 2007, she has served as a faculty member; acting chair of the Department of Small Animal Medicine, Surgery and Radiology; interim chief of staff in the Office of the President; associate dean for academic affairs; and vice-provost of undergraduate education.

Before Tuskegee, Dr. Perry was on the veterinary faculty at Michigan State University for 20 years, where she was section chief of veterinary radiology and an associate professor of veterinary radiology.

She is the first African American female, board-certified veterinary radiologist in the American College of Veterinary Radiology and received a PhD in educational leadership in 2019 from Keiser University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Dr. Perry has served on various professional committees and task forces for the AAVMC and student organizations.

"Upon learning of my selection as the 2024 recipient of the AVMA Frederick Douglass Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award, I was humbled and and extremely honored to be the second recipient of this award following my colleague and fellow Tuskegee veterinary alum, Dr. Willie Reed. Dr. Patterson was a profound man in the history of Tuskegee University and, specifically, the establishment of the veterinary medical program as well as a visionary leader," Dr. Perry said.

Also on June 21, Dr. Rena Carlson, 2023-24 AVMA president, gave her three President’s Awards during the President’s Reception. The award recognizes individuals or groups for making a positive impact on health, veterinary organizations, or the profession.

This year’s recipients are Dr. Les Stone, an Idaho-based practitioner who is an advocate for organized veterinary medicine, and Dr. Michael and Kimberly Topper, a couple who has devoted many years to serving the AVMA, Auxiliary to the AVMA, and other veterinary organizations.

Three people in business formal dress stand side by side holding a framed photo and smile for a photo
Dr. Les Stone (center), with his wife, Joann (left), accepts the President’s Award from Dr. Rena Carlson, 2023-24 AVMA president (right).

Dr. Stone (Missouri ’73) bought Northgate Veterinary Hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in 1975, where he practiced as a solo practitioner until his retirement in 2018. He served in every office for the Eastern Idaho VMA, including four terms as president, and as president of the Idaho VMA in 2012.

He also spent countless hours volunteering his time and expertise to the City of Idaho Falls Animal Shelter with no compensation, including thousands of dollars worth of vaccines for dogs and cats at the animal shelter. For many years, Dr. Stone routinely stopped by the local retirement home, Good Samaritan, for visits with the residents accompanied by his dogs, Buffy and Max.

Dr. Stone is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys camping, hunting, skiing, horseback riding, piloting his own plane, and whitewater rafting.

Two people in business dress holding a framed award stand side by side and smile for a photo
Dr. Michael Topper receives the President’s Award from Dr. Carlson.

Dr. Topper (Georgia ’80) is a retired veterinary clinical pathologist.

He served as Pennsylvania’s delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates from 2000-16, is a past chair of the AVMA House Advisory Committee, and served as the 2017-18 AVMA president. He is currently director of veterinary affairs for the AVMA, chairing the Committee on International Affairs.

The U.S. Army Corps veteran served in various positions, from clinical veterinary medicine to biomedical research, in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps from 1980-2002. In his final three years in military service, he oversaw the Division of Pathology at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research before retiring as a colonel.

Dr. Topper worked for a few years for a small biotech company before taking the job as director of clinical pathology for Merck Research Laboratories in West Point, Pennsylvania, for 11 years before retiring in 2017.

He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. He also was the association’s secretary and treasurer from 2010-15. Most recently, he became chair of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Membership and Nomination Committee last year.

Two people in business formal dress holding a framed award stand side by side and smile for a photo
Kimberly Topper accepts the President’s Award from Dr. Carlson during the President's Reception on June 21.

Kimberly Topper received her master’s in health care administration and hospital management in 1997 from Central Michigan University. She began her career as an administrative assistant at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology before joining the Food and Drug Administration as a health science administrator. She worked there from 1987-2005.

Topper has occupied various national officer positions, from secretary to president, for the Auxiliary to the AVMA and has been a member for 47 years. She is currently on her second term as president of the Auxiliary.

In addition, she was executive director and president of the District of Columbia VMA. Topper also held various offices with the DC VMA Auxiliary and the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation. She continues to support veterinarians nationally as a member of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s board of directors.

Visit the AVMA Excellence Awards page for more videos and information on all of this year's winners.

Dr. Ruby Perry says during her acceptance speech of the AVMA Frederick Douglass Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award on June 21 that the honor is not just a recognition, but is also a call to continued action, reminding her to continue "pushing the boundaries of knowledge, to advocate for equality and justice, and strive for excellence in all that I do." (Video by Matt Zingale)