Melanie Gunderson - President
Glendale Animal Hospital
Melanie started as a veterinary assistant at Tri City Animal Hospital in Elgin over 25 yrs ago and has enjoyed the field of veterinary medicine ever since. During her 20 years with Tri-City she grew from vet assistant to Office Manager. In 2009 she joined Pet Vet Animal Clinic as the Practice Manager, in her home town of Huntley. Pet Vet was a mixed animal practice along with providing mobile services. It was a very fun and interesting time for her and she has many happy memories from her time there. After 3 years at Pet Vet, she accepted a position as Hospital Administrator at Glendale Animal Hospital, in Glendale Heights. Her time there has been amazing. They have built a strong team and have created a culture that makes for a fun a friendly environment to work in. This past year they have been focusing on building a new hospital and she can honestly say it has been the most challenging time of her career! But they now have a beautiful facility and the space that allows them to practice best medicine. She is looking forward to just being a Hospital Manager again and not overseeing construction!
Melanie has 3 children and 3 beautiful grandchildren. She resides in Winfield with her husband Todd and their dog Fletcher. Melanie and her husband enjoy traveling, music and trying new restaurants when they aren’t working on a new household project.
Kim Orr, LVT - Secretary
Roscoe Village Animal Hospital
Kim began her career in veterinary medicine in Michigan where she worked as a veterinary assistant throughout high school. In 1988, she completed the veterinary technician program at Macomb County Community College, and passed her VTNE. For 5 years, Kim worked as a LVT in both a small animal and emergency hospital. During this time she returned to MCCC for 1 year, but this time as an instructor in the veterinary technician program. In 1993, Kim decided to make the big move to Chicago and marry her high school sweetheart.
In Chicago, Kim continued her work as a LVT at Blum Animal Hospital where she remained for the next 16 years. It was during this time she and her husband started a family and welcomed their 3 beautiful daughters into the world.
While looking for ways to expand her career in veterinary medicine, the opportunity to become a practice manager arose. She happily accepted the position of Practice Manager at Roscoe Village Animal Hospital where she has successfully managed the practice since 2009.
Kim became a member of the Chicago Veterinary Manager Group in 2015 and took over the role of Secretary in 2016. She is also a member of the Veterinary Hospital Manager Association, American Animal Hospital Association, National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association.
In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, their three rescue dogs Dallas, Dakota, Declan and their senior cat Felicity. She also enjoys gardening and volunteers with local animal rescue groups. She is an also an active member of her community and has been the Vice President of her community neighborhood association for the past 4 years.
Dena Chiddister, CVPM - Director at Large
Dundee Animal Hospital
Dena is the Practice Manager at Dundee Animal Hospital where she oversees business operations for three hospitals. Founded in 1958, Dundee Animal Hospital is an AAHA accredited practice with locations in Dundee, Elgin and Algonquin, which includes 24-hour emergency service at the Dundee location.
Dena started her career at Dundee Animal Hospital in 2001 as the Technical Manager and in 2009 she accepted the position of Practice Manager. Dena enjoys her busy schedule managing the distinct needs of three locations and a staff of 70 employees. Managing multiple locations she has the opportunity to work with many area animal hospitals that refer to Dundee Animal Hospital. Dena is supported by a dedicated staff, many of whom have celebrated 10, 20, 30 and even 40 year anniversaries!
Since 2009, Dena has been an active member of CVMG. She was a Director at Large in 2012-2013 and was elected again to serve in 2017-2018. She enjoys the unique networking and educational opportunities. Having other Practice Managers to share experiences with makes each manager stronger.
In January of 2018, Dena earned the Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM) designation from the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA).
Hailing from the great state of Michigan, Dena received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Michigan State University. She grew up on a farm raising hogs, cattle and growing cash crops. While her background was always large animal she cannot imagine a career in anything other than companion animal practice.
In her spare time Dena and her husband Curt enjoy spending time outside, gardening, cooking (especially if Curt is cooking!), live music and playing with their several classic cars and dragster! They share their home with Venus, a Great Dane and K.C., a blue and gold Macaw.
Kathy Mordini - Director at Large
Veterinary Specialty Center
Kathy began her career as a radio and television news reporter rising to a role as news director at a midmarket station switching gears after several years to move into public and media relations in Chicago. She eventually moved into a sales and marketing role at a distribution company in the public relations industry.
She became active in Chicago’s animal welfare community assisting Heartland Animal Shelter with its community outreach and media relations. Kathy has also served on the board for The Puppy Mill Project and assisted with their public relations. After working over 20 years in sales, she switched gears and followed her heart to work more closely with animals by joining Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove as its first Marketing Director in March of 2014.
At VSC, Kathy spearheads their continuing education programs and has helped grow the organizations daylong programs – VSC’s Veterinary Education Conference and Veterinary Business Conference and a fall program aimed at a specific specialty. She is working with VSC’s Counselor to develop a Veterinary Wellness Education Day for the spring. Along with educational programs, Kathy is editor of VSC’s newsletters and also oversees social media and media relations for the company. She loves being part of an independent, locally-owned practice that puts as much emphasis on a great work culture as it does practicing great medicine.
Kathy lives with her husband and their cats Max and Ellie. Max is a certified therapy cat who loves to participate in reading programs at the Lake Bluff Library and has also worked in a local nursing home with Alzheimer’s patients. When not working or hitting the road with Max, Kathy loves going out to eat, traveling, going to movies and cheering on her Chicago Cubs with her nephews.
Animal Care Hospital of Morris
Matt had a childhood filled with animals. His parents were animal lovers and fostered a passion in his siblings, and himself for critters of all types. The most unique pet they had in his youth was a litter trained rabbit, Thumper, who thought he was one of the dogs. Thumper slept with the dogs, ate with dogs, and even liked to go outside with dogs. His exposure to veterinary medicine and animal care came at an early age as his first pet dog was epileptic and had seizures. He believes it was the awareness of his condition and required medication and care that inspired his younger self to dream of a career caring for animals.
Matt attended the veterinary medical technology program at Joliet Junior College and graduated and passed his national veterinary technician board examination in 2005. He then earned his Bachelor degree in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship from Governors State University in 2015.
Matt joined Animal Care Hospital of Morris in 2002 as a dog bather while he worked his way through vet tech school. He also held positions as a kennel attendant, and technician assistant. After graduating from JJC, he worked as a certified veterinary technician, ultimately finding a home in the Hospital Manager position.
Matt is the founding president of the Chicagoland Veterinary Manager Group, and wrote the original articles of incorporation and constitution of the CVMG. He has also served as past-president, secretary and treasurer for the CVMG. He is so proud of the type of organization the CVMG has become. The network of managers throughout the Chicagoland area have become one of the most valuable resources to him in his career in veterinary hospital management, and our C.E. events are world class!
At home he and his partner care for a very exuberant yet sweet young Australian Shepherd, Bumi, a middle-aged opera singing Bengal cat, Mardock, and a sagely, yet spry geriatric Siamese, Brahm. Matt is an avid reader of books, a bit of a science fiction/fantasy movie and television show nerd, and a huge Anglophile when it comes to British television programing. His spare time activities include camping, archery, and spending time with his very large family and group of friends. Matt loves to cheer for the unexpected underdog or success of others and will wave at or say “Hi!” to animals that he may see from his car while driving down the road.
Rosemary Burke - Director at Large
Rosemary has held operations management positions in the healthcare and veterinary medicine industries for a number of years. She recently returned to Chicago after living in the Northeast for a few years. Rosemary was an active member of the CVMG prior to moving out east. She is looking forward to serving on the board and would like to help expand membership. In her spare time she enjoys travel, hiking, live music and long walks along Lake Michigan with her dog Jackson.
Denise Juriga - Treasurer
Valley Animal Hospital
Denise has been managing Valley Animal Hospital since her husband, Dr. Juriga, purchased from Dr. Lovett in the year 2000. She graduated from the University of Illinois where she met football standout, former NFL player turned DVM, Jim Juriga. While attending Illinois, she earned all Big Ten Honors as a scholarship athlete for Volleyball. In addition, she was named to the Senior 100 Class at the University of Illinois, which honors 100 seniors in a given class for their unique contributions plus outstanding leadership and academic qualities. In the past 14 years, she has directed the progression of the practice from a single veterinarian practice to a multi-veterinarian practice. Overseeing the financials and directing the growth of a practice from 4x6 index cards for records and no computers to being a paperless practice since 2003. She helped design the current facility’s construction and acquisition of medical staff and equipment. Currently, Denise works for NVA or National Veterinary Associates as Hospital Manager. NVA purchased Valley Animal Hospital in 2012. Under NVA, Valley has continued to experience growth from 4 veterinarians to five, adding digital dental radiology, cold laser therapy and ultrasound. Prior to joining Valley, Denise was a commercial insurance underwriter and part time tax preparer.
Managing a veterinary hospital has been a part of most all her married life. All three of her children have lent a helping hand. They have all grown up with the “clinic”. Jake has his masters in Mechanical Engineering and currently serving our country as an officer in the Navy; Kim has her degree in Bio-medical Engineering, works for Medi-Comp as a software engineer (thinking of graduate school to obtain her DVM) and our youngest son, Luke, plays football for Western Michigan University also pursuing a degree in engineering.
Tara OConnor - Marketing Director
After working in a veterinary clinic for nearly 20 years, Tara has switched gears in her career as of April of 2018. Even though she has left the veterinary field, she will continue to provide marketing and website administration for the CVMG. Tara and her husband reside in Grayslake with 4 cats (Riley, Emma, Desato, Zoey) and a crazy shih tzu/poodle mix (Mia Gale). They also cater to the neighborhood stray cat which has taken up permanent residence outside their home. They have named her Sassy, and they provide a heated outdoor cat house, monthly flea and tick prevention, plenty of food, water and as much affection as Sassy will allow.
Chicagoland Veterinary Managers Group is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization.