The Rural Area Veterinary Services program combines high quality direct-care veterinary field clinics with clinical experience for future veterinary professionals to expand access to veterinary care and improve the health and welfare of animals in underserved rural communities.

OUR VISION: An inspired veterinary profession with the knowledge and skills to provide the best possible care in any setting and the commitment to extend that care to all animals.

RAVS STAFF



Windi Wojdak, RVT
Senior Director, RAVS

Windi has dedicated her professional career to animal protection and advocacy. After completing an undergraduate degree in psychology, she jumped headfirst into the animal sheltering world and has spent more than 20 years working in various aspects of animal welfare and veterinary medicine. She joined the RAVS team in 2003 and assumed leadership of the program in 2011. She is continually inspired by the strength and resiliency of people and animals and by the dedicated staff and volunteers who give of themselves every day to make this work possible.


Ahne Simonsen, DVM
Field Surgical Director

Dr. Ahne Simonsen grew up in Rhode Island and received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University. After working in the documentary film and television industry, she received her veterinary degree from the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island in 2007. An active volunteer throughout veterinary school, Dr. Simonsen has worked with a number of high quality, high volume spay/neuter clinics, shelters and local non-profits focused on animal wellness and community education. After volunteering as a veterinary student and new veterinarian, she joined the RAVS staff in 2012. Her career has been focused on HQHVSN, field clinics, mentorship, and helping to support partnerships and networks by local community animal welfare movements. In her free time, Ahne enjoys being outdoors, exercising, reading, and spending time with her partner and son, friends, and posse of pets – which currently includes a dog, 2 cats, and 4 chickens.


Anne Marie McPartlin, LVT
Program Coordinator

Anne Marie has over 20 years of experience as a credentialed veterinary technician. Her passion for emergency and critical care has taken her to various referral and teaching hospitals throughout North America. After discovering RAVS in 2010, Anne Marie's career was reignited in pursuit of veterinary field and shelter medicine. Field clinic travel blended synergistically with her gypsy lifestyle and in 2015, Anne Marie joined the RAVS team full- time. When not in the field, she enjoys hiking, painting and being supervised by a 3-pound Chihuahua.


Ashley Gates, CVT
Program Coordinator

Ashley graduated from Colorado Mountain College in 2006 with an AAS degree in Veterinary Technology. Originally from the Chicago area, she started her career at a small animal practice with dental specialty and has been immersed in the world of shelter medicine and volunteering for high quality-high volume spay/neuter clinics since 2009. She joined the RAVS team in 2016. Ashley's interests include shelter medicine, teaching, client education and preventative care. In her free time she enjoys hiking, camping, traveling with her dog and spending time with family.


Zoe Rappoport
Program Assistant

Zoe grew up in Arizona and moved to the east coast for college, where she first learned about animal rights activism. Her work in animal sheltering and advocacy led her to RAVS in 2016 where she provides behind-the-scenes team and program support. Outside of work, she surfs, swims, and trades books with friends and family.


Kara Gniewek, CVT
Program Coordinator

Kara entered the veterinary profession after spending the first part of her professional life in museums. She has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a M.A. in American Indian Studies. She has worked in the veterinary field for 13 years in general practice, emergency/critical care, specialty, and sanctuary/rescue settings. Working with RAVS is the ideal synthesis of her career experience and all that is closest to her heart. When Kara is not in the field, she can be found exploring the wild with her family of German Shepherd Dogs.


Mel Beyer, DVM
Staff Veterinarian

Dr. Melissa “Mel” Beyer grew up on a small family farm just north of Appleton, WI. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and her veterinary degree from University of Wisconsin. She started with RAVS as a veterinary student volunteer in 2010, volunteering every summer and serving as RAVS summer extern in the. After graduating in 2013 she completed a small animal medicine and surgery rotating internship at in Rochester, NY. Following her internship Dr. Mel worked full time as an emergency veterinarian in Wisconsin and Hawaii and continued to volunteer until being recruited for the RAVS professional reserve team in 2015. In 2019, she joined RAVS full time as a staff veterinarian. When in the field on clinics, she enjoys helping local shelters and HVHQSN groups and pursing her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Mel loves the challenges and spontaneity of shelter, emergency and field medicine and is passionate about improving access to care in underserved communities. In her free time, Dr. Mel enjoys hiking and exploring nature, cooking, and spending time with her two cats and two dogs.


Aleisha Swartz, DVM
Staff Veterinarian

Dr. Swartz graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. Some of the most impactful experiences of her career were the those spent as a student volunteer for Remote Area Medical, which later became RAVS. After graduation she practiced in a small animal hospital in Atlanta before making the transition to shelter medicine. In 2015 Dr. Swartz was the HSUS Shelter Medicine Fellow with the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program and later went on to spend 5 years working as an Outreach Veterinarian with the UWSMP. She joined the RAVS team full time in 2021 to combine her loves of providing high-quality veterinary care in field clinics, teaching, and supporting efforts to increase access to care for all pets and their families.