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New leadership is sworn into key AVMA roles

dvm360dvm360 September 2023
Volume 54
Issue 9
Pages: 20

The association installed a new president, president-elect, board chair, and board vice chair for 2023-2024 during its' annual convention in Denver, Colorado

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) filled key volunteer leadership positions for 2023-2024 during the organization’s annual convention in Denver, Colorado.1 Notably, Sandra Faeh, DVM, the chief veterinary officer of general practice for National Veterinary Associates (NVA)2, was voted president-elect by the AVMA House of Delegates and is expected to serve as the association’s president in the 2024-2025 year.1-2

Photos courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association

AVMA President-elect Sandra Faeh Butler, DVM

Photos courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association

AVMA President-elect Sandra Faeh Butler, DVM

"It’s an honor to be elected by my peers to the role of AVMA President-Elect," said Faeh, in an NVA release. "I’m passionate about addressing some of the biggest challenges facing veterinarians and animal care professionals, including work-life balance, debt, and personal well-being. And I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the veterinary community and work alongside AVMA leadership to advocate for the profession."2

Faeh is a 1996 veterinary graduate of the University of Illinois, previously serving as president of the Student AVMA (SAVMA). Before joining NVA, she was part-owner of 4 animal hospitals in Illinois. She has also served as president of the Illinois State and Chicago Veterinary Medical associations, and is helping the NVA build a clinical mentorship program.1-2

"There's a lot of resources for deans, a lot of resources for students, and not as much for faculty. So we created this community where they could talk about different things, some anonymous posts, a safe space, and then created opportunities have different types of speakers. We did add DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] discussion, it was competency based vetinary training, discussions, just a space for them to communicate," said Faeh, in a pre-election interview with dvm360.3

Faeh served as the AVMA vice president from 2020 to 2022.4 She will eventually succeed new president Rena Carlson, DVM, a relief veterinarian and general practice mentor with NVA in Idaho. Carlson assumed her role on July 16, 2023, after serving as president-elect under now-past president Lori Teller, DVM, DABVP (canine/feline), CVJ.1

Rena Carlson, DVM

Rena Carlson, DVM

Carlson is a 1989 graduate of Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Her career leadership positions have included service on the AVMA's HOD as the Idaho alternate delegate and as a delegate for 10 years. She also served on the AVMA Board of Directors from 2014 to 2020, with her final year on the Board as chair. During her board tenure, she chaired both the Legislative Advisory Committee and the Strategy Management Committee.1

Carlson's career has included clinical work, practice ownership, and service as a university attending veterinarian and academic research. Addressing the HOD during the July 16, 2023, regular annual session, the new AMVA president encouraged veterinary leaders to take steps to ensure the future success of their colleagues and the profession overall. "Adopting a strengths-based approach in our stories and in our collective mindsets not only helps us achieve a higher level of wellbeing and better navigate the challenges we face as individuals," she said, in an AVMA news release. "It also draws more respect, trust, and interest from those we have taken an oath to serve. And that creates positive ripple effects for generations to come."1

Also elected to new AVMA roles were Charles "Chuck" Lemme, DVM, the association's new board chair; and Robert Knapp, DVM, MS, the incoming vice board chair. Both men have been board members since 2018 and 2019, respectively.1

AVMA leadership

Charles "Chuck" Lemme, DVM

Lemme served as the Iowa alternate delegate and delegate on the AVMA House of Delegates for 6 years before joining the Board in 2018. He also has served as president of the Midwest Small Animal Association, area director for the American Animal Hospital Association, and a board member for the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association.1

A 1975 graduate of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Lemme was an associate veterinarian at Bramer Animal Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, before purchasing a small animal practice in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He continued to serve patients in Cedar Rapids until his 2018 retirement.1

AVMA leadership

Robert Knapp, DVM, MS

Knapp has served on the Board since 2019. A small-animal practitioner in Columbus, Ohio, he is a 1992 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and holds a master's degree in animal science from Texas A&M University. Knapp is the owner of Knapp Veterinary Hospital, which was founded by his grandfather in 1945.1

Knapp has been recognized with awards that have included the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association's Meritorious Service Award in 1999, Ohio Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2014, and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Distinguished Alumni in 2015.1


  1. AVMA elects new volunteers for 2023-2024 term. News release. American Veterinary Medical Association. July 17, 2023. Accessed July 18, 2023. https://www.avma.org/news/press-releases/avma-elects-new-volunteer-leaders-2023-2024-term
  2. National Veterinary Associates proudly celebrates the election of its chief veterinary officer to president-elect of the AVMA. News release. National Veterinary Associates. July 17, 2023. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230716652101/en/National-Veterinary-Associates-Proudly-Celebrates-the-Election-of-its-Chief-Veterinary-Officer-to-President-Elect-of-the-AVMA
  3. McCafferty C. AVMA presidential candidate: Sandra Faeh Butler, DVM. dvm360. April 2, 2023. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.dvm360.com/view/avma-presidential-candidate-sandra-faeh-butler-dvm
  4. Dr Sandra Faeh, DVM. National Veterinary Associates. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.nva.com/staff/dr-sandra-faeh-dvm

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