Ryan Frazier, LVT - Past President
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. He is actively working on his Veterinary Technician Specialty in Emergency and Critical Care. His true passions include unpredictable trauma medicine, traveling far and wide and his old little beagle Remington.
Jade Velasquez, LVT - 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.
Nicole LaForest - President Elect
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.
Heidi Hirt, LVC - 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) - 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 - 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 - 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.
Lizzie Green - Finance
Lizzie Green dived into the veterinary field in 2006 and has been licensed since 2014. She spent time exploring the field through day practice, emergency care, and internal medicine. She has settled in a day practice in Poulsbo, offering traditional and alternative holistic medicine. She is usually described by her peers as the "nerdy one" who thrives on learning. Senior patient care has become her passion. She is eager to join the WSAVT team to collaborate with passionate technicians. Lizzie would like to help bring awareness on compassion fatigue and building strong positive work environments. You will find her spending time with her husband their fluffy family as often as she can. She dotes on 2 Australian shepherds, 2 orange tabbies, ducks and chickens. On her days off she is kayaking, gardening, cooking, and reading.
Angela Miranda - ByLaws
Angela Miranda has been in the veterinary field, primarily emergency medicine, since 2004 where she quickly developed her skills and knowledge as a technician. She decided to take my VTNE and grandfathered in as a LVT in 2011. She continued to work in emergency until 2012 where I became a Practice Manager of a general practice. Although she misses being on the floor with the chaos of the unpredictable day, she enjoy further the standard of care for our practice and further the careers of my current LVTs. She believes there is always something to learn and willing to look at different ways of getting the job done. She enjoy finding new adventures with her son and spouse, trying to figure out what her cat, Diamond, is thinking, and always learning more about the veterinary field as a whole.
Laura Tautz-Hair LVT, VTS (Emergency a - Program
Laura Tautz- Hair joined Seattle Veterinary Specialists in 2007. She is a technician in the emergency department, the veterinary technician manager, and education coordinator at Seattle Veterinary Specialists. Laura is a 1998 graduate of the veterinary technology program at Pierce College. Her experience began in small animal practice in 1991. In 1995 Laura began focusing on emergency and critical care. In 2003 Laura became a member of the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians. Laura has also been an instructor of veterinary technology at PIMA medical institute, teaching anatomy and physiology, laboratory procedures, and pharmacology. Currently Laura volunteers on the advisory board for the Veterinary Technician program for PIMA Medical Institute. Laura contributed to the emergency chapter of the Veterinary Technicians Daily Reference Guide and contributes to the publications of the Washington State Association of Veterinary Technicians, where she is the program chair. Laura has also presented at continuing education conferences regionally and nationally including the WSAVT, WSVMA, and AVMA.
Melanie Long - Nominations
Melanie Long has been working in the veterinary field since she was 15 years old. She graduated from Pierce College's Veterinary Technology program in 1994. She then completed an internship at The Animal Medical Center in NY followed by several years of employment there in surgery and ICU. She has worked at several veterinary hospitals in the western Washington region. Melanie is now working in the ER/ICU and Neurology departments at VCA Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle. She volunteers at several animal shelters and free/low cost pet programs as well.
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 one dog and one cat.
Nancy Muir - Government Affairs Liaison
Nancy Muir’s love for animals began as a child when her parents introduced a shepherd mix to her family. At BYU, I participated in the now-defunct BS veterinary technology program and graduated with honors. I have been licensed in WA since 1998. Since that time I have worked either part time or full time in small animal clinics. My husband and I adopted two very young boys from foster care in 2011. She left vet med for two years and only returned in August 2015. Her particular areas of interest include pain assessment and management, and making veterinary visits a pleasant experience for patients and their people.
Leslie Montgomery - Government Affairs Liaison
Leslie Montgomery - is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park with a BA in Journalism and minor in Business. After working in sales and training for GlaxoSmithKline for five years Leslie decided to pursue her true goal, to work with animals. Leslie had lost one of her dogs to cancer and was so moved about how kind and skilled the oncology technicians were that helped her; she decided to pursue becoming a veterinary technician as a second career. In her free time Leslie volunteers for the Isla Holbox Spay and Neuter Project both as a volunteer technician in clinics and assists year round in fund raising efforts and marketing. Leslie also heads a running club for people who like to run (SLOWLY), socialize and eat good food afterwards. She has participated in triathlons, yearly running challenges and several half marathons. She enjoys travelling with family and friends, reading and relaxing as well. However, her favorite thing to do is spend time with her beagle, Chewy and tuxedo cat, Senor Larry.