College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Leadership Experience

Presenters & Facilitators for AVMA VLE 2010

* Indicates also small group Facilitator or Co-Facilitator
*Betsy Charles, DVM
*Rick DeBowes, DVM, MS
Suzanne Kurtz, PhD
*Kathleen Ruby, PhD
*Jeff Thoren, DVM

John and Fay Bachelder
Sarah Batchelder
Kelly Farnsworth, DVM, MS
Carolyn Wyatt, PhD
Ron Cott, DVM, Associate Dean University of Missouri
Jana Davidson, AVMA GHLIT
Aubrey Lavizzo, DVM, Private Practitioner, Colorado, and AVMA VLE Sponsor

Coordination/Print Materials
Karen Hornfelt  


  Betsy Charles is a 2003 graduate of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She developed an interest in lameness and equine imaging while working closely with Dr. Bob Schneider, a pioneer in equine MRI. Her senior thesis summarized an AQHA project investigating the use of MRI in furthering our understanding of navicular disease.

After graduation from veterinary school, she completed a one-year internship at San Luis Rey Equine Hospital in Bonsall, CA, a large referral hospital specializing in equine medicine and surgery. During this internship, she continued to pursue her interest in equine radiology by working with Dr. Norm Rantanen.
After a year in the field, she was given the opportunity to narrow her focus and became the supervising veterinarian at Equest Diagnostic Imaging Center, a clinic solely devoted to equine imaging and lameness. This has allowed her to combine her love for equine imaging with leadership as it applies to veterinary medicine.

Her passion is to make a difference in equine veterinary medicine for both horses and the practitioners who care for them by becoming a leader in the field. To that end, she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organization leadership from Biola University. This is her second year facilitating at the VLE.

Richard M. DeBowes is a Professor of Surgery and the Associate Dean for Veterinary Development and External Relations in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University (WSU). Rick also currently serves as the Director of the Professional Life Skills Program.  Rick holds a Masters Degree in Veterinary Surgery from Washington State ('82) and a DVM from the University of Illinois ('79) as well as BS degrees from Illinois and Massachusetts. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, a former chair of Clinical Sciences at Kansas State University (94-99) and Washington State University (00-06) a member of the AVMA House of Delegates, an active contributor to organized veterinary medicine (KVMA, WSVMA, ACVS, AAEP, Vet Partners), a former Regent of the ACVS and a past president of several national veterinary organizations including the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC) and the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC).

Although formally trained as an equine clinician/surgeon and engaged for most of a 30 year career as a veterinary clinical educator and academic surgeon, Dr. DeBowes has spent much of the past 9 years of his career focusing on promoting change within the profession and within student and program needs in Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and specifically, how best to equip students with the skills they need for success and continued professional growth based on the KPMG, Bayer Brakke and PDI studies.  Rick has written over 100 manuscripts and 30 book chapters for publications and has presented over 400 invited presentations to colleagues across four continents.  His greatest love is being a father. His hobbies are boating/sailing, scuba, flying, and target shooting.  An avowed ESTJ (Myers Brigg), his most important personal values are honest, compassion, and empathy.  He lives with his wife Pam and their two children Andrew and Laura (Lollie).

Suzanne M. Kurtz, PhD was a Professor of Communication, joint appointed in the Faculties of Education and Medicine, University of Calgary from 1976 through 2005. Effective January, 2006, she joined the faculty of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she is The Nestle-Purina Professor of Clinical Communication and Director of the Clinical Communication Program for veterinarians and veterinary students. Focusing her career on improving communication practices in health care and education and on developing evidence-based curricula and methods for teaching and learning communication skills, she has worked with a variety of groups: medical and education students, residents, practicing physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, patient groups, veterinarians and students of veterinary medicine, teachers, and administrators in health and education.

For 28 years she directed the undergraduate communication curriculum in Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine and continues to consult nationally and internationally at all levels of medical education regarding the specifics of setting up effective communication programs for medical and veterinary students, residents, faculty and staff. In 1998 she began working with colleagues in the Ontario Veterinary College to pioneer communication programs for veterinary medicine. In the years since then, Dr. Kurtz has been an initiator and organizer of four International Conferences on Communication in Veterinary Medicine and has worked with academic institutions and individual practitioners to enhance veterinary-client-patient communication.

Along with numerous articles, her publications include two widely recognized companion books co-authored with JD Silverman and J Draper entitled Teaching and Learning Communication Skills in Medicine and Skills for Communicating with Patients (Radcliffe Publishing, Oxford, England and San Francisco – originally published in 1998, revised 2nd editions published in 2005).

Kathleen L. Ruby is a licensed professional clinical counselor with more than twenty years experience in the counseling and educational fields. She has been the head of WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine Counseling, Wellness and Professional Skills development department on the veterinary school faculty for the past eleven years. In this capacity, she has counseled veterinary students and faculty, served as a faculty member teaching professional skills, and developed and conducted programs and workshops related to professionalism, communication skills, stress management, life balance, and leadership within the college, and throughout the profession. In addition, Dr. Ruby is co-editor-in-chief of a new journal devoted to veterinary team professional skills called the Exceptional Veterinary Team (EVT).

She is a frequent speaker at state veterinary associations and practice venues. With a background and training in individual and organizational psychology, human development and leadership, Dr. Ruby brings a unique mix of people-skills, psychological insights, and programmatic ideas to the profession of veterinary medicine. Her special research interests include the psychology of high achieving individuals and the development of emotional competence in medical professionals.

In addition to her professional life, Dr. Ruby has two beautiful daughters; Rachael who is attending vet school and Andrea who is finishing up her registered nursing degree.  Her husband, Wayne, is a family practitioner in a large medical practice.  Her favorite activity is to walk with Sadie, Otis and Pepi, the family dogs down by the pond on their country home. 

Dr. Jeff Thoren is the founder of Gifted Leaders LLC.  His personal mission is to bring joy and fulfillment to individuals and to transform organizations into renewed workplaces by emphasizing effective leadership and nurturing a positive and motivating team culture.
This passion for leadership and effective organizational culture has developed over a 25-year professional career including experience in both private and corporate sectors.  An International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach trained at the Adler School of Professional Coaching, Jeff has a strong interest in liberating personal and organizational potential, particularly through coaching relationships with individuals and teams.
A graduate of Washington State University with a bachelor's degree in Veterinary Science (1981) and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree (1984), Dr. Thoren worked as an associate veterinarian in small animal practice in western Washington from 1984-87. In 1987, he left private practice to serve as a Professional Service Representative with Hill's Pet Nutrition. He stayed with Hill's until 1994 when he joined Novartis Animal Health as the Regional Technical Manager for the Pacific Sales Region before moving to Greensboro, NC as Associate Manager of Professional Services in 1995. He became Manager of Professional Services in 1998.
From October 2000 until June 2005, Jeff served as the Director of Professional Recruitment and Development for Pet's Choice, Inc., a family of 46 community veterinary hospitals and specialty practices in five U.S. States.  His primary goal there was to help transform Pet's Choice into an employer of choice within the veterinary profession.


John & Fay Batchelder.  John is the Executive Director and Fay is the Program Director at Ross Point Camp and Conference Center in Post Falls, Idaho. John and Fay Batchelder have been in the camp and conference field for approximately 19 years, and actively involved in team building and outdoor adventure for 17 years. John has a B.S. in Zoology.

Previous to camping they toured with an International Drama Group performing plays and leading drama and communication workshops. John traveled with the group for 6 years traveling through the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and Fay was with the group for 3 years. It was there they met and were married. They have three children, Zachary, Rachel, and Joel. They love camping, climbing, skiing, motorcycles, music ….life!

Sarah Batchelder. Sarah has been a fulltime Firefighter and Paramedic for the Washington Twp Fire Dept. who provides the Fire and EMS service for Dublin,Ohio a city on the NW corner of Columbus. She has been there for the last 10+years. She has a bad habit of working Part time as a FF/EMT-P as well, for the City of Marysville on her off days. Too much of a good thing and all... Sarah has been involved with team building alongside John and Fay since they were directors at a nearby camp in Ohio many years ago. She has been with the VLE and COLE since 2004.
Sarah was born to a marvelous Mother and hardworking Father, who proceeded to try and replicate the perfection they had obtained with her, and ended up with 5 boys for their efforts. Needless to say Sarah’s outlook on life is somewhat skewed. She enjoys traveling and trys to see everything on the road less traveled. She is an avid self made renovator from necessity most times, ski patrols in the winter (obviously) and keeps her sanity in the summer on a motorcycle. She is the proud yet perplexed Alpha of her pack which consists of Sadie, an 18mo. old English mastiff and the old girl, Abby, a Lab/Rott. mix. She also provides shelter to a rabbit who answers to the name of Jeffery on occasion.

Kelly FarnsworthKelly Farnsworth graduated from Washington State University in 1993. He completed an equine ambulatory internship at The Ohio State University and completed an Equine Surgery residency and Masters degree at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, which is part of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr Farnsworth is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Dr. Farnsworth is currently an Assistant Professor of Equine Surgery at Washington State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. His clinical and research efforts have been concentrated in minimally invasive surgery, laparoscopy, and lower limb lameness.

Carolyn Wyatt Carolyn Wyatt is a licensed psychologist who joined the Counseling and Wellness Deparment in the summer of 2005 after working for more than 20 years in her own private psychology practice. Having grown up in a family of veterinarians (father, uncle and brothers) she is familiar with some of the rewards and challenges of the profession.

Her primary role in the veterinary college is that of counseling students about the wide range of issues and problems they deal with in their school and personal lives. She also conducts workshops and presentations that address common student problems such as learning difficulties, study skills, relationship and communication problems, and job search strategies.

Ron Cott, DVM; Associate Dean for Student and Alumni Affairs and Director of Development;    College of Veterinary Medicine; University of Missouri; Columbia, Missouri
Dr. Ron Cott is currently the Associate Dean for Student and Alumni Affairs and Director of Development at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia. He received his doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri in 1973. After spending three years in the Army he entered into private companion animal practice in the Kansas City, Missouri area for the next twenty-five years. In 2001 he was appointed Associate Dean for the College of Veterinary Medicine and in 2008, additionally appointed Director of Development.  Currently he is course director/instructor for the College’s “Fundamentals of Veterinary Business management” course and teaches business in the clinical Community Practice rotation. Dr. Cott also is a faculty member of the Bayer Animal Health Communication Program, a program designed to teach communications in a variety of areas found in veterinary medicine. He provides consulting services for private practices in the areas of practice management and communications.

After more than thirty years of commitment to organized veterinary medicine, local, state and national, he served in the House of Delegates of the AVMA as the delegate representing the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA)until retiring from that position in 2009. He has been recognized as the “Veterinarian of the Year” for the MVMA, “Alumnus of the Year” for the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, and has received the University’s “Gold Chalk Award” in recognition of outstanding achievements in the education, training and development of graduate-professional students. 

Upon the recognition of the Human Animal Bond theory in veterinary medicine and its importance to the profession Dr. Cott placed an emphasis on that subject while in practice. As that concept grew and surveys revealed the need for non-technical skills within the profession he developed strong interest in that area of the profession. He has been heavily involved with organized veterinary medicine and its efforts to develop ways to incorporate non-technical skills into the profession. Knowing that these skills help make a veterinarian successful he has been active in implementing them into the academic setting so that new graduates are prepared as they enter practice and the profession. He served on the SKAs committee, a sub-committee of the NCVEI, which was one of the original committees in organized veterinary medicine that promoted the importance of the non-technical skills in the veterinary profession. Dr. Cott founded the Veterinary Enrichment & Teambuilding (VET) Orientation Program for the College of Veterinary Medicine University of Missouri in 2005. Dr. Cott is married to Jane Cott, his wife of 37 years, and has two children and three grandchildren. Family and veterinary students – his passion for life.

Jana Davidson (ENFP extraordinaire) Currently holds the position for AVMA GHLIT as the Director of Student Services. Jana earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology from Oklahoma State University (’90) and holds current securities and insurance licenses from the State of Florida.

She spends most of her time traveling throughout the year to visit with students at campuses, conventions and leadership training sessions across the nation to assist anyone in the process of finding financial balance and planning for the future.

Formerly, Jana spent her first career in medical research and also taught research skills to medical students at the university level. More recently, she worked with young families in her financial planning practice, teaching efficient spending and risk management techniques for business and personal needs. Her primary goal is to provide the right information and understanding to help others make intelligent decisions about their future.

Jana’s personal time is found either in Florida with her favorite dog, Phoebe, or visiting many friends and family (including my VLE family) across the nation and abroad. Fine dining, wine tasting and music, seeing new things and meeting new people is a passionate pastime she plans to keep doing until she’s done and seen it all.

Aubrey J Lavizzo is a 1970 Tuskegee University DVM and long-time Denver CO small animal practitioner who has owned his practice since 1973. In 2006, he designed and built an American Animal Hospital Association-accredited hospital, The Center for Animal Wellness, which provides externship opportunities for Colorado State, Penn, Mississippi State, Mizzou, Kansas State and Oklahoma State vet students. Dr. Aubrey serves as VP of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation board, co-chairs the Colorado Alliance for Cruelty Prevention. He is an advisor to the Pet Health Network, the creator of The Children’s Museum of Denver’s educational program “Ready, Vet, Go!” (an interactive veterinary exhibit) and former consultant to the museum. Aubrey is also the creator of the H-O-P-E program of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation.

Servant Leadership is the foundation upon which Aubrey has built his life. He proudly serves on the Admissions, Orientation and Mentorship Committees of the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and is the Admissions Committee’s Practitioner Diversity Representative. In the fall of 2009 he will co-lecture the CSUCVMBS class, “Perspectives in Veterinary Medicine.” A.k.a. ‘Dr. Zo,’ Aubrey was the first recipient of the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians ‘Advocate Award’ for his support of Colorado’s CVTs in 2006, and in 2008 he was honored with a Colorado Veterinary Medical Association ‘President’s Award’ for his support and mentoring of veterinary students and recent veterinary grads. Aubrey is featured in career planning on the AAHA student website.

Aubrey is married to Gayle Brooks Quick. He is the proud father of four sons and the beaming grandfather of Laila Michelle Mascotti Lavizzo. Gayle and Aubrey are avid Denver theater-goers. In the spring and early summer, the consummate ENFP (Myers-Briggs) allows his ISFP to enjoy the solitude of backpacking, hiking and photography in the wilderness areas of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. His grandest adventures have been two 7-day rafting/camping/hiking trips down the Colorado River through 188 miles of the most serene place on planet Earth, the Grand Canyon.

Coordination/Print Materials

Karen Hornfelt. Clinical Communication and Leadership Program Coordinator

  • worked 27 years in K-12 education
  • two years at the College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Covey Trainer for 5 years
  • Studied art
  • Published illustrator
  • Hobbies: Camping, fishing, backpacking, wildlife photography, gardening
  • Married 35 years w/ one daughter, one dog and one cat :)

Last Edited: May 07, 2010 11:06 AM   

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