About Our Organization

Mission Statement
Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association’s mission is to connect, support and empower community for LGBT+* students and allies across veterinary education.
*LGBT + will be used as an inclusive acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer,Questioning, Asexual and others who self-identify on the sexual orientation and/or gender expression continuums.

Vision Statement
Broad Spectrum desires greater support and a sense of community for all LGBT+ students and allies throughout veterinary medical education. We actively strive to counter episodes of bigotry and marginalization with positive messages of diversity and inclusion. We have healthy, supportive and encouraging relationships with pre-veterinary, veterinary and graduate students, faculty, staff and administrators. We are known for advocating for the respect and equality of seen and unseen LGBT+ members in the academic veterinary community and beyond. We contribute to the development of safe and welcoming veterinary school environments for pre- and current veterinary students. Broad Spectrum makes veterinary schools more inclusive for all students, especially LGBT+ students. We accomplish this by starting important and courageous conversations about LGBT+ inclusion, in addition to maintaining much needed support for LGBT+ students in veterinary medicine.

Our History

We were founded in 2011 at the SAVMA Symposium hosted by UC Davis. The name 'Broad Spectrum' came out of a calculated attempt to be as inclusive as possible to any student who falls anywhere on the spectra of sexuality, sex, or gender. We welcome all students no matter their sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression. And yes, allies, this means we welcome you, too!

Our Links

Thursday, November 7, 2013

UPDATE: AAVMC LGBT Student Climate Survey

For those of you that aren't familiar with the AAVMC outside of your veterinary college applications, the AAVMC has been working hard the past few years to understand the campus climate with regards to diversity at the veterinary colleges.

How did we get to the LGBT Student Climate Survey?
In the Spring of 2011 the AAVMC launched the AAVMC-AVMA DiVersity Matters Climate Survey.  With an overall response rate of 48.1%, the survey was able to get a clearer picture of the LGBT community within the nation's veterinary colleges.  These initial findings allowed the AAVMC to narrow in on the LGBT student experience with a focused LGBT Student Experience Survey in the Fall of 2012.  The LGBT Student Experience Survey was an open answer survey, which is still being analyzed.

Impressions of the LGBT Student Climate Survey based on the webinar:

We are so thankful that the AAVMC has undertaken this task and is pushing to improve the student experience for future veterinarians across the country.


College Leadership: Tufts and University of Florida

Congratulations Deans!

This summer at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting, the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association (LGVMA) held their annual meeting where two leadership awards were given out.  These awards honor individuals who have supported inclusion and diversity in veterinary medicine by using their leadership position to facilitate change.

The awards were given out to Dean Kochevar, at Tufts, and Dean Lloyd, at University of Florida.

If you want more details, here is the article on the Tufts website.  Get the word out and lets celebrate some wonderful leadership in veterinary medicine!



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

LGVMA Student Leadership Awards

Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association

Applications Open for the
2013 LGVMA Veterinary Student Leadership Awards

Thanks to the generosity of Zoetis, LGVMA is proud to offer two (2) leadership grants in 2013 to veterinary students, each in an amount not to exceed $1,500 for leadership activities and/or programs that are aligned with the LGVMA’s organizational mission and vision.

Specifically, grant requests will be accepted and considered for proposals in the following areas:
1)       Veterinary medical students who seek assistance to participate in leadership development programs/conferences that will enhance their personal leadership skills and foster their active participation in organized veterinary medicine. (Eg: travel, lodging, registration for conferences, etc)
2)        Veterinary students who wish to develop and implement programs within the veterinary community that are aligned with the LGVMA mission and vision. (Eg: lecture program, fundraiser, community development, school chapter events, etc.

Mission: The LGVMA is the professional organization that fosters acceptance, inclusivity and leadership for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary students, of all sexual orientations and gender identities, and their allies, through community development, professional advocacy, and personal empowerment.

Vision: Our vision is a veterinary profession in which we all live to our full potential, both personally and professionally, conduct our lives openly and with integrity, and freely share our experience and wisdom for the betterment of and care of ourselves, our profession, our clients and all animals.

 Interested individuals or groups­ should submit a 1 page proposal to admin@lgvma.org. Including:

1)       A brief personal biography
2)       An overview of your leadership grant request and how it meets our mission and vision.
3)       Brief itemized cost for this grant* and/or program** amount being requested (not to exceed $1500)
4)       An outcome statement describing short and long term goals
5)       Applicant must be a member of the LGMVA and veterinary student in a North American or similarly accredited school at the time of submission. LGVMA membership is open to everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. To become a member visit us online: www.lgvma.org
6)       Final written report post-event required for newsletter, Good News!

Application deadline: December 15, 2013.
Grant recipients to be announced by: mid-January 2014
548 Castro Street #492, San Francisco, CA 94114   www.lgvma.org   info@lgvma.org

Monday, September 9, 2013

Student Chapter Update: Georgia is Fundraising!

We're really excited to share this news from the LGVMA student chapter at University of Georgia.  I hope your schools and clubs will consider putting in some large orders.  Here's what Alex has to say about the fundraising campaign!


My name is Alex Sigmund and I am the president of the scLGVMA at the University of Georgia. Our club is very excited to start a new fundraiser this year to raise money to support our events, our members, and other LGBT organizations in our area. We have designed a static-stick car decal to show support for marriage equality (pictured below). Individual decals will be $5.00 a piece, but a discount may be given for larger orders (order >10 decals and they're $4 a piece). They are 4in X 4in decals with a clear background (pictured as grey in image). Shipments will go out in October!

If you would like to order a decal, then please click on the link below the image. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interview: Dr. Apryl Steele

At the LGVMA retreat back in February, we were able to interview several amazing veterinarians.  We are pleased to present our interview with Dr. Apryl Steele.  

Dr. Apryl Steele the owner of an AAHA certified small animal practice in central Denver.  She is the past president of both the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association and the Animal Assistance Foundation, and she is a Director of PetAid Colorado.  Dr. Steele lives with her life partner, Kim, and her two dogs Reba and Mister.

We decided to start off with a video introduction.  

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school (undergraduate and veterinary)? 
I was born and raised in Colorado.  I was in the veterinary corps during Desert Storm (Army), and then I completed my undergraduate work in microbiology at Colorado State University.  In 1997 I earned my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from CSU (Go Rams).

Tell us about your job!  Did you always know you wanted to be a veterinarian, or what made you decide to pursue this career?  What made you pursue the specific field you’re in now?   
I am extremely lucky to have had a professional path that has  led me to be a practice owner.  Growing up I always wanted to be a veterinarian, and I wouldn't take no for an answer.  My family had absolutely no money to send me to college, and none of my relatives had ever graduated from college.  Yet, I never doubted that I would be a veterinarian.  I suspect much of this strong advocation for this career was that the animals in my life were the non-judgmental presences and I needed them.  While I had yet to realize that my sexual identity was different than the norm, I knew that the unconditional love that animals simply give to those who care for them was a necessary part of my life.  Being from the center of Denver, in my world animals were cats and dogs which is why I pursued small animal medicine.

From high school through graduation from veterinary school I worked as a technician assistant in a practice South of Denver.  After graduation I became an associate in that practice where I worked for two years.  Looking back, it probably would not have been a particularly accepting environment for a non-heterosexual woman, but since I had yet to figure out that I was not heterosexual I did not experience prejudice.  After two years of practice I was asked by a retiring veterinarian if I would consider buying her small holistic cat practice which she would finance for me.  This was a true gift, and although I was (and am) a traditional small animal practitioner, I took this oppportunity.  The first two years were a difficult transition as I was learning to run a practice, dealing with some very irritated clients who wanted homeopathy and soothing those who didn't want to see a dog at their veterinarian's office.  However, after a couple years the practice starting growing quickly and has become a 3.5 doctor AAHA certified small animal practice of high quality medicine in central Denver (we built a new building in 2004).

How do you identify in terms of the LGBTQ/Ally community?  How (if any) do you feel that your identity has affected your school, job, and living location choices/opportunities? 
I am a lesbian.  This realization came later in life, so it did not affect me at school.  As I noted above, I have been truly blessed because when I came to this realization I was a practice owner and in a supportive environment.  I have always desired to live in Denver which in my experience is gay friendly.  I have not allowed by sexual orientation to limit my choices, and I have been the president of both the Denver Area Veterinary Medical Association and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association.

Do you have any words of advice to students, especially in terms of involvement in LGBT extracurricular activities and being out in the application process (whether that’s for externships, internships, or jobs)? 
You are role models and I encourage you to embrace that gift and that responsibility.  By expressing yourself honestly you are breaking stereotypes for many who have not had the pleasure to meet anyone with an alternative sexual identity.  You have a supportive network where you can find encouragement and understanding.  The leaders of Broad Spectrum are outstanding and they can help you provide a framework to create an inclusive support network in your school.  If you can find the courage to be "out" as you apply for internships, externships and jobs you will set yourself up to exist in a supportive environment.  If being out keeps you from obtaining a positition, then that position is one that would have likely had a significant negative effect on your self esteem.

Did you have any memorable LGBTQ mentors? 
Ralph Johnson, the executive director of the CVMA, has been an amazing role model for me.

What are your thoughts on the current climate for the LGBTQ community (e.g. with regards to our current status, rights, struggles). 
We are making progress, and although it never seems like enough it is happening faster now than ever before in history.  We have been screaming to be heard for decades, and now people are listening.  We are at a pivotal point of defining our message because what we promote now is how our society will view us.  Our agenda as the LGBT+ community has been defined by our greatest challenges, which in the past have included the AIDS epidemic, extreme discrimination, threats to our jobs and even to our lives.  While there are places in this country where these threats still exist, change is being made in many areas.  I believe our biggest challenge now is to educate those who are finally listening, and nurture them into being true advocates of our community.

What are your thoughts on the state of acceptance of the LGBTQ population within the veterinary field?  Have you ever had any positive or negative experiences? 
I feel very accepted in the veterinary community, from my colleagues on a local level to the President of the AVMA.  When attending the House of Delegates meetings there are obviously some very conservative members still in leadership positions, but they are losing credibility.

What is your favorite non-veterinary pastime? 
My favorite non-veterinary pastime is a tie between cycling and playing poker.

What are two random facts about you  - can be anything - doesn't have to be veterinary related (in fact it’s better if it’s not)? 
 My favorite meal is Popcorn with reggiano cheese and Chardonnay.

I once drove 32 hours with only a one hour break so I could skinny dip in the ocean.  That adventure was quickly ended when I noticed the construction workers on a pier.

What is your biggest vice? What sorts of things do you work on to improve yourself professionally and personally? 
My biggest vice is trying to fix everything for everyone and forgetting that that is neither within my capability nor is it my responsibility.  I continually challenge myself with leadership positions, participate on the boards of many non-profits where I find great role models, and I make my relationship with my partner a priority in my life.

What is your strength? How has it helped you get to where you are today? 
Tenacity (some say stubbornness), willingness, courage, insightfulness and kindness are my strengths and these traits have enabled me to develop a great community of similar people.  My tenacity  and courage enabled me to say "yes" when considering purchasing my practice.  Willingness and insightfullness have allowed me to attain leadership positions in several organizations which has led to my voice being heard on a greater level.  Kindness just makes my life easier.

What would you say to someone who is homophobic? Would you say anything at all? To a veterinarian, veterinary technician or veterinary student? 
I would ask them to explain of what they are afraid.  I have yet to hear a good answer.

Have you encountered discrimination? What experiences have you had that make you feel like the veterinary LGBTQ community is becoming more or less accepted? 
When I was married it was to a black man, and I did experience discrimination when travelling to some Southern states.   If I sense an uncomfortable situation when walking with my partner I can let go of her hand and the world sees us as friends.  This was not possible in an interracial relationship.  I do feel that the LGBTQ community is becoming more accepted as evidenced by state and national statues being passes allowing civil unions and gay marriage.   While there is still an "old guard"  I do believe that the veterinary LGBTQ community is ahead of the social changes (as most educated professions tend to be).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Veterinary college dean honored for advocacy in diversity, inclusion

Aug. 22, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — James W. Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D., dean of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, was recently honored for his leadership in advocating for diversity and inclusion within the veterinary profession.

The Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association presented one of two 2013 Leadership Awards to Lloyd during the group’s annual meeting, held in conjunction with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s convention in Chicago.

Also receiving a leadership award was Deborah Kochevar, D.V.M., dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Both deans were recognized for their roles in advocacy for cultural competency and inclusion in the veterinary field, and for dedicating personal time and resources to help include LGBT issues in the greater discussion of diversity.

“We are so honored to have Dr. Lloyd’s expertise and insights in assisting the LGVMA in our efforts to become a stronger professional association,” said Sandy Hazanow, D.V.M., the association’s president. “By providing us with strong guidance, Dr. Lloyd helped us create a strategic plan for the future of our organization so that we may better serve our membership and community in creating a culturally inclusive profession.”

The association fosters acceptance, inclusivity and leadership for all members of the veterinary profession, whether veterinarians, technicians or students, of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The group’s efforts aid members through community development, professional advocacy and personal empowerment, according to the group’s website.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

AVMA Future Leaders

Here's an interesting opportunity for recent graduates who are interested in maintaining involvement with professional veterinary associations.

What is the AVMA Future Leaders Program?
This is a program built to provide a one-year opportunity open to those who have graduated from veterinary school within the last 15 years, to bolster their leadership and problem-solving skills related to organized veterinary medicine. This program will help to further prepare individuals who have demonstrated interest in organized veterinary medicine, to be leaders for the AVMA and other veterinary medical associations at all levels.

Who can apply?
Current AVMA members who have graduated in the last 15 years.
Preference given to individuals who actively participated in SAVMA, SCAVMA, AVMA, or VLE.

Where will it take you?
Two in-person meetings in Schaumburg, Illinois - One meeting kick-off meeting to facilitate the team's start to their project and leadership and one meeting to facilitate the team's finalization of the project.

One in-person meeting at the AVMA VLC in Chicago, Illinois - Mid program meeting for leadership development, project work and networking with organized veterinary medicine leaders.

The 2014 AVMA Convention

How will you achieve your goals?
Through the execution of one focused project impacting the veterinary profession, participation in various leadership and project management training as determined by the team and professional facilitator, and (if applicable) identification of a recommended project for the following year’s Future Leaders team.

Nominations for the 2014-2015 Future Leaders class open in January 2014

For more information go to their website!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Vet Gazette Essay Winner: Nikko Poulos, University of Minnesota

     What is it like to be an LGBT veterinary student and have a family to care for at the same time?? For a little insight, here is an excellent essay written by veterinary student Nikko Poulos from University of Minnesota! It was published on the Vet Gazette and was also a recent grant winning essay for SAVMA’s yearly Cultural and Diversity Grant. Thanks for the wonderful essay Nikko! We wish you and your family all the best in the world!

It has taken me nearly 3 decades to become comfortable as a gay man. The label, “gay,” often brings people to think about the sexual history of the word. Even the term, “sexual orientation,” makes people focus on the word “SEX!” For me, becoming comfortable with being gay meant bigger things.  I always knew I wanted a family and I knew that it was going to happen with a person of the same sex (there goes that word again).  Now, at 33, I have everything I could have hoped for. I’ve been
partnered for over 10 years and in that time we’ve adopted two wonderful African American infant girls, now 3 and 5 years of age. We are a family. Surprisingly our undeniably conspicuous family has never felt conspicuous to me. We have had the luxury of living in major metropolitan areas like Chicago and Minneapolis, where there are often other families like us. Where there are people seeing, knowing and interacting with more families like us.
Beyond building a family, my life’s goal was to become a veterinarian. That became a reality last year when I started my first year of veterinary school at the University of Minnesota. The first year flew by quickly and like most first year students, my eagerness for hands on experience was a given. I’d been in the small animal field for over 10 years – as a vet tech and then as the owner of one of Chicago’s largest pet care companies, but over this time my interests in large animal grew as well. About 5 years ago we purchased 12 acres of peaceful land in Iowa. We’ve spent as many weekends as possible restoring the land and building a vacation cottage while also getting to know our little town of less than a thousand people. However, this past summer we decided to spend more time there to give meaning to the name, “summer home.”  I knew it was the perfect place to get my hands on­, and in, a cow.
A beef and dairy practice in our small town kindly allowed me to shadow several country vets throughout the summer.   On my first day I rode with a doctor where the generational gap between us was obvious. Still, in the course of making small talk and getting to know each other, I talked about my kids and partner often.   I realized by the third time I said, “partner,” that there was confusion as to what that exactly meant.  During one conversation I was surrounded by 3 dairy producers and a farm manager when the doctor confusingly said, “So who is your partner?” I stuttered and said, “Um, a guy named Mick-Dean.” The number for the next preg check was yelled and I was saved by the ovarian interruption.
That night I felt guilty about feeling ashamed to clarify what “partner” meant.  The next day I clarified what I meant and he uncomfortably replied, “Oh, I didn’t know if you meant business partner or…ummm…that thing you just said. Ya, we don’t see much of that around here.” He didn’t say any of this in a demeaning way, but like me, he too was uncomfortable. I realized that it is uncomfortable because, like most rural communities, people there do not have opportunity to see, know or interact with families like us.  Different and new can be uncomfortable. We are different and new to this community. This is not only a generational difference but also a cultural difference between rural and urban settings. Will this cause me or other gay practitioners to forgo their passions of large animal medicine because of feeling uncomfortable? I’ve determined it won’t stop me – and I hope it won’t stop others.  
This story is not to diminish the current status of the veterinary profession. In many ways veterinary medicine has proved itself pliable in the face of social change. This has been proven by the steady shift of female veterinarians entering a field that was formerly predominated by males. Still, veterinary colleges nationwide are trying to figure out how to solve for the lack of diversity in our profession.  In order for veterinary medicine to become a more diverse group of individuals, we will need to instill our youth with the power to see themselves as the next veterinarians of the future. This includes youth of all cultures and sexual orientations.
I currently engage my daughters in the love of science and veterinary medicine through my enjoyment of being a student. It makes even your electrolytes smile to have them show even a slight interest in obtaining knowledge. But as my 5 year old asks questions, she does so with no knowledge of barriers to her future. The barrier of the youth of our profession should not be an internal conflict between who they are and who they want to become.
Discrimination comes from not having personal and meaningful experiences with others that are different from you.  When you have personal interactions, you focus less on how you differ and more on how you are alike. I am slowly showing my small town community that different and new is not really that different, nor that new.  Being a gay family should not define us. Our 5 year old daughter is in love with Justin Bieber, lately my husband feels fat and my 3 year old can’t stop saying, “No!” Come to think of it, luckily we’re a gay family with two African American children or we would have nothing interesting about us. 
Jokes aside, I can’t imagine the type of courage that is needed to be the very first person in a small rural community to announce that they are gay.  The veterinarian said, “They didn’t see much of that around there.” Not seeing is not equivalent to not existing.  For now, I am hoping that by setting stake in my small community no one has to feel like they are the first ones.     

Nikko Poulos
University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine
D.V.M. Candidate, Class of 2015

Friday, July 26, 2013

WisCARES, a program that supports veterinary care for HIV people in southern Wisconsin

Dear classmates and friends,

Please join BSVSA and LGVMA in supporting recent grad, Dr. William Gilles in his graduation effort in riding in the Wisconsin AIDS Ride. Dr. Gilles is a founding member of Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association and was awarded an LGVMA 2012 Veterianry Student Leadership Award (sponsored by Zoetis and Hills Pet Nutrition). Liam used this $1500 grant to help found WisCARES, a program that supports veterinary care for HIV people in southern Wisconsin. Please help Liam go over his fundraising goal! Congratulations Liam.

Here is a note from Liam:

     In case you didn't know, I'm riding in the Wisconsin ACT Ride this summer. It's a 300 mile, 4 day bike ride raising money for the Aids Network, an organization that provides social, medical, dental and other services to HIV positive individuals living in southern Wisconsin. This is also the organization that has been extremely helpful in getting WisCARES up and running and has worked closely with me and some other veterinary professionals to get better access to veterinary care for HIV positive people in the area.
The ride is next week, and I'm still deep in fund raising - any small amount you could give would be extremely helpful! Or even a word of encouragement - it might get pretty hot and brutal out there. If you do want to contribute a bit, the link to my site is as follows:


I always said I would bike it when I finished vet school (I have volunteered for crew the past few years) and here I am!
Thanks for considering it and all your support in everything over the years, each one of you has made this profession mean more than I thought it could to be involved in

Sunday, June 23, 2013

LGVMA Pride Events and More!

Hey guys and gals,

     I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far! During the month of June, there have been a lot of pride events going on everywhere around the country. We would love to see pictures from all of the wonderful pride events you may have been to! Send any pictures and stories to BroadSpectrumOutreach@gmail.com. We will display pictures and stories here on our blog!

     LGVMA will be present at the Toronto Pride so make sure you pay them a visit if you are in the area! They will also be having their national meeting at this year's AVMA Convention in Chicago! Lots of events and speakers are planned so dont miss it!

Here is a link to a calendar of their events.


Happy Pride Month to everyone!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Interview: Dr. Daniel Edge

Daniel Edge, DVM, MBA is Vice President of the LGVMA and currently works as Senior Manager, Veterinary Liaisons and Medical Affairs for Abbott Animal Health. He is a graduate of Iowa State University and worked as an emergency room veterinarian in referral practice before joining veterinary industry in 2009.  Daniel and AJ, his partner of 10 years, currently live in Des Moines, IA but are looking forward to moving to the Chicago area this summer with their two boys, Jackson (7) and Peyton (2). Their family is rounded out with a long-haired Chihuahua, Gizmo, who has been with Daniel and AJ since shortly after they first met.

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Dr. Edge!  Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a bit about where you went for your undergraduate and your veterinary education?  
I grew up in a very rural community outside of Clinton, NC.  I worked in tobacco and cucumber fields growing up in addition to turkey production and hatchery farms.  I went to undergrad at NC State University where I majored in Biochemistry and Chemistry.  Following graduation, I went to Iowa State University and completed my DVM in 2003.

Tell us about your job!  Did you always know you wanted to be a veterinarian, or what made you decide to pursue this career?  What made you pursue the specific field you’re in now?
I believe I'm one of those people who declared my intent to become a veterinarian at the age of 4.  I never considered any other job although I purposefully chose Biochemistry as an undergraduate degree in case I needed a back up plan to enter the pharmaceutical world.  I always had an affinity for animals, cats especially growing up, and felt that I wanted to contribute to their well being.  I first entered the veterinary workforce as an emergency veterinarian in a referral practice in NC.  I spent about 6 years there but became a little burned out on the hours/weekends.  It was also around that time that my partner and I were trying to start a family through adoption, so I wanted to have a more "regular" schedule and reliable benefits. It was at that time that I found a job with Abbott Animal Health as a Veterinary Liaison, or field technical veterinarian.  I have worked my way up since that first job and now am the Senior Manager for Veterinary Liaisons and Medical Affairs.  I enjoy the job, because while I am not directly working with animals any longer, I have much influence in improving how people practice and in bringing quality products to market that are specific to veterinary medicine.

How do you identify in terms of the LGBTQ/Ally community?  How (if any) do you feel that your identity has affected your school, job, and living location choices/opportunities?
I identify as gay.  When younger, before veterinary school, I was closeted and fearful for how life would be out of the closet due to my being in a very conservative and rural environment.  Undergraduate school was a much better situation, but still one in which I was not quite comfortable being myself so it was early in veterinary medical school that I completely outed myself to my family and friends.  As far as work goes, I have been very fortunate that I have never had a direct issue related my sexuality in the workplace.  My experience in private practice was very welcoming to myself and my partner.  In fact, the referral practice I was in had several other LGBT employees throughout all of its' locations.  In my current corporate setting, sexual orientation is recognized as a protected part of diversity.  I work in a very diverse workplace in terms of culture, religion, ethnicity, and political affiliation.  The corporation provides domestic partnership benefits and even provided assistance for one of our adoptions which is a phenomenal benefit that is rare to come by.  There is an active network of LGBT employees in which I have participated.  In the end, I don't believe my sexuality has ever held me back or been an obstacle to employment or promotion within my career thus far.  While I am very happy with this, I also recognize that this is not true for all people like me and I am very grateful for the positive experiences I have had thus far.

Do you have any words of advice to students, especially in terms of involvement in LGBT extracurricular activities and being out in the application process (whether that’s for externships, internships, or jobs)?
I believe in the philosophy that honesty is the best policy.  My involvement with LGVMA is included on my resume, LinkedIn, Facebook, and any other documentation of my extracurricular and career work.  When interviewing at all of my jobs (current and past) I did not always proactively address my sexuality and my employers were wise in not asking any personal information which would be a violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws.  However, if comfortable with the interviewer, I did drop information about my children and spouse using pronouns that would confirm my relationship.  In my current corporate job, I had also researched the company in advance to assess their stance on anti-discriminatory practices and learned of their inclusion of domestic partnerships in benefits.  Due to that information, I felt comfortable outing myself during the interview process.  This was a personal choice for me, and not necessarily one that everyone should take.

Did you have any memorable LGBTQ mentors?
I did not have any specific LGBTQ mentors in either undergrad or veterinary school, but rather friends that offered support when I needed it.  After veterinary school, I did learn that there were allies within the faculty which I wish I had known at the time as I would have reached out to them not necessarily for support, but for appreciation of their existence.

What are your thoughts on the current climate for the LGBTQ community (e.g. with regards to our current status, rights, struggles).
I am very fortunate to be on the forefront of the waves of progression for LBGTQ rights.  My partner and I married in Iowa in 2009 and have been blessed with two beautiful children through adoption.  We moved back to Iowa in 2010 to ensure that both of our names would be included on their re-issued birth certificates.  I sense that we are on a great momentum here in the US that is swinging towards inclusion of all persons of LBGTQ backgrounds for equal rights.  With the Supreme Court taking on cases this spring regarding our rights, I am hopeful that change is coming.

What are your thoughts on the state of acceptance of the LGBTQ population within the veterinary field?  Have you ever had any positive or negative experiences?
I think that like any subset of the workforce, there are pockets of progression and conservatism within our profession.  I have been fortunate to always have had positive experiences within the veterinary community when it interacted with my sexuality whether through employers, co-workers, or affiliate organizations such as LGVMA.  I believe there is much more work to be done, however.  Part of this, I believe, has to do with the gender and generational shifts that our profession is experiencing.  It seems that many younger generations are much more open and accepting to persons of LGBT backgrounds, likely because they are more aware of their existence in friendships or family relationships.  As our older, more conservative colleagues retire and move out of ownership and leadership roles, I believe the state of acceptance within the community will expand.

What is your favorite non-veterinary pastime?
I am a closeted crafter :)  I love knitting and quilting, and while an expert at neither, I do enjoy the relaxation it brings me.  I've quilted mostly baby blankets for friends and my own children.  A knitted scarf tends to take me a year but I eventually finish it.  Beyond crafting, I love to sit down with a really good book and lose myself for a few hours.

What are two random facts about you  - can be anything - doesn't have to be veterinary related, in fact it’s better if it’s not?
I was named for a Biblical figure, although I find my personal beliefs more distanced from organized religion the older I get.  I tend to obsess over music for weeks at a time...my current obsession is Of Monsters and Men.  Other recent obsessions have included Greg Laswell and Elbow. I highly recommend giving them all a listen :)

What is your biggest vice? What sorts of things do you work on to improve yourself professionally and personally?
My biggest vice is procrastination although I tend to work well under pressure.  I try to organize myself effectively though many times it still comes down to juggling responsibilities.  I often equate my work schedule to the experiences i had in vet school--focus on what's coming up next, and squeeze in working on future obligations along the way where you can.

What is your strength? How has it helped you get to where you are today? 
I think one of my greatest strengths is my ability to work well with others.  My Enneagram status is "Peacemaker" so I tend to work to keep the flow going without much conflict or interruption.  As such I think it has helped me understand other people better and be more sensitive to their needs or points of view.  This all goes into being a team player which has been essential in every work environment I have been in professionally.

Anything you want to talk about that we didn’t ask?
Specific to adoption, I just want to let people know that while it is a long journey (and this is true for any couple, not just same-sex couples) it is a worthwhile experience.  My partner and I adopted our oldest child through the NC foster system.  He was 4 years old when he was placed with us and his adoption was finalized when he was five.  Our youngest we adopted at birth through an open adoption with the daughter of a  former co-worker of mine.  Both adoptions were positive experiences and we keep in contact with certain biological family members of each child which we feel is imperative to their well being and mental health as they grow up.  When I first went through the coming out process for myself and truly understanding what it meant to be gay, I foresaw a future by myself with no loved ones to take care of me in my old age and that was a very depressing image that I thought would be a reality.  Now, many years later, I live in a world where that doesn't have to be.  I always want to encourage everyone I know, gay or straight, that are considering starting families to look into adoption because it can happen.  It may not happen fast, or in the way in which you imagine, but it can happen.  And when it does you have exactly the family you were meant to have.

Thank you so much, Dr. Edge!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

LGVMA turns 20 at the AVMA's 150th Anniversary Convention in Chicago. Twenty Years of Community Building, Support and Education

Save the Date!

Friday, July 19, 2013
Hyatt Regency Chicago  at 151 E. Wacker Dr.
            Room: Wrigley
  • 3:00 PM- 5:00 PM  LGVMA Board Meeting*
  • 5:00 PM- 6:00 PM  LGVMA Annual Meeting*
  • 6:30 PM  Networking Dinner TBA*
*All LGVMA members and interested non-members, spouses, friends, significant others and allies are encouraged and invited to attend!

  • Saturday, July 20, 2013
    • 7:00 PM Networking Dinner in Boy’s Town TBA**
    • Followed by a FUN night out exploring gay Chicago **
** All LGVMA members and interested non-members, spouses, friends, significant others and allies are encouraged and invited to attend!

  • Sunday, July 21, 2013
    • LGVMA's 20th Anniversary Lecture and Reception sponsored by Zoetis
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place  at 2233 S. Martin Luther King Dr.     Directly Adjacent to the Convention Center
Room CC20BC
  • 6:00 PM-7:00 PM Keynote Lecture***
Roosevelt University President Charles Middleton
LGBT Activism and Professional Empowerment in 2013
  • 7:00 PM-8:00 PM LGVMA 20th Anniversary Reception sponsored by Zoetis***
*** All LGVMA members and interested non-members, spouses, friends, significant others, allies, Deans, veterinarians, veterinary students, veterinary technicians and staff are encouraged and invited to attend!

  • LGVMA Info-Booth at the Convention
Saturday, July 20 through Tuesday, July 23
LGVMA is looking for volunteers to help staff our booth and welcome attendees. (info@lgvma.org)
Stop By and Say Hello!

RSVP to info@lgvma.org to receive updates or check our calendar at www.lgvma.org

All events are open to everyone!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

LSU SAVMA Symposium Recap

      Another Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association birthday has come and gone! Our wonderful group turned two years old at this year’s symposium. And what a great symposium it was! Over 1,300 students from all over the world made their way down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a weekend filled with daytrips, wetlabs, lectures, and nighttime events all geared towards veterinary students! How awesome is that! But of course, our favorite event was by far The Diversity Forum. The Diversity Forum is where Broad Spectrum was born, and has been celebrating each year by holding a national meeting for all our LGBT+ and allied veterinary student members.

     The Diversity Forum spanned a few days and it all started with several booths in the exhibit hall advocating for diversity in the veterinary profession. On Thursday, Amanda manned the Broad Spectrum booth most of the day, and met many wonderful people!

     We also handed out awesome BSVSA pins! Everyone loved these and snatched them up quickly. We even had people come to us after we ran out of pins asking if we had any more. Don’t worry, we are working on updating our design and getting more pins and magnets to make available to all!

     The booth continued to have lots of visitors on Friday, and we want to thank everyone who came and spoke with us! We would also like to thank Dr. Mike Chaddock from the LGVMA for helping us work the booth for a few hours during the day. We also want to thank the members of Lambda&Friends, the LGBT+ group at Western University of Health Sciences, for the wonderful gifts that they presented to us! These gifts were amazing and we appreciate your support for our organization!

     But the real fun came on Friday night. The LGVMA along with BSVSA hosted a networking event at Bar 102 in the lobby of the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel. We had a fantastic turnout and we want to thank everyone that came out to socialize with the LGVMA and Broad Spectrum.

     We enjoyed drinks


And food


  And had lots of fun!


  We even had students from different countries come to our event!

    We want to thank Dr. Mike Chaddock and Dr. Linda Detwiler for representing the LGVMA at this event. We of course also want to thank the LGVMA for sponsoring the food and drinks as well! Do you know of a better way to spend your Friday night than to hang out with a crew of LGBT+ veterinary students and their allies?? We didn’t think so.

    Saturday began with your very own BSVSA officers, Arturo and Amanda, leading the Broad Spectrum VSA National meeting. We got some great pictures from LGBT+ groups all over the country and we appreciate all the awesome input!

    During our meeting, we talked about past, present, and future events and aspirations for Broad Spectrum VSA and how we hope to reach out to many more students to provide support, resources, and empowerment.

     We are currently looking for new leadership for Broad Spectrum VSA and would love to have new, fresh minds to give us ideas of how we can better serve our community. If taking a leadership role sounds too intense for you at the moment, we would love to still keep in touch with you! If you would like to be a BSVSA contact for your school, please send your name, email, and the name of your school to BroadSpectrumOutreach@gmail.com.

     After the BSVSA national meeting, we had a very interesting and thought provoking lecture from Dr. Patrick Mahaney. His lecture was entitled “5 Steps to Build your Brand As a Reflection of Your Principles”. Dr. Mahaney is one of our out veterinarians in the profession and we appreciate him coming to our Diversity Forum and sharing his story with us. If you would like to know more about the lecture, please let us know! We would be happy to share these wonderful tips with you!

     Following Dr. Mahaney, we had another fabulous lecture from out veterinarian and LGVMA board member, Dr. Mike Chaddock from Texas A&M Univeristy. His lecture was entitled “Practicing Veterinary Medicine in a Multi Cultural Society- Sexual Diversity” Dr. Chaddock shared some very interesting statistics about what it is like to be an LGBT+ veterinarian in the profession and how the community viewpoint on LGBT+ rights has changed over the years. We were very lucky to have such a powerful speaker like Dr. Chaddock! If your school would be interested in having Dr. Chaddock or another LGVMA member speak, please let us know and we would be happy to get you in touch with the right people.

     Following Dr. Chaddock’s lecture, we had a delicious lunch that was sponsored by LSU SAVMA Symposium. We are very thankful for SAVMA Symposium’s support in making the Diversity Forum a great success!

     We then followed this lunch up with a riveting diversity panel. During the time the panel had together, we had some very interesting dialogue on what it meant to be diverse in the veterinary profession. We had veterinarians from all over the world and we learned a whole lot about what it is like to be “different” in our profession.

     The Diversity Forum ended with the national meeting for VOICE (Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity). Many of you already know about VOICE and if you don’t, you should check to see if your school has a chapter. VOICE and Broad Spectrum VSA have very similar goals, to support the diversity initiative in our profession. We applaud them for the hard work that they have been doing in the past year and we hope that we can work with them more often at the national level to advocate for diversity.

     Symposium finally ended with the very elegant Gala (pronounce “Gay-la” in Louisiana =P) We enjoyed a very nice dinner with friends and colleagues of the LGBT+ community.

    And of course, the night would not be over without some dancing! Many of our BSVSA members enjoyed the night out in the town and took advantage of the abundance of bars and clubs to have a little bit of fun!

     We thoroughly enjoyed our time down in Baton Rouge and we want to thank everyone who helped make this event a wonderful success. We could not have asked for a better group of people to come out and support us. You will always remain dear to us. We hope that from this experience, we have sparked some interest in your hearts to become more active in advocating for LGBT+ rights in the veterinary community. If you have any thoughts, questions, comments, or just want to chat, send us an email, facebook message, or tweet and let us know what you’re thinking!

Your BSVSA Officers

Arturo Otamendi
Amanda Fischer

Sunday, March 17, 2013

LGVMA Strategic Planning Re-cap

You’ve seen the schedule,so you know what we were up to...in theory.  But what you don’t see in the hour by hour breakdown is that there was so much more than mission statement wordsmithing and action planning taking place in Las Vegas.  Its hard to say where to begin, because every time I think about the trip I get wrapped up in all the moments that made me so happy to be there.
This is one of those moments.
As you may know, I’m one of the current leaders of Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association.  If you want to know more about me, there’s an entire interview of myself and Arturo from last year on this blog.  This has been an amazing year, and I’m so glad I finally got involved in the LGBT community.  Before veterinary school, I never felt that I was a part of a queer community.  I strongly believe that all veterinary students, no matter where your diversity stems from, deserve a community that understands you. Life is stressful enough for us already.
Group Photo: the LGVMA Strategic Planners

So what do you do to prepare for a Strategic Planning meeting? You do some research!  I honestly didn’t know much about the history of the LGVMA before the meeting.  Everything I knew was based on the brief history on the LGVMA website and what Ken (Dr. Gorczya) told us about the LGVMA at last year’s Broad Spectrum meeting.  Some of our resources included the LGVMA NAVMEC Report from 2011 regarding LGBT acceptance and safety in the veterinary profession.  We also read the Special Edition of Good News! (the LGVMA newsletter) that focused on the personal stories of veterinarians integral to the creation of the LGVMA.  If you’re interested in reading any of these resources we can send them your way!  Reading all of these resources made me so grateful to be a part of the community and even more grateful for all the hard work that has been done already.

Liam layin' it out.

All attendees and some student/LGVMA leaders filled out a survey asking about our views on the current LGVMA and where we would like to see the organization go.  After the survey closed everyone attending the meeting was able to read all responses (which were anonymous) to each question.  I reviewed these on my 3 plane trips from Ithaca to Las Vegas.

Dr. Apryl Steele and Table 2, hard at work.

I arrived at the Red Rock Casino and Resort (which was about 10 times larger than I had imagined) just in time for our first meeting to start.  As you can imagine, as with most things that involve discussion, we didn’t stick to the schedule exactly, but we started, ended, and took breaks as indicated.  From breakfast until around 5pm we were together, getting to know each other personally and professionally outside of meeting discussions.  

Nikki presenting the fruits of our labor
In summary, we talked a lot and made some awesome charts.  It was difficult at times.  Sitting in the same room for hours only reminds me of vet school, but we were always engaged and participating to make this process successful.
Discussing organizational structure
You also probably saw us all posting on Facebook from inside the meetings, and after the meetings.  Despite being jetlagged and tired from early starts each day, a group of us took a trip to see the Vegas strip.  I’m so glad we did this!  I got to see the famous Bellagio fountains and walk through the Venetian.  You didn’t expect us to spend all of our time working did you?

Cruisin' in a convertible with LGVMA President Dr. Sandy Hazanow

Sin City!
Las Vegas: Where you never know if it's day or night
Amanda with the wizard of all street performers!

After a majority of the hard work was done, some of us also took a trip into the desert on Sunday afternoon (Red Rock Canyon Park) to go on an “easy” hike.  The views were beautiful and totally worth it. It was nice to spend the afternoon outside in the sunshine.  We were lucky to have excellent weather while we were there.  It was chilly for certain people who go to vet school in the southern USA, but it was heavenly compared to Ithaca in February.

Student leaders at Red Rock Canyon Park.  Hiking in business casual and flip flops, NBD. 

Taking a lunch break at Red Rock Canyon Park
The work isn't done.  We are still putting time into developing the new and improved LGVMA website and discussing how to improve the organization's structure.  I am so glad that I went and met more like-minded colleagues and hopefully lifelong friends.  I’ll be seeing some familiar faces at SAVMA Symposium in less than a week, and hopefully I’ll be meeting some new people as well.

All in a weekend's work