RCVS elects first black council member as junior vice-president

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council has elected its first black Council member as junior vice-president of the college.

It makes Mandisa Greene, the first person from a minority ethnic background to be elected to the college’s officer team in its 175-year history.

Greene, who was first elected on to the council in 2014 and was re-elected last year, currently chairs the Practice Standards Group.

She is also a member of the Primary Qualifications Subcommittee and the Legislation Working Party. Her background also includes service on the Standards Committee and as well as chairing the Extra-Mural Studies (EMS) Coordinators Liaison Group.

The election took place at the RCVS Council meeting on Thursday, March 7, the day before the 175th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the RCVS by Queen Victoria, recognising the ‘veterinary art’ as a profession and giving the College powers to administer examinations to the students at London and Edinburgh veterinary colleges, which they would need to pass to become veterinary surgeons.

Background

Greene was born in the UK but raised in Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies from the age of two.

She moved back to the UK aged 18 to study Biological and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Exeter. She then gained her veterinary degree from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh in 2008.

Since graduating, her interests have lain in small animal practice and emergency and critical care. She has worked as a veterinary surgeon in a number of practices in the West Midlands.

She currently works for Medivet in the Staffordshire town of Newcastle-under-Lyme and lives in Stoke-on-Trent. She is a published author, having been the researcher on a paper about genomic variations in Mycobacterium published in BMC Microbiology.

Commenting on her election as junior vice-president, Mandisa said: “I am humbled that my peers and colleagues elected me as junior vice-president and fully appreciate that, as the first ethnic minority member of Council, this is an historic appointment – especially when there is so much discussion over the importance of diversity and inclusion both within the profession and wider society.

“Growing up in Trinidad we would always have animals in our home as my mother would often arrive with extra pups and kittens from litters around our neighborhood. This would involve our family, mainly dad and me, regularly visiting our local vet sourcing preventative and supportive care.

I was used to seeing veterinary surgeons and veterinary staff who looked like me so it never occurred to me that this was a profession that could be inaccessible, being a veterinary surgeon was something that I always wanted to do.

“It was only when I returned to the UK that being a veterinary surgeon from an ethnic minority was seen as unusual and I realised that young people from minority ethnic backgrounds might not consider a veterinary career as a result.

“However, I am a strong believer in ‘if you see it, you can be it’ and so I hope that, with my election, if young people from those backgrounds can see that there are people like them working as veterinary professionals, then it might open it up as an option for them.

“I am also concerned about diversity more broadly, including making the veterinary professions more open to people with disabilities, looking at socio-economic and class backgrounds and also the situation of our European colleagues, some of whom I know have suffered abuse over the last few years and may feel uncertain about their future in the UK.

Whilst my background may be unique, I would say my experiences as a small animal practitioner, who has a young family and wears many other hats, underscores the commonalities amongst us.

Other elections at the AGM included Dr. Niall Connell, who was also confirmed as president for 2019-20. Dr. Christopher (Kit) Sturgess who was re-elected as RCVS treasurer.

Prof. David Argyle was elected as chairman of the Advancement of the Professions Committee, taking over from Prof. Gary England.

And Dr. Susan Paterson was also elected as chairman of the Education Committee, taking over from Prof. Susan Dawson.