AVMA elects new volunteer leaders for 2023-2024 term

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For immediate release:
Dr. Rena Carlson of Idaho is the AVMA's new president for 2023-2024 term; Dr. Sandra Faeh of Illinois is new president-elect
Dr. Rena Carlson
Dr. Rena Carlson

DENVER (July 17, 2023)—Dr. Rena Carlson of Idaho, whose wealth of experience in more than 30 years as a veterinarian includes clinical work, practice ownership, service as a university attending veterinarian and academic research, has assumed the presidency of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Carlson, who served as President-elect for the past year, became President on Sunday, July 16 during the AVMA's annual Convention in Denver, succeeding Dr. Lori Teller. On Friday, the organization's House of Delegates (HOD) voted Dr. Sandra Faeh of Illinois as President-elect for 2023-2024.

In remarks to the House during Friday's regular annual session, Dr. Carlson encouraged veterinary leaders to take steps now that will ensure the future success of veterinary colleagues and the profession overall. She called upon fellow veterinarians to create conditions that will continue to remove barriers to wellbeing and facilitate personal growth, professional development, and enhance financial success.

"Adopting a strengths-based approach in our stories and in our collective mindsets not only helps us achieve a higher level of wellbeing and better navigate the challenges we face as individuals," she said. "It also draws more respect, trust, and interest from those we have taken an oath to serve. And that creates positive ripple effects for generations to come."

Dr. Carlson also spoke about how the AVMA is helping members and the profession recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AVMA has been working exhaustively on research and modeling regarding future workforce needs to ensure that the organization has accurate data to inform decisions that will affect generations of veterinarians, patients, and clients.

"As we work to solve these challenges, it's important to do it the right way, through long-term planning, and with accurate data so that the public and the profession continue to be very well-served," she said. "Let's work together to shape the future we want."

A 1989 graduate of Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carlson in 1993 became co-owner of Alpine Animal Hospital in Pocatello, ID, which grew into a mixed-animal practice employing six veterinarians. At the same time, she also held a part-time position in academia as the attending veterinarian at the AAALAC International research facility at Idaho State University. Dr. Carlson sold her practice in 2018 and has since worked as a relief veterinarian as well as a general practice mentor for National Veterinary Associates.

Dr. Carlson has been active in organized veterinary medicine for over two decades, initially holding leadership positions within the Eastern Idaho VMA and Idaho VMA. She then served on the AVMA's House of Delegates as the Idaho alternate delegate and delegate for 10 years and on the AVMA Board of Directors from 2014-20, with her final year on the Board as chair. During her board tenure, she chaired both the Legislative Advisory Committee and the Strategy Management Committee.

In 2004, Dr. Carlson was recognized for her achievements by Idaho State University with the Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Arts and Sciences as a business leader, leader in the veterinary profession, and for community involvement. She also was named the 2006 Idaho Veterinarian of the Year by the Idaho Veterinary Medical Association in acknowledgement of her dedication to veterinary medicine.

Dr. Sandra Faeh
Dr. Sandra Faeh

AVMA President-elect 2023-2024: Dr. Sandra Faeh

Delegates elected Dr. Faeh as President-elect on the final day of the HOD's annual summer session.

"I spent a year listening and learning from so many of you. We have so many challenges. That means we have so many opportunities," said Dr. Faeh, who announced her candidacy in 2022. "I look forward to working with each and every one of you. And, like I said almost every day this past year, please reach out. Please reach out so that I can continue to listen and learn, and together we can create avenues to success."

Dr. Faeh is a 1996 veterinary graduate of the University of Illinois, previously serving as president of the Student AVMA (SAVMA). She has also served as president of the Illinois State and Chicago Veterinary Medical Associations.

She is chief veterinary officer for National Veterinary Associates (NVA), where she is also helping the company build a clinical mentorship program. Before joining NVA, Dr. Faeh was part-owner of four small animal hospitals in the Chicago suburbs. She serves as National Veterinary Associates' first mentor in its Clinical Mentorship Program and is helping to develop this national program.

Dr. Charles "Chuck" Lemme
Dr. Charles "Chuck" Lemme

AVMA Board Chair 2023-24:

Dr. Charles "Chuck" Lemme was elected Board Chair for 2023-24 at Sunday's meeting of the AVMA Board of Directors. Dr. Lemme served as the Iowa alternate delegate and delegate on the AVMA House of Delegates for six years before joining the Board in 2018.

A 1975 graduate of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Lemme began his career as an associate veterinarian at Bramer Animal Hospital in Evanston, IL. It was there where he became involved in organized veterinary medicine, serving as a committee chair and then a board member of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association.

In 1985, Dr. Lemme and his family moved to Cedar Rapids, IA, where he bought a small-animal practice and practiced until his retirement in 2018.

Dr. Lemme also has served as president of the Midwest Small Animal Association and as an area director for the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Dr. Robert Knapp
Dr. Robert Knapp

AVMA Board Vice Chair 2023-24: Robert Knapp

Elected Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Sunday's meeting was Dr. Robert Knapp, a small-animal practitioner in Columbus, OH, who has served on the Board since 2019.

A 1992 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Knapp is the owner of Knapp Veterinary Hospital, a seven-veterinarian practice founded by his grandfather in 1945. He also holds a master's degree in animal science from Texas A&M University.

Dr. Knapp has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards, including the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association's Meritorious Service Award in 1999, Ohio Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2014, and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Distinguished Alumni in 2015.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.