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Our People

Get to know the amazing team at Mountain Star Veterinary Specialists and why we love what we do so much.

Get to know our veterinary team

Matthew Chavkin

DVM, MS, DACVO
Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist

For Dr Matt Chavkin, each day is an opportunity to ease the suffering of pets and the families who care about them.

He gets immense joy from dogs who can once again chase squirrels or hike their favorite trails. Or from cats who have returned to their favorite perch to watch cars pass along the street.

Pets and their people love Dr Chavkin’s calm demeanor. A key component of his stress-free style is minimizing the separation of animals and their humans.

He founded and managed the Ophthalmology Service at VRCC, where he practiced from 1994 to 2015. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, serves as affiliate faculty in CSU’s teaching hospital, and is a communication coach for 3rd-year veterinary students.

Dr Chavkin completed his BA at Pomona College (86), received his DVM at Cornell University (90), and had an internship and ophthalmology residency at Colorado State University (94). He lives in Denver with Theresa Peña, his wife of 33 years. They have two grown children, Maya and Ryan; and two dogs, Georgie and Katie. In his free time, Dr Chavkin enjoys snowboarding, sailing, yoga, hiking, biking, and appreciating Anasazi rock art and ruins.

Jackie Diamond

DVM, DACVD
Board Certified Veterinary Dermatologist

Dr Jackie Diamond loves getting to know clients and their pets. She takes time to address clients’ concerns and answer their questions. She values honest dialogue to build lasting relationships. Clients love her empathy, compassion, and how she prioritizes patient comfort.

Dr Diamond improves quality of life. She knows patients are uncomfortable and could be suffering from skin issues. She provides immediate relief and ensures lasting support.

During her undergraduate years, Dr Diamond volunteered with an Italian Greyhound rescue. She noticed the high number of dogs who were surrendered for preventable diseases. That experience led her to become a veterinarian. She attended Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, she completed a rotating internship at California Veterinary Specialists. She then completed a dermatology residence in Georgia. Dr Diamond is Fear Free certified and specializes in laser surgery.

When not working, she provides continuing education for veterinarians. She loves all outdoor activities, especially paddle boarding, bike riding, and snowboarding. Dr Diamond shares her home (and bed) with Saul, her Italian Greyhound.

Emily Conway

BVMS, MS, MRCVS, DACVO
Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist

Dr Emily Conway helps clients feel comfortable through her collaborative, enthusiastic approach to pet care. She understands that eye health can be a confusing and vulnerable subject. She includes the owner as a part of their pet’s healthcare team and explains the process. This allows them to create the perfect plan for the household and pet.

Dr Conway is especially interested in corneal disease and vision-related issues. She not only believes that eyes are the window to the soul, but also the window to the body. By examining a pet’s eyes, there is a lot we can detect about the body as well.

To keep patients comfortable, Dr Conway begins by assessing the pet’s body language and needs. She lets the pet approach her and mirrors their energy.

She received a BA in Biology from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where she also studied movie makeup and horror film rhetoric. Dr Conway also swam for the varsity team. She then attended the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, for veterinary school. Dr Conway shares her home with her husband, two children, and her dog: Bento, a rescued Shiba Inu.

Christina Mazulis

DVM, DACVD
Board Certified Veterinary Dermatologist

Dr Christina Mazulis takes a detailed, collaborative approach to ensure each pet receives the best care. She offers personalized treatment leading to long-term management of skin problems. She sets realistic expectations based on pets’ needs and clients’ comfort levels. Her clear, thorough communication and passionate treatment make the process easy for everyone.

Dr Mazulis is Fear Free certified. She allows pets time to adjust and adapts her approach for their comfort. She’s a strong advocate for shelter and foster care pets, and enjoys volunteering with local shelters.

Dr Mazulis attended the University of Illinois for undergraduate and veterinary school. She then completed a general rotating internship at a specialty and emergency hospital. Her interest in dermatology began in college and was fueled by treating her own pet’s allergies. She finished her dermatology residency at Cornell University.

In her free time, Dr Mazulis enjoys spending time with her husband and their senior mixed-breed dog, Luke. Her extended family includes her parents’ Shih-Tzu and her niece and nephew. She likes hiking, exploring nature, and photography. A lifelong dancer, she enjoys tap dancing and barre workouts.

Laurie Simmons

Hospital Manager

Laurie’s passion is for providing amazing care for patients and clients. She enjoys working with a motivated team of animal lovers, teachers, and caretakers. Laurie believes in supporting the growth of her team members. She sees each person’s potential and then provides them the support, experience, and resources they need to get to where they want to be.

Clients appreciate Laurie’s patience, passion, and experience. She brings a wealth of knowledge to Mountain Star. She began her career in the veterinary field as a Client Service Representative, before working up to hospital manager. Once she learned about specialty medicine for pets, she wanted to expand her knowledge of patient and client care. This led her to go work for a large specialty and emergency hospital for over a decade. She specialized in the Surgery and Orthopedics Department before moving up to a leadership position.

Originally from Ohio and Virginia, Laurie grew up around all types of animals, including horses, dogs, cats, reptiles, birds, and rabbits. She helped raise and train Arabian horses during her childhood; as a teenager, she showed Arabian horses and gave riding lessons. She moved to Colorado to pursue her career in the veterinary field.

If she’s not spending time with her family, Laurie is usually outdoors hiking, biking, or doing yoga. She also enjoys attending concerts, trying out new restaurants, and watching television. Her family dogs are best friends Kyuss, a Mini American Shepherd, and Jilly, a Pug.

Michelle Pena

Front Desk Manager

Michelle treasures the relationships she builds with clients and pets. Clients appreciate that she is empathetic and thorough. She listens to clients’ needs, answers their questions, and follows up with clients after the appointment.
Michelle makes patient comfort her top priority. She reads each pet’s body language and adjusts her approach to make them feel safe. She ensures that each pet’s unique needs are met. Michelle appreciates Mountain Star’s commitment to pets and people.

Michelle has experience as an Ophthalmology, Dermatology, and Surgery Client Care Coordinator. She has also completed courses on Client Care and Practice Administration to help her better serve clients.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also has a Certificate in Veterinary Administration from AAHA/Purdue. When not working, Michelle can be found outdoors, biking, snowboarding, and kickboxing.

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Ashton Garcia

Registered Veterinary Technician / Operations Advisor

Ashton enjoys working with clients and doctors to help provide the best care for pets. She explains things to clients in an easy-to-understand way; she collaborates with clients so they can be involved in their pets’ care. Clients appreciate her knowledge, empathy, and individualized care.

Ashton brings experience in specialty medicine and ophthalmology to Mountain Star. She is proficient in assisting in surgery, anesthetic monitoring, and preparing animals for surgery. Her love of animals is apparent in everything she does and helps her form lasting bonds with clients and patients.

She shares her home with her pets: Reed, a mixed breed dog whom Ashton nursed back to health; and JoJo and Scotty Pippen (Pippen), her two loveable cats. She attended Bel-Rea Veterinary Institute of Animal Technology. Outside of work, Ashton loves to read true crime books, cook, and bake specialty cupcakes.

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Mandy Meredith

Licensed Veterinary Technician

Mandy brings a wealth of experience to Mountain Star, including working in cardiology. Her compassionate, gentle, and honest approach to pet care helps clients and patients feel comfortable and well cared for. By collaborating with clients and the veterinarian, Mandy helps create the perfect plan for each patient. Her desire to help pets live happy, healthy lives helps her form lasting connections with clients and patients.

Mandy attended Michigan State University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife, along with an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology. While she loves sampling Colorado’s delicious microbrews, her dream is to one day live in Hawaii. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling to new places. She shares her heart with Potcake, her rescue pet from the Dominican Republic.

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Sarah Tooley

Registered Veterinary Technician (Ophthalmology)

Sarah enjoys meeting clients and their pets, and educating clients about their pets’ diagnoses and care. She specializes in ophthalmology. Clients appreciate that Sarah is knowledgeable, transparent, and that she listens to all their concerns. She collaborates with clients to help ensure their pets get the best care.

Sarah enjoys nurturing the human/animal bond. She uses Fear Free techniques when handling patients so that they feel comfortable during their treatment. Sarah attends continuing education courses for ophthalmology, anesthesia, and interpersonal relationships so that she can improve her skills.

Sarah attended community college in West Virginia, where she received her associate’s degree in Applied Science/Veterinary Technology. She loves to attend live music concerts, travel, and spend time with Pickles, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Tori

Tori Davis

Veterinary Technician / Client Service Coordinator

Tori has been working in the veterinary field for 14 years. Her experience ranges from general practice to specialty medicine specifically in ER, Internal medicine and Dermatology.

She is one of the founding team members of the Mountain Star Veterinary Specialists Dermatology team. Tori enjoys using her experience and empathy to educate and ease clients minds. As a former Dermatology technician, Tori continues to share her knowledge with our clients and team members as our newest Client Service Coordinator. She continues to use her Fear Free skills to create a stress-free environment for all our patients and their families.

Tori was born in Colorado and raised in Louisiana. She was a competitive swimmer for 16 years. She enjoys hiking with her sweet Husky boys Beignet and Buddah, watching football (Geaux LSU!), and contributing her time to a Samoyed rescue group. 

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Chanae Bowden

Registered Veterinary Technician (Dermatology)

Chanae’s clear communication, exceptional client service, and knowledge helps her ensure that patients and clients have a productive and stress-free veterinary visit. She collaborates with clients and the doctor to find the best solution for each pet’s dermatological needs.

Chanae brings over 20 years of veterinary technician experience to Mountain Star. She is always learning new skills to improve her skills and help keep patients comfortable. Chanae is working on Fear Free certification. She reads a pet’s body language and uses resources to help keep pets as comfortable as possible. She graduated from Bel Rea with an associate degree in applied science.

A Colorado native, Chanae loves exploring the Denver-area with her friends. She also models in her spare time. She shares her home with her three children and their two dogs: Kayla, a pit bull, and Spunky, a beagle mix.

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Chelsea Tincoff

Dermatology Technician

Chelsea’s patient approach and detailed communication help make veterinary visits easier and less stressful for clients and patients. She educates clients on the process and collaborates with the doctor to create the best plan. Her goal is to help animals have the best quality of life. Because she wants the best for pets and clients, she can form lasting relationships and strengthen the human/animal bond.

Chelsea worked in dentistry specialty for five years before joining the Mountain Star family. She monitors pets’ body language and adapts her care to keep them as comfortable as possible. She uses Fear Free techniques to ensure pets are safely handled and cared for during their visits. She is a long-time volunteer with Peace, Love & Paws, helping provide free veterinary care to deserving individuals.

Chelsea has an Associate’s of Applied Science in Veterinary Medicine degree from Bel-Rea Institute. Her family includes Kato, a rescue Shar-Pei mix, and a dog-like cat named Naji. She has started training Kato to communicate with buttons. In her free time, she enjoys going hiking, camping, and visiting national parks. She and Kato also spend a lot of time at the dog park.

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Gina McNamara

Veterinary Technician

Gina graduated from Bel-Rea Institute in 2013 with an Associates of Applied Science in Veterinary Medicine. Her professional background primarily consists of urgent care and general practice. She joined her friends at Mountain Star so she could further her career experience in quality, specialty medicine. She enjoys forming bonds with clients and their pets through education and stress-free handling. Gina believes that knowledge is powerful, therefore she is always keeping her credentials up to date with the latest veterinary information so she can better assist her team, clients, and most importantly, the pets she cares for.

Gina also holds an Associates of Science in Psychology and is currently pursuing her BS in Psychology from Colorado State University (Go Rams!). When she is not working or studying, she enjoys reading, creative writing, relaxing with friends in the mountains, playing video games, and spending time with her calico cat, Chimichanga and her ball python, Boopy.

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Susan Kim

Registered Veterinary Technician (Dermatology) / Inventory Manager

Susan is a Fear Free certified technician who loves caring for patients who come into the hospital. Clients appreciate that Susan takes the time to answer their questions and educate them. Susan wants clients to feel empowered and involved in their pets’ care. Her calmness and patience help pets feel more comfortable as well.

Susan has a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She keeps her skills current by attending CE lectures and classes. She also loves learning on the job so she can provide the best possible care.

When not working, Susan loves snowboarding and painting. She shares her home with her Coonhound mix, Cooper; two cats: Henry, a tabby, and Diamond, a tuxedo cat; and Barney, a Betta fish.

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Lea Samaras

Veterinary Technician

Lea’s empathy and compassion help clients and patients feel comfortable. She collaborates with clients, because she knows they have the same goal of helping their pet receive the best care. Her goal is to build a partnership with all clients and patients. She wants clients to have peace of mind and feel like their concerns are being addressed.

To keep pets comfortable, Lea uses Fear Free techniques. She allows pets to set the pace of the appointment. She believes in the power of the human/animal bond, which is why she became a veterinary technician. She is passionate about helping each pet live their best, healthiest life.

She attended the Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology. Lea’s family includes her husband and their senior German shepherd/chow mix, Zoe. In her free time, she loves to go hiking, work in her garden, and travel to new places.

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Jane Cady

Client Service Coordinator / Veterinary Assistant

Jane’s commitment to clients and patients begins from the very first phone call. She wants people and their pets to feel welcome, safe and understood when visiting Mountain Star. Jane loves getting to know each individual patient and creating lasting relationships with them. She believes this will allow her, and the team, to best address each pet’s needs and each client’s concerns.

Jane holds a BA from Bowdoin College and lived on the coast of Maine in the town of Belfast for over 20 years, raising her kids and working as a technician in the town of Northport. A native Denverite, she returned in 2018 and entered the specialty medicine field as a coordinator for a local Surgery and Orthopedics Department.

Jane falls in love with every dog she meets but has a special place in her heart for mixed breeds. She’s happy to be back in Colorado, where – if she isn’t playing with her crew of short, stumpy-legged dogs and her tripod cat – she is exploring the Front Range on her bike.

Rachel

Rachel Burrows

MSc
Client Service Coordinator / Veterinary Assistant

Rachel is dedicated to animal welfare and fostering the human-animal connection. She believes in empathy and transparency, working together with clients to provide outstanding care. She is passionate about helping patients live happy, healthy lives.

Rachel received her Master of Science in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She has over a decade of experience working with a variety of species, including snakes, fish, horses, and even octopuses! She transitioned into specialty veterinary medicine as a cardiology coordinator. She is excited to learn more about ophthalmology and dermatology at Mountain Star.

In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, volunteering at her rescue ranch, and skiing. Otherwise, she can be found cuddling on the couch with her dog, Lupo (pit bull/shepherd mix), and her three cats: Monster, Einstein, and Shanksy.

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Mandy Hess

Client Service Coordinator

Mandy strives to make sure that clients are well-informed so they can work with the doctor during their pet’s visit. She believes in collaboration and takes time to answer client questions. Mandy has over fourteen years of experience in the veterinary field, including experience in emergency, dentistry, and ophthalmology specialists.

Because veterinary clinics can be scary places for pets, Mandy works to help pets feel comfortable when they visit. She provides treats, a safe place for pets to acclimate, and support to nervous pets. Her goal is for pets to feel safe while at Mountain Star. She is working on becoming Fear Free certified.

Mandy has a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts. When not helping animals at Mountain Star, she can be found working at her wedding floral business, or spending time with her family: husband, son, two dogs, and cat. No matter the temperature, she will always have an iced coffee.

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We wish Brit the best of luck on her next adventure! Even though she is no longer working with us here at Mountain Star, she will always be in our hearts! Brit is moving to Ireland so that she can attend vet school! We hope to see Brit again in the future as a veterinary ophthalmologist here at Mountain Star! We will miss her so much and hope that our paths cross again soon! We love you, Brit, and take care!