Pet Professional Guild Appoints New Inclusivity Division Chair
Inclusivity Division member Lorena Beatriz León-Patti steps up as division chair
Lorena is originally from Venezuela but has lived in the United States since she was 16 years old. She is the owner of Waggers Dog Works LLC in Orlando, FL, and has been training professionally since 2004. She is a Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT®) and a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP). She is also a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA®) through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
Most recently, Lorena became a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT) through Malena DeMartini's certification program and a Certified Scent Instructor through the U.K. College of Scent Dogs. After attending the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC) Institute for Clinical Animal Behavior via instructor invitation several years ago, she began partnering with veterinary behavior professionals in the interest of dogs' overall wellness. Since then, she has enjoyed being a "practice client," with her golden retriever Neecie as a demo patient, for veterinarians earning their Fear Free® certification at NAVC's annual Veterinary Meeting & Expo in Orlando.
A self-proclaimed "behavior geek," Lorena is constantly attending conferences, webinars and workshops to stay up to date in her field. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and a master's degree in aeronautical science, which prompt her to hold herself to an evidence-based standard when applying her education in dog training and behavior modification.
Since its inception 14 months ago, the Inclusivity Division has been developing initiatives to help support a more inclusive and diverse organization. Last year, PPG introduced scholarships for people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds, and the Inclusivity Division was instrumental in developing the concept for a new member offering called Divisional Meetups, free virtual events for members to join the conversation and ask questions of pet professionals and featured guests, live and in an informal format. Six times a year, the Inclusivity Division's meetups create opportunities for PPG members to learn about each other while celebrating their diversity and promoting a stronger feeling of inclusion across the membership.
Last year, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the Inclusivity Division held a special meetup featuring Dr. Eduardo Fernandez, Lorena Beatriz León-Patti, Sandra Machado and Ken Ramirez. To celebrate LGBT History Month and World Mental Health Day, PPG President Niki Tudge and Lorena Beatriz León-Patti hosted another special Inclusivity Division meetup featuring Lottie Bennett, Valarie Ross, Angel Rowe and Debbie Sheridan, from which PPG created an episode for its PPG Podcast.
"The goal is to shine a light on underrepresented professionals in our industry, helping us to understand their challenges and identify areas where they would like support," said Niki Tudge. "I am delighted that Lorena has agreed to this new role and am confident that her leadership can further grow the Inclusivity Division and PPG's professional community. In 2023, we will be rolling out a series of educational programs to help ensure that all of our processes, policies, initiatives, and strategic and operational decisions make people from minority groups feel welcome and supported, and encourage their participation in our organization. Supporting the growth of a diverse membership enables us to reach and help educate more pet owners and thus positively impact more pets' lives."
Added León-Patti, "When we welcome a dog into our lives, it is up to us to be their guide, rather than their 'master,' as they make their way in life with the human animal. It's not about molding them into our vision of who they should be, but to facilitate the full expression and joy of who and what they are while we are privileged with their presence in our lives. Just as all pet parents, regardless of racial and ethnic background, of religion, of orientation and/or of disability are deserving of the best care for their charges, every pet professional committed to pet care without the use of force, fear, intimidation or bullying also deserves to be part of a community that will support, cheer, provide education for and help them grow professionally. Pet professionals who are part of minority groups find it challenging to feel heard and welcome in many organizations, and I'd like for the PPG to be widely known for bucking the system in this regard. As a Hispanic woman, I'm well aware of how much representation matters. It matters to the gifted professionals that are part of this community, and to the clients that we help. And most of all, it matters for the well-being of the pets we all are ultimately passionate about."
The other members of PPG's Inclusivity Division are Aaron Jones, Angel Rowe, Debbie Sheridan, Rebekah King, Ruby Welsford, Valarie Ross and Lottie Bennett. All PPG members are eligible and welcome to join the Inclusivity Division.
About the Pet Professional Guild
The Pet Professional Guild (www.petprofessionalguild.com)