10 Black vet med professionals to watch in 2023
Tierra Price, DVM, MPH, founder of BlackDVM Network, describes her work in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space as “celebrating the people we have in the profession.” She sat down with NEWStat to tell us about 10 Black veterinary professionals who, she said deserve to have “eyes on them” in 2023 because they have the potential to make a huge impact this year.
She said she got really excited about putting this list together. “I love being able to elevate people who are doing a lot behind the scenes that others may not know about,” Price said. “You know, you don’t have to be going to the moon in a spaceship and have a ton of money to be making an impact on people.”
Read on to meet these trendsetters and innovators who are shaking things up and leading the way to the future of vet med.
Kemba L. Marshall, MPH, DVM, DABVP (Avian)
Director of Veterinary Services, Land O’Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center
Founder, Marshall Recruiting Consortium
By day, Marshall is the director of veterinary services for the 1,700-acre Land O’ Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center complex in Gray Summit, Missouri. She’s also a board-certified exotics vet and outspoken advocate for humane treatment in pet sales—but her biggest contribution has been her work to diversify the profession, said Price, who called Marshall her mentor and said she’s someone to watch because “she’s just so multifaceted.”
She served on the AVMA DEI Commission and she’s currently an executive advisor to the Diversify Veterinary Medicine Coalition, where she consults on initiatives to create a more diverse workforce.
In 2020, she earned a certificate in HR and founded Marshall Recruiting Consortium, an online job platform that brings talented, diverse job seekers to employers in animal sciences and agricultural spaces.
“She’s a trailblazer for diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Price said. “She brings anyone from animal health—not just veterinarians and technicians, but farm hands, researchers, and others, onto this platform where she showcases diverse jobseekers.”
Monica Dixon-Perry, CVPM
Director of Veterinary Consulting Services, Burzenski & Company
“She’s an amazing speaker. If you haven’t heard her speak, you have to,” Price said of Dixon-Perry, who was the 2022 VMX Veterinary Meeting and Expo Practice Management Speaker of the Year.
Dixon-Perry spent 10 years as the hospital administrator for the nine-doctor, seven-day-a-week Bowman Animal Hospital and Cat Clinic in Raleigh, North Carolina, before moving into consulting. She was a consultant/partner with VMC, Inc., for 15 years, before joining Mission Veterinary Partners at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She’s been a part-time university lecturer and is now a sought-after speaker who inspires others with her rise from managing a small practice to building her 35-year career that includes work with CPA firms and international organizations.
“She’s a world-renowned practice manager who started off at a small practice and built it from the ground up into a multimillion-dollar practice,” Price said. “When it comes to talking about veterinary professionals, we always get the veterinarians and there are some technicians thrown in there, but practice managers don’t get the recognition they deserve.”
Cherese Sullivan, DVM
Practice Owner, Skyline Pets
Sullivan has been a leader since her vet school days when she was president of the first ever Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment (VOICE) chapter founded at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, which is now a nationwide organization.
She is a past-president of the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association, and she continues to work for a more inclusive and culturally competent profession as co-owner of Skyline Pets in Houston, Texas, which she owns with Adria Flowers, DVM. They are among the small percentage of Black female practice owners in the profession.
Price said the fact that Sullivan and Flowers have built their practice from the ground up is something that hasn’t been seen much.
“There are a lot of male practice owners, but not as many female practice owners, and especially not as many Black female practice owners,” Price said.
Sullivan speaks at conferences and events, where Price said she’s worth seeking out. “Keeping an eye on her as a practice owner and what’s she’s doing with the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association will be very important.”
Director of Convention and Meeting Planning Division, AVMA
Michael Wilson is not a veterinarian, tech, or practice manager, but Price still called him an “unsung hero” of the veterinary profession. He is a former pro football player for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL and the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, with a degree in hospitality and tourism.
He spent many years in the hotel industry before joining AVMA. These days, if you attend VMX, WVC, Fetch, or other conferences, chances are good that you’ve seen him.
“He is always behind the scenes coordinating and connecting people,” Price said. “He really is a big networker in vet med and a proponent of increasing diversity in the profession. He works so hard behind the scenes, and I don’t see his name out there enough.”
He’s best known for leading AVMA’s Live Life, Love All event, which is an inclusion event that focuses on “pride, and people of color, and celebrating everyone’s differences,” Price said. Wilson emcees these events to promote wellbeing through concerts, karaoke, lip synch competitions, and other fun activities that remind everyone that the point of all of this is to ultimately enjoy what we do.
Ashley Farmer, LVT, RVT
Social Media Creator and Ambassador
Ashley Farmer (@Ashleythevetnurse on Instagram) provides traveling veterinary services for the Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG) and she uses social media to educate clients and veterinary professionals alike through engaging posts and videos.
Social media is a growing and powerful tool to connect, but not everyone has figured out how to create posts that get attention. Farmer’s page is fun to follow as she uses her voice to advocate for a whole team approach. It’s this ability to communicate authenticity that landed her on Price’s list.
"Her Instagram page really stands out to me because she’s posting educational content for veterinary technicians and for pet parents alike, and she’s always been an advocate for veterinary technicians in the space,” Price said. “She’s young and I think she has so much more in front of her as long as she can get that exposure and get those connections built.”
Niccole Bruno, DVM
CEO and Founder of Blendvet
Another of the founding members of the first VOICE chapter at Cornell, Bruno went on to work in private practice for more than 15 years before realizing her call to do more for inclusivity in the profession.
She is the CEO and founder of Blendvet©, a veterinary hospital certification program in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
“At the hospital level, I hope that having a Blendvet certification will be seen in the same way that we see AAHA accreditation or Fear-Free© certification—so that people can see that sticker in the window that says, ‘we are a hospital that has made DEI important to us, and we practice these DEI protocols,’” Price said.
At VMX 2023, Bruno and Blendvet’s chief operating officer, Genine Ervin-Smith, DVM, led a day of service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, bringing young children to the conference to learn about vet med. This is part of a larger pipeline program at Blendvet that connects Black veterinarians to elementary and middle schools, where they inspire through hands-on classroom activities and mentor kids who are interested in veterinary careers.
Brittany Moore Henderson, DVM
Director of Admissions and Recruitment, Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine
Henderson has been director of admissions and recruitment since 2018, and she is also a clinical instructor in the MSU Animal Health Center where she provides veterinary clinical service while teaching veterinary and veterinary technology students.
Even when she was a student herself, she worked to create opportunities for others by developing programs and organizations that promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion. Now her role enables her to help Black and other underrepresented students find their way to vet med on a larger scale.
“She continues to be an advocate for BIPOC students by helping them get into different veterinary schools and helping them succeed,” Price said. “I can’t say she’s the only Black director of admissions or in recruitment, but she’s one of very few.”
A lot of people don’t realize that support like this is available, Price said. “She’s a speaker, a clinical instructor, and she does a lot of good recruitment talks. I think it’s important for pre-vet students to know that she’s available, and for others in the industry to know that she has these secrets to recruitment that everyone is looking for in terms of ‘how do I get diverse candidates to apply?’”
Callie Harris, DVM
Veterinary Communications Manager, Purina
TV Host and Celebrity Vet
You may not be familiar with Harris, but it’s likely that your clients have seen her on shows like Pooch Perfect and the American Rescue Dog Show.
Harris graduated from the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 and completed a one-year small animal rotating internship at a specialty practice in North Carolina, where she developed a love for emergency medicine and critical care.
She began her career at a fast-paced, high-volume hospital in Metro Atlanta in 2009, and she continues to take emergency relief shifts when she’s not on the road or filming. In addition, she provides technical education support for Purina’s veterinary sales division and for veterinary teaching hospitals throughout the Southeast—so if veterinarians want to talk to another veterinarian about Purina products, that's her job.
She’s getting a lot of buzz lately and helping to change the public’s view of what a veterinarian looks like. “A lot of people on the veterinary medicine side might not watch those shows, but she is an important proponent for pet owners right now,” Price said.
Third-year Veterinary Student
Powell is a third-year veterinary student at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine with an interest in emergency medicine and cardiology. Her desire to get involved was so strong that she joined BlackDVM Network as soon as she received her acceptance letter to veterinary school, then she spent her summer as a BlackDVM Network ambassador for other pre-veterinary students.
She continues to stay involved in creating a healthier profession as an ambassador for the Veterinary Emergency Group, Heartland Veterinary Partners, and GetMotiVETed, as well as being a mentor for Pawsibilities Vet Med and a volunteer for Blendvet.
“Some students will rack up all of these accolades for their resume for show, but she’s actually very active,” Price said. “She’s active with us; she did the MLK Day of Service with Blendvet at VMX . . . And she already has some speaking under her belt.” Powell also has an Instagram page dedicated to her veterinary journey for pre-vet students (@becomingdogtornia), “so she acts as a mentor and ambassador there.”
CEO, More To Love Virtual Pet Services
McLamore is a former veterinary professional who has turned her lifelong love of animals into a successful business. She was born in Houston and raised in Georgia, but now lives in South Carolina, where she is the founder and CEO of More To Love Virtual Pet Services, which helps veterinary and pet services professionals with administrative tasks.
She is the chief administrator for BlackDVM Network and the executive assistant for Ready, Vet, Go, and Empowering Veterinary Teams, as well as other individual veterinary professionals. Price said McLamore’s efforts give others in the profession the capacity to reach more pets and their families.
“A lot of times we overlook administrative work, but Tori opens so many doors for me helping to keep me organized and on task. She frees up that space in my brain so that I can think and be a visionary,” Price said. “I think more veterinary professionals need to know that nobody’s out here doing this all by themselves—we have help. And you have to get help. Tori is supporting the profession in a really cool way by lending herself to do that.”
Tierra Price, DVM, MPH founded BlackDVM Network while still a veterinary student at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine to “elevate Black veterinary professionals through community, access to opportunity, and advancement.” After graduating at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Price started her career as a practicing emergency veterinarian, and she continues to act as CEO of BlackDVM Network, where she brings people together who might not normally have found one another. Learn more about her in this episode of Central Line: The AAHA Podcast.