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Alumni News

Published: Aug 2, 2013



The Alumni Relations Office often receives requests from people relocating to a new city for the names of VMDs.  These people are specifically seeking a VMD because of their educational background.  The VMD Finder will be an opt-in listing of VMDs by geographic location and we invite you to be part of this new service. Please visit the alumni pages on and click on VMD Finder to join this listing service today.


Alumni Career Ambassadors

Remember being a third or fourth year veterinary student?  A lot has happened in your career since then.

Think back to veterinary school… days filled with labs and exams and clinics, and all that knowledge to absorb.  While you were busy with academics, the question of “What should I do after graduation?” undoubtedly lingered.  Perhaps you benefited from the guidance of someone who helped you through these challenges – or perhaps you did it on your own, wishing there was someone with whom you could share ideas.

Current students need advice and direction.  That is where you come in.  Become an Alumni Career Ambassador today!

As a Career Ambassador, you will be listed as a VMD alum who welcomes current students contacting you with questions about your career path and your perspective on how to achieve success post-graduation.  Your responsibility will be to reply to student inquiries in a timely manner and to help them make the most of the Career Ambassador Network.

Why become a Career Advisor? 

  • An advisor has the opportunity to interact in a very personal and positive way in the career choices of today’s veterinary students and the issues they confront.
  • Most of us can remember an individual we respected and admired who provided guidance to us. Many of today’s students do not have such positive role models to help shape their career choices during their formative years.
  • You will have the opportunity to interact with some of our best and brightest young veterinary students and develop a relationship with them.

How much of a difference can one individual make?

Your impact can be huge!  The positive influence of one individual, as an advisor or role model, is very significant in terms of career choice, direction and success.

How the Program Works

Students can search the database and select member veterinarians that match their interests. Students will contact you directly.

Advisor Prerequisites:

  • A love of your profession
  • A concern for the future of veterinary medicine
  • A desire to make a difference
  • An urge to be pro-active
  • Motivation to inspire and guide others

The Rewards:

  • Helping to ensure a bright future for the profession
  • Knowing that you are making a positive difference

How do I sign up?

·         Visit the alumni pages on and click on Alumni Career Ambassador Network for the online enrollment form.

·         Email or call Alumni Director Kristen McMullen for a copy of the enrollment form: or (215) 898-1481.


V’77 Key West Reunion

Key West was the perfect location for a reunion of 13 members of the Class of V'77.  On Thursday evening, January 24, the Sunset Pier of the Ocean Key Resort and Spa was alive with exclamations of “I haven't seen you in years!" and " You haven't changed a bit!"  Cocktails and camaraderie were on the menu.
On Saturday morning, a continental breakfast and class meeting were held, where discussions ranged from children, grandchildren, and retirement to what everyone is doing now, what can Penn do for the veterinarian in the trenches, and our Scholarship Fund.  The discussions were lively and sincere.

Throughout the four-day event, there was plenty of time for visiting with classmates and touring the historical sites in Key West.  On Saturday evening, classmates, husbands, wives, and significant others enjoyed dinner at the Conch Republic Seafood Restaurant before heading across the road for ice cream, frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate, and other sweets. For the last man standing, a shot of tequila at the Hogs Breathe Saloon - a classic in Key West!

Pictured:  Geoarge Bailey, Harold Russell, "Stubbs" Levan, John Hobbes, Dennis McCulloough, Steve Bromberg, Dave Samuels, Charlotte Miller Keenan, Cindy Ziegra, Sue McKenzie, and Susan Jacobson.
Not pictured-Lynn Giordano Dustin and Ed Donaldson.


Arthur Richards, Jr., V ’49 is the author of Tale Waggings: Recollections of a Rural Veterinarian, a book that reveals many of the unexpected and humorous cases that kept Dr. Richards hopping for 50 years. A long-time member of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, he was its president in 1976 and was recognized as its Veterinarian of the Year in 1977. His hospital was recognized by the American Animal Hospital Association for 38 years.  Dr. Richards and his wife have five children and ten grandchildren.  He has sold his practice and retired, but continues to do relief work for various local practices.

Howard Lentz Todd Addis, V’59 has authored Our Penn-Marydel Hound: A Historical Anthology with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the MFHA Foundation.  For more information, visit  Addis has also authored The Addis Carriage Collection and his memoir titled A Backward Glance.

Fresh out of the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1968, Edward Dionne, V’68 was ready to embark on his professional career.  He soon realized his education was just beginning.  Warm Hearts for Cold Noses chronicles the warm, often hilarious adventures of a young veterinarian learning his trade with a series of unexpected cases and lovable creatures.  For more information, visit

Lawrence Gerson, V’75 is a regular writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Deva Khalsa, V’81 is the author of Dr. Khalsa’s Natural Dog: A Holistic Guide for Healthier Dogs.  Dr. Khalsa has become a leading voice on holistic and alternative care for animals.

Lisa H. Handy, V’84 knows there's no such thing as an "ordinary" day (or night) in her practice. For more than 25 years, Dr. Handy has seen the incredible humor in it all.  In the end, she considers it an amazingly rewarding profession, constantly filled with surprises and plenty of horse laughs - all of which are reflected with tongue firmly in cheek throughout her new book, Just for Kicks.  For more information, visit

Brian McGrory's life changed drastically after the death of his beloved dog, Harry, when he fell in love with Pam Bendock, V’92, Harry's veterinarian.  As he learns how to live by living with animals, Buddy nemesis the family’s pet rooster, becomes Brian’s inspiration, in this inherently human story of love, acceptance, and change.

Howard Krum, V’92 along with three classmates, Drs. Roy Yanong, Scott Moore, and Patty Hogan, have written a novel inspired by their experiences as first-year veterinary students.  Dr. Krum noted, “Our primary goals for this book, the first in a series, are to elevate the profile of the veterinary life we love while giving back to worthy programs and causes.”  The group is donating a portion of the proceeds from each book sold directly to SCAVMA Chapters at Penn, University of Florida CVM, Colorado State CVM and others.  For more information, visit

Throughout her life, Catherine "Betsy" Buck, V’00 has sustained two passions – animals and art.  She has managed to combine the two, and her skilled sketches were on display at the Vineyard Haven.  

Angelee A. Gerovasiliou, V'04 has independently released a new music album titled “MISS YOU."  The album is available online through most music distributors including CDBABY.COM and Apple iTunes. For more information, visit


PVMA 2013 Slate of Officers Includes Four Penn Vet Alumni!

Congratulations to the following University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine Alumni on their election:

Sherill Davison, V’83, MS’88, MBA’04 elected 2013 PVMA President-Elect.  Dr. Davison is Resident Director of the New Bolton Center Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System, Director of the Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology, and an Associate Professor of Avian Medicine and Pathology

Jim Holt, V’91 elected 2013 PVMA Vice President.  Dr. Holt is the veterinarian for New Holland Sales Stables in New Holland, PA, working predominantly with cows and horses.  He also works in a mixed equine/bovine practice doing pre-purchase exams, treating equine lameness, offering second opinions, overseeing imports and exports, and dealing with animal welfare issues as they relate to how animals are treated at sales and equine rescue facilities.

Kenton Rexford, V’94 elected 2013 PVMA President.  Dr. Rexford is currently a partner at Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center.

Mary Bryant, V’95 elected PVMA Delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association.  Dr. Bryant is the Northeast Regional Director of Field Veterinary Services for Merial.  She also serves as Director of Professional Affairs, the liaison between all professional veterinary organizations and Merial.


Penn Alumni Honored by the PVMA

Each year during the annual Keystone Veterinary Conference, PVMA honors some of its most outstanding members with awards for their service. At their Hall of Fame Dinner, PVMA honored individuals who were nominated by their peers for their extraordinary contributions.  Included in the distinguished honorees that evening were:

Lee Pickett, V’94, who was honored with the Dr. A. Wayne Mountain Memorial Media Award in recognition for her excellence in communicating the importance of veterinary care and pet responsibility through her regular contributions to The Reading Eagle in her weekly newspaper column “Ask the Vet’s Pets.”  Dr. Pickett has written the column for ten years in order to educate animal lovers and encourage them to visit their veterinarians regularly.

Heather Berst, V’00, who was named Veterinarian of the Year for her outstanding achievement in veterinary medicine within the past year.  Dr. Berst was recognized for her outstanding work in and dedication to the veterinary profession in many ways, including her work with Hills’ Pet Nutrition as well as her roles within PVMA, Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation, and the Dean’s Alumni Council at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.  She was cited as being an enthusiastic volunteer with active leadership in planning of PVF’s annual Bark in the Park 5k Run fundraiser and co-sponsoring dinner meetings and events with PVMA to educate veterinarian on pet nutrition and why PVMA is important.



Midge Leitch, V’73, Dipl. ACVS was presented with the AAEP Distinguished Service Award.  Dr. Leitch recently retired from the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, where she was responsible for the Radiology Service.  She joined the AAEP in 1973 and served on task forces, as a board member and as chairwoman of the Equine Welfare Committee from 2008 to 2010.

Wendy Vaala, V’80, Dipl. ACVIM will represent District 5 on the AAEP board of directors.  Dr. Vaala has worked as senior equine technical veterinarian with Merck Animal Health since 2004, after eight years in private practice in New Jersey.



The Northeastern Pennsylvania “Old Time Vets” and some not so old vets met at the Wyalusing Hotel for a luncheon and storytelling afternoon.  The “old timers” recalled their years of services rendered to small family subsistence.  VMDs in attendance included William Corbett, V’79, Amos Hollister, V’53, Bryan Lee, V’60, Skip Nelson, V’68, Walter North, V’63, Carl Reynolds, V’60, Mike Sheruda, V’11, T.W. Shoemaker, V’50, and Megan Tiffany, V’12.

John W. Lee, Jr., DVM and his staff of VMDs including Jill Acland, V’09, Steven Berkowitz, V’83, Patricia Blakeslee, V’88, Mark Donaldson, V’93, Ricardo Loinaz, V’08, and Emily Schaefer, V’11 have opened a new state-of-the-art equine clinic and surgical facility in Oxford, PA.



P. Mark Lopez, V '03 and Elizabeth (Ballard) Lopez, V '03 own and operate Wholesome Dairy Farms in Berks County, PA (  It is a grass fed dairy farm producing milk, yogurt, greek yogurt, kefir, and cheeses. The website has a listing of stores in the region that carry their products.

Kevin Wellejus, V’04 moved with his wife Jill and two daughters Claire, 16, and Casey, 4, to eastern Wisconsin where he works as a dairy manager for Holsum Dairies.  He milks approximately 7,000 cows at two locations.

Meghann (Brumsted) Pierdon, V’05 was named the 2013 recipient of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians Foundation Hogg Scholarship.  The scholarship is awarded annually to an AASV member who has been accepted into a qualified graduate program to further his or her education after years as a swine practitioner.  Dr. Pierdon is currently pursuing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.  She plans to use the scholarship to support her pursuit of board certification in the newly formed American College of Animal Welfare. 

Erica Tramuta-Drobnis, V’05 started an internal medicine residency at Lehigh Valley Health Network in June of 2012.  She currently works at Quakertown Veterinary Clinic as a General Practitioner and as an Emergency Vet.  Dr. Tramuta-Drobnis was deployed for Hurricane Sandy with the Federal National Veterinary Response Team (NVRT-2) and spent time in both New Jersey and New York City.  She is a member of the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team through the AVMA.

Nadine Salomon, V’06 serves on the board of the Equitarian Initiative, a group of equine veterinarians and caregivers looking to provide education, leadership and assistance to the working equid and, by extension, their families.  Dr. Salomon’s interest in equitarian work started after participating in a RAVS trip on a Nevada Indian reservation during vet school.  She is currently an equine practitioner at Allegheny Equine, a private practice outside of Pittsburgh.

Marc Valitutto, V’06 recently appeared on The Today Show for a feature story on the sloth. He is the General Curator, Veterinarian for the Staten Island Zoological Society.

Fred Baff, V’63 and his son, Wesley Baff, V’06 run Plumtrees Animal Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut. Dr. Wesley Baff was one of 12 people who participated in a 190.2-mile overnight running relay race to raise money for the Jessica Rekos Memorial Fund.  Jessica, the daughter of his fellow Newtown High School classmates Rich and Krista Rekos, was one of the 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School students slain on December 14.  Last summer, when Jessica’s family vacationed on the Cape, she took an interest in whales.  The group is running to raise funds for an internship at the Whale and Dolphin Society’s education outreach program.

Leslie Kuczynski, V'06, DACVIM recently joined the Internal Medicine Department at Metropolitan Veterinary Associates in Norristown, PA ( MVA is a small animal specialty and emergency hospital that originated in 1986. They currently have 25 specialists in 11 different disciplines. 

Quack’s Corner, Cumberland County’s only all-volunteer animal rescue and sanctuary, has honored Dr. Ryan Gorman, V’07 with its Golden Egg award.  Dr. Gorman is an associate veterinarian and partner at the Millville Animal Clinic.  The Golden Egg award is given to those who show extraordinary acts of compassion toward animals. Recently, Quack's Corner rescued Emmy Lou, a paralyzed beagle found in the woods by a hunter.

Simeon Taft, V ’10 and his wife, Heidi (GrNu '09), welcomed a son, George, on March 22, 2013. The family resides in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Ashleigh (Walker) Newman, V'10 started her three-year residency in Clinical Pathology in July 2012 at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

A fellow in large animal ultrasound and cardiology at New Bolton Center, Laura Faulkner, V’11 has expertise in matters of the equine heart.  She presented "What's the Buzz? Heart Murmurs in Horses" at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo held in February.


Ann E. Bastian, V’93 attended the 2012 Paso Fino Horse Association Grand National Championship with her four-year-old Paso Fino colt Rigoleto de Las Camelias, aka Rio.  Rio placed in all four of his classes, which is a great showing for his first Nationals. 

Christine Kreuder Johnson, V’94 received the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine 2012 Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award at a reception on October 2.



James F. Dougherty, V'80 has joined the Board of Trustees of Rutgers University.

Fern Tablin, V’80, GR’84 received the 2012 Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award in recognition of her exceptional, sustained, and significant accomplishments in teaching DVM students.  This award honors faculty whose ability, dedication, character, and leadership contribute significantly to instruction in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s professional curricula.

Stephen Peoples, V ’84 has been appointed to a three-year term on the Orthopaedic Institute of Medicine (OIOM) Council.  Steve retired from Johnson & Johnson in 2009 and established Peoples & Associates, a consulting group providing services to the orthopaedic profession and industry.


David Welch, V’72, MBA, leader of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Veterinary Practice Sustainability Committee, and Russ Daly, DVM, South Dakota State University, spoke at the National Food Animal Veterinary Institute meeting on strengthening the rural veterinary infrastructure.

George F. Henning, V’76, MD has been promoted to Full Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Penn State College of Medicine and Director of Family Medicine Obstetrics. Dr. Henning recently received the College of Medicine outreach award for his work with the Lion Care free clinic in Harrisburg, PA.



Florien Jenner has taken the reins as the head of equine surgery at Vetmeduni Vienna, the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.  She studied veterinary medicine in Munich before working for many years in the United States, and most recently, in Ireland.  She completed an internship and a residency at the University of Pennsylvania.  In 2006, she accepted a position as lecturer for equine surgery at the University College Dublin’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and obtained her Diploma of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons.  Most recently, she completed her PhD on joint development and its implication for tissue engineering of articular cartilage.


Sheldon Farber, V’44 passed away on January 26, 2013.

Peter H. Langer, V’46 passed away at Royal University Hospital.  He obtained a Ph.D. in veterinary virology at Cornell University in 1960 and worked for several years in the development of veterinary vaccines before moving to Ottawa, Canada to become the Director of Veterinary Biologics, Canada.  

John C. Shook, V’48 of Mechanicsburg passed away at The Fairways in State College, PA.  He served in Germany during WWII with the 138th US Army Evacuation Hospital. After completion of his VMD, he opened his own large animal practice in Spring Mills, PA.  He then moved into regulatory service, where his life's work focused on the control and/or eradication of such animal diseases as hog cholera, brucellosis, tuberculosis, and avian influenza.  He served as the State Veterinarian of Pennsylvania, and later the State Veterinarian of Maryland.  He was a former President and long time Treasurer for the US Animal Health Association.

Calvin Benjamin Umble, V’51 died in Chambersburg Hospital.  He and his family moved to Chambersburg, PA in 1967, when he became partner in the Chambersburg Animal Hospital.  Prior to joining the Chambersburg practice, Dr. Umble practiced independently in Honey Brook, PA from 1951 to 1964.  From 1964 to 1967, he performed research pathology for Rutgers State University in their Vineland, NJ facilities.  A veteran of World War II, having served with the 406th Regiment, 102nd Infantry Division, Dr. Umble was awarded the Purple Heart for action in Germany.

William R. Nehoda, V’54 of Forks Township, PA, passed away in Gracedale.  Dr. Nehoda was a retired veterinarian and founder of the Easton Animal Hospital in Forks Township, PA.  He served as a captain in the Air Force during the Korean War.  Kelly Craig, V'96, who worked for Dr. Nehoda, commented that he was “a man who dedicated his life to his practice, his family and his community.”  He served his country, and then practiced mixed animal medicine before founding a small animal practice that is still thriving today under his son’s ownership.  His insight and wisdom, honed from decades of practice where history taking, physical exam skills, and instinct were the only diagnostic tools, proved to be a delightful treasure-trove of anecdotes of how things were done “back in the day.”  He was like a favorite grandfather and James Herriot rolled into one.

Ramsay S. Buchanan, V’54 passed away at his home at Mercer Hill Farm.  His work with monkeys for polio vaccine research at Merck Sharpe and Dohme took him on safari to Ethiopia during the '58 coup d’état and to the Philippines.  He became a partner in the King of Prussia Veterinary Hospital with Dr. John Church in 1961, where he practiced small animal medicine until his retirement in 1988.  A lifelong horseman and fox hunter, he took great pleasure in working with hounds with Mrs. John B. Hannum, MFH ,and was privileged to be an honorary whipper-in for five years, later serving as field master for hound exercising for four summers. 

John W. Higgins, V’55 passed away on January 29, 2013. He founded the Yorkville Animal Hospital in 1962 and served as the Director and Chief Surgeon until his death.  He loved all creatures great and small.

Richard A. Vaclavik, V’56 practiced his craft until just three weeks prior to his passing.  Dr. Vaclavik opened the Upper Dauphin Animal Hospital in Millersburg, PA in 1960, where he practiced for the past 53 years.  He also served as a veterinarian for the State Department of Agriculture. 

Edwin Ramsey Gearhart, V’56 died at Sentara Norfolk (VA) General Hospital after a brief illness.  After practicing for a year in Hagerstown, MD, he returned to Williamsport and owned Gearhart Veterinary Clinic from 1957 through 1974.  He then joined practices in Chicago and suburban Pittsburgh before moving to Virginia Beach, where he owned Independence Veterinary Clinic for almost 20 years before retiring to Florida. 

Max J. Herman, V’59, 81, of Collegeville, PA passed away at Shannondell in Audubon, PA.  In 1963, he founded Trooper Hospital and went on to become board-certified in Animal Dentistry in 1998, establishing Animal Dental Clinic the same year.  Dr. Herman graduated from veterinary school and began his career as a Captain in the Air Force in Niagara, NY.  In 2005, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association presented him with the Keystone Award, recognized his hard work in co-founding the American Museum of Veterinary Medicine.

John E. Tartaglione, V’64, 75, of Blakeslee, PA passed away at Coventry Manor in Pottstown, PA.  He was the former owner of East Stroudsburg Veterinary Hospital for 35 years.  He had a love for animals, especially horses, and enjoyed spending time in any country setting.

William Stanley Rokus, V’65 passed away at Heritage Hall Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Leesburg, Virginia.  He was a graduate of Duke University, where he was a member of the football team. Upon graduation from the Penn, he opened his practice, Rokus Veterinary Hospital, in Leesburg from 1965 to 2003, devoted to caring for both large and small animals.  He served his country during the Korean War in the United States Army.


Calling all VMDs and former Penn Vet interns and residents!  Have you received a promotion, gotten married, had a baby, received an award, had a research finding, or opened a new business?  Please share your good news with us!  Email the alumni office at or write to us at Alumni Relations, Penn Veterinary Alumni Office, 3800 Spruce Street, Suite 172E, Philadelphia, PA 19104.