AVSAB Executive Board
We welcome you to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and hope you will consider joining our growing community of veterinarians.
Introducing AVSAB’s Executive Board
Dr. Sally Foote
Dr Sally J Foote is a small animal veterinarian with a behavior practice in a small town, Tuscola Illinois, just south of her ( and Dr Ciribassi’s) alma mater University of Illinois.
She has owned Okaw Veterinary Clinic for over 25 years, and in that course developed a passion for helping owners prevent behavior problems as well as helping resolve them.
In 2010, Dr Foote presented at the AVSAB behavior symposium a method to record and score positive conditioners to the veterinary clinic. That presentation sparked a passion to promote low stress – pet friendly handling techniques to veterinarians, technicians, staff and owners. She is currently on the Fear Free Practice board headed by Dr Marty Becker.
Since 2011 Dr Foote has also held the position of student chapter liason unitl accepting the president elect position. Providing veterinary behavior education through student chapter activities is extremely important in becoming a well rounded veterinarian.
Dr. John Ciribassi
AVSAB Immediate Past President
Dr. John Ciribassi has served two terms as President of AVSAB and has been instrumental in leading the organization to its current prominence. Dr. Ciribassi is currently owner of Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants in Carol Stream, IL and the Carol Stream Animal Hospital with his wife, Elise, who is also a veterinarian.
Dr. Fiia Jokela
Dr. Fiia Jokela is the President-Elect of AVSAB. She is a 1990 DVM graduate of Purdue University and became board certified in Canine and Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in 1998.
Dr. Jokela founded Deer Run Animal Hospital in Schererville, IN in 2001. In 2016 she sold the practice to devote more time to her passion for behavior medicine but still sees behavior consultations at the hospital. In 2016 Dr. Jokela also started a non-conforming behavior residency under the mentor-ship of Sara L. Bennett, DVM, MS, DACVB.
Dr. Jokela currently does behavior consultations all over the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area. Special interest areas include shelter behavior and welfare and minimizing handling stress in shelters and in all veterinary settings.
Dr. Jokela is the Veterinary Behavior Consultant for the “A Sound Beginning Program” in the Chicagoland area which is a unique program that helps support and build bonds between new adopters and their pets. The program focuses on preventing common behavioral problems and teaching canine communication skills and positive reinforcement training.
Dr. Carolyn Lincoln
AVSAB Corresponding Secretary
Dr. Carolyn Lincoln lives in Cleveland, OH and graduated from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1990. She always had a keen interest in behavior and training.
During veterinary school, she completed a behavior medicine externship with Dr. Bonnie Beaver at Texas A&M confirming this was her destiny.
After working years in small animal general practice, she began Play To Behave, LLC, a practice limited to behavior in 2009 as a part-time venture. As of Fall 2013, with her business growing, she decided to devote herself full-time and loves her work. She also competes in dog agility, teaches puppy and dog agility classes and is active in a number of related organizations.
She and her husband, David, have four children, one dog and two cats.
Dr. Meredith Stepita
AVSAB Recording Secretary
Dr. Meredith Stepita grew up in Maryland, but now calls Northern California home. She received her DVM from the University of Tennessee in 2006 and then completed an internship in Arizona.
After working in general veterinary practice in the Phoenix area she went on to complete a residency in Clinical Veterinary Behavior at the University of California-Davis.
Today Dr. Stepita owns a veterinary behavior practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, helping pet owners improve their pet’s behavior problems. Her research involves the frequency of parvovirus in puppies attending puppy socialization classes, finding that vaccinated puppies attending these classes were no more likely to be diagnosed with parvovirus than those not attending these classes.
Her areas of interest include canine and feline anxiety and aggression, the human-animal bond, and animal welfare.
Dr. Stepita shares her life with her husband Chris and their dogs (Chewy and Snoopy), cats (Maddie, Cali, and Tarzan), and the occasional foster dog.
Dr. Terri Derr
Terri A. Derr, D.V.M. is a 1981 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her undergraduate degree in Zoology included training in ethology, the science of animal behavior in the natural environment. Since graduation she has pursued extensive professional continuing education in animal behavior. In 1995 she began seeing behavior cases as part of her general veterinary practice, and in the years since then has seen hundreds of cases.
Dr. Derr founded Veterinary Behavior Options in 2004 to keep pets in their homes by providing convenient, reasonably priced behavior consultations to veterinary clients. Dr. Derr has an abiding interest in the welfare of shelter animals; she has served as Staff Veterinarian as well as Director of Operations for several area humane societies.
Dr. Derr is licensed in Minnesota and Ohio. She is a member of the AVMA, MVMA, OVMA, and the Association for Shelter Veterinarians, as well as being a member of the Speakers Bureau of AVSAB. As the Director of Behavior for FosterMyPet she helped pet owners in crisis keep their pets.