President’s message – what DEI means at the WSVMA

  |   DEI

June is National Pride Month and home to our newest national holiday, Juneteenth (June 19). In honor of these events, I want to highlight some of the steps that the WSVMA Board has taken in the past year to ensure that our organization includes members from all backgrounds. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not just a buzz phrase around here, but a purpose that is woven into all of our conversations and decisions. In early 2021, the BOD formed the DEI Committee with a group of passionate and dedicated veterinarians and individuals who have led the way for WSVMA to incorporate race and social justice considerations into our strategic planning implementation. The DEI Committee has produced interviews highlighting members from diverse backgrounds and their experiences in the veterinary profession. They administered a DEI survey of the membership and were instrumental in presenting the Gender Identify Bill of Rights (GIBOR) to WSVMA to obtain our endorsement, alongside many of our colleagues in other states and organizations. The DEI committee is now focused on bringing a new program of continuing education topics to our next PNW Veterinary Conference, DEI training material for our Board of Directors and Committee Members and is working with the Leadership Development Committee to identify new ways to bring diversity into our organizational leadership roles.

Our CEO Candace Joy represents the WSVMA on a national stage, by chairing the DEI Committee of the Veterinary Medical Association Executives. She also serves on the AVMA DEI Advisory Group along with Board member Dr. Gary Marshall.

Your WSVMA Board of Directors (BOD) is committed to being mindful of how our profession receives and supports those who have been traditionally marginalized and underrepresented, knowing that role models who look like ourselves are one of the most important motivational tools for those who are venturing into unfamiliar territory. To that end, we have also redefined the duties of the BOD Vice President’s office to include a veterinary student liaison role with purposeful regular interactions with WSU students throughout the year. We hope to solicit new ideas and participation from the student groups through this outreach and to listen to their needs and priorities with respect to DEI topics.

What deliberate actions do you take within your office or your workspace to be inclusive of others on a regular basis? Have you asked a naive newcomer or an outsider to evaluate your policies for diversity, equity, and inclusion? Have you incorporated conversations around this topic in your staff and work meetings? If not, I would encourage you this month to choose just one new method of incorporating some of these ideas (or your own) into your work life. Take advantage of the resources and articles available on the WSVMA and AVMA websites and explore some of the recently formed associations that are moving the veterinary profession forward into new spaces:

Additional resources:


By Dr. Jennifer Bennett, WSVMA President


Posted June 3, 2022