Jenkins, Perry lauded for leading efforts on diversity, equity, inclusion

The AVMA honored two leaders for their contributions toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the veterinary profession during the President’s Reception July 14 at AVMA Convention 2023 in Denver.

Dr. Christine Jenkins (Tuskegee ’84), who is retiring soon, is chief medical officer and vice president of veterinary medical services and outcomes research of U.S. operations at Zoetis. She is responsible for the Zoetis Commitment to Veterinarians platform and philanthropic efforts, which include support of the veterinary profession through scholarships, veterinary wellness initiatives, disaster relief, and diversity. She represents Zoetis as a fellow for the CEO Action for Racial Equity.

Dr. Jenkins is a diplomate of American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Drs. Christine Jenkins (center) and Ruby L. Perry (right) accept awards from Dr. Lori Teller, 2022-23 AVMA president, for their leadership in driving diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives forward.
Drs. Christine Jenkins (center) and Ruby L. Perry (right) accept recognition from Dr. Lori Teller, 2022-23 AVMA president, for their leadership in driving diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives forward in the profession. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Dr. Ruby L. Perry (Tuskegee ’77), dean and professor of radiology at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, is the 2023-24 president and board chair of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), making her the first African American female president of the AAVMC.

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.

She is also the first African American female, board-certified veterinary radiologist in the American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR).

Together, Drs. Ruby and Jenkins co-chaired the now sunset AVMA-AAVMC Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Veterinary Profession.

The commission formed in 2020 and was tasked with enhancing DEI in veterinary medicine, with the following initial goals:

  • Promoting the value of DEI throughout the profession
  • Increasing diversity among veterinarians, veterinary school applicants and enrollees, interns, residents, and board-certified specialists
  • Encouraging and assisting veterinary medical associations and animal health companies to measure and improve DEI

Dr. Lori Teller, 2022-23 AVMA president, said of Dr. Perry and Dr. Jenkins: “When there is a need, true leaders rise to the occasion. Our co-chairs—who are two extraordinarily busy people—not only answered the call but embraced it with a steadfast resolve to make a real and lasting impact in our efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within our beloved profession of veterinary medicine.

“Guided by the principles of equity, our co-chairs led the commission in developing strategic recommendations that would positively impact the future of our profession.

Recognizing the need for dedicated leadership in driving diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives forward, they championed the creation of AVMA’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer position, amongst other equally impactful recommendations.”

The commission issued a number of strategic recommendations (PDF) in 2021 for short-, medium-, and long-term activities to be implemented. These included promoting and expanding awareness among diverse primary and secondary school students about the career options and opportunities in the veterinary profession as well as creating or amplifying opportunities to promote and practice DEI in workplaces and other settings within veterinary medicine.

In 2022, the AVMA and Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE) co-launched Journey for Teams, a voluntary educational initiative to help veterinary workplaces become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

The multi-year initiative includes monthly learning modules on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In the coming months, modules will cover topics such as religious diversity, gender, and generational diversity as well as pathway programs for underrepresented students in veterinary medicine, allyship, accessibility, and neurodiversity.