Learn more below about the five women who are doing their best to keep up with this group!
We are all more than “just” moms or “just” veterinarians.
Babies, spouses, work, wine… Life gets crazy down here in the trenches! We are here for you—ears to listen and shoulders to lean on. We are here to cry, laugh, and celebrate with each other.
This is a group for moms. This is a group for veterinarians. This is a group for women.
Our goal for this group is to create a community of support as we all try to walk that thin, thin line of balance between being a mom, a veterinarian, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and an individual.
Jordan Gesimondo, DVM, MPH
I became a veterinarian in 2011 when I graduated from Colorado State University. While I always knew I wanted to be a veterinarian, nobody could have prepared me for the extent of what the field involved. My path to motherhood was very similar. While I always knew I wanted to be a mom, nobody openly talked about the reality of it all. My first child’s birth was traumatic, with a plethora of postpartum complications. Everyone talks about the pleasantries of motherhood. Nobody tells you your recovery may be brutal, you may struggle to bond with your baby, or have crippling postpartum anxiety and depression. They don’t mention the night sweats, the difficulty of breastfeeding, the mastitis, the urge to smack your sleeping partner, or the sleep deprivation so severe that you can’t remember your own name. Then, just as you are learning up from down, maternity leave is over, and you go back to work.
For me, navigating the challenges of veterinary medicine with a baby that would not sleep more than two hours at a time was a form of torture. If it weren’t for my good friend, Megan Emerick, I’m not sure I would have made it. Luckily, we were in the same stage of life, and knowing I wasn’t alone was monumental. Megan had the brilliant idea of forming a Facebook group to help support our friends in similar situations. With that, DVMoms was born.
I graduated with an MPH from the University of Minnesota in 2016. It was a two-year dual degree program that I should have completed with my DVM by 2012. However, since they offered a generous seven years to complete it, and I have an honorary Ph.D. in procrastination, I utilized every minute of those seven years. My interest in public health initially centered around zoonotic disease and global public health. As I became more established in private clinical practice, my eyes were opened to the vast need for support within our own veterinary community.
I’m not sure anyone could have predicted what this field would become with the social media era, the crushing student debt, the suicide rate, or the rapidly increasing expectations of clients and employers alike. I now know that for this field to be sustainable, the health we need to focus on is our own. My passion focuses on all my veterinary colleagues’ mental, physical and emotional health, but particularly mothers needing support in a field that often fails to recognize the struggles unique to being a veterinarian and a parent. I strive to be a present, loving mother to my kids while also being a caring, compassionate veterinarian to my patients and clients. I truly believe that with positive changes, it will be possible to do both.
Rebecca Johnson, DVM
I ended up in veterinary medicine by chance. After graduating from Rice University with a degree in art history, I drifted between food service jobs. Eventually, I ultimately landed a receptionist position at a small animal clinic in Austin, Texas. Something clicked immediately, and I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was drawn into the profession by the compassionate problem-solving nature of caring for pets. While that is still the underlying force that sustains me, I’ve grown to be just as passionate about caring for the people in the field. I get deep satisfaction from helping colleagues recognize their strengths, find their strong voices, and speak up for themselves and others.
When I began my career, I struggled to find female role models in a field dominated by women. Over time, I learned that female role models are everywhere. But, we don’t always know how to make ourselves heard. I saw the importance of using my voice to teach women around me to use theirs. My proudest professional accomplishments have nothing to do with medicine or surgery but rather knowing that I’ve contributed to a sense of confidence in the women I’ve had the opportunity to mentor.
I’m originally from Rochester, New York. After college in Houston and veterinary school in Boston, my husband and I settled in Phoenix, Arizona. We became adoptive parents in 2013 to two children who have, as all children do, stretched our capacity for love and strength more than we ever imagined possible. Our parenting journey has opened my eyes to the tremendous need for better and more accessible family support within our profession. I grew up surrounded by people who value family and community over all else. My family has always been quick to offer support to people in need, and I’ve tried to carry that philosophy with me into my professional life. DVMoms fills a great need in our community, and I am proud to be a part of it.
Leighnoelle Pogorzelski, Practice Manager
I began my career in the veterinary medicine field 26 years ago. Thanks to a part-time position working as a veterinary receptionist while attending college for communications and marketing, my eyes were opened to the wonders of veterinary medicine. What I thought would be a fantastic summer job turned out to be a blessing in disguise, a chance to alter my professional trajectory in a way that fulfills me more than I had imagined. It was due to a few incredible mentors at that first clinic, those that encouraged me and taught me along the way, that I pushed myself to continue to evolve professionally and personally. That experience made me realize how valuable a genuine mentorship can be and motivated me always to reach out and try to give others the same guiding hand that I was offered. Your community is your strength in so many ways!
Over my years in veterinary medicine, I have continuously watched co-workers struggle with finding an acceptable quality of life. We are traditionally very hard workers, often perfectionists, who carry a deep level of compassion and empathy and an unforgiving desire to please. A healthy balance of work and family, and the necessary level of self-care, are often viewed as unachievable. However, the further into that frame of mind we get, the more crucial that balance becomes. I myself have often struggled with it, trapped in long hours with no breaks and never feeling able to say “enough.” Many times, the only thing that helped me maintain my sanity and inner strength was focusing on my own health and wellness. Keeping my body healthy and strong and my mind in a positive and clear space has been my one consistent therapy. Realizing this immense power of personal wellness inspired me to earn a certification in personal training, allowing me the opportunity to motivate and assist others in finding and maintaining their own health. This, coupled with developing and teaching leadership and mentorship programs, offers me the chance to help others become a better version of themselves, both in their careers and in their personal lives – something I’m so grateful to be a part of.
Now, more than ever, I believe our focus as a profession MUST shift to a place where self-care can be a priority and an admirable action, rather than a sign of weakness or a lack of dedication to our clients and patients. Being a part of this organization allows me the opportunity to help spearhead that movement.
Liz Bales, VMD
My name is Dr. Liz Bales, VMD. I am a 2000 graduate of The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine who has gained a special interest in cats’ unique behavioral and wellness needs. As a writer, speaker, and featured expert in all things cat around the globe, I have made appearances on Fox and Friends, ABC News, SiriusXM The Doctors, NPR’s How I Built This, The Dr. Katy Pet Show, and Cheddar. I am the Chief Veterinary Advisor for Modern Cat Magazine and a popular lecturer at national veterinary conferences. I’m honored to be on the Dean’s Alumni Board at The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the Advisory Board for AAFP Cat Friendly Practice, The Editorial Board for DVM360/Fetch, The Vet Candy Advisory Board, and the Advisory Board of Fear Free. I also serve on the Human Animal Bond Social Media and Continuing Education committees and the Pet Professional Guild Feline Committee.
I’m a prolific writer and regular contributor to Fear Free Happy Homes, Modern Cat Magazine, Pet MD, Chewy.com, and Barks Magazine. I’m also the face of Take Your Cat to the Vet 2020 for The American Association of Feline Practitioners.
I’m proud to be the founder of Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co. I invented The Hunting Feeder, which launched with a successful Kickstarter campaign and two years as Chief Executive Officer with the Philadelphia 76ers Innovation Lab, has changed the way veterinarians recommend that cats are fed. We’re launching a full line of products for cats that can be found everywhere from your local pet store to Amazon to Chewy to Target.
Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co.
Doc Liz Bales
Middlebury College, BA 1995
The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 2000
Activities and Honors
Alumni Commencement Speaker at The University Of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 2020
19 Women to Watch Women & Wealth Magazine 2019
The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
The Human-Animal Bond Association
The Pet Professionals Guild.
As the inventor of the international award-winning The Hunting Feeder for cats, Dr. Bales launched The Hunting Feeder with a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Inaugural Member of Philadelphia 76ers Innovation Lab
Stephanie Hickey, DVM
I look forward to seeing where this group takes our profession and being able to empower Vet Moms in anything they decide to do with their career!