WHO ARE WE?
The VIN Foundation is a team of humans passionate about supporting the veterinary community and the animals we love.
Board of Directors
Richard Headley, DVM
Dr. Headley graduated from Purdue University in 1967. Upon graduation he went on active duty with the US Army and was stationed at Ft. Irwin CA, functioning as Post Veterinarian, Public Health Officer and Wildlife Management Officer. Being in a remote area, he was granted permission to operate an emergency large animal practice in the vicinity. Following military service he moved to private practice in Detroit, MI where he stayed for 1 1/2 years. In January 1971 he leased and eventually bought the Lincolnway Veterinary Clinic in Mishawaka, IN where he still operates a small animal practice. Dr. Headley was named Mishawaka man of the year,1985 for teaching CPR to the general public under the guidance of the American Heart Association with the help of the Mishawaka Kiwanis Club. He has served as President of the Michiana Veterinary Medical Association. Is a member of that group, the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, AVMA, and IAVPM. He has been a member of VIN since 1993 and is currently an associate editor of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) Anesthesia/Analgesia folder. After years of many animals, Dr. Headley now has a Chihuahua named Raisin.
Elizabeth Stoltz, JD
Elizabeth Stoltz is a 1969 graduate of Cornell University, with a BA degree in Government, and holds a JD degree from the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, She spent thirty years in the Yolo County Counsel’s Office in Woodland, California, where her primary assignment was handling child abuse and neglect cases in the Juvenile Court. She retired in 2007, and moved to Washington State, to be close to her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. She lives with two horses, three dogs, and seven cats, and enjoys gardening, photography, and traveling. Her connection with VIN is through her late cat, Cecil, who in 1986 was the first cat treated with taurine for cardiomyopathy, by Paul Pion.
Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA
Tony Bartels graduated in 2012 from the Colorado State University combined MBA/DVM program and is an employee of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN). He and his wife, a small-animal internal medicine specialist practicing in Denver, have more than $400,000 in veterinary-school debt that they manage using federal income-driven repayment plans. By necessity (and now obsession), his professional activities include researching and speaking on veterinary student debt, providing guidance to colleagues on loan-repayment strategies and contributing to VIN Foundation resources. Beyond debt, his professional interests include small- and exotic-animal practice. When he’s not staring holes into his colleagues’ student-loan data, Tony enjoys fly fishing, ice hockey, camping and exploring Colorado with his wife, Audra, their daughter Lucy, and their two rescued canines, Addi and Maggie.
Joseph A. D’Abbraccio, DVM
Dr. D’Abbraccio grew up in Sullivan County, New York and is a graduate of Monticello High School. Following graduation Dr. Joe attended the State University of New York at Delhi where he earned a degree in Veterinary Science Technology. Dr. Joe attended veterinary school at St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, located in the Cayman Islands, BWI. While attending St. Matthew’s University, Dr. Joe was very active in a number of student organizations, particularly the Emergency and Critical Care Society. Given his strong interest and achievements Dr. Joe was awarded the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society Clinical Proficiency Award (two time recipient), an international achievement. Due to his strong involvement level and high ranked veterinary studies Dr. Joe was awarded the Dean’s Award from St. Matthew’s University. Following his pre-clinical training Dr. Joe finished his final year of veterinary school at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Dr. D’Abbraccio interests include emergency and critical care as well as cardiovascular disease. Dr. D’Abbraccio is working toward board certification with the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (Canine and Feline) and certification by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management. Given his wide interests he is happy to care for dogs, cats, exotics, as well as livestock. Dr. D’Abbraccio also holds an adjunct professor position at SUNY Ulster, teaching veterinary technician students. However, when he is not at the hospital or teaching Dr. D’Abbraccio enjoys traveling and spending time with his family and friends.
Carol S. Hillhouse, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Hillhouse owns two mixed animal practices (Carson County Vet and High Plains Animal Hospital) in the Texas Panhandle together with her husband Joe, who is also a veterinarian. Her practices host an almost continuous flow of student externs from across the USA and internationally. She is active in organized veterinary medicine at both the state and local level, and is also a VIN Rep. Dr. Hillhouse received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University in 1984, and is a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (canine/feline). She is the mother of two adult sons, and leads two local Girl Scout troops. Dr. Hillhouse has a Brussels Griffon puppy named Wally (pictured to the left), another Brussels Griffon named Boris, a Sulcata tortoise named Kony, a polydactyl kitty named Rugen, and an African Grey Parrot named Pete.
Phillip Jackson, CPA, CGMA
Phillip Jackson is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant with a wide variety of practical business experience in helping veterinarians improve their practices. Raised less than 200 feet from his father’s veterinary Clinic just outside Nashville helps him bring a unique perspective to his work as a consultant with the Old Hickory Group, a Tennessee bases Veterinary Practice Management Consulting firm. Phillip has worked for fortune 50 companies, nonprofits and organizations of various forms and sizes but feels most at home around vet clinic or barn. Phillip is a member of the American Institute of Certified Accountants, Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants and Allied Member of TVMA and serves on the board of several non-profits. When he is not working, Phillip enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, at the gym, or hiking with the family Australian Labradoodle named Oliver.
Paul D. Pion, DVM, DipACVIM (Cardiology)
Dr. Pion, holds a B.S. and a D.V.M. from Cornell University. He is board certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. Pion interned at the Animal Medical Center, completed a residency in Cardiology at UC Davis, a post-doctorate in Pharmacology at Columbia University, and coursework and research toward his PhD at UC Davis. Dr. Pion co-founded Veterinary Information Network (VIN) with Dr. Duncan Ferguson in 1991 after partnering with him on the Pet Care Forum on America Online in 1990. Dr. Pion has worked full-time at VIN since 1993 and is the Chief Executive Officer, President, and a director of VIN. Prior to that, he was a full-time instructor and researcher at the University of California, Davis where he also practiced veterinary medicine and was responsible for breakthrough veterinary medical research on heart disease in cats. Among many honors, Dr. Pion has received a Physician Scientist Award from the National Institutes of Health, a Ralston Purina Small Animal Research Award, a National Phi Zeta Award, a Special Recognition Award from the American Animal Hospital Association, a UC Davis Distinguished Alumni Award, an ACVIM Extraordinary Veterinarian award, and the Cornell Salmon Award. Dr. Pion has published extensively, including a cover article for the journal Science announcing a finding that elucidated the cause, cure, and ultimate elimination of a common and fatal feline heart ailment via reformulation of commercial feline diets. Paul co-authored a book for cat owners, Cats for Dummies. He lives in Davis California with his wife, 2 sons, daughter, and numerous pets.
Lillian Roberts, DVM
Lillian Roberts, DVM is perhaps the least-formally-educated veterinarian practicing in the US today. After dropping out of high school in the 1970s, she joined the Army, then spent a few years working with race horses at various tracks around the country. Finally realizing that wasn’t a good long-term career choice, around 1981 she focused on getting into vet school so spent two long years in Undergrad (ASU) earning the bare prerequisites to apply to Mizzou’s veterinary school. After graduating in 1987, she meandered through a small-animal internship, a year in equine practice, several years of ER work and relief, and a stint as a volunteer vet at a zoo before finally opening her own practice, Country Club Animal Clinic in Palm Desert, CA, in 1996 – where she remains to this day. Along the way, she published the Andi Pauling series of “veterinarian mysteries” (so dubbed by her publisher), along with EMERGENCY VET: TRUE STORIES FROM THE ANIMAL EMERGENCY CLINIC, and gained a photography and world-travel addiction that rivals practice ownership in its potential for financial expenditure. Despite her meager education, she is interested in practically everything. A VIN Rep since 1997, she is proud to join the VIN Foundation’s board as its newest member.
William Thomas, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology)
Dr. Thomas is a 1985 graduate of Auburn University. He worked in a mixed-animal practice in Florida for several years before returning to Auburn to complete a residency in Neurosurgery and Neurology and an MS. After his residency, Dr. Thomas was a clinical instructor at North Carolina State University for two years before moving to the University of Tennessee where he is currently a Professor in Neurology and Neurosurgery and an ACVIM(Neurology) diplomate. Dr. Thomas lives on a horse farm with his wife, Sherri, two daughters, Emelie and Jenna, two dogs, a cat, two Guinea pigs, ducks, chickens and way too many Trakehners. Sherri is also a veterinarian and owns Lovell Animal Hospital.
John Daugherty, DVM
Veterinary Information Network Board Liaison
Dr. John Daugherty graduated from The Ohio State University in 1979 with a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology. He went on to graduate from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1984. Dr. Daugherty is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA). He is the owner of Poland Veterinary Centre in Poland, Ohio, which is a busy small animal practice with three other doctors and a very well-trained and caring staff. His primary focus is on dentistry and surgery.
Dr. Daugherty is on the Board of Directors of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN). This is an online community, information source and continuing education service for veterinarians. There are more than 100,000 international members. He has been a member of VIN since 1994 and has been on the Board of Directors for over 10 years. He is also an Associate Editor of Diagnostic Imaging with VIN. This a small group of people who help interpret radiographs (X-rays) and ultrasound images for the subscribers of VIN in order to help them to improve their skills and gain confidence in image interpretation, and to help them better manage their patients. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and traveling. He loves wine and really enjoys cooking.
Jordan benShea is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley where she studied Mass Media and Communications with an emphasis in Business Administration and Journalism. After college, she began in client relations and moved on to oversee international marketing departments in industries ranging from email marketing to biometrics, and from there founded her strategic communications consultancy focused on helping clients share their story to improve engagement, increase brand awareness, and create clear messaging to support their vision and mission. Jordan grew up with an avid appreciation for giving back and began to tie her strategic communications experience with her passion for engagement in the nonprofit world. She has served as a lead on multiple nonprofit boards and has spearheaded several board initiatives including chairing governance and development committees. Jordan has also completed a Board Leadership Institute program covering topics including board service, strategic planning, development and fundraising, board/CEO partnership, ethical legal/financial literacy, and governance oversight, and regularly participates in nonprofit workshops and educational courses. As an animal lover and advocate, she brings to the VIN Foundation an appreciation for the animal-veterinarian bond, a strategic communications approach to nonprofit leadership, and a commitment to help improve the veterinary profession through tangible support for colleagues. With a firm belief that our stories are our strength and unique differentiators, one of her passion projects is producing and hosting the VIN Foundation’s Veterinary Pulse podcast centered around veterinary colleagues connecting through sharing their journey in the profession and finding ways to encourage innovative solutions to challenges. Jordan lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband, dog, chickens, and beehives.
CasAnndra moved to Oregon to build Wineries and Tasting Rooms in the Oregon Wine Country 5 years ago. She loves exploring the forests and vineyards with her 2 Cattle Dogs Matilda & Henry. She is mostly spending her free time puddle jumping, now that she is back in the rainy Pacific Northwest. It has been a shift from living and working in Wine County of California, where her true love for the landscape and people linger. Her background is in The Arts, from building to providing design and management for interiors, as well as set decorating, prop making on big budget movies, television productions, and theater. She still dabbles as an artist in ceramics, painting, and upholstery. CasAnndra has always had a love for her adopted pets and is excited to be a part of the VIN Foundation team, to provide support to the inner-workings and success of such a special foundation that helps so many.
Rebecca Mears, DVM
Student Debt Education Team
Dr. Rebecca Mears grew up in Delaware before moving to Lexington, KY; where she completed her BS at University of Kentucky. She is a graduate of University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine. While in vet school, she served as the National Business Certificate Director for the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) and as a board member for Vets for Pets and People. During this time she took an active role in wellbeing awareness and access within the veterinary community. Dr. Mears was previously an equine practitioner and is now putting her non-clinical passions to work with the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) Student Team and the VIN Foundation Student Debt Education Team. Her additional non-clinical interests include improving financial literacy and encouraging wellbeing within the profession. In her time away from veterinary medicine, she can be found hiking, baking, and hosting impromptu dance parties. She is passionate about giving back to the profession and improving the lives of veterinarians, pre-veterinary and veterinary students.
Bree Montana, DVM, CCFP
Vets4Vets® Team Lead, One-to-One Crisis Management, Speaker
Bree Montana, DVM, CCFP, is a small animal practitioner and owner of the Agate Bay Animal Hospital and Dog Gone Crazy boarding/training facilities https://www.agatebayanimalhospital.com/in North Lake Tahoe California. Following the completion of a B.S. in Biology at the University of Cincinnati’s McMicken College, Dr. Montana graduated from the Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1992. A past member of the external advisory and admissions committees for UC Davis’ College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Montana also served as a working member of the VIN Foundation Board. In 2010, Dr. Montana helped to create the VIN Foundation’s innovative Vets4Vets® program, a confidential support group providing critical emotional care to veterinarians struggling with all forms of stress/addiction/mental health issues. The program is international and free for all veterinarians and veterinary students. Learning to balance the life of a rural solo practitioner, mom, wife, husky wrangler and aspiring dressage queen while coordinating the Vets4Vets® program has allowed Dr. Montana to become an expert at thinking outside of the box when advising veterinarians who feel stuck in their careers and personal lives. Dr. Montana enjoys lecturing on topics at the intersection of personal and professional life balance, including strategies for a healthy mentoring relationship, job seekers’ success techniques, effective communication in the workplace, as well as teaching the workplace ergonomics section of The Other Side of Veterinary Medicine: Healthy Clinicians Make Better Practitioners (a RACE approved course).
Michele Gaspar, DVM, ABVP, MA, LPC
Vets4Vets® One-to-One Crisis Management, Mindfulness Meditation
Michele Gaspar, DVM, DABVP (Feline), MA, LPC, is a board-certified feline specialist and human psychotherapist. Through Vets4Vets® Michele works one-on-one with veterinary students and veterinarians on personal and professional issues. Also at VIN, she is a consultant in the Feline Internal Medicine folder and facilitates an annual online course on mindfulness meditation for veterinarians and other veterinary team members, as well as an annual mindfulness meditation retreat. Michele is also a psychotherapist at Live Oak Chicago and an analytic candidate at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. She is a 1994 graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and a 2012 graduate of Loyola University in Chicago. Michele lives in Chicago with her husband, 2 basset hounds, 3 cats, and a tank of engaging freshwater fish.
Susan P. Cohen, DSW, ACSW
Vets4Vets® Weekly Group Leader
Susan P. Cohen, DSW, ACSW has been called a pioneer in the fields of pet loss, human-animal interaction, and the human side of veterinary practice. Since 1982 Dr. Cohen has helped pet lovers make decisions about the illness of their pets. She developed the first-ever Pet Loss Support Group and began an animal assisted activity program that took the then-unusual form of having volunteers work with their own pets. She originated many training programs for workers in the veterinary and social service fields, and she has been a field instructor for several schools of social work. She has written several book chapters and scholarly articles on social work, veterinary practice, and the human-animal bond. Her most recent book chapter, “Loss, Grief, and Bereavement in the Context of Human-Animal Relationships” (Susan Cohen, DSW; and Adam Clark, LSW, AASW) was published in 2019. She is currently working on a chapter on pet loss for Routledge’s International Handbook on Human-Animal Interaction. These days she consults with veterinary groups on client and professional communication, compassion fatigue, and how to make practice fun again. She facilitates online support groups for veterinarians, animal welfare workers, managers, and those grieving the loss of a pet. She teaches online workshops and lectures widely to veterinary colleges and conferences, colleges of social work, veterinary technician programs, and human health groups on communication, pet loss and bereavement, human-animal interaction, client relations, compassion fatigue, and career development. She is Vice Chairperson of SWAHAB (Social Workers Advancing the Human-Animal Bond), the first such committee of the National Association of Social Workers. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and Smithsonian Magazine. In addition, she has made numerous television and radio addresses nationwide, including “The Today Show,” “20-20,” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Charlotte Waack, AA, AAS, BS, CVT, RVT
Support4Support Team Lead
Charlotte Waack, AA, AAS, BS, CVT, RVT started working in the field of veterinary medicine in 1990, as a veterinary assistant. She ended up loving the field and pursued the education to become a credentialed veterinary technician. Charlotte graduated from St. Petersburg Distance Learning Veterinary Technology program in 2004, and in 2006 started working for Veterinary Information Network (VIN), assisting with Continued Education (CE) courses for VSPN (Veterinary Support Personnel Network). Charlotte currently serves as the Director of VSPN and VSPN CE. In addition to driving all content to the VSPN website, she is also in charge of hiring instructors and coordinating the CE courses offered to technicians and support staff, is the co-founder and Team Lead of the VIN Foundation peer support group Support4Support, and is a vital member of the VIN Conference team, working at conferences in the US, Canada, and Europe, and has recently started to host interview type vlogs for VSPN, called #lovevspn. Charlotte served on the National Veterinary Technician Association executive board from 2012-2014, Missouri Veterinary Technicians Association board from 2008-2012; Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association board from 2014-2017. She coordinated three CE conferences for Missouri Veterinary Technicians Association and has served on the CVT and CE committees for ISVMA since 2015 and co-chair of the ISVMA yearly convention since 2017-2019, as well as the technician program chair for Chicagoland Veterinary Conference. Charlotte’s speaking engagements have included the Wild West Veterinary Conference, Association of Veterinary Technician Educators Symposium, presented webinars for VSPN, Illinois Veterinary Medical Association, and has given presentations to Illinois veterinary technology programs. She has also been published in NAVTA Journal, ISVMA Epitome and Veterinary Technicians Magazine. As an educator, Charlotte has taught CE courses for VSPN CE, a veterinary assistant course at John Wood Community College in Quincy, IL, and was an adjunct instructor for San Juan College Veterinary Technology Distance Learning program. She also serves on the curriculum advisory committees for San Juan College Veterinary Technology Program and Pima Medical Institute (Las Vegas) Veterinary Technology Program.