Award Winners

Award Winners

April 1, 2024
WSVMA Veterinarian of the Year

Dr. Lesley Kovar

Bothell, WA

Lesley Kovar, DVM, Medical Director at Bothell Pet Hospital in Bothell, Wash., received the 2023 WSVMA Veterinarian of the Year Award in recognition of her outstanding achievements throughout her career as a small animal veterinarian. Over the past three decades, Dr. Kovar has cultivated a devoted clientele through exceptional patient care and established a thriving mentorship program. Her commitment extends to training technicians and assistants, and fostering continuous growth in the veterinary field. In addition, Dr. Kovar’s volunteer work with the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, World Vets, and her leadership in Bothell Pet Hospital’s work with Greyhound Pets, Inc. showcases her tireless dedication to animal welfare and education. She is a true force of nature, ensuring animals receive top-notch care, from dogs and cats all the way to raptors.

Distinguished Achievement Award

Dr. Melanie Bowden

Redmond, WA

Melanie Bowden, DVM, Medical Director for Veterinary Emergency Group in Redmond, Wash. and MBA candidate, received the 2023 WSVMA Distinguished Achievement Award. Dr. Bowden’s remarkable achievements include a 2020 TedTalk, “What Being a Veterinarian Really Takes” that went viral, garnering over 643,000 views. Her eloquent speech shed light on the challenges faced by clinical veterinarians, resonating with both professionals and the public. She candidly discussed the profession’s blessings and stresses, addressing the issue of suicidal thoughts within the field. Her talk has become a valuable resource for practitioners to communicate their struggles to clients. In 2021, Dr. Bowden also published a book titled “What the F**k is this Vet Med? – a Mentoring Novel,” focusing on empowerment, self-awareness, empathy, and acceptance, offering guidance for those facing similar challenges.

Outstanding Veterinary Service

Dr. Michelle Shoemaker

Olympia, WA

Michelle Shoemaker, DVM, veterinarian at South Bay Veterinary Hospital in Olympia, Wash., and Chief Veterinary Officer for VetCor, was awarded the 2023 WSVMA Outstanding Veterinary Service Award for her exceptional contributions to the profession. Dr. Shoemaker has fostered an inclusive culture at the hospital, earning the adoration of clients and initiating a successful mentorship program, which she’s expanded to VetCor’s other hospitals. Her commitment extends to community service, including mentoring, local Rotary involvement, and partnerships with schools. Throughout the challenges of the pandemic and beyond, she’s ensured smooth hospital operations, pursued an MBA, and remained a guiding figure for her family and profession.

WSU Faculty Member of the Year

Dr. Craig McConnel

Pullman, WA

Craig McConnel, DVM, MS, PhD, Director of Veterinary Extension at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, Wash., was awarded WSVMA’s 2023 WSU Faculty Member of the Year award in recognition of his outstanding service to WSVMA members. Dr. McConnel has excelled in academic achievements, mentoring students and peers, facilitating interagency collaborations, and contributing to and guiding the planning of the Pacific Northwest Veterinary Conference. Dr. McConnel’s research contributions include dairy cattle studies and biosecurity initiatives. He is a dedicated educator and an exemplary mentor, fostering a culture of curiosity and respect among students and peers.

Distinguished Veterinary Staff Award

Ashley Hoyt

Pullman, WA

Ashley Hoyt, Pullman, Wash., lead patient services coordinator at the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, received the 2023 WSVMA Distinguished Veterinary Staff Award for her leadership in managing all aspects of an increasing caseload for small and large animal patients. With a steadfast commitment to excellence, Ashley consistently sets the bar high, serving as an inspirational role model for her colleagues. Her professionalism, positive attitude, and compassion infuses all that she does, and makes her uniquely qualified to win this award.

Humane Animal Welfare Award

Dr. Stan Coe

Doney-Coe Pet Clinic / Seattle, WA

Stan Coe, DVM, Pullman, Wash., and the numerous volunteers of the Doney-Coe Pet Clinic in Seattle, Wash. received the 2023 WSVMA Humane Animal Welfare Award in recognition of the long-time, compassionate veterinary care they provide to pets of unhoused and low-income families in the Seattle area. For 35 years, volunteer veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary students and more gather weekly to provide a variety of veterinary medical care to pets in need. Founded by Dr. Bud Doney, and continued by Dr. Coe after his death, every volunteer routinely exemplifies empathy and respect, treating every pet and their family with the dignity they deserve, regardless of their circumstances. They have shown a dedication to ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder the wellbeing of beloved pets, emphasizing the crucial bond between humans and their animal companions. In addition, the program has inspired countless similar programs across the country.

President's Award

Candace Joy

Redmond, WA

Candace Joy, Redmond, Wash. received the 2023 WSVMA President’s Award in recognition of her years of outstanding contributions as CEO of the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA). Throughout her distinguished service, Ms. Joy not only expanded the organization but was also committed to the advancement and safeguarding of the veterinary profession. Her dedication extended beyond her role as CEO as she actively contributed through various volunteer roles with Veterinary Medical Association Executives and the American Veterinary Medical Association. Ms. Joy is retiring after 21 years of service.