Learn How Reflection Leads to Change (Yes, It Can Be Uncomfortable!)
I spoke Spanish before I could speak English. My father was from the Dominican Republic, and my mother was a political refugee from Chile. I was raised in a multi-ethnic family as a first-generation American. When I was four years old, I attended a small community preschool in Salem, New Hampshire. I was one of the darker-skinned students in the class. I remember a few kids made fun of the way I talked and looked. I went home, told my parents, and refused to speak Spanish ever again.

Creating Equity

My parents have always instilled the importance of education so, it makes sense that I have a lifelong love of questioning, challenging and learning. Last month I attended a Racial Equity Institute (REI) two-day virtual workshop. REI is an alliance of trainers, organizers and institutional leaders devoted to creating racially equitable organizations and systems. Its mission is to train individual leaders to understand our issues and biases and develop tools to challenge patterns of power and grow equity. In the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and the killing of George Floyd, I felt compelled to attend the workshop because I wanted to understand this perspective more deeply. If Rarebreed aims to be the employer of choice, we must be a community where everybody belongs independent of race, gender, sexual orientation, neurodiversity or native language.

Dios mio.

I had to reflect big time.

Reflection #1: Only One Voice at the Table

As uncomfortable as it was, I took a hard look at the Rarebreed leadership team. It is predominantly composed of white men with one woman. I also studied our board, comprised of all white men from finance. Okay— we have some work to do. We have to make a concerted effort to unravel this uniformity. I know in my heart that Rarebreed will be better served and will better provide for our community, employees, pet owners and patients if we have more voices at the table with varied experiences, upbringings, and perspectives.

Reflection #2: Why Different Voices Count

Our experiences inform how we see the world. If everyone has similar backgrounds, we get minimal diversity of thought. When we all think the same way, and there is “one voice,” we miss vital vantage points and share the same blind spots, which can be massive! I know companies that excel make decisions by taking the time to consider a multitude of points of view.

Reflection #3: Take Action

A few months ago, we created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee comprised of leaders from the Rarebreed veterinary practice community and within Rarebreed headquarters. My hope is we put together actionable items that can help increase diversity and inclusiveness in our ranks and, frankly, in our profession. I attended the REI workshop to stretch my understanding of personal biases. But there was more. I wanted to know how I could help our leaders see deficiencies, identify gaps, and become frontrunners in this equity space, despite the uncomfortable feelings. At Rarebreed, our mission is to welcome and provide exceptional work experiences for everyone. Damos la bienvenida y respetamos a todos.

Shishira Adiga

Quality Assurance Manager

Fun Fact: Shishira can play the tabla, an Indian percussion instrument.

Shishira earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Texas Tech University and has since been working in various engineering roles related to hardware and software, such as test lead, development manager, and scrum master in chip fabrication. He has experience working in the insurance, banking, and veterinary fields.

Shishira enjoys spending his free time with his children, learning the ancient languages Sanskrit and Tulu, and reading about new technologies such as Blockchain.

Bernetta Gethers

Clinical Training Manager

Fun Fact:  Bernetta was a director of a dance school where ballet, tap, ethnic, and lyrical dance were taught.

Bernetta began her veterinary care as a veterinary assistant in general practice. After graduating from tech school, her eyes were opened to the emergency, specialty, and critical care world of veterinary medicine. This proved to be the excitement that she had been missing. She quickly navigated a path into a management/leadership position where she trained, mentored, and cultivated veterinary technicians and assistants. Bernetta thrives on making connections with people and facilitating difficult conversations and direct communication. She has an associate degree in applied science from Camden County College and a BS in management from DeVry University. She lives in Pennsylvania with her three children and four fur children.

Jennifer Shaw

Area Manager

Fun Fact: Jennifer went to culinary school.

Jennifer has been in the veterinary field for 20 years, starting as a technician in emergency/ specialty services on Long Island, New York, before moving to general practice. Advancing in her career, she became a practice manager with multi-site responsibility.

Jennifer was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and currently lives in Staten Island with her partner, Cindy, two amazing boys, Matt and Tim, and her crazy dog, Theo. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, camping, and bike riding.

Andrew Rockwood

Technical Operations Network Manager

Fun Fact:  As a Dell driving technician, Andrew was consistently ranked one of the top five techs in the country based on speed, technical skill, and customer satisfaction.

Andrew attended York County Community College and has been working in the technology field for over 15 years. Starting from a modest beginning as a Staples Easy Tech, Andrew has worked with technology in healthcare, retail, manufacturing, government, and MSP environments. All of this has led to a breadth of lessons learned through experience in the field.

He has always been a geek and has been fascinated with technology since he was seven years old. Andrew has always been motivated to be the change he wanted to see in the world and strives to make tech support a team effort custom-tailored to each user.

When he is not working you can find Andrew working on projects around the house or spending time with his wife and three young children. Beach days are always great, and summer is by far his favorite season in Maine.

Test Name

Business Transformation Specialist

Fun Fact: Adria dove with sharks in Yap, located in the Micronesian Islands next to Guam.

Pet in Photo: Khaleesi

Adria’s passion for animals has always been a big part of who she is. Her many years of experience working in animal care began in a Maine animal shelter. Later, after moving to Florida, Adria flourished as a veterinary technician, surgery technician, inventory manager, and trainer. Most recently she lived in Guam where she worked as practice manager for an animal hospital. Now back in Maine, she is excited to continue her career with Rarebreed and complete her undergraduate certificate in veterinary practice management. In her free time, Adria enjoys horseback riding, painting and dancing.