Leadership

/ Leadership

Jenni Rizzo, DVM

Founder

Jenni Rizzo, DVM graduated from Kansas State University and moved straight to Texas to being practicing. She has worked with wonderful teams in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Schertz as an emergency veterinarian. She has also performed thousands of free or low-cost spay and neuter services for families with financial need in both cities, through her work with shelters and non-profit organizations.

Dr. Rizzo has served as an Executive Board Member on the Board of the American Heartworm Society since 2016. Through the AHS, she founded and maintains the AHS Student Liaison Program, which identifies student leaders at veterinary schools nationally and internationally. She and the Student Liaisons ensure that all veterinary students feel confident to prevent and treat heartworm disease in practice.

Dr. Rizzo founded Lone Star Veterinary Academy, because she wasn’t satisfied the types of continuing education events she had attended in the past. It bothered her to get stuck in an overflow room, to wait in line behind hundreds of people for every activity, or to have to walk a marathon to get from one lecture to the next. As an introvert, the thought of scooting down narrow isles in a crowded lecture hall can be overwhelming! Her goal in starting Lone Star Veterinary Academy was to create comfortable community – an experience that’s more productive, less stressful, and gives learners the tools they need to help a subject stick. Now several years into planning these programs, we LOVE making events that are as fun and educational as they are cozy!

Dr. Rizzo couldn’t find the energy to balance so many projects, if not for her husband, Jared, and four family dogs. In their free time, the whole family loves hiking, sitting on the back porch, and taking frequent trips to the beach. Say hi to Jared at our next in-person conference! He’s there at every event working behind the scenes to ensure everyone’s happy, relaxed, and well fed.

Contact Dr. Rizzo.

Pistol Pete

Chief Executive Dog

Pistol Pete is a Black Mouth Cur mix and is Dr. Rizzo’s right-hand man. She may think she’s in charge, but he really gives the barking orders at this office. Pistol Pete was rescued by a Good Samaritan as a tiny, starving puppy in 2013. He made a heroic recovery after several nights in the hospital and has been stealing hearts ever since. He loves going to work every day and meeting new people. His jobs include: licking stamps, office doorbell, emotional support, and social media influencer. You can follow Pistol Pete on Instagram @lonestar_vetacademy , or on facebook @lonestarvetacademy.

Michelle Popilek

Michelle Popilek

Chief Event Strategist

Michelle Popilek has worked in the veterinary industry for over 10 years. She has had the opportunity to experience the industry on many levels. She started in non profit and moved on to manage multiple hospitals as well as managed a 10 year project of breed specific research and content development.

She started in this field for the same reason we all do – the pets! Along the way, she fell in love with the people. She believes that animal care providers are a unique group of people who deserve industry specific support. Michelle pursued the new Brave Space Certification through the AVMA in 2021.

“When we create environments for people to be themselves we attract more talent and diversity to the industry. When we feel accepted, it is easier for us to be open about struggles we may be experiencing. I became Brave Space Certified through the AVMA and a member of PrideVMC to be part of the solution. With Dr. Rizzo’s support, I am excited to work with LSVA in creating more forward thinking, safe space events chalked full of valuable CE. I appreciate LSVA’s commitment to inclusivity.”

Currently, Michelle serves as the Practice Manager for an AAHA Accredited hospital in Texas and serves as the Chief Event Strategist for LSVA.

“Veterinary CE is an area of high investment that could be leveraged better as a support avenue. It is my perception that CE conferences are geared toward sales opportunities for the large vendors. If we shifted gears and concentrated on creating a safe learning environment to be shared with like minded animal care givers, we could better support the humans who carry the field. As a Practice Manager, I love nothing more than to see my team return from CE refreshed, focused and EXCITED!”

Michelle fills her own cup kayaking with her husband and caring for their 3 sons. She has 3 dogs and has fostered a number of animals that we won’t post publicly 🙂

Meet the Event Coordinators

Each program requires extensive commitment and planning. When you attend an LSVA weekend, you’ll meet several wonderful people who help ensure the program runs smoothly!

Jared Rizzo

Jared Rizzo, Dr. Rizzo’s husband, helps with moderating and works behind the scenes throughout the year on any and all projects. Kassi M. is our resident social media extraordinaire! Joe N, Amanda M, and others, assist with logistics, photography, and organization each weekend, to ensure guests are welcomed with a smooth check in process, have their questions answered, and receive everything they need. We’re grateful to have their support!

Christian Powell

Christian Powell, Christian Powell Web Design, designed our website is wonderful for answering all of our technical questions. She continually updates and improves our site, to ensure it meets the needs of our growing community.