New AAHA Board of Directors takes the helm during Connexity 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana—With the successful close of the second Connexity conference, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) welcomed three new officers and two new directors to the AAHA Board of Directors.

The new officers and directors on the 2019-2020 AAHA Board of Directors include:

Guylaine Charette, DMV, is AAHA’s 2019–2020 president. After receiving her Docteur en Médecine Vétérinaire degree from the Universitè de Montrèal in 1984, Charette joined the 2016 AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year, Pembroke Animal Hospital in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, where she still practices as an owner. In addition to serving as a mentor for the AAHA-Accredited Veterinary Management Groups, she volunteers with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—including providing professional services, participating in fundraising activities, and assisting with suspected abuse cases—and The Lucky Project, where she assists in the medical care of feral cats in her community. Charette currently serves as the board liaison for the AAHA Practice Accreditation Committee.

Pamela Nichols, DVM, CCRP, is AAHA’s new president-elect. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University in 1996 and her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Utah in 1987. Her background is varied and includes work as a financial consultant, veterinary technician, veterinary receptionist, and associate veterinarian. Nichols opened Animal Care Center in West Bountiful, Utah, in 1999 and the Animal Care Center Airport in 2014. They are both AAHA-accredited facilities. The K-9 Rehabilitation Center, which opened in 2002, was one of the first in the country of its kind. Nichols is the recipient of multiple awards, including Utah’s Best of the State Award in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019; Utah’s Small Business Woman of the Year in 2004; and one of “30 Women to Watch” in Utah in 2017. She owns and operates three dog daycare and boarding facilities in two states—Utah Dog Park Woods Cross, Utah Dog Park Airport (which won Best of State awards in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019), and Idaho Dog Park. Nichols currently serves as the board liaison for the AAHA Membership Audit and Control Committee and the Veterinary Informatics Committee. She is an instrument-rated commercial pilot studying to become a certified flight instructor. In her spare time, she travels; skis in Sun Valley, Idaho; and plays with her horses.

Adam Hechko, DVM, is now the vice president on the AAHA board. A proud graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and an avid Buckeye fan, Hechko earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2006 following the completion of his undergraduate degree from the University of Findlay in 2002. Since 2006, Hechko has served as owner and medical director for North Royalton Animal Hospital, a four-doctor small-animal practice that includes a pet resort, daycare, and grooming in North Royalton, Ohio. Accredited in 2012 and named the AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year in 2015, the hospital hosts several community events each year, including a pet carnival fundraiser, a Christmas open house, and an Easter bone hunt. Each year, the practice also adopts a family in need for the holidays and offers regular pet bereavement support groups and pet cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first-aid classes.

Cheryl Smith, CVPM, joins the AAHA board as a director. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University in 1985 and entered the world of veterinary medicine when she married a veterinarian. In 1994, her husband opened Galway Veterinary Hospital in Galway, New York, and as their children grew, so did Smith’s involvement with the AAHA-accredited practice, where she now serves as hospital administrator. Smith became a certified veterinary practice manager in 2009, and she graduated from the Veterinary Management Institute in 2011. When not overseeing the management of Galway Veterinary Hospital, Smith dedicates her time to serving as a member of the Galway Board of Education, a position she’s held for more than 10 years.

Mark Thompson, DVM, CCRP, joins the AAHA board as a director. After growing up on a rural Wisconsin dairy farm, Thompson’s interest in science led him to the pursuit of a career in veterinary medicine. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine in 1996 and is currently working to complete a Master of Business Administration degree from Capella University. Thompson’s two-doctor practice, Country Hills Pet Hospital in Eden, Wisconsin, was an AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year Award finalist in 2016 and took top honors in 2018. Active in organized veterinary medicine, Thompson received the Meritorious Service Award from the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association in 2012. He is a canine-rehabilitation specialist and graduated from AAHA’s Veterinary Management Institute. With one daughter away at college, Thompson lives in Fond du Lac with his wife, son, and Havanese dog. He is an avid curler and cyclist, and he enjoys landscaping in his spare time.

Several 2018 AAHA directors will be returning in 2019 as well.

2019-2020 AAHA Board of Directors

Guylaine Charette, DMV


Pamela Nichols, DVM


Adam Hechko, DVM

Vice President

Dermot Jevens, MVB, DACVS


Darren Taul, DVM

Immediate-Past President

Cheryl Smith, CVPM


Mark Thompson, DVM, CCRP


Margot Vahrenwald, DVM


Connexity 2020 will be held in Denver, Colorado, October 1–3. Registration is now open for all AAHA members.

For conference details and information about AAHA, visit