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2022 VIS Speakers

Doug Aspros, DVM

Veterinary Practice Partners | Chief Veterinary Officer & Chairman
Veterinary Innovation Council | President

Douglas G. Aspros, DVM is the Chief Veterinary Officer for Veterinary Practice Partners, where they work to enhance the value of veterinary ownership to the profession and the public.

As a companion animal veterinarian, Dr. Aspros has been an owner of two AAHA-accredited practices and the managing partner of an ER in New York. Dr. Aspros served as the 2012-13 President of AVMA and is a Past-President of the NYSVMS. He has worked on behalf of the profession in diverse leadership roles in education, public health, nutrition, licensure and credentialing and risk management.

He has been a determined voice for diversity and in promoting women into leadership roles in veterinary medicine including practice ownership, and is a founding board member of the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Diversity Initiative (WVLDI).

Jules Benson, BVSc, MRCVS, AVP

Nationwide Pet Insurance | Chief Veterinary Officer

Dr. Jules Benson is an experienced executive in the animal health field. Before coming to Nationwide’s pet health insurance unit, he was on the start-up team of a pet health company, and then assisted other veterinary and medical companies as an executive specializing in healthcare marketing and strategy.

A licensed veterinarian, Dr. Benson is a graduate of the University of Liverpool’s school of veterinary medicine. He has been active in conservation efforts in Africa, and he worked in clinical practice before moving into the pet health industry as a leader.

He can speak with insight and experience on animal health industry trends, start-ups, innovation and strategic planning and, of course, on veterinary medicine.

Tim Bettington

Zoetis | Executive Vice President and President, U.S. Operations and Global Customer Experience

Tim Bettington is executive vice president and president, U.S. Operations and Global Customer Experience. Mr. Bettington leads our U.S. commercial operations supporting our livestock and companion animal portfolios. Additionally, he leads our Global Customer Experience function, where he leverages his extensive experience in the worldwide animal health industry.

Prior to joining Zoetis in 2020, Mr. Bettington enjoyed a successful, diverse and global career in the animal health industry for more than 20 years, working in both the livestock and companion animal sectors. He joined Zoetis from Boehringer Ingelheim where he served as North American Region Head of Commercial Operations for its animal health business. In that role, Mr. Bettington had oversight for the Pet Veterinary, Pet OTC, Cattle, Swine, Equine and Poultry businesses. During his tenure at Boehringer Ingelheim and previously at Novartis Animal Health, Mr. Bettington worked in the U.S., Europe and Australia and developed a deep expertise in sales excellence, marketing, strategy and business integration.

Mr. Bettington holds a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Western Sydney University and a master’s degree in Marketing Management from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Sydney.

Taylor Cavanah

PetDesk | Chief Executive Officer

Taylor Cavanah, co-founder, and CEO of PetDesk began his technical career at Zyvex Corporation where he helped grow, spin-off, and later sell the company. Between Rice physics undergrad and UT-Dallas grad school, he worked for Sony America in a think tank tasked with forecasting products 10 years down the road. PetDesk was conceived around the mission to engage pet parents in their pet’s health by creating deeper relationships with pet care providers. The company has developed a communication platform for the veterinarian community that allows pet care provides to build a deeper relationship with their clients. Taylor is passionate about pet health and extending the lives of pets, improving the lives of pet care providers, and building a culture driven company.

McCord Christensen

PetIQ | Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

PetIQ is an animal health and wellness company focused on increasing access to affordable, quality health care for pets. The company owns and operates veterinarian clinics across the United States and manufactures and distributes more than 1,500 pet health care prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Cord Christensen founded PetIQ in 2010 and has served as the Chairman and CEO since that time. The company has evolved from being started on a card table to a NASDAQ publicly traded company with an enterprise value of more than $1B, more than 3,500 employees, and annual sales in excess of $950MM. Cord started his career with Albertsons and he has been successful in other executive-level positions in during his career.

Eli B. Cohen, DVM, DACVR

North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Eli B. Cohen is an Associate Clinical Professor of Diagnostic Imaging at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also co-owner and consulting radiologist of Dragonfly Imaging, a teleradiology company. Prior to his time at NC State he was a senior lecturer in diagnostic imaging at Massey University in New Zealand, and did his residency training at the University of Georgia. Dr. Cohen interprets all diagnostic imaging modalities, but has special interest in the imaging of zoo/exotic animal species and cross-sectional imaging (CT/MRI). He is also particularly interested in how our human biology affects the way we learn and predisposes us to medical errors, and the methods we can employ to reduce those errors to better help our patients. More recently he has developed an interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning, with special attention to the ethical considerations. He serves on the ACVR/ECVDI Artificial Intelligence Education and Development Committee.

Dave Comiskey

Active Capital | Entrepreneur in Residence

Dave Comiskey is the Entrepreneur in Residence at Active Capital, the managers of Nestle-Purina’s Pet Care Innovation Prize and other programs designed to support the entrepreneurs of the pet and animal health industries.


BluePearl Pet Hospice | Medical Director

Dr. Shea Cox is a prominent leader in veterinary hospice and palliative care. With a focus on technology, innovation and education, her efforts are shaping the end-of-life landscape in veterinary medicine, and as a Telehealth advocate, she is working to change how veterinarians can establish the Veterinary Client Patient Relationship for patients at end of life.

In addition to launching the first hospice and palliative care service to be integrated within a specialty hospital setting in 2012, she was the first to launch a nationwide Telehealth platform dedicated solely to quality of life and end-of-life support in 2017. In 2020, her business, PetHospice, was acquired by BluePearl Specialty + Emergency Pet Hospitals, a Mars Petcare company. Her role with BluePearl/Mars is to bring hospice innovation to specialty hospitals on a global scale.

Other endeavors include leading the development of the IAAHPC Animal Hospice and Palliative Care certification program, a 125-hour RACE approved education program; author of 13 book chapters relating to hospice, pain management and telehealth; contributing author to the AAHA/IAAHPC End of Life Guidelines and the AAHA/AVMA Small Animal Telehealth Guidelines; and a Past President of the IAAHPC.

Mark Cushing, JD

Animal Policy Group | Founder and Managing Partner

Mark is the Founder and Managing Partner of the Animal Policy Group, LLC, based in Scottsdale, AZ, Portland, OR, and Los Angeles. APG’s clients represent a wide-range of pet health, animal welfare and veterinary educational interests. Mark focuses his practice on providing high-level strategic advice, government advocacy, regulatory and policy services to animal health and veterinary clients with needs at any level of government, and universities and industry groups throughout North America. 

Mark is a frequent speaker at veterinary medicine and other animal policy conferences. He is a former partner of major regional and national law firms and served as an adjunct professor of law at the LMU Duncan School of Law in Knoxville, Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, and the University of Oregon School of Law. He is an Honors graduate with distinction from Stanford University and the Willamette University College of Law. Most recently, Mark is the author of Pet Nation, a book released by Penguin Random House that illustrates an inside look at the forces behind how our pets transformed American society and culture.

Katherine Cutter, DVM, DACVO

BoosterPet | Chief Executive Officer

Katie is a 2000 graduate from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed her rotating small animal internship and comparative ophthalmology residency at Cornell University and become a boarded ophthalmologist in 2004. Katie has taught veterinary courses (to both veterinarians and veterinary students) and has practiced throughout the US. She (along with her husband) have built numerous de novo specialty clinics.

In addition to being a specialist and hospital administrator, Katie has also successfully developed, launched and sold veterinary software. Katie’s passion for making the veterinary space better is infectious and is the foundation on which Katie’s latest endeavor, BoosterPet, is built. BoosterPet is an ecosystem of de novo GP/Urgent Care veterinary practices in the Seattle area which operate to create a hospital experience like none other through combining in-clinic telemedicine, fully leveraging the role of the licensed veterinary technician, and providing veterinarians with novel work opportunities.

Camille DeClementi, VMD, DABT

ASPCA Hospital | Vice President

Dr. Camille DeClementi oversees the ASPA Animal Hospital (AAH) which focuses on increasing access to veterinary care in three critical ways: Direct Care, Teaching and Research. AAH provides expert, urgent medical care to some of NYC’s most vulnerable animals. As a component of the NYC safety net system, we provide subsidized care for animals whose owners are experiencing financial challenges and could not otherwise afford medical care for their pet. We also provide medical care for animals who come to us through our internal partners, including victims of cruelty and neglect as part of our partnership with the NYPD. In AAH’s direct care work, we develop and use less costly, yet effective protocols to address common medical conditions with good prognoses in the patients we serve. In our teaching programs, we influence the next generation of veterinarians by teaching our access to care philosophies and techniques to our veterinary interns, fellows, and externs. And in our research work, we test treatment protocols to identify effective, lower-cost options to common conditions and share our findings with the broader veterinary community to influence others to provide greater access to care. Dr. DeClementi received her BS in Biology from Lebanon Valley College of Pennsylvania, and her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She practiced emergency and general medicine in Pittsburgh and Tennessee before joining the ASPCA Animal Poison Control in 1999. Dr. DeClementi became a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology in 2006 and the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology in 2007 and is a Certified Veterinary Journalist. She has spoken on various clinical veterinary toxicology issues and has authored several peer-viewed articles and book chapters. Dr. DeClementi is a past co-owner of the Animal Emergency Clinic in Champaign, IL.

Constance De Haan, DVM, MA, DACVR

IDEXX | Director of Medical Affairs, Telemedicine

Dr. Connie De Haan received her BS in BioResource Science and Genetics from the University of California, Berkeley and her DVM from the University of California, Davis. She spent almost 3 years in private practice before returning to complete a radiology residency at Washington State University. Following her residency, Dr. De Haan practiced radiology in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20 years. During that time, she was the owner of a large specialty practice, serving as Medical Director for 5 years after the practice was acquired by VCA. Dr. De Haan holds a Masters degree in Organization Development and a Coaching Certificate. Dr. De Haan joined IDEXX in 2013, working with the Telemedicine Consultants group, first as a production radiologist, then Radiology Manager and now as Director of Medical Affairs, Telemedicine, supporting a global team of veterinary medical specialists.

James "Jay" De Long

Active Capital | Co-Founder, Partner

A champion of entrepreneurs and startup ecosystems across many industries in and around St. Louis, Jay manages the strategy, vision, and development of the Pet Care Innovation Network.

Doug Drew

Mars Veterinary Health | President

Doug Drew is the President of Mars Veterinary Health North America, and is responsible for the Banfield, BluePearl and VCA animal hosital groups. Until recently, Doug was the President of Animal Hospitals & Petcare Services for VCA, the largest owner and operator of stand-alone animal hospitals in the United States and Canada. Before joining VCA in 2009, Doug was the CEO and Co-Founder of ThinkPets, Inc., and previous to that he worked as an investment banker for Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and as a consultant for Accenture, a global management consulting company. He graduated with a B.S. in finance from Boston College and received an MBA from Harvard University. Doug lives in Santa Monica with his wife Rebecca, his daughter Madeleine, his son Ryan and their dog Sebastian, a cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle mix).

Tasha Eurich, PhD

Dr. Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist, researcher, and New York Times best-selling author. Her life’s work is to help people become the best of who they are and what they do. With a reputation as a candid yet compassionate voice in the selfimprovement space, Tasha pairs her scientific grounding in human behavior with a pragmatic approach to personal development. Recognized as the world’s leading self-awareness coach, organizational culture expert, and communication expert, Tasha is the principal of The Eurich Group, a boutique firm that helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders and teams. Tasha has worked directly with tens of thousands of leaders, and spoken live to hundreds of thousands more, on every continent but Antarctica—with clients including Google, Salesforce, Royal Bank of Canada, Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, the NBA, Walmart, Whataburger, and the White House Leadership Development Program. Her first book, Bankable Leadership, debuted at #8 on The New York Times bestseller list. Her latest book, Insight, explores the connection between self-awareness and success. Hailed as a “bold, exhilarating take on self-improvement” by Success Magazine and a “fascinating read” by The Guardian, Insight was selected by Brené Brown as one of her Leadership/Business books, and famed Wharton professor Adam Grant calls it one of the three books he recommends most often. Tasha has contributed to Harvard Business Review,, CNBC, The Guardian, and Entrepreneur, and her work has been featured in outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Forbes, NBC, CNN, BBC, and NPR, as well as peer-reviewed journals. Her TEDx talks have been viewed more than nine million times. As a sought-after and engaging keynote speaker, Tasha partners with her clients to deliver:

  • A highly interactive experience that cements learning and maximizes behavior change.
  • A tightly customized event that addresses the specific pain points of their organization and/or industry.
  • Several actionable tools participants can apply immediately.
  • Insight from cutting-edge science translated into bite-sized, easy to digest nuggets.
  • Additional take-home toolkits and resources to transform learning into sustainable change.

Aimee Gilbreath

Petsmart Charities and Petsmart Charities of Canada | President

A seasoned leader in both non-profit and private-sector organizations with extensive experience in a range of industries spanning biotech, consumer goods and philanthropy, Aimee has a proven track record of driving organizations to achieve growth and success.

Growing up in Phoenix, AZ, Aimee had practically every pet possible (horses, goat, dog, cat, rabbit, snake, rat). When She moved to Los Angeles it was the first time she didn’t have a pet in her household. To fill the void, she looked for pet related volunteer opportunities which fatefully led her into the world of animal welfare, shelters, and rescue groups. She fell in love with the stocky, blocky headed dogs most people call pit bulls, adopted one, and got inspired to help on a larger scale.

Today, Aimee is proud to serve as president of PetSmart Charities, which is not only the leading funder of animal welfare but also an organization committed to supporting pets and those who love them. PetSmart Charities believes it’s more important than ever to support the whole family—which, for over half of the population, includes pets.

Prior to her role at PetSmart Charities, Aimee served as the executive director of the Found Animals Foundation, Inc., a non-profit supporting pet owners and animal welfare organizations with a mission dedicated to saving pets and enriching lives, where spearheaded activities for the foundation’s 1,000+ B2B clients and 5 million B2C customers nationwide.

Gabrielle Fadl, DVM

Bond Vet | Director of Primary Care Medicine

I am a 2014 graduate of Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I then completed a one-year rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at VCA Fifth Avenue Veterinary Specialists. I joined Bond Vet as their first veterinarian when we opened our doors in 2019. I have served as the Medical Director of the first location (Cobble Hill, Brooklyn) and recently have accepted a role as the Director of Primary Care Medicine. I focus on creating and implementing guidelines to help upskill veterinarians and improve medical quality, care and patient safety. 

Growing up in Phoenix, AZ, Aimee had practically every pet possible (horses, goat, dog, cat, rabbit, snake, rat). When She moved to Los Angeles it was the first time she didn’t have a pet in her household. To fill the void, she looked for pet related volunteer opportunities which fatefully led her into the world of animal welfare, shelters, and rescue groups. She fell in love with the stocky, blocky headed dogs most people call pit bulls, adopted one, and got inspired to help on a larger scale.

Today, Aimee is proud to serve as president of PetSmart Charities, which is not only the leading funder of animal welfare but also an organization committed to supporting pets and those who love them. PetSmart Charities believes it’s more important than ever to support the whole family—which, for over half of the population, includes pets.

Prior to her role at PetSmart Charities, Aimee served as the executive director of the Found Animals Foundation, Inc., a non-profit supporting pet owners and animal welfare organizations with a mission dedicated to saving pets and enriching lives, where spearheaded activities for the foundation’s 1,000+ B2B clients and 5 million B2C customers nationwide.

Andrew Maccabe, DVM, MPH, JD

American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges | Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe brings a broad range of experience—the military, law, public health, veterinary medicine—to his current leadership position as the Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), located in Washington, D.C. He was appointed in 2012. Prior to his appointment at the AAVMC, he served as a liaison at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coordinating policies and programs between the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Maccabe received his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from The Ohio State University in 1981 and 1985, respectively. He began his professional career in Jefferson, Ohio, working in a mixed animal practice with primary emphasis on dairy herd health.

Dr. Maccabe was commissioned as a public health officer in the U.S. Air Force in 1988 and retired in 2017 following 24 years of active military and reserve officer service. His military career included domestic and international assignments in public health, preventive medicine, epidemiology, communicable disease control, risk assessment and health promotion. While serving in the Air Force, Dr. Maccabe completed his Master of Public Health degree at Harvard University in 1995.

This is Dr. Maccabe’s second appointment at the AAVMC; his first, as associate executive director, followed his completion in 2002 of his Juris Doctor degree from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.

He holds memberships in many professional organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Bar Association, the American Veterinary Medical Law Association, and the District of Columbia Veterinary Medical Association. He is a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia and a licensed patent attorney.

Sarah Machell, BSc, DVM

Vetster | Medical Director

Sarah is a ’97 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College. Following graduation she established and operated a small animal practice in Oakville Ontario from 2000-2018. She has been practicing telemedicine since 2018, joined Vetster as their Medical director in 2020 and in 2021 established Westover Virtual Veterinary Care Services (a CVO accredited facility). Sarah is enthusiastic about the progressive career avenues that virtual care practitioners are able explore in an industry not generally known to have flexibility in working location. Sarah is equally as passionate about the ability of virtual care to improve access to veterinary medical care for millions of pets and pet parents who lack the ability to connect through traditional channels

Aaron Massecar, MA, PhD

Better Habits Consulting | Principal

Aaron Massecar, MA, PhD, is the principal at Better Habits Consulting. Since completing his PhD in philosophy and habit development, he has been focused on bringing evidence-based practices to veterinary education. This journey took him to Texas A&M where he helped build the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy and the Veterinary Innovation Summit. From there he became the Executive Director of the Veterinary Innovation Council and later the Senior Vice President of Learning at the North American Veterinary Community. After working at the Translational Medicine Institute at Colorado State University, he joined the Veterinary Emergency Group as Vice President of their education department. He now runs his own consulting company that focuses on behavior change through education and habit development. Aaron and his wife live in Colorado with their three dogs and two cats.

Brent Mayabb, DVM

Royal Canin | Global Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Brent Mayabb is the Global Chief Medical Officer for Royal Canin, where he is the medical liaison between Royal Canin and large multi-hospital veterinary practice groups around the globe. He also leads the global Professional and Veterinary Engagement, Scientific Communications, and Digital Learning teams. In this role, he is exposed to the broad spectrum of the practice of veterinary medicine in many different parts of the world and leads a multi- national team spanning 19 time zones. Brent joined Royal Canin USA in May 2004 as a Technical Service Veterinarian. Since then, he has held other roles across a broad range of areas, including learning and development, corporate communications, public relations,, and public affairs. Prior to joining Royal Canin, Brent worked in a small animal practice in Granite City, IL. He continues to do relief work in a local shelter clinic to stay connected to what’s happening on the clinic level. Brent is also very interested in helping educate other vets and veterinary teams about managing their personal finances and is currently enrolled in graduate studies in the area of financial planning and counseling. Brent earned his DVM from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. Brent and his wife, Julie (also a vet) have a dog named Eli from Missouri Department of Corrections “Puppies For Parole” program and a cat named Tessa.

Eleanor Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP

College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University | Professor Emerita & Dean Emerita
The Animal Policy Group | Senior Advisor & Consultant

Dr. Eleanor M. Green held the Carl B. King deanship of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP).

She received a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Animal Science from the University of Florida and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Auburn University. She established a veterinary practice in Mississippi as partner/owner. She became a founding faculty member of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University.

Her academic appointments have included: equine faculty member at Middlebush Equine Center at the University of Missouri; head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and director of the large animal hospital at the University of Tennessee; chair of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and the Chief of Staff of the large animal hospital at the University of Florida

She previously served as president of four national organizations: the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC) and, most recently, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).
Her awards include: 2004 Award of Distinction from the University of Florida College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 2011 Wilford S. Bailey Distinguished Alumni Award from Auburn University, 2012 Women‘s Progress Award for Administration, induction into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2013, and 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award for Administration at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Green has a special interest in the future of veterinary medicine and the innovations that will help ensure a thriving profession.

Stephen P. Hadley, DVM, MS

Thrive Pet Healthcare | Executive Vice Chairman

Dr. Stephen Hadley recently transitioned to the Executive Vice Chairman role after leading Thrive Pet Healthcare for five years as CEO. Under Dr. Hadley’s leadership, Thrive grew from 40+ locations with 800+ employees to over 350 locations with over 11,000 employees. During his tenure Thrive also purchased VGP, the largest veterinary group purchasing organization (GPO) with over 6,000 hospital members, as well as the leading cloud-based practice management system, Vetspire. He is a seasoned veterinarian with over 25 years of experience in executive-level roles, showing his passion for animals, business acumen, and genuine love of people. In the past, Dr. Hadley held senior roles with BluePearl, MedVet, and VCA. Dr. Hadley also founded the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. He earned his BS, MS, and DVM degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, IL followed by a surgical internship and residency in Los Angeles. He later earned an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Susanne Kogut

Petco Love | President & Executive Director

Susanne Kogut is the President of Petco Love, having first joined the organization in 2013 after a diverse career that includes serving as the Executive Director of Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA and several prior corporate and legal positions at Capital One Financial Corporation, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Brown & Wood. In addition to serving as the President of the Petco Love, Susanne is the Vice Chair of HABRI’s (Human Animal Bond Research Institute) Board of Trustees. In 2016, she received the Women of Influence award from Pet Age, a leading pet industry publication in recognition of her contributions to the pet industry. Susanne shares her home her a pack of dogs and a variety of different foster pets.

Deb Leon

whiskerDocs | Chief Executive Officer

Deb Leon is the CEO and co-founder of whiskerDocs, the premier provider of pet telehealth services in the United States and Canada, supporting over 6 million pets (canine, feline and avian) via multi-channel, instant access to credentialed veterinary technicians and licensed veterinarians 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. whiskerDocs’ protocol driven expertise provides decision support and resource guidance to pet owners primarily through its business to business relationships, including veterinary clinics, pet insurance companies, employers and associations, to name a few. Prior to launching whiskerDocs, Ms. Leon was the CEO and founder of Health Contact Partners, a 24/7 health services contact center providing telehealth and telemonitoring services to over 7 million individuals via its client partners, including large payor groups, self-insured employers, third party administrators, affinity groups and more. In 2008, Health Contact Partners was purchased by one of its client companies, paving the way to make the next commitment to families, by offering the same 24/7 support to pet parents. “whiskerDocs brings solutions to pet parents that offer affordability, access and convenience,” says Ms. Leon. “We are continually adapting our outreach and services based on findings from our nearly 300,000 interactions. Our over-arching mission is to create smarter, more confident, and more engaged pet parents by providing instant access to the expertise that they need, when they need it most.” Ms. Leon is a founding Board member of the Veterinary Virtual Care Association, co-chairing the Best Practices Committee and is a member of the Women’s Business Leaders of the U.S. Healthcare Industry. whiskerDocs holds a patent on their triage protocols and methods, “Animal Health Decision Support Process and Methods”, allowed in February 2020. Additional patents pending.

James Lloyd, DVM, PhD

Animal Health Economics | Senior Consultant, Animal Health Economics | Dean Emeritus, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. James W. Lloyd received a DVM at Michigan State University in 1981 and a PhD in Agricultural Economics and Operations Research from Michigan State University in 1989.

PhD, Agricultural Economics & Operations Research, Michigan State University, 1989

DVM, Michigan State University, 1981

BS, Fisheries & Wildlife, Michigan State University, 1978

LGVMA Leadership Award, 2013

President’s Honor Roll, Michigan Veterinary Medical Association, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011

Senior Fellow, Outreach and Engagement, Michigan State University, 2005-13

Certificate of Appreciation, Assoc. of Vet. Practice Management Consultants and Advisors, 2004

Norden Teacher of the Year Award Finalist, College of Veterinary Medicine, 2003

Creativity in Teaching Award, Merck Agvet, 1995

State Team Award, Milk Quality Assurance Program, Michigan State University Extension, 1993

Commendation (for Extension activity), Michigan Cattlemen’s Association, 1992 The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Michigan State University, inducted 1985

Phi Zeta, Honorary Veterinary Society, Michigan State University, inducted 1981

Butler Award, voted by peers as “most likely to succeed” in large animal veterinary medicine, 1981

Honors College, Michigan State University, 1975 to 1977

Neil Shaw, DVM, DACVIM

SignalPet | Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

Neil Shaw’s life has always been intertwined with Veterinary Medicine. Born in South Africa; he and his two brothers essentially grew up in their father’s small animal practice in Tampa, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, remaining in Gainesville for internship and residency in Small Animal Internal Medicine, and is a Diplomate of the ACVIM. He founded the nation’s largest group of specialty hospitals, BluePearl Veterinary Partners; and then served as the first Chief Medical Officer for the Mars, Inc Veterinary health Group. Neil subsequently founded SignalPET in 2018; an independent company dedicated to bringing the benefit of advanced Artificial Intelligence assisted diagnostics to veterinary practitioners in any location. The technology enabled: advancement of care, ability to set new standards of care, immediacy of information to practitioners, ease of implementation, and low cost is “proving to be exciting for veterinary medicine beyond the wildest of imaginations”.

Margaret Slater, DVM, PhD

ASPCA | Vice President Research & Strategy

Dr. Slater obtained her DVM and PhD from Cornell University. Dr. Slater was a Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University from 1990 until 2008 when she joined the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She continues as an Adjunct Professor at TAMU and Fellow at the Center for Animals and Public Policy at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Dr. Slater currently leads the interdisciplinary research team at the ASPCA. Present projects focus on creating and publishing evidence to support increasing access to veterinary care. Dr. Slater is also internationally recognized for her work on the problems and solutions for free-roaming cats and dogs. She is a member of the International Scientific Advisory Council of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs.

Dr. Slater has more than 135 peer-reviewed publications and 2 books—many since joining the ASPCA. For example, three landmark publications on documenting the high survival rates for cats and dogs following pyometra surgery in a non- specialized setting will be available in June of 2022. She has authored a chapter on the behavioral ecology of free-roaming cats for Animal Behavior for Shelter Medicine and Staff (2015) and the updated chapter will be published in the new edition in 2022. She is also the author of a chapter on sterilization programs for dogs and cats in High-Quality, High-Volume Spay and Neuter and other Shelter Surgeries.

Andrew Smith

Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) | Executive Director

Andrew Smith currently serves as the executive director of the ADSO. He previously served as executive vice president of government relations and external affairs for Parallel (formerly Surterra Wellness) where he managed the state and federal government relations teams, served as the company’s chief advocate and spokesperson to policymakers and regulators, and led the company’s advocacy and communications goals in the public affairs space.

Prior to joining the private sector, Andrew spent a decade working in government, campaigns, and public policy. In particular, Andrew worked as finance director and senior advisor for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe where he oversaw the strategy, development, and implementation of a record-breaking $44 million fundraising operation.

Andrew is originally from Chicago and is a graduate of Georgetown University with a degree in government and history. He currently lives in Greenwich, Connecticut with his wife Laura and their two children, Holden and Caroline.

Joe Spector

Dutch Pet | Founder & CEO

Joe Spector has been a startup entrepreneur for over 15 years. Prior to Dutch, he was a co-founder of Hims (NYSE: HIMS), one of the fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands in history, which went public in January 2021. As a co-founder, Spector was instrumental in its success of helping millions of people; in fact, he built Hims national telemedicine and doctor network, set up the initial pharmacy supply chain, and launched wholesale partnerships. He holds a BS from the Haas School of Business at University of California at Berkeley, and an MBA from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, three children and a corgi named Edgar.

Apryl Steele, DVM, CAWA

Dumb Friends League | President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Apryl Steele is the President and CEO of the Dumb Friends League which is an animal welfare organization that serves over 20,000 homeless animals and provides subsidized veterinary care for over 30,000 owned animals annually in Colorado. She is also one of the authors of the Socially Conscious Sheltering movement.

Prior to joining the League in 2014, Dr. Steele owned a small animal Cat Friendly AAHA practice in Denver for 18 years. She is currently the chair-elect for the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and is a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA). Apryl served six years as a delegate for the American Veterinary Medical Association, and has served as President of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, the Denver Area Veterinary Medical Society, the Animal Assistance Foundation and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Apryl is also a veteran of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.

Jeannine Taaffe

Kinship | Head of Partnerships and International Mars Petcare

A 1987 graduate of Cornell University, Jeannine has over 30 years of Marketing and sales experience from both an agency and client perspective. She joined Banfield Pet Hospital in 2001 and held several leadership positions with the marketing team. In 2007, she was promoted to Sr. Vice President leading the marketing, sales, innovation teams and Optimum Wellness plan product line. In August 2017 she joined Kinship as the Head of Connected Health. In this role she is focused on using insights from consumer pain points within the pet care industry to create more affordable and accessible care for pets. In 2022 she continued this journey in her new role leading Adopt A Pet and focusing on integrating the experience of Adopt A Pet across the Kinship platforms. KINSHIP description: At Kinship we are working to find new ways to realize the promise of transformational technologies in order to create a brighter future for pets around the world. We put pet parents at the heart of everything we do. Our products and services are fully committed to providing pet parents with the products and services they need to pet parent like a pro. Whether it’s pet DNA decoding through our world-leading  Wisdom Panel , real-time pet health and tracking through  Whistle , or the latest trends and insightful information to help every pet parent keep their cool through  The Wildest , our goal is to arm more pet parents with the products and knowledge they need to create the best life for their pet. And with by our side, Kinship will now be there the moment people get to start their journey as pet parents.

Nick Tasler

Nick Tasler is an internationally acclaimed thought leader, organizational psychologist and the #1 best-selling author of four counter-intuitive books on the art and science of making decisions and leading change. He is also an expert writer for the Harvard Business Review and his work has been covered by The New York Times, Bloomberg Business Week, The Atlantic, Inc., U.S. News & World Report, The Financial Times, Fox Business, and Forbes; as well as NPR, the BBC, NBC, ABC, and CBS.

Nick’s original insights and dynamic style have benefited the world’s most respected organizations ranging from General Electric, Microsoft, JP Morgan, Novo Nordisk, Wells Fargo, the Royal Bank of Canada, and UnitedHealth Group to the Wharton School, Yale University, and many more.Nomadic by nature, Nick and his wife and their four kids live in…lots of places. Sometimes Minnesota. Sometimes Florida. Currently Puerto Rico.

Emily Tincher, DVM

Nationwide | Director, Veterinary Relations

Dr. Emily Tincher is a collaborative and data-driven leader who advocates for a pet-parent centered approach to communication and medicine through spectrum of care approaches. She is a second-generation veterinarian and a 2016 graduate of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Emily has practiced clinically in small animal emergency and general practice. As the Director of Veterinary Relations at Nationwide Pet, she oversees operations and strategy in the veterinary space, including industry relationships and outreach to veterinary students, veterinarians and veterinary teams. Emily serves on the AVMA Early Career Development Committee and is President of the Board of Directors for the Veterinary Leadership Institute. Outside of veterinary medicine, Emily enjoys traveling with her husband Kyle, competing her horse (Blue) in the sport of Eventing, and endlessly spoiling her two perfect dogs (Tuxedo and Cricket) and rotten orange tabby (Exploding Poptart).

Rob Trimble, DVM

Harbor | Vice President

Dr. Rob Trimble is a future-focused veterinarian and entrepreneur with a passion for innovating at the intersection of medicine, technology, and organizational design. He’s a 2013 graduate from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and worked as a general practitioner on the central coast of California after vet school. Later, he moved to the Bay Area, where he worked in the animal health technology space, delivering veterinary housecalls for VetPronto, a pet tech startup based in San Francisco. In 2016, he co-founded Fuzzy Pet Health, a subscription-based, veterinary house call company that was built upon a virtual care and telemedicine platform. From 2018 through 2021, he served as the Executive Director for the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy, a nonprofit organization that’s on a mission to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship from within the veterinary profession, starting with veterinary students. Most recently, he joined Suveto as the VP of Harbor, where he continues to build positive, healthy communities and educational pathways that attract and inspire veterinarians to own their futures. He likes small towns, big waves, authentic conversation, and working with business leaders to prepare their organizations for a future of rapid change.

Jim Heim

Central Garden and Pet | President, Business Development

James “Jim” Heim has over 40 years of solid strong management skills in the manufacturing, distribution, retail and consumer goods business and 5+ years of leadership in the e-commerce world. Career Accomplishments Jim Heim joined Central Garden & Pet as President of the Pet Division in the early 2000’s. Prior to joining Central, he was president and chief executive officer of The Color Factory, a leading designer and manufacturer of domestic and international cosmetic brands. Prior to that, he was chief executive officer of Exchangebridge, a web-based system used by manufacturers and retailers for ordering, cataloging and processing input. Jim also held executive positions at American Pad & Paper, Procter & Gamble, Polaroid, Maybelline/L’Oreal and American Safety Razor.   Jim has been awarded various achievement awards for his work with the pet industry. In 2013, Jim received the Pet Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from PIJAC, recognizing his efforts focused on communicating to pet industry and political leaders about the benefits of a healthy companion animal industry, educating others in support of animal welfare, and promoting the numerous benefits of the human-animal bond. In 2019, Jim received the Hope Award from Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). This award salutes those who truly embody the human-animal bond. In 2020, Jim was awarded the Pet Age Icon Award. This award is given to leaders who have shown a long- term commitment to the success of the Pet Industry. Jim is a graduate of Southern Methodist University with bachelors and master’s degrees in marketing and finance from the Cox School of Business. Leadership and Vision Jim has and still does serve on many industry and charitable boards. He has served as chairman of PIJAC, chairman of APPA, serves on the board of PFI and was recently the chair of the capital campaign fundraising effort to raise $20M for ARF’s Pets and Vets project. Jim also was instrumental in bringing the industry together in the innovative Top2Top Conference, a gathering of leaders working to examine the state of the industry, future trends, economic forecasts, changing demographics, and legislative issues in support of the human and pet relationship. He has also served as board Chairman of the Lasallian school system and president of Legatus Napa Valley.

Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD

Nestlé Purina PetCare | Chief Veterinary Officer, North America

Dr. Kurt Venator has been with Purina 16 years, currently serving as Chief Veterinary Officer. Along with his team, Dr. Venator travels throughout the country to draw on his expertise and speak about small animal nutrition and veterinary medicine, as well as provide nutrition education and professional development to veterinary clinics and schools. Dr. Venator also serves as Director of the Purina Advisory Council, a group of world-renowned veterinarians who help lead the advancement of pet nutrition, health and wellness across the globe. Dr. Venator earned his DVM from Cornell University and PhD in Behavior & Physiology from the University of Texas at Austin. He resides in upstate New York with his wife, Kristi; sons, Parker, Camden and Knox; and yellow Labrador Retrievers, “Sailor” and “Chance.” In his spare time, Dr. Venator enjoys fly fishing and being with his family.

Aaron Wallace, DVM, MS, MBA

VetSource | Managing Director, Telehealth VetSource

Dr. Aaron Wallace is the Managing Director of Telehealth at Vetsource and formerly the Co-Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Lacuna Diagnostics Inc. He is passionate about veterinary medicine, technology, and business models that create advancements for pets and veterinary teams. Clinically Dr. Wallace enjoys emergency medicine and patient stabilization including polytrauma, endocrinopathies, and immune-mediated cases. He finds mentoring future veterinary business professionals as well as the opportunity to establish trust with pet parents to be the most rewarding part of his career thus far. Prior to applying to veterinary school, Dr. Wallace spent 15 years in the profession. As a high school student, he was employed as an apprentice in a rural one doctor practice where he would complete custodial duties in exchange for the opportunity to assist in surgical procedures. He then attended Bucknell University with degree focuses on environmental science and animal behavior where his research supported proving the cognitive abilities of honey bees. From 2005 – 2011, Dr. Wallace made it his mission to gain as much experience as possible to better prepare him for a career as a medical professional, which included 3 years as a mixed animal veterinary technician under the mentorship of Dr. John Shapira, 7 years as a technician in specialty anesthesia, surgery, and emergency at Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists, and 2 years as a bovine reproductive ultra-sonographer under Dr. Kevin McSweeney. He returned to the classroom to complete a Masters of Science in Toxicology where he focused his studies and research on clinical toxicology and pharmacology including completing some of the veterinary industry’s first PK/PD work on CBD in over 40 years. During graduate school, his interest in the business aspect of medicine became apparent. It was at this time that he discovered the correlation between strong business models and sound medical standards of care when he was promoted to procurement director of Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists and Alpenglow Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center. This opportunity motivated him to apply to Colorado State University’s combined Masters of Business Administration and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (MBA/DVM) program. As a combined MBA/DVM student, Dr. Wallace became a co-founder of the veterinary industry’s first digital cytology solution, Lacuna Diagnostics Inc. (acquired by Heska Corporation in 2021), which enables veterinary teams to have clinical pathology interpretations in minutes by digitizing the microscope slide at the hospital rather than sending microscope slides to outside laboratories and waiting days for a diagnostic interpretation. Following the combined degree, he wanted to seed his veterinary experience for his future career and was welcomed back to Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists as their first Emergency and Critical Care intern under Dr. Justin Mathis and Dr. Geoff Heffner. Dr. Wallace still practices as a relief emergency veterinarian in Colorado. When he is off duty you will likely find Aaron enjoying Colorado on his mountain bike or snowboard, traveling the world with his wife Alyssa, or watching hockey with Lord Stanley and Vezina, the NHL’s #1 feline & #1 canine hockey fans!

Ying Chen

Covetrus | Chief Customer Officer, Product

Ying Chen is Chief Customer Officer, Product at Covetrus. She leads strategy and product development focused on empowering animal health practitioners.

Ying’s background includes 20+ years in the B2B software industry delivering award-winning product solutions. Most recently she was a General Manager and Vice President at HubSpot, where she helped deliver effective customer experiences through technology contributing to a platform that serves over 114,000 organizations across 120 countries. Chen previously served as Chief Product Officer at Luminoso, an MIT Media Lab spin-off that applies modern machine learning to help the world’s most recognizable brands develop effective voice of the customer programs. Chen holds a Bachelor of Science from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Boston University.

Lauren Olavessen, DVM

PetIQ | Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Olavessen brings 20 years of experience in the veterinary profession, both as a practicing veterinarian and a leader within the industry. Most recently, she served as senior medical director of IDEXX’s Companion Animal Medical Organization where she led a team of veterinarians and professionals in medical affairs, medical outreach and medical research support. She began her career as a practicing veterinarian focused on small animal medicine in 2002 until transitioning to industry in 2007. Dr. Olavessen holds a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, serves on the board of directors for the Veterinary Leadership Institute (VLI) and has been recognized with several educational and professional awards.

Jennifer Welser, DVM, DACVO

Mars Veterinary Health | Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Jennifer Welser serves as Chief Medical Officer and Quality Officer for Mars Veterinary Health, which encompasses Banfield, VCA and BluePearl in the U.S., as well as AniCura and Linnaeus in Europe. In her role, Dr. Welser leads the Medical Affairs function across the organization and works in close partnership with the chief medical officers of each practice to grow access to high-quality, innovative veterinary care and support Mars Petcare’s purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.

Dr. Welser, who most recently served as the CMO for BluePearl Veterinary Partners, has led a successful career as a veterinary specialty practitioner, practice owner and medical leader. She has been with BluePearl since 2006 and helped establish the organization’s clinician-driven culture and develop the medical leadership team and operations, as well as evolve and grow the residency and internship program at BluePearl.

Dr. Welser received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Michigan State University. She then became a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist in 1999 after completing a rotating internship at Auburn University and an ophthalmology residency at Animal Eye Associates in Illinois. Before joining BluePearl, Dr. Welser practiced as an ophthalmologist at Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston and owned a successful practice in California.

Marcie Whichard

NAVC | Senior Vice President of New Product and Business Development

Marcie Whichard has been in retail corporate management for over 30 years. She was most recently the Vice President, Industry and Public Affairs for Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. A seasoned professional with broad U.S. and global experience, including internal & external corporate communications, community outreach, crisis management, message development, brand management, advocacy, ally development, and budget accountability. Specializing in the areas of industry and public affairs, branding, government affairs and issues management.

Previously Marcie was the Vice President for Animal Care, Education and Compliance. In this capacity she provided the overall leadership and strategy for all animal care issues and concerns, developed and executed strategies to improve and maintain consistency in the care, health and sale of animals and implemented standards for the company in conjunction with animal welfare standards and regulatory requirements. She facilitated the Independent Animal Care Advisory Council made up of world renowned experts in animal health, welfare and ethics. Marcie also led Petco’s Think Adoption First initiative to find loving homes for adoptable animals.

Prior to leading the animal care initiatives at Petco, Marcie was the Vice President of Operations for the West Coast with P&L responsibility for $870M in annual sales revenue from 300 retail units. In this role she co-developed company business imperatives to align with company strategy. She also planned and executed new store openings and remodels, including analysis of new markets, selection of real estate, and forecasting sales and budgets.

Marcie sits on the Board of Directors for the Petco Foundation and Pet Partners. In her spare time Marcie enjoys sailing, traveling and gardening with her husband, Allen.