Meet the Pawsibilities Team and Board Members.
Valerie C. Marcano, DVM, PhD, Dip. ACPV
Dr. Valerie Marcano is an international speaker published in multiple peer-reviewed journals as well as an entrepreneur advocating for health and belonging in veterinary medicine.
Dr. Marcano is a diplomat of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians (ACPV). She graduated in 2020 from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program with her veterinary (DVM) and PhD degrees. Prior to that, Dr. Marcano completed a Bachelor of Science with Distinction in Research at Cornell University in 2012. Dr. Marcano has worked at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (ARS, USDA), University of Georgia’s Poultry Diagnostic & Research Center, National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP, APHIS, USDA) and Elanco Animal Health.
In 2020, Dr. Marcano co-founded the 501(c)3 nonprofit Pawsibilities Vet Med and in 2022 she founded ValCri Consulting LLC. Pawsibilities Vet Med is a nonprofit that aims to increase recruitment and retention of individuals from underrepresented and marginalized communities to the veterinary profession. ValCri Consulting LLC is a firm offering consultations in poultry health as well as diversity and belonging. Dr. Marcano is the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the American Association of Avian Pathologists and a member of the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
Dr. Marcano has been featured in numerous articles and podcasts and has presented over forty seminars on infectious diseases or poultry, inclusive mentorship and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
Seth Andrews, ME, PhD
Staff and Volunteers
Heather Rosario was raised in New York City and received her Bachelor of Arts from Emory University. She joined the Pawsibilities Vet Med team in 2020 and currently serves as Program Director. In her role, she manages projects and programs, creates and maintains partnerships, and manages day-to-day tasks and activities while supervising other staff and volunteers.
At Emory, she served as a MORE (Mentoring, Opportunities, and Resources at Emory) Mentor to support BIPOC first-year students and as a mentee in the Emory Pre-Law Society. In addition, she has held various leadership positions focused on DEI and mentoring youth and adults. This includes representing Emory’s undergraduate program on a task force to develop a diversity education requirement plan, raising awareness and funds for systems-impacted students and imprisoned individuals, and helping children in the greater Atlanta area visit their incarcerated parents through ForeverFamily
Board of Directors
Bonnie E. Price, DVM, MPH
Dr. Bonnie Price has worked in veterinary education for over seven years and currently serves as the Director of Lincoln Memorial University’s Master of Veterinary Clinical Care Program, the first MS program in the US designed specifically for credentialed veterinary technicians to build on the knowledge and skills learned in AVMA CVTEA accredited programs. They are the former chair of the Department of Veterinary Health Science and Technology at LMU and led the department through curriculum revisions, new program development, and enrollment growth.
Dr. Price has lectured for undergraduates, graduate, and professional students across multiple disciplines (including veterinary technology, pre-vet, pre-med, nursing, conservation biology, master’s students, medical students, and veterinary students) with the goal of creating interdisciplinary collaborations very early in students’ training.
Before training in veterinary public health, they completed their undergraduate work in anthropology and biochemistry and participated in primate fieldwork and conservation studies throughout Central America and West Africa, which fostered a strong commitment to culturally competent and multidisciplinary approaches to improve health and wellness at the interface of animals, humans and the environment.
Dr. Price serves on the Board of Directors for Pawsibilities VetMed, which aims to actively increase the diversity of the veterinary profession based on gender, race, ethnicity, non-traditional career path, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, disability status, and veteran status through a novel pipeline approach to recruitment and retention.
Dr. Price is also an active member of PrideVMC’s Mentorship Working Group and DEI Working Group, which exists to promote and uphold PrideVMC’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion among its members, the larger LGBTQ+ community, the field of veterinary medicine, and all communities served by veterinary medicine.
Dr. Price earned a BS in Biochemistry, a BA in Anthropology, and their DVM and MPH from the University of TN.
María José Navarrete Talloni, DVM, MPVM, PhD
Dr. Navarrete (DVM, MPVM, PhD) was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor for Veterinary Pathology at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM), and since 2022 she is the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). At RUSVM she is the Chair of the Diversity Committee, participating also in the Admissions and the Curriculum Committees. She is the Faculty Advisor for the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA), Pride Veterinary Medical Association, and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Veterinary Students (DHHVS) chapters.
Dr. Navarrete is involved in various initiatives and organizations that promote and advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, such as ACVP, WCS, MCLC. Dr. Navarrete is part of the Board of Directors from Alerce ONG from Chile, and she is also a proud mentor of the New York Academy of Sciences 1000girls 1000futures Program. She serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors, and Chair of the Funding Committee at Pawsibilities Vet Med.
In 2022, Dr. Navarrete was awarded the Social Change Fellow from the Center for Social Change at Walden University, and she has been the recipient of three SAVMA awards at RUSVM and at the National level in 2022 and 2023.
Laura P Clark, DVM, PhD
Dr. Laura P. Clark, a graduate of TUCVM, is currently a Sr. Academic Affairs Manager in Academic & Professional Affairs at Zoetis. After a 25+ year veterinary career in Pharma, she transitioned to the animal health arena, where she coached a team of phenomenal veterinarians and veterinary technicians in Veterinary Medical Information and Product Support (VMIPS). She then landed in what she describes as a dream job in which she can “pay it forward and give back”. In this role, she liaises with Colleges and Schools of Veterinary Medicine in the US and Caribbean to support and advance their vision, mission and priorities. In 2021, she received her PhD in Organizational Development & Change, where her research questions focused on an exploration of wellness programs in veterinary medical Institutions.
Alyssa Mages, BS, CVT
Alyssa is the Chief Visionary Officer (CVO) of EVT (Empowering Veterinary Teams) where she oversees the content development, clinical skills training, and overall vision of the company. She co-founded EVT to provide training programs, materials & coaching/learning opportunities for veterinary practices, as well as content development and training directives for veterinary industry service providers. The EVTeam consists of veterinary professionals, industry leaders & coaches.
Alyssa graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BS in Marine Biology which led her to the education/conservation track. Ultimately her desire to learn and do more led her to transition to the veterinary field where she attained an AS in Veterinary Technology from Manor College and added CVT to her credentials.
She has 18 years of veterinary experience and has worked in numerous sectors of the industry. Throughout her tenure she has held multiple leadership roles including Lead Veterinary Technician, Adjunct Professor and Education & Development Coordinator.
As her career has shifted along with EVT Alyssa is also thrilled to be a member of the Board of Directors for Pawsibilities VetMed, an advisor for BlendVet, and the Director of MentorVet Tech as well as a co-founder & the Director of Veterinary Strategy for nûrtûr.
Throughout the past few years, Alyssa has worked with many amazing teams in our profession all over North America, spoken at multiple national conferences, co-authored a guidebook, written a textbook chapter & several articles, and has also been featured on multiple podcasts.
Aaron has held many roles in his 20+ year veterinary career, including 10 years as an ER/CC veterinary assistant before moving into hospital and practice management. Now, Aaron is a speaker, recruiter, and campus coordinator for Destination Pet, where he enjoys talking to young people and veterinary students about a career in veterinary medicine.
Aaron is passionate about creating positive patient experiences, expanding equitable access to care, and empowering veterinary support professionals to play an active role in the growth and culture of their practices. Aaron grew up in a small, North Texas town and currently lives in Queens, NY with his heart dog, Coquito, and his foundling cat, Agatha. Outside of vet med, Aaron enjoys traveling, cooking, hiking, and binge-watching Schitt’s Creek and Abbott Elementary.
Addie Reinhard, DVM, MS
Dr. Addie Reinhard is the Founder and CEO of MentorVet, a rapidly growing entity that leverages evidence-based approaches to empower individuals to thrive within veterinary medicine. She is a veterinary wellbeing researcher, and her research focuses on developing and evaluating innovative interventions to support mental health and wellbeing within the veterinary profession. She is on the research team for the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study.
In 2021, she completed a master’s degree in Community and Leadership Development and a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning from the University of Kentucky and holds a certificate in Veterinary Human Support from the University of Tennessee. She is also a certified QPR instructor.
Dane Whitaker, DVM, MPVM
Dr. Dane Whitaker has been practicing veterinary medicine in the San Francisco area for over 25 years. He completed his Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis in 2017 and is currently providing small animal clinical relief services across central California. He is also a relief veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito CA, and he provides clinical as well as field support for marine mammal research projects.
Although a Bay Area native, he grew up in Florida and graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 1994. After graduation, he completed a small animal medicine and surgery internship at the Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital. His veterinary interests include small animal medicine, clinical pathology, marine mammal medicine and One Health. Dr. Whitaker is the immediate past president of the Pride Veterinary Medical Community and takes an active role in promoting the ideas of inclusion and acceptance for all members of the community in the veterinary profession.
Jennifer Hayden, DVM
Dr. Jennifer Hayden was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended UC Berkeley for her undergraduate education in Environmental Science and Integrative Biology. It was during her second year of undergrad that she became interested in veterinary medicine.
Dr. Hayden graduated from UC Davis Veterinary School in 2000. She completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group in Ventura, CA in 2001. She worked in small animal general practice in Los Angeles and San Diego for 19 years. She joined Hill’s Pet Nutrition as a Professional Consulting Veterinarian in October 2019 and relocated to the Midwest.
She is a self-taught knitter and loves riding long distances on her gravel bike. She lives with Georgia and Chaos, her 2 cats, and Kevin, her rescue leopard gecko.
Karla Bradley, BA
Karla Bradley is the Data Director at the New York Civic Engagement Table (NYCET). In her role at NYCET, she focuses on providing training and user support to organizers across New York State who are committed to building power with communities of color, immigrants, and poor and working people. She will be transitioning to her new role as Deputy Director in 2023.
Prior to joining NYCET, Karla worked for 8 years at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York where she developed and implemented data-driven, patient and community-centered organizing strategies. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies and Sociology from Hofstra University and is from Rochester, New York.
Marissa Farkas is a DVM-PhD student in Cell Biology at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine. At NC State, Marissa is co-president of Pack disAbility Advocacy Club; her work includes CVM programming and campus-wide initiatives.She has worked as a veterinary assistant in small animal general practice and radiology, and as a research assistant working closely with veterinary services to maintain laboratory animals’ health. Marissa graduated from Brandeis University in May 2020, where she was a leader in community building and education within the school’s large Jewish community and was part of DeisAbility, a group of students working to improve accessibility on campus. Marissa collected accessibility violation complaints for the group, was involved in outreach, attended meetings with the administration, and drafted the group’s constitution. Marissa has volunteered for Pawsibilities Vet Med since July 2020. Her work has included graphic design, social media strategy, and management of the resources collection. Marissa is grateful for the mentors she has found through Pawsibilities Vet Med and beyond for supporting her through her journey. She wants all veterinary professionals and pre-professionals to have access to mentorship, especially those from underserved groups who need it most. She appreciates the further opportunities to support Pawsibilities Vet Med as a member of the Advisory Board.
Mia Cary, DVM
Dr. Mia Cary (she, her, hers), a 1999 UF College of Veterinary Medicine graduate (Go Gators!), has a personal and professional purpose of activating others to thrive. She activates her purpose through speaking, meeting facilitation, association leadership, coaching, and customized consulting projects. Her professional experience includes executive leadership and education roles at the AVMA, NAVC, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Novartis Animal Health.
She currently serves as CEO and Change Agent for Cary Consulting, CEO for the Pride Veterinary Medical Community (PrideVMC), serves on the board of advisors for Dean Ruby Perry at the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, is a Past President of the American Association of Industry Veterinarians (AAIV), and is a certified QPR Gatekeeper Training Instructor. She resides with the Cary Crew in Greensboro, NC and recognizes the Eno, Sappony, and Shakori nations on whose land she lives and works.
Monique Y. Wells, V.M.D., M.S., D.A.C.V.P., D.E.C.V.P., D.A.B.T.
Dr. Monique Y. Wells is a veterinary pathologist and toxicologist with 33 years of experience in toxicologic pathology. She obtained her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in veterinary pathobiology from The Ohio State University. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, the European College of Veterinary Pathologists, and the American Board of Toxicology.
Dr. Wells worked for the chemical (Chevron), pharmaceutical (Rhône-Poulenc Rorer; currently sanofi-aventis) and cosmetics (L’Oréal) industries in the U.S. and in France prior to launching her consulting firm, Toxicology/Pathology Services Inc. (TPS), in 2002. Through TPS, she provided primary slide evaluation, peer review, clinical pathology data interpretation, preclinical dossier review, due diligence consulting, and training services to private industry, governmental and NGO institutions. She closed TPS in November 2021 and currently operates as a freelance consultant.
Dr. Wells considers her biggest accomplishment to date to be the training and consulting she did for a south Indian CRO, where over a period of several years, she organized teams of veterinary and other professionals to train the laboratory’s veterinary pathologists, laboratory animal veterinarians, toxicologists, and technicians, as well as to consult on the construction of a new animal facility. She has incorporated this training and mentoring activity into her U.S.-based nonprofit organization, the Wells International Foundation.
Mentoring is an important part of Dr. Wells’ current activities. She has long mentored women and girls who wish to enter the veterinary field and other life science professions through her nonprofit, and she now serves as an advisory member of Pawsibilities, a U.S.-based nonprofit whose mission is to connect individuals from underrepresented backgrounds interested in the veterinary profession to opportunities available and to potential mentors and advisors within the field.
Nia Chau, RVT, VTS (Exotic Companion Animal)
Niccole Bruno, DVM
Dr. Niccole Bruno, is the CEO & Founder of blendvet™, a veterinary hospital certification program in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). As an Afro-Latina, Dr. Bruno’s navigation into veterinary medicine has had its share of challenges. During her career, the experiences of racism, misogyny, and stereotypical behaviors, caused Dr. Bruno to develop a sense of disengagement from a profession she once dearly loved. Nevertheless, her perseverance prevailed and her passion for veterinary medicine resumed when she was offered the role of Medical Director, for a veterinary hospital in Long Island, NY. For roughly eight years, her sincere and dedicated service as a hospital leader in both NY and Houston fueled her heartfelt endeavors to ensure a culture of diversity and inclusiveness.
Today, Dr. Bruno continues in her efforts of diversity, equity, and inclusion through speaking engagements, mentorship, and building the pipeline of BIPOC students (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) into the profession. Following completion of the Purdue University and Inclusion program in 2020, her awareness, continual exploration, and study into the diversity deficiencies of our profession, ignited her vision to create blendvet™. Blendvet’s™ program was launched in the Fall of 2022 at Lincoln Memorial University Masters of Clinical Care, a program for veterinary technicians. In 2023, Blendvet™ launched its first hospital certification program with Rarebreed Veterinary Partners. Dr. Bruno currently serves as an Advisory Board member for Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine and Pawsibillities, a mentorship platform for BIPOC students interested in veterinary medicine. In her spare time, she enjoys activities with her family, traveling, her Peloton, football, and binge-watching her favorite shows.
Stephen Niño Cital RVT, SRA, RLAT, CVPP, VTS-LAM
Stephen Niño Cital is a multi-credentialed veterinary technician specialist with a passion for anesthesia, pain management, and cannabinoid medicine. He has authored multiple articles and contributed to several textbooks, including acting as the lead editor for the first cannabinoid medicine textbook. He serves on multiple boards and is a strong advocate for veterinary technician advancement along with minority representation.
Stephen is the COO of the Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds, LLC. He is a lab manager at Stanford University in the department of neurobiology in addition to a clinical pain practitioner and partner at Remedy Veterinary Specialists. For more information, please see www.StephenCital.com.
Shadi J. Ireifej DVM DACVS graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (2001, Magna cum laude). He then attended Cornell University where he received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (2006, DVM).
After completing his studies at Cornell, Dr. Ireifej participated in an intense one-year small animal medicine and surgery rotating internship at Angel Animal Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts (2007), followed by two rigorous one-year small animal surgical internships at Long Island Veterinary Specialists (LIVS) in Plainview, New York (2009).
Dr. Ireifej achieved his board certification in small animal surgery by completing a three-year small animal surgery residency at LIVS (2012), and subsequently became a Diplomat for the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (DACVS). After operating for almost 10 years at LIVS, Dr. Ireifej elected for warmer weather, and transplanted to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2016.
In Las Vegas, Dr. Ireifej became a staff surgeon at Las Vegas Veterinary Specialty Center (LVVSC). In 2017, he began flying across the United States, performing surgeries at a number of emergency and specialty hospitals in need of surgical assistance. This was followed by a Chief of Surgery position at United Veterinary Specialty and Emergency in Silicon Valley, California. Managing their three locations, Dr. Ireifej and his team successfully cared for dogs and cats in the Campbell, Mountain View, and San Jose areas.
In 2018, Dr. Ireifej joined TrueCare for Pets in the Los Angeles, California area as Chief of Specialty, where he was instrumental in morphing the after-hours and weekend emergency hospital to a successful 24-7 emergency and multi-specialty veterinary hospital. While the size of the hospital tripled, Dr. Ireifej instituted hospital-wide protocols, managed the surgery, internal medicine, and oncology departments, and became a leading force on social media platforms.
In 2020, Dr. Ireifej changed gears in his already illustrious career, finding a novel and state-of-the-art means of reaching concerned pet owners and their ill pets worldwide, VetTriage. Dr. Ireifej currently serves as their Chief Medical Officer.
Shadi has been published in scientific and medical journals and enjoys lecturing to a variety of audiences. He is known for being a positive force and energetic force, both professionally and personally.
Tyron C. Vereen, Ed.D., M.P.A., M.S.Ed., PMP, MCHES®
“Dr. Tyron Vereen is a passionate community advocate who leverages his eclectic training and experiences to enrich lives through quality programming. Tyron is a native of North Myrtle Beach, SC, who has resided in Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Miami, FL; New York, NY and now Houston, TX. His academic Alma Maters include Upper Darby High School, Howard University (Bachelor of Science in Health Management), Saint Joseph’s University (Master of Science in Education), Long Island University- Brooklyn (Master of Public Administration), and Baylor University (Doctor of Education). Additionally, Ty holds an Advanced Certificate in Not-for-Profit Management, a Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, and is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES®).
Dr. Vereen has applied his knowledge to management roles at various not-for-profit, community-based, healthcare, and educational institutions. His titles have ranged from educator, trainer, facilitator, counselor, consultant, adjunct professor, grant writer to program director. The arenas of his experiences include Education, Mental Health, Reproductive Health, Social Services, Workforce Development, and Youth Development. Specifically, Tyron has successfully written, been awarded, administered, and provided technical assistance for grants from institutions such as the NY State Education Department (NYSED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), among others. Currently, Ty serves as Sr. Project Manager- Operational Excellence for Harris County Public Health and owns TCV Consulting Services, LLC.
Tyron is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. Finally, he mentors youth at Harris County Juvenile Detention Centers and provides pro bono services to Youth SOULutions, Inc. As a multi-discipline professional, Dr. Vereen strives to find synergies and opportunities to advance the causes of holistic human development through “Servant and Steward Leadership.””