2017 NAFV BOD Members

Larry Davis, DVM, MS 1985, (President- 2017 to 2019)

Dr. Davis graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Northwest Missouri State University in 1983.  He graduated from the University of Missouri with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1985.  Upon his graduation from veterinary school in 1985 and prior to joining FSIS, Larry worked at a small animal hospital in Webster Groves, MO.  He also worked on exotic animals.  In 1988, Dr. Davis started his own successful small animal and exotic animal hospital in Granite City, IL.

Dr. Davis joined FSIS in October 2005 as a relief PHV in the Chicago District.  As a relief PHV, he worked at various plants in Illinois and Indiana, including in Beardstown, IL, a HACCP-based Inspection Model Project (HIMP) plant that slaughters market hogs.  In 2007, Larry worked in a patrol assignment in the DeKalb Circuit, DeKalb, Illinois.  The patrol assignment included market hogs, cull slaughter plants, Halal slaughter plants, very small multiple species slaughter plants that also slaughtered emus, ostriches, and exotic animals, and a traditional turkey slaughter plant.  In February 2009, he became the District Veterinary Medical Specialist for the Jackson District in Ridgeland, MS performing Humane Handling Assessments in swine, bovine, caprine, ovine and poultry establishments.  In April 2012, Dr. Davis was selected as the Humane Handling Enforcement Coordinator, HHEC, located in Washington, D.C.  The Humane Handling Enforcement Coordinator manages Humane Handling issues on a national level and supports the inspectors in the field on all Humane Handling question.  In November 2012, Dr. Davis was selected as a Deputy District Manager for the Philadelphia District Office where he oversaw regulatory operations, program management and resource management for upstate New York and New England.  Dr. Davis relocated to the Jackson District in April 2016 and now oversees regulatory operations over Kentucky.  As NAFV President, Dr. Davis is concerned about the challenges NAFV faces, but is excited about the new opportunities presented to help resolve these challenges.  Through more transparency, he wants all NAFV members to feel they have a voice.

Barbara Porter-Spalding, DVM, MVPH, MSU, 1991(President–Elect- 2019 to 2021)

Dr. Barbara Porter-Spalding joined NAFV in 1994.  She is a Swine and Emergency epidemiologist with the USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services (VS), in Raleigh, North Carolina. She received her DVM from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991 and her Masters of Veterinary Public Health from North Carolina State University in 2007. In her current position, Dr. Porter-Spalding serves as an Epidemiologist/Staff Officer for Preparedness and Incident Coordination Staff.

Before joining APHIS, Dr. Porter-Spalding worked in a dairy practice in south central Pennsylvania. After spending 2 years in Morocco in the Peace Corps, she worked with the Food Safety and Inspection Service in North Dakota, joining VS as a field Veterinary Medical Officer in North Dakota in 1998.  She has been active in NAFV assisting the Reps and scheduling Chapter meetings for many years.

Barb’s desire to seek the Presidency of NAFV comes from a passion for the Veterinary Medical Officers and their career aspirations.  As NAFV President she will continue to support and encourage the outstanding public service that veterinarians in Federal work are known for.  Whether as field investigators, or program team managers, from Active Military to FSIS, each VMO has a critical role in safeguarding American agriculture and deserves active advocacy and support.

Deanna A. Brown, DVM, MPH, Dipl. ACVPM, MS 1990 (Secretary –Treasurer Position)

Dr Brown earned her B.S. in Animal Science in 1986 and her D.V.M in 1990 from Mississippi State.  After one year in a busy dairy practice in Wisconsin, she decided that she wanted to do more.  She began federal practice in 1991 as a member of the US Army Veterinary Corps.  Dr Brown soon decided to focus her efforts on the public health aspect of our profession.  She received my MPH from the University of Texas School of Public Health in 1999, and earned Diplomate status in the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM) the same year. Throughout her military career, she served in a variety of positions with a wide range of responsibilities in implementing and oversight of food safety, food defense, as well as animal and zoonotic disease control programs in the US and in various countries overseas.

Dr Brown’s views on the importance of organized veterinary medicine came while serving as senior military veterinary advisor coordinating US efforts to assist the Ministry of Agriculture Veterinary Service in Iraq as they struggled to rebuild the organization and capacity of the government to achieve their food safety and animal disease control goals for their country.  During this assignment, she worked with veterinarians from many US agencies, universities, and veterinary professional organizations as well as our counterparts in Iraq.  This experience taught her how critical it is to have a team effort between federal agencies and veterinary professional organizations to achieve national public health and animal disease control objectives.  She has been a member of the AVMA, NAFV and the American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians for most of her career, but after this assignment, she decided that it was important to serve in a capacity beyond just membership.  Upon return to the US in 2007, she volunteered to serve as a committee member, and then in 2010 became chairperson for the Membership and Outreach Committee for ACVPM.

Dr Brown retired from military service in 2010 after 20 years of active federal service, and immediately transitioned into civilian federal service with FSIS. She initially served as an in-plant Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian, and now as a Frontline Supervisor in the Springdale District.  This experience has exposed her to the difficulties faced by FSIS field veterinarians as well as to the circuit and district leadership within the agency.  She believes that her previous experiences along with what she have learned working with FSIS will help her to serve FSIS and the NAFV members and to be our voice as NAFV and our agencies negotiate the challenges in the year ahead.

Patty Bennett, DVM, UF, 1993 (FSIS BOD position)  

Dr Bennett graduated from the University of Florida in 1993.  She then worked as an associate veterinarian for a year providing medical and surgical care at a small animal practice.  She felt the need to expand her experiences and held a variety of positions including working as a VMO for the Western Pacific District Army Veterinary Command overseas.  She came to work for FSIS in 2005 and joined the NAFV at the same time.  She feels veterinarians need to give back to their profession and act as role models to their colleagues and community.


She is currently the Agency’s Humane Handling Enforcement Coordinator and has held this position since June 2015. In this role, she has had the privilege to work with other veterinarians across the United States to uphold and enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. She says it is gratifying to work in an Agency that has a mission resulting in safe food and that is committed to ensuring animals are handled in a humane manner from the moment they arrive at a slaughter facility.


In addition to the many positions she has held in FSIS, she have recently had the opportunity to propose and have accepted and then set up a $3 million scholarship program pilot to recruit and retain veterinarians to crucial positions within the Office of Field Operations. FSIS senior executives agreed to fund 20 scholarship recipients in FY16 and another 20 scholarships in FY17. These students will become public health veterinarians in FSIS upon graduation which may be as soon as 2018. This scholarship may help to address the FSIS need to have PHVs on staff and veterinary student need to develop a career arc while resolving their often immense debt situations. She is also working to survey current PHVs in OFO to better understand their motivations to either continue their career in FSIS or their decision to leave. She intends to use this data as a catalyst to refine current retention initiatives or create new ones as well as to help develop the veterinary students as they move through the scholarship program. She is very passionate about the work she does in FSIS and the mission she supports. This scholarship pilot and PHV survey exemplify her other interests to support colleagues and students as they work to develop themselves professionally.


Charles G Edwards, DVM, LSU, 2011 (FSIS BOD position)  

Veterinary medicine is consistently rated as one of the most respected health care professions.  We as veterinarians have gained that respect because of our loyalty, dedication, and knowledge.  However, veterinarians are not immune from being concerned about their jobs.  There are about 1025 FSIS veterinarians and approximately 660 APHIS veterinarians who are uncertain of the future.  Amid the troubled economy and reduced government budget, the 3100 federal veterinarians have real concerns about their jobs.  Public practice veterinarians serve the people of this country by protecting our food supply, preventing animal disease, stopping the spread of disease, overseeing the use of pharmaceuticals, ensuring public health, and even serving in Congress.  It is unacceptable that you should worry about your future.  As a board member, I want to work with the other NAFV Board Members to ensure that our members can continue to serve the citizens of this country.


“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”—Andy Warhol.  This is a true quote.  Change will always take place, but we must be active to ensure that the right changes happen.  NAFV can be that advocate.  The implementation of the New Poultry Inspection System has made many federal veterinarians worry about their jobs.  Dr Edwards is there for the members to make sure that the change to a new system is smooth and that personnel rights are upheld.  One of the core goals of the NAFV is to educate the public to the services provided by federal veterinarians.  The Board members are proactive in showing the public what we do and that we are at the core of making this country safe.


Having graduated from veterinary school in 2011, Dr Edwards has fresh ideas that are invaluable within NAFV.  

Michael Mikhaiel, DVM, MPH, UAE, 1978 (FSIS BOD position)  

Dr Mikhaiel’s career in Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) began more than twenty nine years ago in California. He was SPHV assigned to various red meat and poultry plants in Fresno and Hanford in California. Currently, he is SPHV in Woodland Washington, Portland Circuit and Denver District Office. He was Frontline Supervisor (FLS) in Lexington, KY in 2005. Dr Mikhaiel was also a Frontline Supervisor (FLS) in Fresno, California from 2005 to 2007. He was also acting as FLS for Hanford Circuit for three months.   He was trained as an EIAO PHV and performed Food Safety Assessments (FSA) and conducted many recalls at various area / sites in California. Dr Mikhaiel was a PHV mentor trainer for Alameda District and he was privileged and was honored to train the majority of the newly hired PHV in California in both red meat and poultry. He is currently a PHV trainer for the Denver District.


Dr Mikhaiel has served as NAFV representative for the Alameda District for the past 28 years and currently the NAFV representative for the Denver District. He says he was enthusiastically assisted and supported his fellow veterinarians in California. He believe that we as public health veterinarians should be recognized by our agency as great resources and highly instrumental in accomplishing our agency missions and protecting the public health of our nation. He also believes that our issues and concerns should be addressed in a logical and professional manner.



Tom Vermeersch, DVM, MSU, 1980 (FSIS BOD alternate position)   

Dr. Vermeersch received his DVM from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980.  He practiced mixed food animal veterinary medicine for18 years, as a practice owner, in Western Iowa from 1980 to 1997 and 1999 – 2002.  He was employed as a corporate dairy veterinarian in two “start up” 1200+ cow dairies in 1998.


In 2002, Dr. Vermeersch joined FSIS. His primary FSIS work experience has been as a supervisory Public Health Veterinarian in high speed fat hog and fat cattle establishments.  He also provides relief PHV services in small sow/boar and “off spec” hog establishments. Since 2004, he has been assigned to an establishment in Beardstown, Illinois, which is a swine HIMP establishment.  In 2015 Dr. Vermeersch joined the FSIS Policy Development Division in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Vermeersch also serves the agency as a mentor and recruiter.


Dr. Vermeersch’s goals for NAFV are: to increase membership in NAFV, collaborate with federal agencies to promote veterinarians, and to increase veterinary input into agency management and policy decisions.  He has provided suggestions and advice on NAFV activities for several years.  He also served a 13 month detail to USDA Foreign Agricultural Service as an Agricultural Advisor in Kunar and Nangarhar from Dec. 2009 to January 2011 in support of the President’s Agricultural Strategy for Afghanistan.



Ahmad F. Jilani, DVM, PUN, 1965, (FSIS BOD alternate position)       

Dr Jilani started working with Pakistan Government in 1966.  He worked there for 4 years and transferred to London, England to obtain a Master’s degree.  He came to US in 1974 and worked in Microbiological / pathology Labs in two large hospitals in New York until he joined USDA.


Dr Jilani came to this country with lots of hopes and looking for opportunities for future as does every immigrant. He said to achieve your goals you have to work hard. As President Jimmy Carter said in his inauguration speech “This is a land of opportunities, it is up to you how much you can achieve”.  Dr Jilani came with his DVM degree from University of Punjab, Pakistan and was hoping to start a new life with US Department of Agriculture. But that was not easy he struggled like everyone else did. He had to prove myself as an equal to the veterinarians who graduated from the US as standards of education are different from foreign countries. He ‘proved’ himself to be equal to the veterinarians of this country by passing ECFG, Tofel, National Board exam, etc. He joined the USDA/ FSIS in 1986 as a caretaker of public health. He started his career from Texas in red meat inspection and within few years he moved to Boston, Massachusetts. He was working with all species of animals, covering 12 plants in New England area, consisting of 6 states. In this large territory, he inspected all species of animals including cattle, hogs, lambs, goats, horses, game animals, and poultry/turkeys. After spending about six years there, he moved to Eastern Shore of Maryland and worked in Delaware and Maryland in large poultry plants. He is still assigned there now.


During his college life and afterword, he was very active in different organizations and associations. Dr Jilani believes no organization moves forward without the member’s strength. He joined NAFV in his first year of appointment with FSIS in 1986 and since then he has taking part in all NAFV activities. In Boston, the chapter was almost abolished.  With his efforts the New England chapter became very popular within a year. He worked as secretary and president until he moved to Delmarva area. Here again he has worked hard to bring the NAFV chapter to life and once again this chapter became one of the most active chapters within NAFV.  He was elected president of the Chapter and is serving his fourth term.  He was elected Alt member Board of Directors the last 8 years and represented FSIS members in board meetings. Dr Jilani believes that no association or organization can work without the strength of the members, so he recruits newly hired veterinarians as NAFV members. He also emphasizes the value of the association and future of Federal Veterinarians.


Dr Jilani says “this association represents all the issues related to upgrading the status and work conditions of the Federal Veterinarian. I was involved when we were struggling to approve the overtime for field Veterinarians. I was actively involved to contact the Senators and Congressman when Farm Bill was in process of approving over time for field Veterinarians by the Congress.  After 12 years of constant struggle, NAFV was able to get approval for true overtime pay for field veterinarians. Previously GS-12 used to get paid GS-10/10 salary if the work overtime which was less than regular pay of GS-12.


Gary Brickler, DVM, BS, PUR, 1974 (APHIS BOD position)

Gary Brickler, a native of southern Indiana, is currently the Director for District 6 of USDA APHIS Veterinary Services.  The District is comprised of the 10 Western states and Pacific Territories.

He received a B.S. from the University of Kentucky and a D.V.M. from Purdue University.

Following graduation, Dr. Brickler practiced large animal medicine in Colorado for five years, before accepting a commission with Army and serving on active duty.

He joined USDA as a Field Veterinary Medical Officer in Chino, CA.  His career progression includes serving as Regional Specialist in Englewood, CO; Animal Care Regional Director in Tampa, FL and Minneapolis, MN; and Area Veterinarian for Washington and Alaska, and Area Veterinarian for California, Hawaii and Nevada.   From 2006 through 2008 he was secunded to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy to establish and direct the Crisis Management Centre for Animal Health.

Dr. Brickler continued his military career, serving 30 years in the Army Reserve, including command of the 109th Medical Detachment during deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.   He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in 2003 during operations in Iraq.



Rachel Cezar, DVM, MSU, 2002 (APHIS BOD position)  

Dr. Rachel Cezar is currently Director of Live Animal Imports for USDA APHIS Veterinary Services.  She has recently taken on this role in April 2016.  Previously, she served as a Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer and National Coordinator for the USDA Horse Protection Program.  In this position, she led multiple veterinarians and animal care inspectors responsible for enforcing the Horse Protection Act to eliminate “soring,” an illegal training practice designed to make a horse perform an exaggerated unnatural gait; one technique involves applying caustic painful chemicals to the horses’ legs.  Dr Cezar was in this position since 2007.  From 2004 to 2007, she began her service in the federal government as a Veterinary Medical Officer for USDA APHIS Veterinary Services in Michigan coordinating the Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance, Scrapie Surveillance and Wild Horse Burro Compliance Programs.


She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2002 from Michigan State University.  Prior to beginning her career in the federal government in 2004, Dr Cezar worked in equine veterinary hospitals in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Lexington, KY.  She has also served as a Public Health Officer in the Air National Guard in Fort Wayne, IN and Andrews AFB in Washington, DC from 2006-2012 and currently still holds her Major Officer status in the inactive ready reserves.


Dr Cezar is passionate about the veterinary profession and stays heavily engaged in organized veterinary medicine.  Along with serving on the NAFV board, she serves on the AVMA House of Delegates for the District of Columbia VMA, chairs the leadership development committee for American Association of Equine Practitioners and holds the presidency for Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative.



David Hsi, UUF, 2014 (APHIS BOD alternate position)  

Dr Hsi is a 2014 graduate of the University of Florida, from which he received his DVM and MPH.  During his college years, Dr. Hsi served as President of the Public Health and Service Club and participated in multiple internships with both USDA APHIS and FSIS, these experiences peaked his interest in joining the Federal Service.  After graduation he joined USDA FSIS OFO, where he was a SPHV in the Denver District.  Subsequent to this, he joined USDA APHIS VS STAS CEAH SDA as a VMO/ epi, the position he is currently in. Dr. Hsi is the lead author of “Comparing foodborne illness risks among meat commodities in the United States”, published in 2015 in the journal Food Control.




Stephan Schaefbauer, UG, 2006 (APHIS BOD alternate position)  

Dr. Stephan Schaefbauer obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia in 2006. As a student she worked with USDA-APHIS VS during the Exotic Newcastle Disease outbreak as well as being an extern at Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Dr. Schaefbauer started her career with USDA as an Import Risk Analyst in the National Center for Import and Export. She began working as an Epidemiology Officer in 2010 in Raleigh, NC, held the same position in Des Moines, Iowa and is now the Assistant Director in Minnesota.  In 2014, Dr. Schaefbauer’s dedication to public service was recognized when she was presented with the APHIS Women of Character, Courage and Commitment Award. Recently she was the recipient of the 2016 Young Achiever award from the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary.


Dr. Schaefbauer currently serves on the AVMA’s Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine. Some of her past leadership positions includes serving as President of the American Association of Food Safety Veterinarians, Vice President of Education for the Centennial Toastmasters, and serving on the AVMA Diversity Taskforce and the AVMA 20/20 Commission. She also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine.


John Sanders, DVM TEN 1985, DACVPM (Representing Other Agency’s as their Board Member)   

Dr. John Sanders is a Veterinary Medical Officer in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Health Affairs (OHA), Food, Agriculture, and Veterinary Defense Division (FAVD). He is the Section Lead for food protection working on improving the nation’s preparedness to respond to a catastrophic food borne event.


OHA oversees efforts to coordinate medical first responders, ensure interagency alignment of health and medical preparedness grants, develop policies and programs to enhance all-hazards planning, promote integration of state and local response capabilities and prepare for and respond to catastrophic incidents.


Dr. Sanders’ 25 year career in government has spanned four agencies across three departments: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services (USDA-FSIS), the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (HHS-FDA), and DHS’ Office of Health Affairs (OHA).


His past leadership includes serving as the Vice Chair, and then the Chair for the U.S. Animal Health Organization’s Public Health and Rabies committee from 2001-2002 and then 2003-2008 respectively, and serving on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians from 2004-2008. He is actively involved in several professional organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians, American Association of Avian Pathologists, and Society of Risk Analysis.

Dr. Sanders has received over 40 awards for his work on veterinary issues. In 2008, he received the Helwig-Jennings Award from the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine for his “Significant and lasting Contribution to Veterinary Public Health.”

Dr. Sanders holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medical Degree from the University of Tennessee, and a Master of Exercise Practitioner designation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute.


Sebastian Heath, DVM, PhD, MPVM, Cambridge 1985 (Representing Other Agency’s as the alternate Board Member)   

Dr Heath’s education includes: Ph.D., Comparative Epidemiology, Purdue University; MPVM, University of California Davis; MVetSci, University of Saskatchewan, Canada; VetMB, Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, England.


Dr Heath has nearly 25 years of experience working with government, non-profit and for profit communities to improve public health and safety, market competitiveness and environmental protection through their relationships to animals. Over the last two decades he has improved the overall emergency preparedness and response capacity in over 30 U.S. State Emergency Management Agencies, convinced industry to integrate the care of animals into existing operations, and led animal disease control programs.


In his current position as Branch Chief at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) he has over a decade experience in as diverse areas as Incident Complexity Analysis, Environmental and Historic Preservation, grant lifecycle management, program performance, strategic budgeting and workforce planning, developing work plans and processes, job aids, implementing audit management actions, Records Management and Compliance, as well as negotiating and implementing workplace policies with Labor Unions.


Previous positions he has held include Senior Staff Veterinarian with the USDA Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS); Consultant at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); Diplomacy Fellow at USAID for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); and Chief of Large Animal Medicine, Purdue University, IN.


Volunteer positions he has held include Vice Chair of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Regulatory Advisory Panel; Technical Director, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); President and Treasurer of the District of Columbia Veterinary Medical Association (DCVMA); President, Secretary and Treasurer of the American Academy on Veterinary Disaster Medicine (AAVDM), Past President of the American Veterinary Medical History Society (AVMHS) and Counselor on Basic Science, World Veterinary Association.