Meet our tribe in Winter Haven, FL

We put our people first at Veterinary Healthcare Associates, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We believe in the inherent value and potential that every team member possesses, and we strive to nurture that potential to the fullest and help one another transform into the best we can be.

With our tribe, there is no goal we can’t achieve, and no obstacle we can’t overcome. Meet the people who drive our mission to help pets and their families be healthy, happy, and healed.

We’re out to change the world, and we’d love to have you on board.


Carrie-Ann Lukas-Brady, PHR, SHRM-SCP, Human Resource Director

Carrie-Ann is your first contact at VHA in the recruiting process and if you join our tribe, she'll also be your onboarding and training coordinator.

As a child, Carrie-Ann wanted to be a lawyer or a veterinarian so she could make enough money to have a big farm to home all the stray dogs she found. But when she realized how much time and money it would cost to become a vet, Carrie-Ann had to put her dream on hold and find a new career. Her love for legal concepts, organizing and standards drew her into administrative/human resource positions. For the past 13 years, Carrie-Ann has enjoyed helping people find their career paths and being a resource to her team. Now, she's able to take her dream of helping animals and her love of human resource legal concepts and standards and put them to work every day here at VHA. The first time she spoke to Dr. Nations, she was immediately drawn to being a part of the VHA team.

Carrie-Ann and her family have 3 spoiled dogs, all with fancy names: Blinkerton Archibald von Brady (Blink), a tiger-striped Black Mouth Cur/Hound mix; Lord Tio von Brady (Tio), a Deer Head Chihuahua; and Wilphinowitz von Brady (Will or Will.I.Am), a brindle Black Mouth Cur/Lab/Chow mix. When she’s not at work, Carrie-Ann indulges a variety of hobbies, including European history (the English monarchs especially), traveling with her husband, Dan, and their 2 daughters, listening to 80’s and 90’s music while cooking, and cheering on their favorite English Premier League football team, Chelsea F.C.

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.



Monya Garnett, Hospital Administrator

As an only child, Monya always had pets as her best friends while she was growing up. And as someone who loves people and animals, what better opportunity than to work in the veterinary field? Dr. Nations’s love and vision for the veterinary profession drew Monya to VHA, and she can’t see herself working anywhere else. The most rewarding aspects of her career include helping others, watching team members grow and flourish, and connecting with our clients. Her favorite part, though, is having a family here at VHA--a family that includes the VHA team and our clients. Everyone takes care of one another.

Monya has several fur babies of her own, including 3 dogs named Sulley, Tigger, and Dottie, and 3 cats named Boo (aka Panther), Marie (aka Princess), and D.C. (aka Porkchop). When she’s not at work, Monya enjoys spending time with friends and family, and attending and serving at her church, Heartland.

Your past doesn’t have to equal your future.


Jacqueline Hardy, RVT, Patient Care Coordinator

Jackie decided to be a part of the veterinary field because she always loved animals and wanted to care for them, and her family encouraged her to follow her dreams. In 2003, Jackie began learning the basics, working overnight and caring for critical patients. Her journey to her current position at VHA started in 2008, when Dr. Nations put a little faith in Jackie and hired her. She had just moved from California and had no family or friends. VHA took her in with open arms and showed her the value of critical thinking and patient care, and became like a second family.

Since then, Jackie has learned so much and grown immensely. In 2016, she took the leap and became the overnight Team Leader. Then in 2018, she became the Daytime Emergency Team Leader. Her biggest accomplishment occurred in 2020 when she became the Patient Care Coordinator. This current role allows Jackie to take care of her team and make sure they’re providing the best possible care to all their patients. Jackie has 1 animal companion, a mixed Terrier named Nala. In her spare time, she enjoys crafting, hiking, and gardening.



Sara Penn, CVA, ICU Team Lead

Sara grew up around domestic and exotic pets and has been working in veterinary medicine since she was young. She loves the family atmosphere among the staff here at VHA, and being able to help animals and send them home happy and healthy.

Sara’s 4-legged family member is Rhett Butler (aka Jimbo), a Yorkshire Terrier. Her favorite things to do when she’s not working include reading, sleeping, and being outdoors (her happy place).

Everything happens for a reason. Look for the good in the bad and the bad in the good.


Amanda Meeks, CVT, CCRP, and Patient Care Team Trainer

Amanda started working in veterinary medicine in 1997 as a client service team member at a 3-doctor general practice. After seeing the positive effects the patient care team had on pets and their families, she decided veterinary nursing was her path. Amanda completed her veterinary technology program at Western Career College in 2000. After 8 years at the general practice, she worked at a specialty/emergency practice for 7 years before moving to Florida. Amanda’s VHA journey began in 2012 through ICU, emergency, internal medicine, surgery, and rehabilitation. She obtained her CCRP (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner) from UT in 2017. Amanda is currently focusing on continuous improvement and building up on-boarding and training at VHA, along with providing physical rehabilitation for post-operative, arthritic, and post-injury recoveries.

Amanda has loved every step of her career. The feeling of helping her patients walk and feel more comfortable is indescribable--the light comes back into their eyes when they can play again, and families are given more time to create memories with their fur babies. And sharing her experiences with new veterinary nurses and watching them grow in the field fills her bucket each day. Amanda’s animal family consists of 5 dogs (all Heinz-57); Gertrude, Dixie, Hank, Porkchop, and Willow; 2 horses, Scout and Woody; 10 mini Dexter cows, and 12 goats. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, mounted shooting competitions, beach days (the Florida gulf coast can’t be beat!), and snuggling with the pups.

Make it a rule…never, if possible, lie down at night without being able to say ‘I have made one human being at least a little wiser, a little happier, or a little better this day.


Andrew Ireland, Facilities Manager

Drew joined VHA when the opportunity for him to be a part of something bigger presented itself. Since beginning his journey with us, he has enjoyed watching VHA grow and embrace the community. One of Drew’s favorite things about working at VHA is getting to experience something new every day.

Drew has one 4-legged family member, a wire-haired Fox Terrier named Muffie. Some of his favorite things to do outside of work include helping others, playing golf and tennis, and water skiing.

I believe in one thing, that only a life lived for others is a life worth living.


Jessica Babcock, CVA, Veterinary Assistant Team Lead

Jessica was working at Lang Sun Country Grove, a small café in Lake Alfred, when one day after work during a phone conversation with her mom, her mom suggested that she apply at Veterinary Healthcare Associates. Jessica laughed and said “They aren’t going to hire me. I have no experience.” Her mom replied, “You never know, just go in and apply,” so Jessica did. That same week, she received a phone call from Monya, asking her to come in for an interview. Jessica replied, “Oh my god, are you serious?” Needless to say, 11 years on, everything went well.

Since joining VHA, Jessica has grown to love is teaching others and giving them the opportunity to work with animals. Her favorite thing about working at VHA is the people--everyone is humble, kind, and always willing to help. At home, Jessica has 1 pet, a cat named Zeus, that she adopted through a client that regularly comes to VHA. He is the king of the house. When she’s not at work, Jessica has all kinds of hobbies, including shopping, hanging out with her mother and sister, spending quality time with her husband, going to the beach/pool, visiting theme parks, going to the movies, and going out to eat.

If you don’t make it a big deal, it won’t be a big deal.


John Hallas, CVA, Primary Care Team Lead

John always wanted to work with animals. He obtained a degree in biology, and started his career as a zookeeper in the African Hoofstock and Florida Mammals departments at Lowry Park Zoo. When he moved to Orlando, he began working at VHA as a general practice technician. The best part of being a technician in the general practice is getting to educate clients with information that helps improve their home lives with their pets. And as a team lead, John enjoys helping his team grow and accomplish their goals. One of his favorite things about VHA is that working there is never boring; there are always new things happening and new opportunities to learn.

John has 1 four-legged family member, a domestic shorthair cat named Toulouse. His biggest hobby is playing disc golf, but he enjoys all sports.

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.


Jonelle Rookwood, Boarding Team Lead and Veterinary Technician

While growing up in Jamaica, Jonelle was repeatedly told how important it was to have an education. At 12, she knew she wanted to work in the veterinary industry. She would volunteer every summer at the JSPCA (Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), because she wanted to learn how to take care of animals. She migrated to the states in 2009, and started out working as a kennel technician. Jonelle also went to school, receiving her associate degree in veterinary medicine and then her bachelor’s degree in biology. She would have gone to school to become a veterinarian (she was accepted into all 3 schools she applied to), but as a single mother with an autistic child, she was unable to pursue that path.

Jonelle is working to get her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at UCF. She plans to use her degree to work with animals in law enforcement. She wants to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves and promote positive, responsible pet ownership. For Jonelle, one of the most rewarding things about working at VHA is being able to balance work with education, so she can further herself professionally and support her family at the same time. She also loves the compassion that everyone has for animals, and how everyone’s goals seem to align. Jonelle and her son share their home with 2 dogs; an Australian Shepherd mix named Woof and a Husky/German Shepherd mix named Drogon. When she’s not at work, Jonelle enjoys taking trips with her son, booking modeling jobs (she went to school for modeling and made a career out of it), and occasionally volunteering at an animal shelter in South Florida, where she assists with surgery and learns as much as possible.

“If yuh want good, yuh noise haffi run.” Meaning: To achieve your dreams, you have to be willing to work hard and persevere along the pathway until you attain your goal.


Melissa Cruz, CVA, Overnight Emergency Team Lead

Melissa attended veterinary technician school in 2002 on a whim because she liked animals, and ended up falling in love with the profession instantly. She has been a tech ever since, working in specialty practices mostly as a surgical nurse and emergency nurse. Melissa loves everything about her career and the profession as a whole. Her favorite thing about working at VHA is getting to do what she loves in a place she enjoys.

Despite being a Pit Bull lover all her life, Melissa’s fur kids currently include 2 Chihuahuas, Romeo and Diamond. They’re the first small dogs she’s ever owned!

In her free time, Melissa enjoys reading, shopping, going out to eat, spending time with her boyfriend and daughter, and doing anything that makes her laugh.

Do not allow yourself to drown in a glass of water.


Vanessa Long, CVA, Specialty Surgery Team Lead

As a child, Vanessa always had pets and she would find stray kittens to keep. Animals have always been a passion of hers, and now she gets to help care for other people’s pets! One of the things that makes her career rewarding is seeing sick or injured pets go home happy and healed. She also enjoys building relationships with clients who trust her to provide the best care for their pets.

Vanessa has 3 rescues, a yellow Lab named Sawyer, a yellow Labradoodle named Mac, and a Maine Coon cat named Lestat. Her favorite things to do outside of work include traveling as much as possible, spending many of her weekends at the softball fields to watch her daughter play, working out, spending time with her girlfriends, and collecting coffee cups and pins from her travels.

Grow through what you go through.


Victoria Hernandez, CVA, Daytime Emergency Team Lead

Victoria started at VHA at the very bottom and worked her way up. VHA has allowed her to accomplish her childhood dream of working in the veterinary field. She is still amazed at how far she’s come, from having a pretend vet clinic in her closet when she was 5 to now working on the ER floor and being a part of saving animals’ lives every day.

The most rewarding part of Victoria’s career is being able to feel accomplished in what she does, and continuing to grow in a field that she highly enjoys. She has always appreciated the work ethic and high standard of care at which VHA performs, requiring the best out of every team member. Because of this, Victoria has a lot of confidence in her skills and training.

Victoria has one furry family member, a Schnauzer with a big personality named Moose. When she has free time, Victoria likes to spend her days off going to any theme park she can--she has passes to them all!

Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.


Brooke Clark, Marketing Director

Brooke previously worked in the fitness industry for 6 years, and that’s where she found her passion for people, health, and longevity. One day the stars aligned for her and Dr. Nations to meet. She learned about his vision, his passion, and his love for what he does and how VHA will change the world. She joined our team that very same day, and is happy to call VHA her forever home.

The most rewarding part of Brooke’s position here at VHA is being a part of something much bigger than she ever could have imagined. The relationships, the people, the impact, and the difference the team is making in the lives of people and their pets is truly special. Brooke is always excited to come to work. She feels truly valued, and she values everyone in the VHA family--this is her place of belonging and fulfillment.

Brooke does not currently have any animal companions, but she fondly remembers Pepper, a Cocker Spaniel, who served as her special companion and protector while she was growing up.

Outside of VHA, Brooke enjoys reading, roller skating, yoga, and CrossFit--anything to get her blood flowing! She also loves to connect to nature and be under the sun, and enjoys having EDM dance parties with her 4-year old, Audrey, in their living room.

In the end, nothing we do or say in this lifetime will matter as much as the way we have loved another.


Corissa Antemesaris, Internal Medicine/Oncology Team Leader

Corissa’s work experience includes over 20 years in shelter medicine, referral medicine, emergency medicine, and TCVM. She also provided relief work in the Denver Metro area prior to relocating to Florida. She has been working at VHA since 2013, specializing in internal medicine and oncology.

For Corissa, much of the work that VHA does is all about love and connection, a basic human need. The VHA tribe fulfills this need through their relationships with pets and/or work family. Supporting people with love and compassion when this connection is threatened brings Corissa fulfillment. She is motivated to empower those around her to reach their potential and realize their wildest dreams.

Corissa does not have any pets of her own, but she does have a large family, and many of her family members have pets of their own. She currently enjoys the company of 2 dogs, 3 cats, one pig, one turtle, 2 bearded dragons, and 5 chickens.

In her personal life, Corissa enjoys the love and adventure of her blended family. Her hobbies include music, gardening, and topics of health, longevity, and environmental sustainability. She believes in life-long learning, and has ventured outside her comfort zone to start piano and voice lessons.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.


Hope Reed, Office Manager

As far back as she can remember, Hope has had a special bond with animals. In 1997, she landed the dream job of working with animals and keeping them healthy. However, she soon realized that animals do not bring themselves to the hospital, and so she began working on building another bond--with their people. Being able to help clients and their pets as well as building life-long relationships with them has been a true blessing.

The continued love and support from Dr. Nations has been one of the most rewarding aspects of Hope’s career. From the time she started when there were just 7 employees to now, with VHA having over 100 team members, she has always been supported and encouraged to grow and have an awareness of self care.

Hope’s family is blessed with 2 playful and lovable Chihuahuas, Olive Lou and Mabel Ruth. Hope enjoys breaking down the somewhat negative reputation that plagues the breed--Olive and Mabel always attract attention wherever they go!

When she is not at VHA, Hope enjoys making jewelry, coming up with new recipes, and cultivating her family’s herb and vegetable garden.

Passion is the bridge that takes you from pain to change.