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It's time for #VLE2017! June 5-10, 2017

Make sure to follow this week's excitement at our FaceBook page.


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 Asst Dept Head for the Dept of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at the University of Georgia.

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 professor of small animal internal medicine in the Dept. of Companion Animals at University of PEI.

What's New

Jump in with a Smile

By | In Practice, Inspiration | No Comments

If you had a few hours to engage with experienced, high-achieving veterinarians reflecting on their career and providing advice, what would you ask? If you were given challenging advice, would you take it?

I was recently afforded this scenario as part of my state veterinary medical association’s Power of 10 Program. This program, designed to develop young veterinary leaders on the state level, provided me with a golden ticket to the Past-President’s luncheon for the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association.

As we mingled with colleagues and mentors from across the state, it became clear that the roughly twenty previous KVMA Presidents we were dining with were going to leave a lasting impression.

One-by-one each past-president told their story and provided a piece of advice to us as young leaders. They told passionate stories of fighting for our profession in the state capitol and expressed gratitude for a network of best friends they would never have met otherwise. While modestly avoiding discussion of their accomplishments, several voiced the thought that leadership had propelled their career forward through networking and new skills. Most of all, every local and national leader in the room implored us to say “yes” when presented with the opportunity to serve our profession through organized medicine, non-profits, or community outreach.

Perhaps the best summary of their advice was, “Getting involved in professional leadership is the best thing I have done in my professional life. I only wish I had done it sooner.”

Now, I have a confession to make. I’ve always felt strongly about getting involved and making the change you want to see happen. To hear that after 10 to 65 years in veterinary medicine, leadership was among the most important aspects of the careers of these diverse colleagues was shocking. Surely I had to share this.

If you’re anything like me, you wonder where you will find the time or skills to volunteer. As I looked around that room full of practice owners and parents, I was reminded that if we wait for ‘free time’ no one will care for our profession and tackle the many challenges it now faces. As VLE alumni, we have the basic skillset of a servant leader and the will to make a difference, the rest can be learned on the job.

The veterinary profession is currently facing difficult challenges on local and national levels. Find one you’re passionate about and get involved! Actively build a network that will complement your skillset, and encourage you to try new things. The next time you are presented with an opportunity to say ‘yes’, I hope you think of this knowledgeable and wise panel and that you jump in with a VLE smile.

Choose Happy

By | In Practice, Inspiration | No Comments

Hi future VLE’ers!

I can fondly remember the year I attended VLE as a veterinary student. It was exactly the right time for a fun and invigorating experience, right before starting my 4th year rotations. I remember being together with fellow students, as well as prominent veterinarians in the profession, and thinking that it was so cool that finally we could all come together and be on the same level. What breaks down barriers is simply just HAVING FUN! This was such a simple, but powerful concept.
Another big take away idea from VLE that I will always remember is that being happy is a CHOICE. We have a CHOICE, every day, to CHOOSE HAPPY! When we wake up every day, we can choose to see the world as a gray place with storm clouds and rain and insurmountable challenges, or we can choose to see the world with blue skies and sunshine and boundless opportunities. And last but not least…. Rule #6: Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously! This is SO important, but very difficult- especially for veterinarians (including myself) who pride themselves on being accomplished and holding themselves to a very high standard. Not only are these ideas powerful to me as an individual, but the ripple effect is very real! The people I met, the FUN we had, and the palpable energy and optimism of VLE helped power me forward and feel more fortunate than ever to be part of the veterinary profession. In my career thus far the lessons and ideas from VLE have affected me in a positive way every day. I am very thankful and excited to be joining the facilitator team for the 2nd year in a row at VLE 2017!

See you in Post Falls!

Balance is Key

By | Emotional Intelligence | No Comments

I’ve always been told that I am an extrovert. Because talking to any number of people comes with relative ease to me, I decided my friends and family were right and so adopted that label as I began to decide who I was. Until attending VLE in June of 2016, I had never doubted that “extrovert” described me in a word. However, a unique opportunity arises when you are put into a situation that pushes you to become very honest with yourself and a group of people you’ve never met before. I suppose it’s a blessing for some and a curse for others; you can be who you really are or invent a completely different person because these people come together not knowing what type of person you are.

By the time puberty hits, everyone knows which kids at school are “outgoing,” “bossy,” and/or “confident.” These are assumed to be the extroverts. I was one of those. The introverts were the “shy” and “quiet” ones. The thing is, regardless of how much time I could spend talking and how many friendships I believed I had, I didn’t realize that this constant buzz of activity was really draining me. I didn’t realize it until some glorious human being at VLE described introverts and extroverts in terms of how they re-energize. All of a sudden, things came together. I knew that I still enjoyed sharing time with people and hearing their stories, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be alone. Whereas throughout college I would feel obligated to go out with my friends for fear of being the “hermit,” at VLE I felt immediately free to decide who I wanted to be. The comfort of being around people who truly care about you but at first don’t know who you are at all was an invitation to reassess myself. The first night there, I went to my cabin and did a puzzle with a roommate. The me in college would have gone to Capone’s to meet everyone else.

Why do I feel guilty about wanting to stay in? Do others feel the same pressure to always be “on”? Is it because I decided to adopt who the people I trust and love think I am without considering whether it truly reflected how I prefer to function? I tell myself it’s indulgent to watch the TV show I like while my good friends are getting together for wine. Sometimes I find myself making excuses relating to work or family obligations when social plans come up because telling someone “I need some time for myself” feels selfish. I think many of us feel the same guilt as professionals or students when we need “me” time but know that others are looking to us as the group motivators, leaders, and organizers. It’s not something that’s easily navigated, but a little self-assessment every day will help me embrace the introvert I really am. With anything, though, balance is key.

Self-listen, self-love.