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Washington State Veterinary Medical Association names 2023 award winners


Multiple veterinary professionals were recognized at the Pacific Northwest Veterinary Conference



On September 22-24, The Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA) held the Pacific Northwest Veterinary Conference at the Tacoma Convention Center & Trade Center. During the convention, Blair de Vries, DVM, president of WSVMA, was acting master of ceremonies as the WSVMA honored its 2023 award recipients.

WSVMA named Lesley Kovar, DVM, medical director at Bothell Pet Hospital in Bothell, Washington, as the Veterinarian of the Year Award. Kovar was chosen because of her dedication to the veterinary industry even creating a thriving mentorship program and making time to train assistants and technicians. Along with work, she volunteers with multiple organizations including Sarvey Wildlife Care Centers, World Vets, and she leads her hospital's work with Greyhound Pets Inc.

Michelle Shoemaker, DVM, a veterinarian at South Bay Veterinary Hospital in Olympia, Washington, and chief veterinary officer for VetCor, won the 2023 Outstanding Veterinary Service Award. She received this award due to her creating an inclusive culture at her clinic as well as initiating a mentorship program.

The 2023 Distinguished Achievement Award was awarded to Melanie Bowden, DVM, medical director for Veterinary Emergency Group in Redmond, Washington. In 2020, Bowden gave a TedTalk “What Being a Veterinarian Really Takes” that shed light on the struggles veterinarians face to over 643,000 viewers. Bowden also published a book “What the F**k is this Vet Med? – a Mentoring Novel” that helps veterinarian professionals focus on acceptance, empathy, empowerment, and self-awareness.

Craig McConnel, DVM, MS, PhD, director of veterinary extension at Washington State University (WSU) College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, Washington, was awarded the 2023 WSU Faculty Member of the Year award. McConnel received this award in recognition of his academic achievements, mentorship for peers and students, facilitating interagency collaborations, and contributing to and guiding the planning of the conference he was honored at.

Stan Coe, DVM, from Pullman, Washington, along with volunteers of the Doney-Coe Pet Clinic in Seattle, Washington, received the 2023 WSVMA Humane Animal Welfare Award for their hard work and dedication to providing veterinary care to pets of unhoused or low-income families. The clinic ensures its clients that financial constraints do not hinder the pet’s wellbeing and emphasizes just how important the human-animal bond is.

Ashley Hoyt, lead patient services coordinator at WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital from Pullman, Washington, for the Distinguished Veterinary Staff Award. She was chosen for this award because of her leadership in managing the increasing caseload for both small and large animal hospitals.

The President’s Award was given to Candance Joy, for her contributions during her time as the CEO of WSVMA. She is accredited for helping expand the organization while also committed to the advancements and safeguarding of the profession. Joy also participates in multiple volunteer roles with Veterinary Medical Association Executives and the American Veterinary Medical Association. She will be retiring after serving for 21 years.

The final award of the night was given to the 2022-2023 Power of Ten Leadership Class. They have all spent the last year studying communication strategies and leadership principles as well as increasing their self-awareness. The group also completed a project that aims to help clinicians leverage their technicians to help give the clinic more profit opportunities and help the technicians expand their own growth.

Nominations for the 2024 WSVA awards are now being accepted up until May 1, 2024. Each nomination can be submitted online and must include a description as to why the nominee should be considered. WSVA will also accept letters of support along with the nominations. More information for each award is available on the WSVMA website.


Washington State's Veterinary Assoication announces annual award winners. News release. The Washington State Veterinary Medical Association. October 4, 2023. Accessed October 5, 2023. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/washington-states-veterinary-association-announces-annual-award-winners-301947583.html

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