Meet our board and find out what we’re all about!
Kimberly-Ann Therrien, DVM
Dr. Therrien's Bio
Dr. Therrien is an active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association, and Florida Veterinary Medical Association, and serves as a board member of the Banfield Foundation since 2016. At the start of 2020, she assumed the role of president of the Women Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI). Most recently, Dr Therrien has also joined the newly formed AVMA DEI Commission as a board member. Her passion for leadership and the many challenges that veterinarians face within the profession is what first led her to join WVLDI, and she is committed to helping shape the future of veterinary medicine.
In her free time, Dr. Therrien loves spending time enjoying the great outdoors and traveling with her two daughters and husband.
Laura Pletz, DVM
Dr. Pletz's Bio
Dr. Laura Pletz is a 2000 graduate of the University of Missouri – College of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, she began work as an associate veterinarian in a small animal practice in St. Louis, MO, where she became one of the practice owners. During her time in practice, she was also the co-host of local radio show for pet owners seeking advice on the care of their pets. In 2012, she left private practice to join Royal Canin to lead their Technical Services team. She was promoted to her current role of Scientific Services Manager in 2016.
Dr. Pletz is passionate about working to address the challenges facing today’s veterinarian and promoting opportunities for women in leadership of the veterinary profession. She currently resides in the St. Louis area with her two sons. She is excited for future opportunities to mentor veterinarians seeking alternative career paths in veterinary medicine and supporting efforts to help veterinarians find a better work-life balance.
Bridget Heilsberg, DVM
Immediate Past President
Dr. Heilsberg's Bio
Dr. Bridget Heilsberg is the immediate past president of WVLDI. She was born and raised in rural upstate New York and was bitten by the horse bug at the early age of eight. She actively rode and competed in the Hunter/Jumper circuit before moving to Ithaca, New York in 1999 for college. She completed her bachelor’s degree in animal science with a focus on reproduction and genetics at Cornell University in January 2003. Shortly after, she enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve and moved to California. In addition to her Reserve training and duties, she worked with horses and cattle throughout the Central Valley, teaching riding lessons and breaking and training horses for all levels and disciplines. In 2006, Bridget was activated with the Navy in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She spent time in both Kuwait and Iraq with a small boat unit, doing shallow water, high value asset, and anti-terrorism force protection.
Dr. Bridget moved to Phoenix, Arizona upon returning home and worked as a veterinary technician at Animal Medical and Surgical Center of Scottsdale as well as teaching at Kaplan College in the Veterinary Technician and Respiratory Technician programs. She moved to Fort Collins, Colorado in 2009 for veterinary school. She is incredibly proud of her time spent as a Colorado State University Ram.
While in veterinary school, Dr. Bridget channeled the leadership skills that she gained in the Navy and was elected as the Student Delegate from CSU to the Student AVMA. While a delegate, she continued to push for excellence in the organization and continued her service as the National Student AVMA President from 2102 to 2013.
Dr. Bridget is a 2013 graduate of Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences. After graduation, she completed an internship at JEH Equine Reproduction Services and Hospital and was welcomed on as an associate once the internship concluded. Dr. Bridget focused on emergency medicine and critical care, as well as general practice and reproductive management while at JEH.
In May 2016, Dr. Bridget left JEH Equine to start her own ambulatory practice in the North Texas and Texoma area. She continues her focus on overall wellness, therapeutic nutrition, and preventive sports medicine. She is incredibly grateful for the support of the community and hopes to continue to give back to the local area by hosting client education seminars and continuing her work with NCTC’s Equine Program.
In her limited spare time, Dr. Bridget enjoys riding her Harley-Davidson FatBoy motorcycle, working with the Crown 3 Ranch horses, and volunteering with the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. She routinely travels and speaks at regional and national veterinary conventions on leadership, mentorship, and the challenges facing today’s veterinary professionals. She currently lives in Whitesboro, TX, with her other half, Dr. John Middleton, three cats, and her constant canine companion Lucy.
Rebecca Steers, DVM
Dr. Steers' Bio
Growing up in New Hampshire, Dr. Steers knew she wanted to be a veterinarian when she realized that it joined her love of animals with her passion to help people. This solidified in high school when she volunteered at the local animal shelter. Focused on a full educational experience, she decided to major in Spanish with a chemistry minor so she could study in Spain and still complete the requirements to apply to veterinary school. After graduating from Boston College in 2003, Dr. Steers worked as a technician in the research, general practice, and specialty companion animal practice fields before embarking on her veterinary studies in 2006.
While attending the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Steers used her bilingual skills researching bovine tuberculosis in Mexico through a summer research grant. She engaged in helping all members of the profession and passionately worked to encourage others do the same. She served as her school’s delegate to the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) and was the national president from 2009 to 2010. She galvanized a significant restructuring of the organization’s governance documents to improve accessibility and accuracy, and she facilitated improved idea sharing between individual school chapters. She represented SAVMA on multiple committees and in the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) House of Delegates (HOD). Dr. Steers helped introduce and fought for the resolution passed by the AVMA HOD during her last meeting as SAVMA President that ensured that every SAVMA President that serves after her has a seat at the AVMA Executive Board meetings as an invited participant to voice the opinions, needs, and concerns of the thousands of students he or she represents. In addition, Dr. Steers is no stranger to national politics because she worked on Capitol Hill with the AVMA Govermental Relations Division through their student externship program.
After graduating with her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Steers commissioned as a Captain in the U.S. Army. She served on active duty in Okinawa, Japan splitting her time between clinical medicine and food inspection. She earned one of two Army Achievement Medals for her direct involvement in the success of Operation Tomodachi. After the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and the voluntary departure of service members’ families with their companion animals, she coordinated with local Japanese officials for the safe return of these same animals from the United States to rabies-free Japan.
Upon her separation from military service, Dr. Steers decided to give Florida a try, since her small Okinawan dog, Lexi, had never seen snow. It has become her home, and she practices companion animal medicine. She emphasizes the human-animal bond through preventive care, advanced medical and surgical cases, and her passion for behavior. In her spare time, Dr. Steers enjoys the outdoor activities of Florida including scuba diving and even hiking the flat terrain. She is learning to grow plants in a new environment and always seems to have bananas in abundance. When the humidity gets too much to be outside, she is either dancing, going to the theater, or with a book.
Joan C. Hendricks, VMD, Ph.D
Dr. Hendricks' Bio
Joan C. Hendricks served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine for more than 20 years. From 2006 to 2018, Dr. Hendricks was the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the School of Veterinary Medicine.
In 2001, she was named the Henry and Corinne R. Bower Professor of Small Animal Medicine, the first woman to be named to an endowed professorship at the school. Dr. Hendricks also served as chief of critical care in the Department of Clinical Studies at Philadelphia, she was the founding director of the Veterinary Clinical Investigation Center (VCIC) at the school, and she held a secondary appointment as professor in the Department of Medicine at Penn Medicine.
She is a recognized expert in the field of sleep and sleep disorders and has, for decades, studied physiology and anatomy of sleep and an animal model of sleep apnea (the English bulldog). She later switched to using Drosophila as a model to study sleep and sleep disorders. Dr. Hendricks has a BS in biology and psychology from Yale University and a VMD and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2018, Dr. Hendricks moved to rural Maine and retired in August 2019. As a new WVLDI Board member, she is passionate about One Health and strongly believes that women have something special to offer in relating animals to society in all their roles—working animals, food animals, laboratory animals, and companion animals—to ensure mutual benefit for both sides of the relationship.
She looks forward to utilizing her many academic and governmental connections to serve WVLDI. Finally, having enjoyed a career, personal life, and commitment to family, she believes in the importance of an integrated life as essential to positive leadership.
Danielle Adney, PhD
Dr. Adney's Bio
Dr. Adney received her PhD from Colorado State University (CSU) in 2016, where she is currently a member of the veterinary class of 2020. Her PhD research investigated the role of dromedary camels in the transmission cycle of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MER-CoV).
Upon completion of her DVM, Dr. Adney will integrate her scientific and veterinary expertise to continue researching the role of reservoir hosts in the spillover of emerging infectious diseases.
Dr. Adney is passionate about promoting women and minorities in science. She is one of the founding members of CSU’s Women in Science Career Issues Group, has helped organize two symposiums focused on the topic, and serves as the student director of the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. Furthermore, Dr. Adney believes science communication within the scientific community and amongst the general population is critical to the advancement of science. She is a founding member of Science on Tap, Fort Collins, a monthly event focused on open and informal discussion between scientists and the public.
Annie Wayne, DVM
Dr. Wayne's Bio
Annie Wayne is a veterinary criticalist who studies antimicrobial stewardship in dogs and cats and is an assistant professor at the Cummings Veterinary School, Tufts University. She graduated from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Science in 2005. She attended the Cummings Veterinary School and completed a dual degree program to earn her Masters in Public Health and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Dr. Wayne went on to complete a small animal rotating internship and residency in Emergency and Critical Care at Angell Animal Medical Center. Following training, Dr. Wayne joined the faculty at Tufts in January 2016. She spends half her time in the clinic overseeing interns, residents, and cases in the emergency room and intensive care unit and the other half of her time is devoted to teaching and research. Through her research, Dr. Wayne has embraced the One Health concept and has formed a collaboration with Tufts Medical Center’s Infection Control Team. They are currently working on several joint research projects to apply antimicrobial stewardship efforts used in human hospitals to companion animal medicine. In addition, she is a part of a research collaborative to examine parenting issues for veterinary trainees and veterinarians and has worked with the administrative team at the Cummings Veterinary School to improve support for people who are parenting and working as veterinarians. She lives in Needham, MA with her husband, three young children, and two dogs.
Tangela Williams-Hill, DVM
Dr. Williams–Hill's Bio
Tangela M. Williams-Hill received her DVM from Tuskegee University in 2001. Dr. Williams–Hill was a research scholar at the University of Georgia and the University of Maryland at College Park. She worked as a lab researcher in chemistry until attending Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL. She practiced in Collingswood, NJ for six years in small animal medicine and exotic medicine. She is an active member of the North Jersey and South Jersey VMA, as well as an AAHA member. She is also active in community programs that help promote and educate students from low income areas about veterinary medicine. Dr. Williams-Hill was a board member on the Patient Family Advisory Committee and a NICU volunteer at a local hospital in New Jersey from 2013 to 2017. Dr. Williams-Hill joined Idexx Laboratories in April 2015 as the Philadelphia Professional Services Veterinarian, serving the greater Philadelphia region and conducted CE seminars and communication training. She presently sits as a board member of AVMA-supported Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative and is a member of Idexx Global Diversity and Inclusion Council.
Kristen Obbink, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, CCRT
Dr. Obbink's Bio
Dr. Kristen Obbink is a public health veterinarian dedicated to the promotion of human, animal, and environmental health. She holds her B.S. (zoology) and DVM from Iowa State University, her MPH from the University of Minnesota, and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. In addition to working in private practice, she previously served as the State of Iowa’s enteric disease epidemiologist and coordinator for food/feed emergencies. In 2015, Dr. Obbink began her employment with Iowa State University, where she has served in multiple roles including as a clinical and surgical educator, Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center Canine Rehabilitation Supervisor, and as the Associate Director for the National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education (NIAMRRE). In her current role, she serves as a Veterinary Specialist with the Center for Food Security and Public Health at the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine, where she researches and develops resources to aide in the recognition, prevention, and containment of foreign, emerging, zoonotic, and reportable animal diseases and public health threats. Dr. Obbink also serves as an Executive Board member and Public Health Committee Chair to the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and Delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association representing the American Association of Food Safety and Public Health Veterinarians. She lives in central Iowa with her husband Matt, where she enjoys being a farmer and caring for her fibered, feathered, furry, and buzzing menagerie known as the Happy Bottom Homestead.
Tannetje’ Crocker, DVM
Dr. Crocker's Bio
Dr. Tannetje’ Crocker is a 2009 graduate from the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. She is passionate about mentorship and empowering both veterinary students and young veterinarians to embrace the profession and find joy and success. Growing up Dr. Crocker was always passionate about horses and was inspired to become a veterinarian. Since graduation she has worked as an equine ambulatory vet, small animal general practitioner, and an emergency veterinarian. She currently lives in Texas with her spirited 8-year-old daughter, funny 4-year-old son, and supportive husband of 14 years. Follow her veterinary journey @dr.tannetje.crocker or www.drcrockerpetvet.com
Gary Marshall, DVM
Dr. Marshall's Bio
With his position as Adjunct Professor for Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, there are several veterinary students receiving part of their clinical training at Island Cats.
Dr. Marshall is a Past-President of the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association and still serves on the Board of Directors. He also has previously served as Vice-Chairman of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and currently serves as one of two representatives from Washington State in the House of Delegates for the American Veterinary Medical Association.
He is proud that his last act as WSVMA President was to propose and promote that Washington be the first State VMA to sign on in support of the Wake Up Vet Med Call to Action by the Multicultural Veterinary Medicine Association.
Late in 2020, he was appointed to the Advisory Group of the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession. This is a joint venture of the AVMA and AAVMC.
Dr. Marshall is also working with the Washington State University Center for Undergraduate Education (Pre-Veterinary Medicine) to establish a DEI forum with a panel of current veterinary students.
Outside of this veterinary medicine, Dr. Marshall enjoys getting to all the corners of the Pacific Northwest to work on honing his landscape photography skills, and during the winter he participates in a local curling league.
Dr. Marshall is married and has two grown children. He and his wife share their home with their cat named Millicent Cloudberry (Millie), senior Bassett-Retriever cross named Fred, and during pandemics, the Island Cats clinic cat named Ella.
Makenzie Peterson, MSc
Makenzie Peterson’s previous roles included being a health specialist for a joint MIT/Harvard-sponsored start-up located in Harvard Business School’s Innovation Lab focused on educating college students on health topics, and at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine as their first Wellbeing Program Director creating community wellbeing initiatives for students, staff, and faculty. She served on the Wellbeing Committee for the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative.
Born and raised in Alaska, Makenzie graduated from the University of Utah with a master’s degree in Health Promotion & Health Education and will complete her Doctorate of Social Work from the University of Southern California in 2022.
Although she aspired to be a veterinarian from a young age, Caylen lost sight of this aspiration before setting off for college at the University of Chicago. While on work-study assisting lab animal veterinarians, she rediscovered her passion for veterinary medicine and research. Not ready to leave the big city behind after graduation, Caylen worked as a veterinary technician in Chicago before returning to her home state of Missouri for veterinary school. As a member of the University of Missouri class of 2022, Caylen pursues interests in client education, internal medicine, and research. Despite a busy schedule, however, she is sure to make time to hike with her Australian Cattle Dog Hyde and do yoga.
As the WVLDI Student Director, Caylen hopes to advance her passion for promoting visibility of women in STEM careers. With these values in mind, she has volunteered as a tutor, a mentor for the Chicago Student Invention Convention and a representative for the College of Veterinary Medicine at community outreach events. As president of the student chapter of WVLDI at Mizzou, Caylen has helped to form a relationship between WVLDI women and a local STEM education group. After graduation she hopes to combine her passion for research, education, and companion animal medicine.
Interested in getting involved with WVLDI?
There may be many areas available: board service, social media contribution, student outreach, speakers bureau, fundraisers, sponsorships, and mentorships.
So if you have an interest in getting involved with WVLDI, please contact us using our form, and let us know what you are interested in and what immediate skills you can bring to the table!
Donate to Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative
Thank you for your support! The Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative is an official 501c3 organization. Voluntary contributions enable us to allocate our resources most efficiently, where they will do the greatest possible good in helping to promote women into leadership roles in veterinary medicine.