Drum roll, please! We’d like to thank everyone for their nominations and patience during the review process for the Avanzino Leadership Award. We’re thrilled to announce Dr. Julie Levy as the 2017 Avanzino Leadership Award recipient!
The prestigious award is named after Rich Avanzino, the father of the no-kill movement and Maddie’s Fund® President from 1999 – 2015. It recognizes outstanding leadership in the animal welfare community. The honor is bestowed for demonstrating significant achievement in lifesaving, showing the courage to look beyond the status quo and making bold decisions to improve the lives of dogs and cats, and being a champion of the no-kill movement. The award is presented with a $25,000 grant to a non-profit or government organization designated by the recipient.
“We received an overwhelming number of submissions and it was an honor to read about so many deserving contributors within our field,” said Dr. Laurie Peek of the Maddie’s Fund Executive Leadership Team. “While it was a tough decision, Dr. Levy’s vast lifesaving impact across the nation and our industry made her the standout choice for 2017.”
Currently a Professor of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida, Dr. Levy’s career accomplishments are immense. In addition to teaching students across the globe, some of her other notable achievements include groundbreaking work with community cats in the early 90s through Operation CatNip; advancing the field and credibility of shelter medicine through disease prevention, outbreak response and prioritizing lifesaving over euthanasia; and more recent projects like the Million Cat Challenge.
“Her early work with feral cats was a massive undertaking. She went against the grain with her colleagues to help reshape feral cats’ image for the better,” said Dr. Peek. “Dr. Levy strategically leverages things to make a greater impact, while at the same time teaching others and providing research to find new ways to get the job done.
“She’s not afraid of going up against traditional ways of doing things when there’s another way to do it that has a lifesaving, life preserving and life respecting approach.”
Dr. Peek went on to explain the incredible success of Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, which includes teaching, research and education, which was started by Dr. Levy and Dr. Cynda Crawford in 2008 .
“The program has truly helped advance the field and its credibility, and has trained numerous veterinary students, interns and residents which has resulted in an unquantifiable amount of lifesaving in shelters across the U.S. Her reach is huge!” Dr. Peek continued, “She’s the kind of person that looks beyond herself and sees what everyone else has to offer; then leverages the strengths of everybody without giving much attention to herself. She’s that level 5 leader from Good to Great.”
Furthermore, Dr. Levy has greatly influenced lifesaving through her published research. In a body of work spanning more than two decades and over 100 journal articles and textbook chapters, she has studied everything from the characteristics of community cat populations to spay/neuter surgery and more, including infectious diseases in dogs rescued after Hurricane Katrina, heartworm in shelter dogs and cats, vaccination and immunity, diagnostic testing for animal shelters, nonsurgical sterilization and contraception.
In addition to being this year’s Avanzino Leadership Award recipient, Dr. Levy is a recipient of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ Meritorious Service Award, the Carl J. Norden-Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award, Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year and the European Society of Feline Medicine Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Feline Medicine. She is also a co-author of The Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ 2016 Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs.
Thank you again to everyone who sent in a nomination. It’s amazing to see the incredible work being done in the name of lifesaving! View past winners and make sure you don’t miss a blog post by joining the Maddie Network and checking off Chew on This Blog Posts!