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Documents & Policies

The WSVMA DEI Committee is made up of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and others who are committed to increasing the diversity in the veterinary workforce.

The current goals for the committee are:

  1. Embed DEI in WSVMA’s organizational culture, systems, and practices. We are committed to taking steps to ensure DEI is a core value, a source of innovation, and as a means to growth and success.
  2. Ensure the WSVMA leadership and staff are diverse, engaged, and publicly support internal and external diversity-related initiatives.
  3. Create an inclusive community that provides equal access to opportunities and resources for those who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. The WSVMA treats all people with respect.
  4. Educate members so they understand how DEI efforts contribute to practice success and personal wellbeing and implement DEI best practices for their staff and clientele.
  5. Increase the diversity of the veterinary profession through organizational programs and activities.

If you are interested in being part of the WSVMA DEI Committee, email us. We welcome diverse perspectives on the committee so we can create a sense of belonging for all our veterinary colleagues.

The Washington State Veterinary Medical Association conducted our first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) survey in 2021. We wish to thank the participants to took part in the survey as their responses gave us information that will allow us to shape the direction of our equity focus over the next few years.

This is the first DEI survey the WSVMA has conducted. This survey helps us to determine a baseline of responses from our members regarding their attitudes toward equity topics. The intention is not to repeat the survey annually but instead to conduct the survey about every five years to compare results.

Our primary goal is to ensure that the veterinary sector in Washington State is a welcoming profession where people from all backgrounds feel as though they belong, are safe and feel valued. This includes veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary staff and clients. Some of the first steps to accomplish this are through intentional actions to ensure implicit biases are recognized, ensuring policies are not excluding people from underrepresented communities and understanding that people come from a wide range of backgrounds and face different barriers to success.

The results from this survey were shared with the WSVMA DEI Committee. The committee members will use the information shared in the survey to prioritize areas for continuing education or other activities based on responses. One example is that the top ranked response to the question: to be more effective in your profession, which of the following DEI topics would be most helpful was ensuring an equitable workplace. The DEI Committee is working with the conference planning committee to discuss who would be a good speaker on that topic, so they can be included in the conference this fall.

The survey asked respondents 72 questions. The first 23 questions helped us understand who was filling out the survey. These questions related to everyone’s identity, practice structure, geography and current debt load. 46 questions then asked about respondents’ perception of various equity topics in the veterinary sector, the WSVMA and the individual practice. The final three questions were open responses where participants could write in any response they chose. Once we have a DEI page set up on the website, the survey responses will be available online.

We encourage anyone interested in becoming part of the DEI work at the WSVMA to contact us as the committee is always looking for new members to be involved. Also, if you have recommendations for diverse speakers, please share those as the conference planning team is always looking for new ideas. If you are a member of an underrepresented community and are interested in discussing affinity groups or listening sessions to explore the results further, please reach out to the DEI committee.

Members of the WSVMA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee are:

  • Dr. Brita Kiffney (Committee Chair)
  • Dr. Mike Bellinghausen
  • Dr. Andrew Burich
  • Ashley Byrne (LVT) 
  • Maurice Cottman
  • Regina Meeks (veterinary Student )
  • Dr. Laura Neal
  • Dr. Irene Yen
  • Tovah Yenna (veterinary Student)

The WSVMA DEI Action Plan is reviewed annually by the DEI Committee and the Board of Directors at the beginning of the Fiscal Year. The DEI Committee selects five priorities from a comprehensive list of strategies to ensure the WSVMA becomes a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization for the Washington veterinary community. To see the most updated copy of the WSVMA DEI Action Plan, please contact [email protected].

The WSVMA Code of Conduct applies to attendees and participants in all association events, programs, meetings, and conferences. 

WSVMA is committed to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all meeting participants and staff. All participants, including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, staff members, service providers, and all others are expected to abide by this Events Code of Conduct. This Policy applies to all WSVMA meeting-related events, including those sponsored by organizations other than WSVMA but held in conjunction with WSVMA events, on public or private platforms.

WSVMA has zero-tolerance for any form of discrimination or harassment, including but not limited to sexual harassment by participants or our staff at our meetings. If you experience harassment or hear of any incidents of unacceptable behavior, the WSVMA asks that you inform the Chief Executive Officer so that appropriate action can be taken. 

Unacceptable Behavior is defined as:

  • Harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in any form.
  • Verbal abuse of any attendee, speaker, volunteer, exhibitor, WSVMA staff member, service provider, or other meeting guest.
    • Examples of verbal abuse include, but are not limited to, verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, national origin, inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces or in presentations, or threatening or stalking any attendee, speaker, volunteer, exhibitor, WSVMA staff member, service provider, or other meeting guest.
  • Disruption of presentations during sessions, in the exhibit hall, or at other events organized by WSVMA throughout the virtual meeting. All participants must comply with the instructions of the moderator and any WSVMA virtual event staff.
  • Non-solicitation: Presentations, postings, and messages should not contain promotional materials, special offers, job offers, product announcements, or solicitation for services except where specifically allowed. WSVMA reserves the right to remove such messages and potentially ban sources of those solicitations.

In response to any incident of unacceptable behavior, WSVMA reserves the right to take any action deemed necessary and appropriate, including immediate removal from the meeting without warning or refund. WSVMA reserves the right to prohibit attendance at any future meeting, virtually or in person. 

Adopted by the WSVMA Board of Directors Feb. 28, 2023

This policy applies to members of the Board of Directors, the Leadership Development Committee, the DEI Committee, and Staff.

WSVMA is committed to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. For volunteer leaders and staff, there is an important obligation to serve every member and employee and to create a diverse and inclusive culture.

In the commitment to be a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization, volunteer leaders and staff:

  1. Are responsible for creating space for difficult conversations. 
  2. Must model humility and curiosity and have the willingness to learn.
  3. Realize they may lack the experience of the individuals and the public the WSVMA serves.
  4. Aren’t experts in this work and don’t have all the answers. 
  5. Like others, need to learn, grow, and lead. 
  6. Need to be humble and vulnerable in their journey and continue to mature in their knowledge and actions.

WSVMA volunteer leaders and staff are committed to: 

  1. Understanding this is a core expectation of our individual and collective work as leaders and are willing to approach it with openness and bravery. 
  2. Growing and learning with the willingness to share successes and failures. 
  3. Examining biases and implementing ways to change behavior. 
  4. Being humble and vulnerable with the willingness to be uncomfortable as part of the journey to mature in their knowledge and actions. 
  5. Being accountable for their actions and positional power. 
  6. Modeling behavior and listening to those around them with diverse experiences. 
  7. Understanding how their voices and actions can contribute to moving this work forward (or backwards) and using these opportunities.

Training Requirements

  1. All volunteers who serve on the WSVMA Board of Directors, Leadership Development Committee, DEI Committee, and staff must complete six (6) hours of DEI training as a condition of service or employment. 
  2. Training must be completed within two years of starting volunteer service or employment, but exceptions may be made if more time is needed. 
  3. Volunteers will report to the CEO when training is completed. 
  4. In the event a volunteer does not complete training as specified, the Board of Directors or Committee Chair may ask for their resignation from their position.
  5. The CEO is responsible for insuring employees fulfill requirements.


Required topics include:

  1. Implicit Bias
  2. Microaggressions
  3. Racism
  4. Intersectionality
  5. Allyship
  6. LGBTQ+

Optional topics include:

  1. Ableism
  2. Gender equity
  3. How to create an inclusive work culture with equitable management practices
  4. Mastering cross-cultural communication in veterinary medicine
  5. The Case for Diversity in Veterinary Medicine
  6. Creating a community of respect for all people, including understanding the language of DEI
  7. Understanding your identity and culture and how it shapes your perceptions
  8. Understanding power, marginalization, and privilege and how each person can foster equity
  9. Integrating DEI into veterinary practices/creating a community of respect

Required topics will be accessible through WSVMA at, although volunteers can choose to obtain the same information from other reputable sources. CE credit is available from WSVMA for WSVMA-sponsored training and may be available from other organizations. See WAC 246-933-460 for approved sources for CE.

Sources for training may include, but are not limited to:

  1. WSVMA CE events
  2. AVMA Brave Space Certificate Program
  3. Purdue Certificate Course – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine 
  4. Iverson Bell Conferences held through AAVMC or Colleges of Veterinary Medicine. 
  5. Approved CE from veterinary organizations
  6. Coursera courses from accredited universities
  7. Journey for Teams