Leading With Integrity

A retreat for veterinary professionals who desire to lead differently.


#VLE2018 Save the Date

June 4-9th, 2018


Become a VLI Sustainer

Join others who are making a direct contribution to our profession.


Welcome to The Veterinary Leadership Institute (VLI), a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of healthy and resilient leaders who can make a positive difference for the profession.

Click Here for a Note From Our Director



Our Team

Dr. Betsy Charles

Executive Director

In addition to her role as the Executive Director of the VLI, Dr. Charles is also an Assistant Professor of Radiology at Western University of Health Sciences.

Dr. Karen Cornell

Board of Directors

Dr. Cornell is a professor and the Associate Dean for Professional Programs at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Lauren Olavessen

Board of Directors

Dr. Olavessen is a Senior Manager for the Medical Outreach Programs at Idexx.

Dr. Kenita Rogers

Board of Directors

Dr. Rogers is the Executive Associate Dean and Professor at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Darcy Shaw

Board of Directors

Dr. Shaw is a recently retired and adjunct professor of small animal internal medicine in the Dept. of Companion Animals, Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), University of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

What's New

A Lesson in Bluegrass

By | Emotional Intelligence, In Practice, Servant Leadership | No Comments

At our house, a perfect Sunday evening ritual includes a tasty grilled dinner, enjoyed together on the back porch, while listening to the Pinecone Bluegrass Show. It’s a relaxing cap to an active weekend, and a great way for our family to connect in advance of the busy week ahead. As a family, we love the bluegrass sound, and also the rich stories the music tells.

Nearly every week the Pinecone Bluegrass Show plays one of my favorite bluegrass songs: Bed By the Window by the late James King.

The song tells the story of two old men in a nursing home. The men are confined to their beds, and share memories and stories together to pass the time. Joe, who occupies the bed by the window describes to his roommate all the goings on in the world outside the window. It is not until Joe passes away that Bill, the roommate, is finally able to see the view for himself. When he’s moved to the spot by the window, Bill realizes that the window faces only a brick wall. Bill is suddenly away that for all those years, Joe created a rich world outside the window for both of them to enjoy. And after a new roommate arrives, Bill carries on the tradition for the new friend.

To me, the song touches not only on a beautiful act of friendship, but on the concept of servant leadership. A servant leader leads by creating for others an environment for success. In the song, Joe creates the world outside the window so his friend can experience something new and beautiful every day. He creates an environment in which Bill derives pleasure, comfort, and hope.

In my own experience, I’ve known servant leaders who provided me encouragement, mentorship, challenges, and opportunities for growth. I also see servant leaders at work in our profession: veterinarians who encourage growth and development in the staff they lead, academic faculty members who provide mentorship to students, and student leaders who create supportive learning cultures and experiences in the organizations and institutions they serve.

What about the servant leaders in your world? How have you become a servant leader? If the chance arose, how would you describe the view outside the window for those around you?

If you’d like to hear the song Bed By the Window, visit this YouTube link

Remembering an amazing team

By | Teamwork | No Comments

Last week I celebrated with members of my veterinary school class for our (GULP) 20 year reunion. In seeing so many of my classmates, I couldn’t help but reminisce about those intense, grueling, growth filled, and happy years….. and the amazing people I spent them with.

Somehow, through effort, personalities, compassion, or maybe even accident, the members of our class came together as a team. We worked together, and played together. We studied hard, and let loose just as enthusiastically. We supported each other, and challenged each other to be our best.

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Home Improvement Using Myers Briggs Preference

By | Emotional Intelligence | No Comments

One dreary winter in North America during some of the most frigid temperatures the Polar Vortex blew our way, we chose to maintain our constantly running toilet as a (likely misguided) attempt at keeping our pipes from freezing. A constantly running toilet = a faucet on drip?! SURE!?

Once we were defrosted and on the more sunny side of the seasons, and in a fit of active procrastination (I most certainly should be studying for boards), I decided it’s high time to fix our toilet.

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