After a distinguished Federal career spanning three decades, Dr. Jere Dick, APHIS’ Associate Administrator is retiring at the end of this month. During his time with APHIS, he’s led the way in helping America’s ranchers and farmers overcome threats posed by diseases ranging from avian influenza, exotic Newcastle disease and brucellosis to vesicular stomatitis and the first U.S. detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Regardless of the disease or issue at hand, Dr. Dick’s steady leadership and sound guidance have served the Agency and U.S. livestock producers well in times of calm and crisis. I want to thank him for his dedicated public service and take this opportunity to look back at his career over the years.
Dr. Dick earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Washington State University in 1979 and started out in private practice. He spent 10 years owning and operating two practices in Washington, and then joined APHIS’ Veterinary Services (VS) program as a veterinary medical officer in Helena, Montana, where he tested cattle for brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis.
His APHIS career soon took him and his family all over the country. From Montana, he moved to Tennessee where he served as the area epidemiology officer and then to Alabama where he became the area brucellosis epidemiologist. In 1994, he headed back west to assume the role of area veterinarian in charge (AVIC) of New Mexico. During the 5 years Dr. Dick spent as the AVIC in New Mexico, he achieved disease-free status for both brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis—diseases New Mexico had been working to eradicate for years.
His success in New Mexico, earned him a promotion to VS’ Eastern Regional Office in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he served in multiple roles from 1999 to 2004, eventually becoming the regional director. As regional director, he managed field operations for the 26 eastern states and was detailed to Fort Collins, Colorado, for 7 months to serve as the regional incident commander for the highly successful exotic Newcastle disease eradication program in California and three other southwestern states.
In 2004, Dr. Dick moved to our headquarters in Riverdale, Maryland, where he became the Associate Deputy Administrator for VS’ National Animal Health Programs and Policy Staff, which is known today as Surveillance Preparedness and Response Services. His responsibilities included oversight of all disease control and eradication programs. Following the first U.S. detection of BSE in late 2003, he helped develop an enhanced surveillance program for the disease, and ultimately helped the United States achieve our current status as a minimal risk country for BSE. For these efforts, he earned the prestigious Presidential Rank Award in 2008.
That same year, Dr. Dick was named the Associate Deputy Administrator and Chief of U.S. Field Operations and moved offices once again to Washington, D.C. In this critical position, Dr. Dick led Agency efforts to protect, sustain, and improve the productivity, marketability, and health of the nation’s animals, animal products, and biologics. He also played an integral role in protecting the nation from the introduction of dangerous and costly pests and diseases.
In 2013, I asked Dr. Dick to join me in the Administrator’s office and it was the best decision I ever made. Dr. Dick has been indispensable in leading our business process improvement initiative to streamline programs and services, supporting APHIS’ emergency response community, and overseeing the work of our International Services, Wildlife Services and VS program areas. He has also been instrumental in ensuring that trade continues along the U.S.-Mexican border by keeping animal import facilities open and the APHIS employees working at them safe. In addition, he led the modernization of our Sterile Screwworm Production facility in Panama, savings millions of dollars and ensuring that we could successfully eradicate the recent screwworm outbreak in Florida. For all of these things, and so many more, he received the extraordinary honor of a second Presidential Rank award in 2017.
Under Dr. Dick’s leadership, APHIS has responded to numerous threats to the nation’s livestock herd and developed policies and practices that help insulate our country’s producers from devastating diseases and the costs associated with them. This brief history of Dr. Dick’s career attests to the fact that his first goal has always been service. But more than all of these specific accomplishments, what really distinguishes Dr. Dick’s career—and his entire life—has been unsurpassed levels of integrity, dedication, work ethic, and putting others first. Many of you have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Dick over the course of his career and I know you join me in wishing him the best as he embarks on the next chapter in his life.
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