Board Members

Executive Committee

Nicole LaForest, LVT, RVT, CCFT

Nicole LaForest, LVT, RVT, CCFT - President

Nicole is the Practice Manager and Licensed Veterinary Technician for Mayo Veterinary Services; a large mobile surgery practice in the Puget Sound Area. Before joining her practice at the end of 2015, she spent several years working in emergency veterinary medicine as a lead technician for her hospitals’ night shift. She graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology from Penn Foster College. She is a firm believer of promoting a healthy work and lifestyle balance by using appropriate time management and self-growth by expanding the description of what it means to be a veterinary technician. Over the next few years she hopes to continue to progress in and change veterinary medicine. She hope to have the opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to me.

Jade Velasquez, LVT

Jade Velasquez, LVT - Past President

Jade Velasquez has been involved with veterinary medicine for 14 years; working as a licensed veterinary technician for 9. Most of her careers has been working in emergency medicine, but she has since found her niche in a busy general practice. In 2014, she created Veterinary Support Staff Unleashed on Facebook which has gathered 3,800 members due to its strong focus on providing emotional and professional support. She has recently been fortunate enough to have several articles published by Dr. Andy Roark's website. As president elect, she is excited about working with the esteemed board members and hearing what is important to the WSAVT membership. Currently she works at Woodside Animal Hospital in Port Orchard, Washington. She enjoys reading, writing and spending time with her family. She also has done work with Basenji rescue and has acquired a few foster failures to add to her furry family members. She hopes to eventually branch out into practice management with intentions of focusing on promoting the human/animal bond and creating a positive and cohesive team environment.

Kelly Deselms, BS, RVT, LVT, CCRP

Kelly Deselms, BS, RVT, LVT, CCRP - President Elect

Kelly has been in veterinary medicine since 2001 starting work as a kennel worker. She grew up in California and went to Cal Poly Pomona where she got her BS in Animal Health Science which was their RVT major. She worked in emergency medicine through school as a graveyard assistant and found her love for emergency and c-sections. Truly the circle of life. She then got my RVT license in 2008 and worked in Sacramento, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Ontario in Specialty and Emergency centers. In 2015 she went through and graduated the CCRP program through the University of Tennessee. She then moved to Washington to further my career in middle management. She obtained my LVT license in 2016 and made the switch to full time animal rehab in late 2016 and have been doing that since. She is fully dedicated to the field of veterinary medicine. She believe that helping our new LVT's and assistants learn as much as possible to be able to take over for us old school techs is so important. She also feels that the veterinary world is changing so fast that if we don't keep up with our own education, we won't be properly serving our communities and the animals in them. She want to encourage the public to understand what we do as veterinary technicians and how important we are in the work force. She believe in the magic of this career. 

Heidi Hirt, LVT

Heidi Hirt, LVT - Vice President

Heidi Hirt  is a Seattle native who enjoys all the Pacific North West has to offer.  She was born with a passion for helping animals and couldn’t think of a better career to be in. When not at work, Heidi enjoys spending time with her family and pets.  She has a love for the outdoors, cooking for loved ones and pajama days with her son. Heidi is finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business at CWU (Go Wildcats!) and is working on becoming a Certified Practice Manager.

Benita Altier LVT VTS (Dentistry)

Benita Altier LVT VTS (Dentistry) - Secretary

Through her business, Pawsitive Dental Education, she provides dentistry instruction and consultations across the United States and Canada to veterinary professionals. Benita has published numerous articles on dentistry in veterinary journals as well as being a contributing author to a textbook for veterinary technicians and nurses on the subject of the dental operatory, ergonomics and safety.

Lori Lutskas, LVT CCRP

Lori Lutskas, LVT CCRP - Treasurer

Lori Lutskas  is the treasurer for WSAVT.  She started this position around 2012, before this time she was on the executive board as finance chairperson and bylaws chairperson.  She has been a veterinary technician in the state of Washington since 1983 and a member of WSAVT since that time.  She has enjoyed a variety of practice types in her career; mix-animal, small animal, and lastly academia.   Since joining WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, she has been in small animal surgery, neurology, and integrative medicine.  She got her certification in Canine Rehabilitation in 2006; she has realized that this is what she really enjoys to help patients that need veterinary physical therapy.  She gets really excited to take a neurological patient and be able to re-train them to walk again.


Shari Hultberg, LVT

Shari Hultberg, LVT - Membership

Shari Hultberg began in this industry in 2004 as a receptionist and instantly knew she wanted to become a licensed veterinary technician. Shari graduated from the online program, AAHA’s DEVTP, through Cedar Valley Community College in 2008 with Phi Theta Kappa honors. She has 2 senior dogs (Abby and Peanut), 2 cats (Hamster and Spare Kitty and 3 goats (Tyche, Jewel and Bucky Boy). Born and raised in Washington State, Shari is currently located in beautiful Poulsbo.

During her first year as vice-president for WSAVT, Shari helped organize a very successful CE in Silverdale, WA. Now this CE has become an annual event on the peninsula during the fall.  She is focused on establishing easily accessible and informative CE’s. Shari’s long-term goal is to promote the recognition of tasks provided by licensed technicians and the importance these duties have in the veterinary community. Technicians are hard-working, passionate and dedicated to the care of all species of animals. Veterinarians and their clientele should be aware of the vital role the veterinary technician plays in the veterinary team dynamic.

Ryan Frazier, LVT

Ryan Frazier, LVT - Program

Ryan Frazier has been a Veterinary Technician since 2004. He graduated from Madison Area Technician College in Madison, Wisconsin. He has worked in emergency and specialty medicine since 2007 and made the move to Washington in September of 2014. His true passions include internvental radiology, unconventional internal medicine (fecal transplants, laser therapy) & unpredictable trauma medicine. In his free time he loves traveling far and wide and his old little beagle Remington.

Brandi Bane, LVT

Brandi Bane, LVT - Nominations

Brandi has been working as a veterinary technician since 2009, starting off in radiology which is still her passion, but most recently in internal medicine.  She enjoy being an internal medicine technician because it allows her to combine her love of imaging modalities with the ongoing care of my patients.  She moved to Washington in 2016 to pursue another internal medicine position and to be closer to the outdoors that she love.  When not working you can find her outdoors exploring the world with my little pupster.


Christina Ojanen BS, LVT, VTS (Surgery)

Christina Ojanen BS, LVT, VTS (Surgery) - Newsletter Editor

Christina Ojanen is a 2005 graduate of the Yakima Valley Community College Veterinary Technology program.  She received her veterinary technician license in 2005.  She graduated in 2007 with a bachelor in zoology from Washington State University.  She earned her VTS in surgery in October, 2013.  Christina has been the Small Animal Orthopedic Technician at the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital since 2007.  She has been a WSAVT member since 2007 and a NAVTA member since 2006.  She has been the WSAVT newsletter editor since July 2014.  She is currently on the Credentialing Committee for the AVST and is the Nomination Chair. She has written an article for the NAVTA Journal.  In her spare time Christina enjoys reading, watching movies, gardening, and hanging out with her two dogs and one cat.

Karen Norton, LVT

Karen Norton, LVT - Government Affairs Liaison

Karen came to veterinary medicine later in life than most people.  She had two other major professions and the combination of a great education at Pierce College (2006 Grad) and the skills from previous careers have made a great combination for her employment.  She is fascinated by the workings of government and spent many years employed by enforcement agencies.  She want all LVTs to be as knowledgeable of the laws and regulations that affect our day to day work life as possible.  Knowledge is power and if you are not at the table, you’re lunch.  She has been owned by Bearded Collies since 1985 but recently lost her last one, so she is currently without dog.  But she gets to help a lot of other people’s animals feel better.  Who can complain?