College names its 2024 Distinguished Award winners

2024 UFCVM Distinguished Award Winners
The UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s 2024 Distinguished Winners from left to right, are: Dr. Steven Rosenthal, Dr. Kendra Stauffer, Dr. Maureen Long, Dr. Stephanie Sabshin and Dr. Arnold Goldman. Not pictured is Dr. Jim Wellehan.

By Sarah Carey

Individuals whose contributions to the veterinary medical profession range from combating diseases in animals and humans to patient care, public health and access to veterinary care have received the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s 2024 Distinguished Awards.

The program recognizes outstanding alumni and friends of the college.

Kendra Stauffer, D.V.M., Steven Rosenthal, D.V.M., and James Wellehan, D.V.M., Ph.D., received Alumni Achievement Awards in the D.V.M. and M.S./Ph.D. categories.

A 1999 graduate of the college and a veterinary epidemiology specialist, Stauffer served on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine and on the American Association of Public Health Veterinarians. She has received numerous awards for her public health service, including the James H. Steele Veterinary Public Health Award.

Stauffer worked for 20 years as a federal veterinarian in domestic and international positions and in animal and human health agencies. She started with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in 2004 and has served in various capacities and states. She was a field veterinary medical officer, emergency coordinator and area veterinarian-in-charge in Florida and held leadership roles during the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak of 2021-2024. She also led the COVID-19 strike team, integrating into the FEMA/Las Vegas Public Health Incident Management Team with oversight for 60 vaccinators.

Stauffer worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an epidemic intelligence service officer. She is now the District 1 director in field operations for veterinary services with USDA-APHIS, leading animal disease prevention and surveillance programs from Maine to Puerto Rico.

Rosenthal is a 1990 graduate of the college. After graduation, he completed an internship and residency in small animal internal medicine with a focus on cardiology at the Animal Medical Center in New York, becoming board certified in cardiology in 1994.

Throughout his career in private cardiology referral practice, Rosenthal helped train over 25 cardiology residents, numerous interns and veterinary students as a founding partner of CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets.  He’s now co-chief medical officer of CVCA, with 27 locations in the United States.

Rosenthal serves as the cardiology consultant for the Smithsonian National Zoo, the Maryland Zoo and the National Aquarium. Throughout his CVCA tenure, Dr. Rosenthal has been active in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, or ACVIM, through committee chairmanships and most recently as president of cardiology. He and his team have participated in numerous monumental clinical trials. He continues to use the CVCA platform to improve care for veterinary cardiac patients and further understanding of cardiac disease in animals.

Wellehan received his D.V.M. as well as an M.S. degree in molecular veterinary biosciences from the University of Minnesota in 2001. He received his Ph.D. at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010 following his residency in zoological medicine and is now a professor here.

A board-certified specialist in both zoological medicine and veterinary microbiology, Wellehan co-directs UF’s Zoological Medicine Laboratory, where he initiated molecular diagnostic testing in 2002. He is a clinician with the UF zoological medicine service and veterinarian of record for the Santa Fe Teaching Zoo and Lubee Bat Conservancy.

Wellehan’s research interests focus on evolution and ecology of pathogens of nondomestic animals, with an emphasis on molecular diagnostics and pathogen discovery. He has published 230 peer-reviewed publications and 40 book chapters/invited reviews.

Maureen Long, D.V.M., Ph.D., received the college’s Distinguished Service Award. After graduation from the Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986, she worked in private practice as an equine practitioner, later completing a residency in large animal internal medicine combined with a M.S. degree at the University of Illinois. Long then completed a residency in microbiology combined with a Ph.D. at Washington State University.

Now a professor emeritus, Long joined the UF faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor of large animal clinical sciences, later attaining tenure as a full professor. She is highly published as well as co-editor of the book, “Equine Infectious Diseases.”

Long’s interests have focused on emerging infectious diseases, including the West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses. In her work with West Nile virus, she studied the comparative efficacy of equine WNV vaccines. She also examined the pathological responses in the nervous system to equine infectious neurological disease, including the causative agent of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. For this work, she was awarded the Fern Audette Endowed Chair in Equine Studies.

In recent years, her work has evolved to include a broad focus in One Health, investigating human arboviruses such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya. She has studied SARS-CoV-2 vaccine responses in humans and SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals and is currently the associate director of shared research resources at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute.

Arnold Goldman, D.V.M., received the Distinguished Service Award. A 1986 graduate of the college, he has been involved in organized veterinary medicine for over 25 years and recently completed a six-year term as treasurer of the American Veterinary Medical Association. He is a candidate for president of the Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association and continues to volunteer on behalf of the AVMA.

Goldman has spent his career in companion animal practice, founding Canton Animal Hospital in Canton, Connecticut, where he still works full time. He also serves as the attending veterinarian for the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in Bloomfield, Connecticut. In 2011, he completed an M.P.H. degree at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and in 2015 was accredited as a certified emergency manager by the International Association of Emergency Managers, the world’s only veterinarian with the designation at the time.

Goldman has served on the boards and as president of the Hartford County VMA, Connecticut VMA and New England VMA. He’s founder and vice president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Foundation and created the group’s Connecticut State Animal Response Team and Companions-in-Crisis domestic violence mitigation program. He served on disaster preparedness working groups for federal, regional and state governments and was founding president of the National Alliance of State Animal & Agricultural Emergency Programs.  He was named Connecticut Veterinarian of the Year in 2005 by the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association and received the group’s Distinguished Service Award in 2017.

Stephanie Sabshin, D.V.M., is a 2012 graduate of the college. She is the founder, executive director and surgeon at Harmony Vet Care, a nonprofit organization that provides a unique and revolutionary approach to veterinary medicine.

Her background ranges from full-service private practice to low-cost shelter medicine. In 2018, she founded Harmony Vet Care to provide solutions to problems of access when veterinary care proves too expensive for many pet owners, as well as problems affecting veterinary staff, such as overwork, inadequate pay and compassion fatigue.

The organization aims to provide pet owners high-quality care at an affordable price and to provide staff with a living wage, competitive benefits and a safe and supportive working environment. Since opening in 2018, Sabshin has helped Harmony grow to three locations that serve more than 60,000 clients and 120,000 patients with eight full-time doctors and 60 full-time support staff.

Through partnerships with local rescues, local referral hospitals and the county shelter, Harmony is aiding local rescue efforts, particularly with regard to sick and injured animals, decreasing owner surrenders due to medical conditions and inability to afford veterinary care, and helping owned animals get the lifesaving medical care they need when finances are tight. Additionally, the organization is aiding in the efforts to spay, neuter and vaccinate the local feral cat population. 

The awards were presented May 24 during the college’s commencement ceremony at UF’s Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.