Annual Meeting and Conference Speakers
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Brian Cassell, DVM

Brian serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Ethos Veterinary Health, focusing on the organization’s strategic direction and processes, and ensuring that execution supports the business strategy. He has key roles in business development, including mergers and acquisitions, and strategic alliances, and in developing and supporting organizational culture and executive team culture.

His experience includes more than 25 years of diverse experience in the veterinary profession and animal health industry, including clinical practice, practice ownership and sale, organizational consulting, executive leadership and pharmaceutical start up. Brian is a graduate of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He co-founded the Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Annapolis, MD, an emergency and critical care referral practice with tenant practices in various specialties.

He founded Dynamic Veterinary Concepts, a consulting company providing organizational and strategic development, primarily to specialty veterinary practices. He also co-founded MOON, an innovative veterinary collaborative, served as MOON’s CEO for several years, and worked for Zoetis for several years on the Veterinary Strategic Services team.

Brian has presented at national conferences and veterinary colleges on various business growth and strategy topics. He authored two chapters in the book Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Practice Management Consult including Veterinary Practice Models of the Future and Adding Emergency Services.



Michael Dicks, Ph.D.

Dr. Dicks is currently the Director of Veterinary Economics at the American Veterinary Medical Association, representing over 88,000 US veterinarians. Dr. Dicks was hired in December of 2012 to develop an economics division in AVMA and improve the performance of the veterinary markets and the profitability of veterinary practices.  His division is responsible for data collection and analysis, and outreach activities within AVMA pertaining to the veterinary workforce and veterinary practice profitability. Dr. Dicks has published more than 50 major reports, professional publications and articles on veterinary economics, defining the current status and problems in the veterinary markets and practices. One of his most important contributions has been to develop industry-wide cooperation in the data analytics processes for the pet health industry.  Through this effort his team has produced specific KPIs for each market segment of the industry and in April of 2015 and industry-wide summit was held to develop strategies to reduce the Debt-to-Income ratio (DIR) of new veterinary graduates. In 2013, Dr. Dicks initiated the AVMA Veterinary Economic Summit to provide an annual summary of the most recent research in economic analysis related to the veterinary profession. In 2016, the summit contained the research of 16 cooperators from academia, industry and related services.



Brooke Duncan III, JD

Brooke Duncan III is a senior member and founder of the Labor and Employment practice at Adams and Reese LLP, headquartered in New Orleans with offices throughout the southeast and in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Duncan has practiced labor and employment law on behalf of management for over 30 years and his practice emphasizes proactive advice and education. He is a regular participant in seminars and presentations and has authored numerous articles and other publications for employers.

Before becoming a labor lawyer, Mr. Duncan was the operations manager for one of the largest manufacturing concerns in New Orleans. As an employer and a lawyer for employers, Mr. Duncan has encountered just about every practical and legal challenge employers face in managing their workplaces. Prior to entering business, he served as a detective with the New Orleans Police Department, receiving several awards for outstanding duty.

Mr. Duncan received his undergraduate degree from Vassar College in 1974. He has practiced labor and employment law exclusively since his graduation from Tulane Law School in 1986. Mr. Duncan’s expertise in labor and employment law has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America including as Management Labor Lawyer of the Year for New Orleans, Chambers USA, Louisiana Super Lawyers, and New Orleans CityBusiness.

A native of New Orleans, Mr. Duncan has long been active in business and community affairs. He currently serves as a director of the New Orleans chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and is a member of several non-profit boards



Caleb Frankel, VMD

Dr. Caleb Frankel is an internship-trained emergency room veterinarian, author, speaker, and entrepreneur who is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania.
He divides his time between two roles: emergency veterinarian at the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center, a 60-doctor referral hospital in greater Philadelphia and Director of New Product Development at Brief Media, publisher of Clinician’s Brief.
He is also the founder of a new venture Instinct Science ( and the blog VMD Technology (, two projects devoted to helping veterinary teams leverage technology in pursuit of better animal health care.
Since his first day in clinics, he’s been involved in numerous technology initiatives including new product development, consultant activities, software advisory boards, and writing/speaking engagements.
In the trenches, Dr. Frankel is best known for engineering workflow systems, forms, spreadsheets, digital treatment sheets, electronic hospital communication boards, and the optimization of technology systems for rapidly growing general and specialty animal hospitals.
In his free time, which he guards like a Belgian Malinois, you can find him musing about unique uses for technology in medicine, collecting bow ties, traveling, playing or watching team sports, and spending time with his wife and five sons (feline, canine and triple humans).



Michelle Guercio-Winter, CVT, CVPM

Michelle’s career in veterinary medicine began at the age of 16, she is considered a “lifetimer” in the profession. She graduated from St. Petersburg College in FL in 1987 with a degree in Veterinary Technology. After a little more than a decade working as a technician, she realized that her true passion was on the business side of the profession. She re-attended St. Petersburg College and obtained her CVPM (Certified Veterinary Practice Manager) in 2002.
Michelle’s professional experience also includes management of a multi-practice group in the Tampa Bay area. But since 2008, Michelle has been working for Patterson Veterinary as an Education Development Specialist. She is the creator of the Patterson Veterinary University educational programs which include specialized classes for Small Animal Veterinary Practice Owners, Equine Practice Owners, Managers, the Veterinary Team and two veterinary-specific business courses for junior and senior veterinary students at the University of Florida.
Michelle brings to her speaking more than 30 years of practical experience and an unmatched passion for the profession. She remains committed to developing education, training and speaking material relevant in meeting the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s veterinary professionals.



Brandon Hess, CVPM, CCFP

Brandon Hess spent 10 years in the management trenches, first as a companion animal veterinary hospital manager and from 2014 to 2016, as the manager of a large specialty practice in Ohio. He’s led initiatives and worked with veterinary staff members and managers to help them become leaders and strong team members. After leaving specialty medicine he joined Tassava Consulting as an Associate Practice Management Consultant.

Brandon says his work has taught him that most team members are dedicated to patient care and enjoy their work, but not nearly as much as they could because of communication issues, client and team member conflicts, and the challenging situations they face in the practice of veterinary medicine. He says his role is to help team members navigate these uncomfortable waters and master new skills to enjoy their work and feel confident in their roles.

Brandon majored in psychology and before joining the veterinary world, he held leadership positions in other industries and athletic organizations. His veterinary business focus is leadership development, compassion fatigue, communication strategy, conflict resolution and human resources. Brandon brings this diverse experience and unique perspective on leadership and training techniques to all of his work today. He says his goal is to give you, your support team, and managers the tools they need to develop into effective communicators and leaders in your practice.

Brandon lives in Liberty Township, Ohio with his wife, three dogs and three cats. Brandon was the Practice Manager for the 2016 AAHA Specialty Practice of the Year, and he is one of the founding members of the Southwestern Ohio Veterinary Management Association.



Deb Leon

Pet owners’ increasing expectation for instant access to information has created real stimulus for innovation from pet industry providers. WhiskerDocs, an enterprise level service company offering on demand decision support service for pet parents, has emerged as an industry leader in companion animal telehealth. Deb Leon, along with co-founder Trevor Page, launched their 24/7, real-time live chat and telephonic support to pet parents in late fall of 2013 and by spring of 2015 were providing services to over 600,000 pet owners.

Prior to founding WhiskerDocs, Ms. Leon had founded and operated Health Contact Partners, serving over 4 million families (7 million individuals) with its URAC and NCQA accredited 24/7 Health Services Call Center. H.C.P.’s clients included health plans, self-insured employers, third party administrators and Taft-Hartley organizations, providing online health portals including electronic health records and interactive tools such as symptom checkers and video library. H.C.P. was the first organization of its kind to offer secure live chat with Registered Nurses.

In 2008, Ms. Leon sold her company, Health Contact Partners (H.C.P.), to Trustmark Insurance, after establishing herself as a significant market leader for innovations in on demand clinical decision and resource support. Prior to founding H.C.P. Ms. Leon worked for a leading telephonic disease management company, CorSolutions, whose services included chronic condition management for individuals with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain and more, as well as wellness and 24/7 nurse line support.



Adam Little, DVM
Adam Little works at the intersection of accelerating technologies and veterinary medicine to help solve some of our world's biggest problems. His entrepreneurial approach to global animal health creates more opportunities for veterinarians to tackle challenges ranging from companion animal medicine to food security and the spread of infectious disease.

As a champion for the evolution of his profession, Little sees a near future in which real-time, personalized medicine for each and every animal is possible. He believes veterinarians are the drivers of that future, leading global change that will benefit every man, woman, child, and animal.

Little found his passion during veterinary school, identifying a number of challenges in the veterinary space, for both those providing and receiving care, and became motivated to rethink how we can provide the best care possible. He went on to lead the team creating the first IBM Watson project in the veterinary space, a team which eventually grew to nearly 100 people. As founder and president of Exponential Vet Inc.--a consultancy created to help bridge the gap between early-stage technology companies and animal health--he works with clients in the areas of telemedicine, point of care diagnostics, sensors, and data analytics. He has recently accepted a position as a faculty member at Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences where he serves as Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Little holds a veterinary degree from Ontario Veterinary College and completed the Graduate Studies Program at Singularity University. He is a past director at the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and currently serves on the Board of Veterinarians Without Borders, and is a consultant with Exponential Organizations.



Ryan C. Lowe

Ryan C. Lowe is a professional motivational keynote speaker, sales trainer, consultant and author, whose passion is to work with organizations that want to inspire and motivate their leaders and team members with principles that will help create a positive culture and mindset to achieve excellence. Ryan’s presentations are intertwined with professional and personal experiences, including several personal tragedies and a near death experience. He also shares his key message: success isn’t determined by background, experience, or anything else. It’s all in your attitude. In his seminars and his own life, Ryan inspires people to believe in themselves, that they can and will live the life they’ve envisioned by using one major factor: a positive attitude. He writes articles for several magazines and is the author one of the most talked about books in the market today, Get off Your Attitude. Ryan and his book have been featured in print, radio and television all over the country. He and his book were highlighted in Selling Power Magazine and were featured by Success Magazine in their Success Book Summary program.


During his career he has achieved award-winning sales positions and became one of the most-requested speakers/trainers with Brian Tracy Seminars. He has also served as the vice-president of sales for two financial services corporations and as a partner in a financial services start-up. Ryan received a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southeastern Louisiana University and is also a proud member of the National Speakers Association.


Ryan was also featured in the movie, The Big Short. He was chosen out of hundreds of professional speakers to play a motivational speaker who fires up and invigorates the crowd – much like he does in his own presentations.



Brenda Tassava, CVPM, CVJ

Brenda Tassava is an artist turned management consultant, so she’s always looking at things from a unique and creative perspective. She brings more than 19 years of practical veterinary business experience to her practice consults. Currently based in Indianapolis and New Orleans, her consulting firm Tassava Consulting and VetSupport will be expanding to the Pacific Northwest with a presence in Vancouver, WA in 2017.


The author of the book, Social Media for Veterinary Professionals, and an experienced leader who has taken practices to award-winning levels of recognition when it comes to workplace culture, Brenda approaches consulting in a “whole-istic” manner. She believes that when you invest in great people and paint a vision for them to work towards, prosperity and profitability are natural outcomes.


A certified veterinary practice manager since 2004, and a certified veterinary journalist since 2011, Brenda Tassava is an active member of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA), VetPartners, and the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ). She served as a volunteer board member on the CVPM board of directors for more than seven years, and is a co-founding member of the Veterinary Management Association of Indiana.


When Brenda’s not busy lecturing and working with practices practices all over North America, you’ll find her in her art studio, painting and chatting away with Eowyn, her African Grey parrot.



Robert Trimble, DVM

Dr. Robert Trimble is a future-focused veterinarian and an entrepreneur with a passion for innovating at the intersection of medicine, technology, and organizational design. He graduated from the University Of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine in 2013 and currently serves as the Head of Veterinary Services for Fuzzy, a San Francisco tech startup focused on preventive healthcare for cats and dogs. Aside from surfing, his special interests include public speaking and working with business leaders to prepare their organizations for a future of rapid change.


Growing up on a Midwestern dairy taught him two important life lessons: 1- Treat people like they’re your neighbors (because they are) and 2- Treat animals like your livelihood depends on their well-being (because it does). He likes small towns, big waves, genuine Mexican food, and authentic conversation.


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