Record number of women on AVMA Board of Directors

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With the addition of Dr. Lori Teller, six women now sit on this powerful, historically male governing committee.

Lori M. Teller, DVM, DABVP (canine and feline), has begun her tenure as one of the 11 members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Board of Directors, bringing the total number of women on the board to an unprecedented six. She was nominated for the position by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) and will represent AVMA members in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. She began her term on July 14. 

Teller at work in Houston, examining a patient named Monty.

Teller tells dvm360 she's most looking forward to working with others in the profession. “The veterinary profession is full of intelligent, passionate individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and involved in diverse professional opportunities,” she says. “I find working with my colleagues to be mentally stimulating and thought-provoking. I am very excited to collaborate with my peers to work to promote and improve the profession. I am particularly passionate about public education and advocacy, so I look forward to working with others on these types of issues. There is so much to be done in these areas.” 

Alternatively, she feels that one of the biggest challenges facing the AVMA is the level of wariness and mistrust among members. “There are some people who seem to have an ‘us vs. them' perception of the AVMA,” she says. “The AVMA acts as an umbrella organization for veterinarians from such a diverse professional background that sometimes it's hard for people to trust those whom they perceive as not understanding where they are coming from. Though we won't all agree on everything all the time, I would love to see a cultural shift where veterinarians can come to the table with a willingness to be open-minded about the viewpoints of others and try to find common ground.”

Teller has worked at a companion animal practice in Houston, Texas, for 25 years. She's a past president of both the Harris County, Texas, and Texas VMAs, and she has served on various committees with both groups. She is also a trustee for the TVMA's veterinary political action committee. 

Teller presenting an award at a Texas VMA event.

Most recently she has served as an alternate delegate for Texas in the AVMA House of Delegates and she was also a member of the AVMA Governance Performance Review Committee and the Animal Welfare Committee, according to the release. She also previously served on the AVMA Task Force on Governance and Membership participation, and the Governance Engagement Team. Teller chairs the board of certification for the American Society of Veterinary Journalists and is a founding board member of the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. 

Teller joins the board at a time when, for the first time in AVMA history, there are six women board members. This presents an opportunity to bring women's leadership to a larger audience, she says.

“Though more than half of the veterinarians in the United States are female, there are still many barriers to getting them involved in leadership,” Teller tells dvm360. “Being a leader doesn't just mean participating in the AVMA. We need more women to get involved in their local, state and allied organizations, to become practice owners, and to take the lead in positions in industry and government. I think the profession and our organizations function at their optimum when there is a diverse background of people at the top: men and women from a variety of backgrounds working together. A board is much more likely to think outside the box and avoid group-think when there's a mix of people discussing important issues and making important decisions. I am grateful to the women who have served on the board of directors before me and who have been excellent role models and mentors. I hope to some day pay it forward to the many women who may come after me.” 

When Teller first became involved in organized veterinary medicine at the state level, she says she had to be strongly encouraged to join, but since then she's gained confidence in her roles. “When I got involved in organized veterinary medicine at the state level, I was dragged into it kicking and screaming,” she says. “Fortunately, I had some amazing mentors and a terrific amount of support from friends, family and colleagues who offered me unlimited amounts of encouragement. Once I was involved, I was hooked. As soon as this position on the AVMA board became available, both my hands were up and waving, and I was saying, ‘Pick me! Pick me!'” 

Teller earned her DVM degree at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and is a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in canine and feline practice. 

Also joining the board is George W. Bishop, DVM, who was nominated by the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and will represent District X, which covers California, Hawaii and Nevada. He officially assumed his role on the board on July 14, according to an association release. 

Bishop

Bishop has a passion for organized veterinary medicine. “Involvement in organized veterinary medicine has long been an interest of mine since I served as president of the student chapter of the AVMA at Ohio State University. I have a great interest in all issues affecting our profession,” he says in the release. “We have a very diverse profession with multiple interest areas that need to be preserved, protected and promoted. As a member of the AVMA Board of Directors, I look forward to utilizing the experiences I have gained throughout my career to effectively address the most critical issues facing veterinary medicine in this country and help the AVMA shape the future of the profession.” 

Bishop is a full-time companion animal practitioner in Carmel, California, and a former dairy and hog farmer in Ohio. He also represented California in the AVMA House of Delegates for 18 years and was the 2015 recipient of the AVMA Advocacy Award for his contributions in advancing the profession at both the state and federal level. Bishop served on the AVMA Political Action Committee (PAC) board for six years, three of them as the PAC board chair, the release states. 

He also served on the AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee for six years and was a board member and treasurer of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Within the CVMA Bishop has served as the president and treasurer as well as being a member of its board of governors, executive committee and the association's PAC. In addition, he serves on the CVMA's Veterinary Insurance Services Company board and is treasurer of the CVMA's Pacific Veterinary Conference. 

Bishop earned his DVM degree from the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and previously served in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.

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