It is with great sadness that we let you all know that our Michael D. McElvaine, DVM, MPH, DACVPM passed away on October 20 after a long illness. He retired in February 2010. He recently was living near Springfield, MO close to his brother and family. Michael was born on April 3, 1951 in Avon, Illinois. He was descended from the original farmer settlers of Illinois. Michael graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine in Illinois in 1976 and practiced veterinary medicine for eight years in Kentucky and Wisconsin. He returned to school at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health where he received his MPH in 1987 before joining the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a veterinary medical officer with the biologics program in Iowa. In 1989, he began a 2-year fellowship at the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer. After completing his term at CDC, he returned to USDA with the Risk Assessment Systems at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Washington, DC, and later with USDA Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis (ORACBA) until his retirement.
Dr. McElvaine was a LGBT pioneer advocate and became the founding President of the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association (LGVMA) in 1994 and served on the board through 2008. He was also a pioneer with pet-associated zoonoses education for people with AIDS and he mentored veterinary students who initiated the Health Pets, Healthy People project which was presented at the World AIDS Conferences in 1998 and 2000. This project is now part of the Center for Disease Control’s website www.cdc.gov/HealthyPets.
Dr. McElvaine was the first ‘out’ gay man to be invited to speak at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Convention. During the Diversity Symposium held in Washington, DC in 2007, he proudly shared his presentation, “Reaching a Broader Client Base: How to Make Your Practice More Attractive to the GLBT Community.” He also helped to lead the USDA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Employee organization (currently Equality USDA ) through the Bush administration and served on the Secretary’s Gay and Lesbian Employee Advisory Committee. Dr. McElvaine’s wisdom and leadership rippled across the veterinary and public health profession, the USDA and the world.
Michael was also an active supporter of PETS-DC and the Gay Men’s Chorus while he lived in Washington, DC. We will miss you, dear friend, colleague, mentor and proud gay veterinarian role model who dared to be his authentic self.
Michael’s family suggested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Michael’s memory to his favorite charities, the Pride Veterinary Medical Community (formerly the LGVMA), PETS-DC, and the Gay Mens’ Chorus of Washington DC.