The Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) has kicked off its 2015-2016 year by celebrating a new President and Vice President while also welcoming two new additions to its Board of Directors. Jon Pennell, DVM, MS (Nevada), assumed the title of President from his previous position of President-Elect, a role that is now held by Joe M. Howell, DVM (Oklahoma). W. Mark Hilton, DVM, DABVP-Beef Cattle (Indiana), was elected at the WVC Annual Member Meeting on Feb. 19 to serve as Vice President. Each will serve in their role through the 2016 WVC Annual Conference. John Burkhartsmeyer, DVM (California) and Debbie White, DVM (Nevada) will join 11 other Directors.

Recognizing Past Presidents, Directors

Also during this year’s Annual Member Meeting, WVC celebrated the achievements and service of now Immediate Past President George Dyck, DVM, MS, whose leadership helped drive WVC’s growth in educational programming at the annual conference. He will continue to serve the organization in an advisory role for the coming term.

As part of his many contributions, Dr. Dyck oversaw the most recent 2015 87th WVC Annual Conference, and the launch of the first two WVC On The Road events. 

“Veterinary continuing education is adjusting to the shifting nature of in-person versus online education,” says Dr. Dyck. “WVC has been quite visionary in this regard, rolling out new programs such as WVC On The Road in addition to new online capabilities, and offering hands-on WVC Academy courses at the ultramodern Oquendo Center.”

Additionally, WVC recognized the outstanding support of outgoing Director Clayton MacKay, DVM (Ontario, Canada), who recently completed his terms on the Board.

A Vision for the Future

Dr. Jon Pennell, who has served on the Board since 2009 and who will now step into the role of President, expressed his vision for the coming year.

“With growing programs through WVC Academy (our year round hands-on CE program) and WVC On The Road, as well as brand new opportunities like the WVC Veterinary Technician Symposium and the online WVC Learning Library, there’s a lot to look forward to from WVC this year,” says Dr. Pennell. “And with the WVC Annual Conference moving to March of 2016, we’re also excited to see how this new date improves the experience for our attendees.”

As a veterinary graduate of Washington State University, Dr. Pennell has practiced small animal veterinary medicine for more than 30 years. He is a member of the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), the Nevada Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and past-president of the Nevada State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Dr. Pennell is currently the Nevada Delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates and in 2013 was appointed by the governor to the Nevada State Board of Health. In addition, he is a Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) examiner for small animal medicine and anesthesia. Dr. Pennell is interested in both veterinary and human medicine and volunteers for numerous disaster relief efforts and organizations. He went back to school to become an emergency medical technician (EMT-I) and worked part-time for MedicWest Ambulance Company from 2007-2014.  

Appointed Directors Look Ahead

Recently elected incoming Vice President, Dr. W. Mark Hilton, also regarded the upcoming year with enthusiasm.

“I look forward to working with the WVC staff and Board of Directors to listen to what our customers – veterinary professionals – want and need,” says Dr. Hilton. “We want to hear from the current generation of practicing veterinarians, and we want to supply the answers to their continuing education questions.”

Dr. Hilton currently serves as a clinical professor of food animal production medicine at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, Academy of Rural Veterinarians and Academy of Veterinary Consultants. He is the state coordinator of the Indiana Beef Integrated Resource Management Program and helped to initiate the Indiana Quality Plus Beef Program in 1999. In addition to his numerous teaching awards, Bovine Veterinarian magazine in 2013 named Hilton one of the 20 most influential bovine veterinarians in North America over the past 20 years. Dr. Hilton graduated from Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983.

New Directors John Burkhartsmeyer, DVM, MS, and Debbie White, DVM, are distinguished professionals whose contributions in the veterinary profession will greatly support WVC’s vision.

Dr. Burkhartsmeyer, owner of the Santa Clarita Animal Hospital in California, graduated from Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biological Sciences and has been practicing veterinary medicine in Santa Clarita Valley for nearly 40 years. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and is a member and past present of the Rotary Club of Santa Clarita.

Dr. White, a small animal and exotic animal veterinarian in Las Vegas and contributor to Animal Radio®, is a graduate of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. She is recognized as a Certified Veterinary Reporter by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ) and is a member of the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV), the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and is a veterinary volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps.

“These individuals bring significant expertise and experience to WVC, and we’re confident their strong backgrounds will be valuable to our organization as we continue to grow,” said David Little, CEO of WVC.

The 2015-2016 WVC Board of Directors:


·         Dr. Jon Pennell, WVC President (Nevada)

·         Dr. Joe M. Howell, WVC President-Elect (Oklahoma)

·         Dr. W. Mark Hilton, WVC Vice President (Indiana)

·         Dr. George Dyck, WVC Immediate Past President (California)

·         Dr. John Burkhartsmeyer (California)

·         Dr. Deborah Greco (New York)

·         Dr. James Nave, Parliamentarian (Nevada)

·         Dr. Jim Peddie, Secretary/Treasurer (California)

·         Dr. Brian Poteet (Texas)

·         Dr. Joan “Joni” Samuels (California)

·         Mr. E. David Stearns, Veterinary Technician Director (Wisconsin)

·         Dr. Debbie White (Nevada)

·         Dr. Darwin Yoder (Idaho)

Registration for the 88th WVC Annual Conference, which will be held March 6-10, 2016, will begin August 4, 2015. To learn more about the variety of educational programs available from WVC, visit