NEW CHAIR TO LEAD VETERINARIANS WITHOUT BORDERS-CANADA
Dr. John VanLeeuwen, an epidemiologist and ruminant clinician who has over 25 years of veterinary clinical, research and teaching experience in Canada, Latin America and Africa, has been elected as the new Chair of the board of Veterinarians without Borders/Vétérinaires sans Frontières – Canada (VWB/VSF).
Dr. VanLeeuwen has been on the VWB/VSF board of directors for three years, serving as vice-chair from 2013 to 2014. In addition to his role on the board, Dr. VanLeeuwen has been coordinating one of the organization’s longest and most successful projects in Mukurweini, Kenya. The project, which is a joint collaboration between VWB/VSF, Farmers Helping Farmers and the University of Prince Edward Island, is focused on working with smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya to improve dairy health and production, and, in turn, sustainable livelihoods, health and nutrition for the farmers and their communities.
In his new role, Dr. VanLeeuwen is committed to seeing the organization continue to thrive and grow. “Vets without Borders has come a long way in the last nine years. We’ve moved from a small, start-up organization with a couple of projects, to a larger organization with numerous longer-term initiatives around the world,” says Dr. VanLeeuwen. “Today, Vets without Borders-Canada has become recognized and respected in Canada and internationally, and is delivering on its promise to promote sustainable and integrated animal, human and ecosystem health in parts of the world where it is needed most."
Aside from his work with VWB/VSF, Dr. VanLeeuwen is a professor at the Atlantic Veterinary College and the Director of the Centre for Veterinary Epidemiological Research at the University of Prince Edward Island. His research program in Canada focuses on infectious diseases of ruminants, and evaluating impacts, costs, and diagnostic tests for these infections. Research in Kenya aims at improving cattle health and increasing milk production and includes a range of approaches from baseline epidemiological surveys and risk factor analyses to clinical trials of locally relevant animal health products. Results of his research are used in VWB’s knowledge transfer efforts with farmers, animal health personnel, and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Kenya and elsewhere.
In addition to Dr. VanLeeuwen’s appointment as Chair, VWB/VSF also welcomed three new board directors to the organization this fall: Jessica Bedford, Director of Communications and Marketing at Speech-Language and Audiology Canada; Cliff Friesen, retired accountant and business leader; and Dr. Adam Little, Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at LifeLearn Inc.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the staff, new board, advisory council and all of our volunteers,” say Dr. VanLeeuwen. “With this dedicated team, I know that Vets without Borders is well positioned to continue to pursue its mission and to engage more Canadian animal health expertise to grow its reach and impact."