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VHCTAz Leadership Committee Chairs
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VHCTAz Leadership

Meet your VHCTAz Leadership Committee Chairs. These dedicated and passionate individuals lend their voice to bring resources, education and advancements to the Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona.


Client Services Community


Erika Hewlett, BSACC

43rd Avenue Animal Hospital

Erika Hewlett graduated from the University of Phoenix in Phoenix, AZ in 2012 with a degree in accounting. She is currently the practice manager of 43rd Ave. Animal Hospital. She started working in the veterinary field in 1996. Erika’s has been in the veterinary field for 20 years. Her career started at Safari Animal Care Centers in Houston, TX. After working various positions from kennel assistant, customer service representative, and veterinary technician, she started working for VetPlan, a veterinary software and consulting company. Erika traveled all over the United States to set up wireless networks, install software and provide business consulting. Erika increased the revenue at 43rd Avenue Animal Hospital by 10% in the first year of employment. She has also transitioned the hospital from paper medical records to digital medical records. Erika’s management style has more of an emphasis on finance and training. Her ultimate goal is to continue to grow the human-animal bond through education of veterinary staff and pet owners. 





Position Available





Position Available





Kennel & Veterinary Assistants Community


Lisa Donimari, CVT, BS, M.Ed.

Western Maricopa Education Center

My name is Lisa Donimari and I have dedicated over 23 years to the veterinary field. I started as a support staff member in a general practice during the early years of my undergraduate work at Grand Canyon University. During my beginning years, I realized that veterinary medicine was where I needed to be. I transitioned into emergency medicine and stayed there for 13 years. In addition, I completed post-graduate work at Grand Canyon University. Eager to start a new challenge, I went into Oncology where many doors opened for me. I was part of multiple FDA studies, conference moderator, conference speaker, and annual conference chair host. These experiences, in addition to treating patients with both chemotherapy and radiation, have had a big impact on my life. Prior to becoming a veterinary science instructor, I enhanced my leadership skills as a practice manager. After two years, I decided to take the front stage in the classroom. I am on my third-year teaching veterinary science at West-MEC. I also serve as the district host for the veterinary science advisory board, active HOSA advisor and campus strategic plan community outreach champion.

I am excited to serve as the chair for the Kennel Staff/Veterinary Assistants Community. I feel that my experiences, leadership skills, and community partnerships can all help to create a successful team.





Jen Schwartz, MAT, BASc, CVT

East Valley Institute of Technology 

Being in love with animals her whole life, Jen began her career in veterinary medicine at a small Humane Society in Colorado. There she discovered her passion: providing nursing care to animals. Determined to further her career she enrolled in the Veterinary Technology program at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford, North Carolina, where she earned her AAS and became a credentialed veterinary technician in 2004.

Jen married her best friend, who was in the Army at the time. Being a military wife, Jen followed her husband around the country and continued to work as a veterinary technician. She worked primarily in small animal general practice, with some experience with exotics animal medicine, zoo animal medicine, and internal medicine. In 2011 she received her BASc in Veterinary Technology from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. In 2012 Jen began teaching high school veterinary science while continuing to work part-time in small animal general practice. In 2016 Jen earned her MAT Biological Sciences from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Currently, Jen is a credentialed veterinary technician in three states: North Carolina, Michigan, and Arizona. She is a Veterinary Assistant Instructor at the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) East Campus, and a Biology Professor at Central Arizona College (CAC) San Tan Campus. Jen lives with her husband, two dogs, a cat, two goats, two horses, a mini donkey, and a flock of chickens on her mini-farm in San Tan Valley.





Kristi Smith, CVT

Professional Dog Training

My name is Kristi Smith. I am a Certified Veterinary Technician and have served on the Board of Directors and Leadership Committee chair for the Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona since 2002.

From 2002-2009, I served as the Education Committee Chair, setting educational opportunities for veterinary staff statewide, and served from 2008-2009 as President. I currently serve as the Kennel Staff & Veterinary Assistants (VA) Community Leader Co-chair. I am continually working with and collaborating with veterinarians and veterinary staff on educational programs for the general public as an advocate for keeping pets in their homes through proper training and reducing the numbers of pets in shelters by spaying and neutering.

The VHCTAz Kennel Staff/VA Community is dedicated to bringing educational and networking opportunities to kennel staff in all veterinary hospitals to assist them in becoming a more cohesive part of the veterinary team, as well as assisting and supporting them in expanding their educational goals in the field of veterinary medicine.

Please participate in a Kennel/VA Community events and meetings to let your voice be heard. Kennel staff and veterinary assistants, this is your community and we need you!



Managers Community


Mandy Price, CVPM

Ingleside Animal Hospital

Hello! My name is Mandy Price. I'm originally from Boston, Massachusetts, however, for the last 17 years I have called Arizona my home. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Biology from Emmanuel College in 1998 and in 2009, I received my designation as a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager. I have been involved with the Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona since 2007 and have enjoyed numerous continuing education classes and at the same time created amazing relationships and camaraderie with other veterinary staff.


I am currently chair of the managers community. Our community will focus on excelling to the next level in customer service and professionalism. Our community will create an agenda of issues relating to managers and what continuing education and training is needed to confront and manage these issues. I hope that you will join me and other managers to create education for you and by you.





Kandi Nelson, CVPM

Pima North Animal Hospital

My name is Kandi Nelson. I began my career in veterinary medicine working as a kennel assistant right out of high school in 1997. I quickly moved to a veterinary assistant then manager in 1999. I earned the Certified Veterinary Practice Manager designation in 2007. I have been a member of the VHCTAz, but only recently became active in the group. For the past several years I was serving as a PTA board member at my son’s elementary school. Now that both of my boys are a bit older, I can contribute more time to the VHCTAz. I am looking forward to the networking opportunities, learning from others and assisting the committees however I can.





Kimberly Beadle

Red Mountain Animal Hospital

Bio coming soon!



Technicians Community


Sasha Willis, CVT

Midwestern University Companion Animal Clinic


Hi there!  My name is Sasha Willis.  I am a Certified Veterinary Technician and have worked in the veterinary field since 1998. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 1998 and took a job as a veterinary office assistant on the east coast. I immediately fell in love with veterinary medicine and went back to school and received a degree in veterinary science.  I moved back to Arizona in 2002 and became a CVT.  I have worked in emergency medicine, general practice, surgery, and cardiology but my true passion is Internal Medicine. I am currently working on earning my VTS (SAIM). I have served the Arizona Veterinary Medical Examining Board as a member of the CVT Exam Committee, as well as a member of the Arizona State Animal Response Team with FEMA. I am the Co-Lead Veterinary Technician at the Midwestern University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Companion Animal Clinic and I LOVE my job!  I have the privilege of teaching veterinary technical and nursing skills to Arizona’s future veterinarians!

I am very excited to be serving as a chair of the VHCTAz Technician Committee! I look forward to assisting the committee in its endeavors to provide resources and leadership to the Arizona Veterinary community.





Sharon Hebestreit, CVT

Northern Arizona Technician Services

Hello! My name is Sharon Hebestreit and I live in Coconino County, just outside of Flagstaff. I started my journey in veterinary medicine when I was a little girl, spending summers with my mom's best friend who was a veterinary technician for 40 years. I had many experiences with her that solidified my desire to work in animal medicine. I have worked in small and mixed animal practices for more than 20 years, and have recently moved into Career and Technical Education. I own and operate Northern Arizona Technician Services providing relief technician services, and teach a Veterinary Assistant class to high school students through Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry, And Technology (CAVIAT) in Flagstaff. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the VHCTAZ Technician Committee, and my focus is to advocate for the needs of technicians in rural parts of the state.





Joseph Miranda, CVT

Banfield Pet Hospital Scottsdale

Bio coming soon!





Stefanie Perry, CVT

Midwestern University Companion Animal Clinic 

My name is Stefanie Perry. Near my hometown in the south suburbs of Chicago, I began my career out of high school in 2001 as receptionist and veterinary assistant in feline specialty practice. After moving to Arizona in 2006, I was hired as a technician at KC Animal Hospital in Scottsdale where I was promoted to lead technician and ultimately to office manager. I obtained my CVT in 2010, and my Associate’s Degree in small business management during this time. After 9 years with KCAH, I accepted a position as Certified Veterinary Technician at Midwestern University’s Companion Animal Clinic. I have enjoyed working with different services at Midwestern including urgent care and speciality surgery, but I have ultimately found my ideal role as full time dentistry technician. I have recently completed tracking with the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians and was accepted as a candidate for my VTS (Dentistry). I am preparing for my exam later this year. Teaching veterinary students about the principles of dentistry has been so rewarding in the last 5 years.

My husband and I have been married for 15 years and we have an 11 year old son. We enjoy spending time with our three dogs, I enjoy crafting projects, and playing video games and star gazing with my son.


VHCTAz Advisory Council

Dan Levesque

Veterinary Neurological Center

I joined the Veterinary Neurological Center in 1998 after graduating from ASU with a bachelor's degree in biology. I became a Certified Veterinary Technician in 2003, and prior to becoming practice manager, I worked in each different support staff position at the hospital. I’ve enjoyed and appreciate the myriad of opportunities and subfields (e.g. nursing, client relations, phlebotomy, imaging technology, building maintenance, public relations) that are all attainable simultaneously in the veterinary field, unlike in the human medical field. I joined the VHCTAz Leadership Committee in 2014.

I’m excited to be a part of a professional group that understands and appreciates the vital role every member of the veterinary support staff makes. Good veterinary teams give the doctors the support they need in order to provide excellent care to each patient and client and these contributions directly translate to the overall success of the hospital. Being the first, and most evolved professional group of its kind, I’m proud to be involved with the VHCTAz, a “one-stop-shop” for veterinary staff to receive the support and tools to grow and excel, both professionally and personally.




Sandra Moore, CVT

Carrington College

My name is Sandra Moore, but I go by Sandy. I started my career in the veterinary field in 1996. I graduated from Long Medical Institute’s Veterinary Assistant Program, went on to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) in 2000, and in 2011, I attended DeVry University, where I obtained my Bachelors of Science degree.

My first position in a practice was as a veterinary assistant. From there I worked in positions as a kennel aide, receptionist, veterinary technician, and hospital manager. I have experience working in small animal practice, equine center and exotics practices, along with the Phoenix Zoo. In all of my experiences, I have learned from others and continue to love what I do.

I have been a member of the Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona since 2005, As past Chair of the Kennel Staff/Veterinary Assistants Community, I understand the vision is to help bring more educational opportunities and advance the skills of the employees in these positions. The Kennel Staff/Veterinary Assistants Community wants to help promote best practice ideas, knowledge through experiences, and the love of being a strong support team member. 




Jessie Nelson, CVT, VTS (Nutrition)

Pima Medical Institute - East Valley

Jessie is originally from North Dakota, but grew up primarily in Rapid City, SD. She graduated in 2009 with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science with an emphasis in veterinary technology. While in school, she acquired her first dog, Sage, who was a patient the students practiced on and Jessie formed a special bond with her.

After graduation, she worked in general practice in South Dakota and moved to Arizona in 2009 with Sage and one cat, Ivy.  She has since acquired 3 more dogs and 1 cat (Sadie, Basil, Myka, and Lil' Petey Pablo), who fit into the family perfectly.  Jessie found a passion for veterinary nutrition while working in specialty medicine.  She then went on to pursue a VTS in nutrition because she believes that we need more awareness about how truly vital nutrition is to every patient, every time.  Jessie has achieved many awards throughout her career, including the Dana Award for the human-animal bond. She was the president of the student chapter of NAVTA while in college and has continued to be an active member of NAVTA and of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians.

Jessie is currently on the advisory council of the Veterinary HealthCare Team of Arizona and will be Arizona’s NAVTA state representative in 2020.  Jessie joined the team at Pima Medical Institute in October 2019 as the veterinary program’s clinical director.  Jessie is outgoing, friendly, and her attitude and kindness really show that she loves what she does. In her free time she loves to be outside with her pets, riding her bicycle, and swimming with her dogs in the pool or reading on the sideline.