Faeh will stay the course as AVMA’s next president

Illinois veterinarian sees culmination of decades-long journey that began as SAVMA president

Updated June 26, 2024

Dr. Sandra Faeh
Dr. Sandra Faeh

Dr. Sandra Faeh promises that as 2024-25 AVMA president she will maintain the priorities set by Association leadership and focus on the needs of AVMA members and the issues they face. That includes protecting the integrity of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) while also advancing the health and welfare of their animal patients.

Dr. Faeh spoke June 21 during the regular annual session of the AVMA House of Delegates (HOD) in Austin, Texas. The incoming AVMA president from Wayne, Illinois, is a 1996 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She is chief veterinary officer for National Veterinary Associates. The HOD last year elected Dr. Faeh as the 2023-24 AVMA president-elect and successor to the current AVMA president, Dr. Rena Carlson.

“As I embark on this journey, I hope to visit many of our colleagues in their daily lives, because my work as AVMA president will focus on their needs and the issues facing all of us as veterinarians,” Dr. Faeh told the assembly of delegates.

“My priorities are aligned with those of the AVMA, which is working hard every day to ensure that our members’ interests come first, and that we can continue to make the health and welfare of our patients and the animals we serve our top priority,” she said.

The AVMA is continuing work across the veterinary profession to address workforce issues, tracking trends and data to find the right solutions, according to Dr. Faeh, adding that efforts to relax the in-person establishment of the VCPR and the introduction of a proposed midlevel practitioner “concern us on many levels.”

“These are not the right solutions for anyone—not animals, not their owners, not our valued colleagues, and not the veterinary teams we work with,” Dr. Faeh said. “And most concerningly, they would seriously jeopardize animal health and safety.”

Dr. Faeh noted the AVMA’s ongoing work with lawmakers, federal agencies, and the Biden administration to maintain veterinary access to xylazine in light of growing public concerns about the drug’s illicit use.

The AVMA also continues to work diligently with state and federal agencies and stakeholders to better understand and manage the recent outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in dairy cattle in 12 states, she said.

“We are approaching these issues in a collaborative way,” she continued, “and leveraging science and data to ensure that the profession makes the right decisions when it comes to the future practice of veterinary medicine.”

Noting her passion for mentorship, Dr. Faeh highlighted the work of MentorVet Connect, a collaboration between the AVMA and MentorVet that provides mentorship to early-career AVMA members free of charge in their first 10 years as a veterinarian.

Dr. Faeh’s involvement with organized veterinary medicine began in 1995 as the national Student AVMA (SAVMA) president. She has since served as president of the Chicago and Illinois State VMAs. As a volunteer leader with the AVMA, Dr. Faeh has been the Illinois alternate delegate and delegate to the HOD, chair of the House Advisory Committee (HAC), and AVMA vice president.

During her time on the HAC, Dr. Faeh was instrumental in the development of the Veterinary Information Forum. As AVMA vice president from 2020-22, she founded the AVMA Online Educator Community. She also served as chair of the AVMA’s Working Group on Membership Engagement. She and her husband, Marshall Butler, are the parents of three sons: Pierce, Aidan, and Alex.

Dr. Faeh concluded her remarks to the HOD with a quote from Maya Angelou that embodies her outlook on life and will embody her presidency. She said, “‘At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.’”

“I firmly believe that everyone is welcome under the AVMA umbrella,” Dr. Faeh continued. “We are more than 105,000 strong, and this term as your president will be about all of you—our members, our volunteer leaders who work tirelessly to advance veterinary medicine, and our colleagues across the profession.”