A Guide for Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine

Foreword

The Journey cover illustration recalls the story of the master helping a student understand the concept of harmony. After walking some distance into the woods, they came upon a stream. “Look at the stream,” the master said. “There are rocks in its way. Does it slam into them out of frustration? It simply flows over and around them and moves on! Be like the water and you will know what harmony is.”

Similarly, poet Nayyirah Waheed provided this perspective in her poem Options:

you do not have to be a fire
for
every mountain blocking you.
you could be a water
and
soft river your way to freedom
too.

It is in this spirit that Journey is offered to the reader. We recognize that advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in veterinary medicine is a journey of many stages. Taking this journey calls for patience, understanding, humility, kindness, and being the soft river. And this journey demands an unwavering commitment to sustained systemic change.

Journey has been developed for use by executive directors and elected leaders at veterinary medical associations. It is meant to inspire you to undertake the journey and to provide the tools you need to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. It will support you in becoming a more effective leader, a more visible ally, and a more articulate voice on why advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is critical to the future of the veterinary profession.

This guide reflects the mission of Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE), which exists to help veterinary medical association executives create thriving organizations and provide effective leadership within the veterinary profession. Journey was conceptualized and developed by the VMAE DEI Committee, which expresses its appreciation to:

  • The courageously authentic individuals who have shared their lived experiences, both painful and joyful, to deepen our understanding of what it truly means to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in veterinary medicine
  • The many individuals and organizations that have freely contributed ideas and resources to enrich the value of this guide
  • VMAE’s Strategic Initiative Partners, who make possible such important work through their financial support and encouragement
  • The Veteos video production company for their creativity, expertise and generous support in creating the videos that accompany the Journey guide
  • VMAE’s Board of Directors for reflecting a commitment to DEI in the organization’s strategic framework and resource allocation, and
  • Kim D’Abreu of Diversity Dimensions Consulting for her knowledge and wisdom, and for her ability to nourish souls and lift spirits.

We are grateful for these incredible gifts and honored to weave them into Journey. We look forward to joining you as we collectively undertake the journey to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in veterinary medicine.

The VMAE DEI Committee

  • Candace Joy – Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (chair)
  • Chumkee Aziz, DVM, DABVP (Shelter Medicine Practice) – Association of Shelter Veterinarians
  • Jamie Falzone – Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association
  • John Tramontana, CAE – Michigan Veterinary Medical Association
  • Kim D’Abreu – Diversity Dimensions LLC (consultant)
  • Mia Cary, DVM – Pride VMC
  • Ralph Johnson – Veterinary Medical Association Executives (staff consultant)
  • Tierra Price, DVM, MPH – BlackDVM Network
  • Tim Atkinson – New York State Veterinary Medical Society
  • Christina Tran, DVM – Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association
  • Tyra Brown, DVM – National Association for Black Veterinarians