Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, has earned the top honor for public service veterinarians.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) presented Ragan, who is also an associate professor of practice in the Department of Population Health Sciences, with its 2017 Public Service Award at the AVMA Convention in Indianapolis last month. Established in 1968, the AVMA Public Service Award recognizes an association member for outstanding public service while an employee of a government agency or for education of veterinarians in public service activities.

“In her academic role, Dr. Ragan has utilized her passion and knowledge of the field of veterinary public practice to form a unique and premier training program for the students at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and for students and graduate veterinarians across the U.S.,” wrote Bess Pierce, associate professor of small animal internal medicine and canine sports medicine at Lincoln Memorial University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in her nomination letter. “She has been a mentor and source of information to innumerable individuals seeking career changes from the private to the public sector of veterinary medicine, and the leader of the public/corporate curriculum track at the veterinary college.”

Ragan focuses her efforts at the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine on providing opportunities for student engagement in national and international veterinary and animal health organizations. She also works around the world on the control and eradication of brucellosis — a disease that causes spontaneous abortions in cattle and has a serious and sometimes fatal impact on humans — and on projects related to building veterinary capacity and infrastructure.

After completing her doctor of veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia in 1983, Ragan started out as a small animal practitioner before transitioning to veterinary services with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. She rose to assistant deputy administrator of veterinary services, serving as the national coordinator of animal health surveillance and establishing the National Surveillance Unit at the USDA Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health.

Ragan gained national and international prominence for her efforts to control and eradicate brucellosis during her time at the USDA, where she trained veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals and developed policy in collaboration with professionals in almost a dozen countries.

“In recognition for her efforts with USDA, Dr. Ragan received the USDA Performance Award, numerous certificates of appreciation, certificates of merit, USDA Secretary’s Group Honor Awards for Excellence and the USDA Service Award,” Pierce added. “Clearly, she is a leader in the profession with her knowledge, experience, and passion in this worldwide effort to control such a costly and important zoonotic disease of livestock.”

Following her career at the USDA, Ragan then led a veterinary consulting company engaged in resolving animal health issues and building international veterinary capacity before joining the veterinary college faculty in 2009. She continues to partner with governments and nongovernmental organizations around the world to train and advise veterinarians and policymakers on brucellosis.

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