As I embark on the last months of my term as President of WVLDI, I have been reflecting on how much this organization has grown and evolved in just five short years. When I joined WVLDI in 2018, I was drawn to the organization’s mission of supporting women on their leadership journey and the opportunity to work with an amazing group of strong leaders. While those things are still true, it has been so rewarding to see us broaden our definition of leadership development.

Initially there was a focus on getting more women into leadership roles at local, state, and national veterinary organizations and we have seen some great results here as a profession. Founding WVLDI board member Dr. Lori Teller is the immediate past-President of the AVMA and our new AVMA President is Dr. Rena Carlson, just to name a few amazing women that are very top of mind as we are fresh off the AVMA Convention in Denver last month.

networking event picWhile leadership in this space remains a focus, we recognize the tremendous scope of leadership opportunities in veterinary medicine today. We want to support women in seeking leadership all forms, from entrepreneurs like Dr. Addie Reinhard who started MentorVet because she saw a need for better mentorship for new veterinarians to those seeking leadership through practice ownership or leadership roles in industry and corporate veterinary practices, and so many more. We also recognize that this path has many barriers or challenges along the way, and these can look very different for everyone. This has influenced the content we have shared with our community and made us see the importance of collaboration with other affinity organizations like MCVMA and PrideVMC, to name just a few.

In 2022, we clarified our focus on the concept of Living Leadership through three pillars: Development, Advocacy, and Community. We feel this is a holistic approach to support all women on their journey through leadership training, advocating to reduce barriers to advancement, and facilitating networks and collaborations.

The Advocacy space is new for WVLDI, but we have had some very exciting outputs in our first year of focus on this area through our Toolkits for Pay Equity and Family Leave. Equitable processes for women in the workplace are critical to career success and have a tremendous impact on their opportunities for advancement. It is our belief that supporting our community through resources such as these is key to supporting women throughout all stages of their career and a crucial first step for many women to have the space to see how their leadership journey will take shape.

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