Lisa Decker, BS, Senior LVT
|Lisa received a BS in Biology in 1980 from Virginia Tech. After spending time at the Veterinary School in Blacksburg with a friend who worked there, she decided to go back to school to get her Veterinary Technology Degree. She graduated from Northern Virginia Community College in May of 1986 and then passed her Veterinary Technology Boards. Lisa has been with Veterinary Referral Center since January of 1986. She began doing her internship and then joined the team full time in June 1986 after graduation.
When Lisa first started with the Veterinary Referral Center there was one other LVT and Dr. Bradley. The practice has certainly grown over the years!
When Lisa is not at work, she can be found competing in agility most weekends with her Jack Russell Terrier, Remi. Her older JRT Bindi is a retired multi-titled agility competitor. And her new JRT puppy, Dexter is in training and hopefully will follow in their paw prints and be a future agility star! Lisa and her husband Scooter enjoy spending time with their dogs and occasionally taking a vacation without the dogs.
Michelle Gooden, LVT
|A lifelong horse person, Michelle became a licensed veterinary technician in 1986, and spent many years working in the horse industry in a variety of jobs. She joined the Veterinary Referral Center staff in 2002, after serving as nursing director at the Marion Dupont Scott Equine medical center for eight years. She has enjoyed her transition to small animal medicine.
Michelle lives on a small farm in Berryville where she breeds sheep. She shares the farm with the sheep, her horse and donkey, and her three Swedish Vallhunds, Chipotle, Tiwaz (in picture), and Aria. They are very busy with agility, herding, rally obedience, conformation and therapy dog visits.
Michelle Vanderbilt, LVT
|Michelle is a life-long Northern Virginia resident. She has been involved in veterinary medicine since 1998 when she started at a small animal general practice. Prior to becoming involved in the veterinary field Michelle and her husband owned a wedding planning magazine that served Washington area brides for 18 years.
Michelle graduated from the Northern Virginia Community College Licensed Veterinary Technician program in 2005. In January of 2010 she joined the Veterinary Referral Center staff.
Michelle and her husband, Bill, live in Warrenton with their menagerie of four dogs and seven cats.
Megan Fontana, LVT, BS
|Megan is originally from the suburbs of Chicago. She graduated from Purdue University in 2008 with her Bachelors as a Veterinary Technologist and a minor in Psychology. Megan worked as a RVT in Indiana for several years before moving to Pennsylvania with her husband. In Pennsylvania she worked at a twelve-doctor hospital for three years primarily as a surgery prep technician. Megan and her husband relocated to Bristow and she joined the Veterinary Referral Center Team in 2012.
Though Megan and her husband have a long history of owning pet rats they currently own and love a one eyed chocolate lab mix named Punchy and their Whippet, Rudy. In her free time Megan enjoys swimming for the Freedom Aquatic Masters Swim Team, cooking, gardening, and traveling to visit family and friends.
Stephanie Taylor, LVT Manager
|After working in general practice for a number of years, Stephanie joined our staff in July 2013 as she wanted to expand into specialty medicine.
Stephanie attended George Mason University, and then transferred to NVCC for the Veterinary Technology program. After becoming a Licensed Veterinary Technician she has become a certified member of ASVDT for dentistry. Stephanie’s professional motto is “Do what you love, and love what you do.” Veterinary medicine is that love. Stephanie’s special interests include pain management and critical care.
Stephanie, her husband Tom and two sons live in Manassas. Stephanie has an English Pointer named Colby, a Shih Tzu named Ben, a guinea pig named Snickers, and two great cats, Brutus, and Flannigan O’Fally. Stephanie enjoys reading, gardening and crafting.
Elise Welker, LVT
|While finishing her Bachelor’s degrees in History at George Mason, Elise began working as a Vet Assistant in 2006. After graduating she decided to make her love of animals and medicine into her full-time job. She went back to school in 2009 to obtain her Associates degree in Veterinary Technology. She graduated in May 2013 and continued to work in a small animal general practice for several years to build her skills. She joined the Veterinary Referral Center Team in April 2015 to pursue her love of specialty medicine. Her interests are diagnostic imaging such as CT, MRI, Radiology and Ultrasound.
Elise lives in Fairfax with her husband, Kenny and their daughter, Emilia, who was born in October 2013. Their two Bichons, Lola and Teebo, Nya the Siamese, Striker the Beta and Lando the snail complete the family. When she’s not spending time with her family she enjoys reading, catching up on TV shows and movies, gardening and baking.
Nicole Latane, LVT
|Nicole was born and raised in Fauquier County where she enjoys rural living. Even as a small child Nicole loved animals of all kinds so she knew she would go into the animal profession someday. After graduating from high school, Nicole attended Northern Virginia Community College’s Veterinary Technology Program. She graduated in 2014. Nicole worked part time in general practice beginning in 2012. She joined the Surgery Division of the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia full time in 2014. Nicole’s special interests include anesthesia and patient care.
Nicole shares her love with three rescue animals—an elderly Miniature Dachshund named Chena, an active Dutch Shepherd cross named Eos, and a not-so-friendly cockatiel named Burt. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, camping, traveling, and being outside. She is an avid runner and competes locally.
Jessica Triggs, LVT
|Jessica was born in Woodbridge, Virginia and currently resides in Warrenton. She has worked in general practice for the past two years as a veterinary assistant. She graduated from Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) in 2013 with an Associate in Science and graduated from NVCC’s Veterinary Technology Program in May of 2016. Jessica wanted to pursue a career as a surgical technician. She joined the Surgery Division of the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia in April 2016 and has been enjoying every aspect. Jessica is a huge cat lover and enjoys drawing, rock climbing, and camping in her free time.|
Trish Stidham, Vet Assistant
|Trish began working at the Veterinary Referral Center in 2010. She started her career working as a veterinary assistant for a small animal practice. She then worked as an executive assistant in government affairs for many years before returning to her love of animals. She and her husband Mark have three beautiful children. Also, she has a husky mix named Max that she adopted and two very chubby guinea pigs, Gumbo and Caramel, and two hermit crabs. Most of her free time is devoted to her children.|
Cassi Sharbaf, Vet Assistant
|Cassi was born in Alexandria, Virginia and now resides in Manassas. She began working in general practice veterinary hospitals nine years ago.
She graduated from the Northern Virginia Community College Veterinary Technology Program in May 2013. Cassi joined the Veterinary Referral Center of Norther Virginia’s Surgery Division in June 2016.
Cassi hopes to expand her veterinary knowledge. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, cooking, traveling, and the Washington Capitals.
Michelle LeBlanc-Pate, Vet Assistant
|Michelle has always had a love for animals. She began her career in veterinary medicine in 2005.
Before joining the team at the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia, Michelle worked in veterinary general practice, exotic, and emergency medicine. She has a special interest in surgical and behavior medicine, as well as in veterinary nutrition.
Michelle and her husband share a love for animals. They have rescued dogs, many cats, a parrot, and even a few ferrets over the years. Their pets are their family. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys cooking, reading, photography, and spending time with her husband, dog, and four cats.
Elizabeth Zuponcic, Vet Assistant
|Elizabeth grew up near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, she moved to Northern Virginia to pursue nursing. Elizabeth acquired her certification as a nursing assistant and worked in patient care.
In 2012, she started part time at a small general veterinary practice as a boarding assistant. She fell in love with veterinary medicine and received on-the- job training as an assistant and receptionist and was promoted to department management. Elizabeth always had an interest in veterinary surgery and decided to pursue this specialty by joining the Surgery Division of the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia in August of 2016.
Elizabeth currently resides with her Boston terrier, Nibble, and two cats—Marlowe, a bengal, and one-eyed cat, Calypso. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys traveling, outdoor sports, and reading.
Heidi Coleman, Accounting and Human Resources
Heidi arrived at the Veterinary Referral Center from Caldwell, Idaho in May of 2007. She has been a bookkeeper and payroll specialist for many years. She moved to Virginia with her husband Kevin for a job opportunity with Micron Technology. Heidi has two kids, Kandice & Kyle.
Heidi has adopted two mix breed dog Mocha and Bradshaw. When she is not working, you will find her working in the yard, playing with the dogs, shopping, going for a motorcycle ride with her husband, sleeping, or watching the BSU Broncos.
Brigitte Kurrus, Receptionist
|Brigitte was born and raised in The Netherlands where she met her husband, Kris, who was stationed in The Netherlands as a Marine Security Guard at the American Embassy in The Hague. After spending two years working for The Netherlands Foreign Service at The Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, Brigitte emigrated to the U.S. in the summer of 1993 to join her husband in Camp Pendleton, CA, where she lived for six years, moved to Okinawa, Japan for three years, then on to Jacksonville, NC, for eight years, before finally ending up in Manassas, VA after her husband retired from the military.
Brigitte has held many clerical positions since graduating from business school in 1986, and decided to combine her work experience with her love for animals, first at a general veterinary practice and at the Veterinary Referral Center since January 2015.
When not at work, Brigitte spends time with her three cats Wally, Lucas and Nancy, gardening, enjoying a good meal at different restaurants with her husband, and watching European detective series.
Emily Chittenden, Receptionist
|A lifelong northern Virginia resident, Emily was born in Arlington and grew up in Manassas. Emily has always had a love for all animals and managed a dog daycare for six years before joining the Veterinary Referral Center Team.
Emily is known as the “poodle lady” and is an avid poodle lover. Emily has three dogs: a crazy Mini Poodle named Fifi, a spunky Toy Poodle named Pearl, and the world’s cutest Pekingese named Boo. She also has a Netherland Dwarf bunny named Mimi. Emily currently resides in the Manassas area with her boyfriend, Kyle, of nine years.
When Emily isn’t working, she loves to go hiking with her poodles and boyfriend, go to RC truck events, read a good horror novel, or hang out at home with her crazy dogs.
Lynn Pletch, Receptionist
|Lynn, a long-time resident of Fauquier County, graduated from Fauquier High School in 1991. She and Eric, her husband of 23 years, have five children and four beautiful grandchildren. Lynn loves caring for her herd of rat terriers and three cats.
When she was growing up, Lynn’s family enjoyed caring for many different animals including cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, chickens, and calves. Her love of animals led her to a position working in a general veterinary practice in Warrenton as a front desk operator.
Lynn began working part time at the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia as a receptionist in January of 2016 and became full time in March of 2016. In her free time she enjoys reading, music, spending time with her family, and going to the beach.
Kari Bartko, Receptionist
|Kari grew up in Manassas. She lives in Stafford with her husband Joe, dog Parker, and cat Sam.
Kari has worked in the veterinary field for the past six years. She joined the team at the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia in September 2016.
In her free time Kari enjoys running, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Eligio Cardona, Hospital Maintenance
|Eligio Cardona was born in the city of Jutiapa, Guatemala. He moved to the United States in 1989, and has worked in maintenance since 1993. Eligio lives with his wife and two children in Woodbridge. In his free time Eligio enjoys many activities including painting, writing poetry (he is a published author!), and lapidary.|