Keynote Speakers

Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal
“Mama’s last hug: Animal and human emotions”


Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal is a Dutch/American biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982), compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. His scientific work has been published in hundreds of technical articles in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books - translated into 20+ languages - have made him one of the world's most visible primatologists. His latest books are Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? (Norton, 2016) and Mama’s Last Hug (Norton, 2019). De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor Emeritus at Emory University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Utrecht University. He has been elected to the (US) National Academy of Sciences as well as the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2007, Time declared him one of The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today.

Please note that Frans de Waal's keynote address will not be available after the conference. For your convenience, we have scheduled a second streaming of his talk on Tuesday, June 22 at 6:15pm in case delegates are unable to attend the main viewing at 10am.

Dr. Aubrey Fine

"Conceptualizing the field of animal assisted interventions: Reimagining the directions and future of the field"

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Dr. Aubrey Fine is a native of Montreal, Canada. He received his graduate degree from University of Cincinnati in 1982. Dr. Fine has been on the faculty at California State Polytechnic University since 1981 and is presently a Professor Emeritus and a licensed psychologist.  In 2001 Dr. Fine was presented the Wang Award given to a distinguished professor within the California State University system (23 Universities).


Dr. Fine has been recognized by numerous organizations for his service and dedication to children, animals, and the community. In July of 2016 he received the William McCulloch Award for Excellence in Human Animal Interaction Education and Practice from the International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations, in Paris, France. Additionally, he was awarded the Educator of the Year, from the Learning Disability Association of CA as well as receiving the 2006 CA Poly Faculty Award for Community Engagement.


Dr. Fine’s primary research interests relate to the psycho-social impact of human animal interactions and animal assisted interventions, social skills training and children with ADHD, and resilience in children, Dr. Fine is the author of several books, including Our Faithful Companions, Parent Child Dance, Therapist's Guide to Learning and Attention Disorders, Fathers and Sons, The Total Sports Experience for Children, Give a Dog Your Heart, The Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy (5th edition released in July 2019), Afternoons with Puppy, and The Welfare of Animals in Animal Assisted Therapy (Springer 2021). He also has had a featured monthly column in Dog Fancy magazine on the human animal bond entitled "The Loving Bond." He has been a guest on numerous national TV and radio shows, including on programs on ABC, Discovery Network, KTLA, NPR, PBS, Fox and CNN.   His work has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, People magazine, Allure magazine, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. Dr. Fine is the chair of the Human Animal Bond Advisory Committee of Pet Partners as well as the past chair of the steering committee on Human Animal Interactions for the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Elizabeth Strand

“Veterinary Social Work:
The transdisciplinary power of merging, yielding, and staying in your lane”


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Dr. Elizabeth Strand is the Founding Director of Veterinary Social Work (VSW) at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. She is a licensed clinical social worker, experienced family therapist, Grief Recovery Specialist, and a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Teacher. She has been working in the field of social work for 20 years.

She also is trained as a Rule 31 Mediator, Child and Adult Anicare Animal Abuse Treatment counselor, and a Compassion Fatigue Specialist.

Her interest-areas include the link between human and animal violence, animals in family systems, the development of veterinary social work, as well as communication skills, conflict resolution, and stress management techniques in animal-related environments.


Her professional mission is to encourage the humane treatment of both people and animals and to care for those professionals who care for animals.