Big Ideas in Big Apple


Big Ideas in the Big Apple
is an event hosted by NYSVMS at New York Vet.

Our focus is on engagement with current issues facing veterinarians in New York and all NY Vet attendees are welcome.


Engage with your colleagues

This event brings together veterinarians to engage in discussions around current issues.

Our theme for 2019 is "Animal Welfare" and our goal is to increase the engagement of private-practice veterinarians with the work of their local community shelters. On the second day there is workshop to help build your skills at managing clients.

The event is held in one of the conference rooms at New York Vet in New York City, and will be designed to provide an environment where you can both learn, discuss and explore issues with other veterinarians. You can drop into any session while you are attending New York Vet, or join us for the whole program.


Here is the schedule:

Nov 7th : Animal Welfare
A series of presentations and workshops to help you understand how the Animal Welfare system works, what to do when caring for abused or stray animals, and how to help your local community shelter.

Nov 8th: Wellbeing
In the morning we will run a workshop on working with difficult clients so that you can reduce your workplace stress.  The afternoon program will look at issues like debt and career development.

To register

Attendance at "Big Ideas in the Big Apple" is included in your registration for New York Vet.

NYSVMS members and their veterinary technicians can take advantage of the NYSVMS member discount.

Use the registration link above to claim your discount.

Day 1 : Thursday Nov 7th

Animal Welfare for Private Practice Veterinarians

Your life is dedicated to caring for animals. Maybe you wonder what you could do more for animals without the safety of a caring home? This is the program for you.

NYSVMS has partnered with ASPCA to bring you a day of learning and discussion about how all veterinarians can become more effective at caring for the less fortunate animals in your community.

A panel of four experts from ASPCA will guide you through the day:
Dr. Alison Liu, Dr. Laura Niestat, Elizabeth Brandler, Erin Satterthwaite,

10:00-10:50 AM: An Overview of the Law and Reporting Animal Related Crimes

This presentation will provide an overview of animal related laws, both in New York and other states and discuss certain warning signs that veterinarians can look for to help identify suspected animal related abuse in their daily practice.  The presentation will further address best practices for documenting possible abuse and steps veterinarians can take to report such concerns to law enforcement, including the potential benefits and risks associated with reporting (and not reporting) suspected abuse to law enforcement. 


11:10-12:00: Real Case Examples related to Part 1

This will be a case-based presentation highlighting the topics covered in the first segment.  Each of the cases discussed will be an animal abuse case seen by the ASPCA over the past five years and will demonstrate key medical, forensic, and legal points. 


14:30-15:20: Walking Through a Case and How to Handle It

This will be an interactive discussion of one (or two) case example(s) from start to finish.  Participants will be called upon to use the information previously discussed to suggest best practices when faced with certain fact scenarios.  These best practices will include making a good faith report to authorities, providing appropriate veterinary medical treatment, documenting the animals’ injuries, communicating with owners, and preparing with prosecutors.


15:40-16:30: Testimony Workshop

This presentation will focus on tips for testifying in a criminal hearing or trial.   It will include tips for preparing a CV and an expert veterinary report as well as a mock Q&A where participants can see first-hand how to answer certain types of questions while testifying.

Panel from ASPCA

Dr. Alison Liu, Forensic Veterinarian.

Dr. Alison Liu obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University.  After completing a small animal medicine and surgery internship at the ASPCA Animal Hospital in New York City, she worked as a Shelter Veterinarian at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri.  During her nearly three years as Shelter Veterinarian, Dr. Liu also continued to assist the ASPCA’s Field Investigation and Response team with large scale animal cruelty cases.

Dr. Liu has been a Forensic Veterinarian with the ASPCA’s Forensic Sciences Team in New York City for four years.  She helps support to ASPCA’s partnership with the NYPD by providing forensic evaluation of both live and deceased animals that are part of alleged animal cruelty cases.  She has served as an expert witness in over thirty-five cases in New York City courts. 

Dr. Liu has earned Graduate Certificates in Veterinary Forensic Sciences and Shelter Medicine from the University of Florida.  She gives presentations to veterinary students and veterinarians about veterinary forensic medicine.


Dr. Laura Niestat, Forensic Veterinarian.
Dr. Laura Niestat is a 2000 graduate of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and completed a rotating internship in medicine and surgery at the Manhattan Veterinary Group. In 2016, she received a Master’s degree in Veterinary Forensic Science from the University of Florida.  

Dr. Niestat joined the ASPCA as a staff veterinarian in 2009 and began working exclusively with animal cruelty cases in 2013.  She joined the forensics team in 2014 and provides forensic support and expert witness testimony for animal cruelty investigations in New York City. 

Prior to coming to the ASPCA, Dr. Niestat served as the Medical Director at the Manhattan Veterinary Group on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and worked as an emergency and critical care clinician in Boston.  Dr. Niestat has delivered lectures and participated in trainings for the NYPD and veterinary professionals in forensic veterinary science and recognizing animal abuse.


Elizabeth Brandler, Legal Advocacy Senior Counsel.
Elizabeth Brandler currently serves as Legal Advocacy Senior Counsel for the ASPCA. In this role, Elizabeth is responsible for the development and management of the ASPCA’s second chair program, which provides legal support to law enforcement and prosecutors handling animal cruelty and animal fighting cases across the country.  Elizabeth also provides and oversees dedicated legal services for the ASPCA-NYPD partnership in New York City, and brings bonding and forfeiture petitions on behalf of the ASPCA.  Elizabeth also provides assistance and legal advice to other ASPCA departments that are involved in criminal case work.  

Elizabeth came to the ASPCA in 2012, after spending six years with the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, where she was an Assistant District Attorney in the Investigations Division. In that capacity, she successfully prosecuted numerous animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. She also served with distinction as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and as a Special Prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Beth received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Richmond and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Erin Satterthwaite, Legal Advocacy Bronx Counsel
Erin Satterthwaite currently serves as Legal Advocacy Bronx Counsel for the ASPCA. In her current position, Erin provides training and legal support to police and prosecutors handling animal cruelty and fighting cases in New York City. In her role, she regularly files bond and forfeiture petitions on behalf of the ASPCA in active criminal cases. She also provides legal support to the ASPCA departments involved in criminal case work, including the Humane Law Enforcement team and the Community Engagement team.

Prior to joining the ASPCA in August of 2017, Erin worked as a prosecutor in New York for seven years, with a specific focus on animal cruelty cases.  Erin earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida, and her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.  Erin lives in New York City and is licensed to practice law in both New York and North Carolina.

Day 2: Friday Nov 8th

Putting the Well into Your Wellbeing 

We all became veterinarians because we love animals and want to make a positive impact on their lives. We focus on the human animal bond, while building long lasting partnership with owners. Sometimes we have to have difficult conversations which are emotionally charged and can make our days hard. This day of workshops is will help us understand ourselves as well as how to change our the most difficult situations into an opportunity to thrive while we care for animals. You will be guided through the workshops by Makenzie Peterson, MSc, Wellness Program Director at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

10:00-10:50 AM:  Overwhelmed by Compassion Fatigue & Burnout? There Are Solutions!
Whether we're pushing through a difficult work week, struggling to address complexities, or navigating difficult cases and people, it's hard not to feel emotionally drained and wonder if we should keep going, if any of it is worth the stress. Feeling our sense of compassion for others and meaning in our work lessen as hard times persist is common but not unmanageable. Managing compassion fatigue and burnout will involve effort and intention, but will help us renew our passion over time and contribute to career longevity. This workshop will teach participants the difference between compassion fatigue and burnout and how to prevent and address them.

11:10 AM-12:00 PM: Imposter Syndrome: How Feeling “Not Good Enough” Might Be A Symptom of Success
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which a person believes that they are inadequate and incompetent despite evidence that indicates they are skilled and successful. This can result in an inability to internalize accomplishments and a persistent feeling of never being “good enough.” Imposter syndrome impacts our colleagues, supervisors, and our loved ones, and plays a role in how we interact with each other, our interpersonal communication, and how we present ourselves. In this workshop, participants will learn about the root causes of imposter syndrome and discuss the six dimensions of imposter syndrome. The group will also identify the five types of imposters, how these types manifest themselves in our lives, and explore ways to help themselves and others overcome imposter syndrome.

2:30-3:20 PM: Workplace Culture and Wellbeing: How To Make A Change
Trying to shift or change a practice culture is a long, arduous process, but worth the energy and effort to build a more resilient profession. Not only does this improve retention, it also improves moral and diminishes workplace burnout. This workshop will cover the top models for organizational culture change, how to incorporate multiple stakeholder needs, and navigating barriers to change such as; closed attitudes, counterproductive change dynamics, and lack of expertise. Participants will leave with an awareness and a framework to think more critically about how to achieve a culture of wellbeing in their practices and build more collective resilience in veterinary medicine.

3:40-4:30 PM:
Drafting Your Wellbeing Framework: A Hands-On Workshop

This “working group” style workshop takes what was learned in “Building a Culture of Wellbeing in Veterinary Medicine,” and focuses participants on applying that knowledge towards developing a draft of their strategic organizational wellbeing framework. Participants will be guided through a step-by-step process of how to approach building their wellbeing plan, how many wellbeing components would be addressed to sustainably fit the needs of their organization, and identify the external collaborations that need to be explored. Practice teams and/or leadership teams are recommended to attend this workshop together to develop this organizational framework as a group.


Workshop Leader
Makenzie Peterson, MSc

Born and raised in Alaska, Peterson graduated from the University of Utah with an MSc in Health Promotion & Health Education. Her expertise focuses on the health and wellbeing field, including having worked at a MIT/Harvard-sponsored start-up in the Harvard Innovation Lab focusing on educating college students on health topics. Makenzie is also a health and wellness coach, certified rape crisis counselor, and opioid overdose prevention educator. As Cornell University’s CVM Wellness Program Director, she provides individual and group non-clinical counseling and referral services to support the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff. She also develops health education programming and speaks on topics such as; mental and physical health, stress reduction, suicide prevention, compassion fatigue and burnout, mindfulness meditation, interpersonal communication, violence prevention, imposter syndrome, growth mindsets and resiliency, alcohol and substance use, and a variety of other wellbeing-related topics.