We are pleased to announce that Dr. Elise Ackley has joined AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division as an assistant director covering the animal welfare legislative portfolio. Ackley has been heavily involved in the AVMA for the past five years and will be an asset in representing our members on Capitol Hill.
Ackley’s AVMA career began in 2010 when she joined the Student AVMA, where she’d later become the national president, while attending veterinary school at Louisiana State University (LSU). Her passion for politics led her to apply for the AVMA governmental relations student externship program, which gave her the opportunity to work in AVMA’s D.C. office in June of 2012, but she didn’t stop there. She continued to pursue the public policy track at LSU, later applying for and successfully serving as a 2014-2015 AVMA Congressional Fellow following her graduation last year. During her fellowship, which ended last month, Ackley covered the agriculture and public health portfolio for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“While serving as an AVMA Fellow, I had the unique opportunity to see firsthand veterinarians’ direct impact on public policy,” Ackley said. “The AVMA is such a strong voice for the profession and works hard to help policymakers make informed decisions on issues affecting veterinary medicine. I am forever grateful to the AVMA in affording me the opportunity to serve on Capitol Hill, and I hope that all veterinary students and veterinarians who are interested in public policy will look at the AVMA Congressional Fellowship as a chance to serve the profession and gain valuable public policy experience.
While in veterinary school, Ackley worked hard to learn many policy areas, but she was always drawn to working on animal welfare issues, and her diverse work experience in state, national and international settings proves that she is very knowledgeable in many aspects of the field.
Throughout her first year of veterinary school, she worked in U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) state office, where she covered many equine welfare issues, including race day medications and horse slaughter. She also worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012 where she learned firsthand how animal welfare issues tie into preparing for domestic threats and natural disasters. In 2014, she worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s legislative affairs office and observed many of the policy changes that occurred due to the sweeping porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) that struck across the nation.
Internationally, Ackley worked for the World Health Organization, where she coordinated strategies to help solve the growing number of preventable zoonotic diseases in underdeveloped countries. While in Switzerland, she found that many underdeveloped countries lack the resources, such as proper refrigeration and vaccine banks, to help prevent diseases, such as rabies.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience to work for WHO and see how veterinarians are on the front lines of working to combat these significant issues,” Ackley said.
Ackley has definitely cast a broad net over the field of veterinary public policy, and her background will help the AVMA advocate for animal welfare issues in the nation’s capital. Please join us in giving her a warm welcome.