Dr. Joni Scheftel named recipient of 2024 AVMA Public Service Award

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(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) June 11, 2024— The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today honored Dr. Joni Scheftel, recently retired state public health veterinarian with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) as the winner of the 2024 AVMA Public Service Award.

The award, established in 1968, recognizes an AVMA member veterinarian for outstanding public service or contributions to the practice or science of public health and regulatory veterinary medicine.

"Dr. Scheftel's dedication to veterinary public health over the past two decades has been truly remarkable," said Dr. Rena Carlson, president of the AVMA. "Her unwavering commitment to both animal and human health have set a high standard for public service, and her mentorship of future public health leaders have made a lasting impact on the veterinary community."

Dr. Scheftel, a 1982 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, began her career in mixed practice before transitioning to public health after receiving her MPH from the University of Minnesota in 2001. Starting as an epidemiologist in the MDH that year, she was named state public health veterinarian in 2003, a position she held until retiring earlier this year.

In that role, Dr. Scheftel led the Zoonotic Diseases Unit, overseeing a team of epidemiologists and veterinarians conducting zoonotic disease surveillance, investigating outbreaks, and responding to public health crises involving zoonotic hazards. She acted as the primary liaison between the MDH and other state agencies concerning animal agriculture issues with human health impacts. Her role also included participating in swine and avian influenza response planning, consulting with healthcare providers about zoonotic disease cases, and teaching veterinary students.

She also has served as president of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, president of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association, co-chair of the United States Animal Health Association One Health Committee, Minnesota representative to the AVMA House of Delegates, chair of the AVMA Steering Committee for FDA Policy on Veterinary Oversight of Antimicrobials, and chair of the AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials.

Dr. Scheftel has been a passionate mentor throughout her career, advising dozens of MPH students on their projects and providing field experiences or externships for nearly 100 dual degree DVM/MPH students. Her mentees have gone on to hold positions in state departments of agriculture and public health, federal health agencies, private veterinary practice, and industry.

“I was in mixed practice for half my career and in public practice for the other half” said Dr. Scheftel. “The stories are remarkably similar- you are still helping people through your knowledge of veterinary medicine.”

To learn more about the AVMA Public Service Award and past recipients, visit www.avma.org/awards.

For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, media relations manager, at 847-732-6194 (cell/text) or msanfilippoatavma [dot] org (msanfilippo[at]avma[dot]org).

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.