Meet Our Veterinary Staff

Great Falls  Animal Hospital has a large team of dedicated, caring and experienced veterinary staff that work together to ensure that you and your pet have a great experience at each and every one of your veterinary visits.


Karen Bracken-Penley

I started working here in 1982 while still in high school.  You can find me in reception helping clients, assisting doctors with patients, helping employees with questions, or paying the bills to keep the hospital running.  My husband, Harold, and I live in Berryville and share our home with three beasts:  Jolie, a mixed breed, Nemo and Emily, both yellow Labs.  When not at work or working with one of our dogs, I enjoy gardening, entertaining, and reading.


Betty Rowe

Hi, my name is Betty Rowe and I have been an assistant at Great Falls Animal Hospital since July 1989.

I have two beautiful cats Abby and Halle.  I share most of my time with two rescued mixed breed dogs Libby and Toula.  I enjoy training and competing with Libby nationally in NADAC Agility, a sport in which I direct her through an obstacle course for both speed and accuracy.  My shy girl Toula is enjoying sheep herding.

When not competing, we enjoy walking and hiking.  I also like to read or garden while they play in the yard.


Karen Van Es

Having been a client at Great Falls Animal Hospital, I am delighted to be working here now as a part-time veterinary assistant.  Although my educational and professional background included foreign travel, conference planning, and corporate recruiting and training.  I have always loved animals, and was please to be offered the opportunity to become a member of the GFAH family.

I moved to Great Falls from Manhattan to marry my husband David.  We live with a Lab named Bella, a GFAH adoption program kitty named Frito, and a host of wildlife in our woods.  I have tow lovely step-daughters and three precious grandchildren.


Becca Ovalle

Hello patrons!  My name is Becca and this August is my one year anniversary at this hospital!  Before moving to Northern VA, I lived in Norfolk where I volunteered at the Virginia Zoo at age 11.  After moving to Vienna  in 2009 I started volunteering at Reston Zoo where I tended to “barnyard” animals as well as exotics.  The most rewarding part of working there was hands on experience with all different species (including kangaroos, macaws, alligators…).

Everyone has pets, but I have a small zoo and still giving second chances to animals who have had rough lives.  My “extended family” includes a menagerie of critters.  I have my precious little Sahar (Manx), a westie named Shawn, Chandani (hampster), oriental fire bellied toad, a Green’s tree frog named Ripley, chickens (Red Sox and Boxer), a chinchilla (Estebanita), and a bunny named Cindy. All are rescue babies, some even from different states.

Currently my goal is to attend the two year Veterinary Technician program at NOVA.  I would also like to get into Wildlife Rehabilitation and start a public enrichment program about the need of wildlife and how to help keep them safe and wild.  For now though, I am a veterinary assistant.  My specialty is handling fractious felines.  I love my job for many reasons.  The best part of this job though is we can lovingly care for a life that God gave.


Tracy Kiser

Hi, my name is Tracy Kiser.  I have been an assistant at Great Falls Animal Hospital since 1992.  I really enjoy working in the animal health field.  I learn so much every day and I get to meet so many interesting people.  The best part, though, is getting to take care of all the animals.

I live in downtown Leesburg with my husband, Dave, and our German Shepherd mix, Zarah.  We like living in downtown as there are lots of dog-friendly restaurants and shops to visit.  We also have many parks with miles of trails for us to enjoy.  When I’m now working or out and about, I like to cook, read, watch movies, play with Zarah, and work in my garden.  My husband and I also like to travel, go to concerts and festivals, and visit our families.


David Raynor

Hi, my name is David.  I’ve been working at GFAH since October 1995, and with animals in general since 1984.  I love all animals, especially cats, birds, and guinea pigs.  I can be found on most weekends at cats shows all up and down the east coast as I breed and show Persian and Devon Rex cats.  I was a professional groomer for over 20 years, so I’m the one who will probably be shaving down your kitty cat when it comes in for a lion cut! 🙂  Oh, and I have a passion for Ranchu, Ryunkin, and Pearlscale goldfish!


Lisa Forgave

I have been a lifetime resident of Great Falls with 20+ years at Great Falls Animal Hospital.  In my time spent hear I have become the director of our cat adoption program and an advocate for all the animals in our care.  I have learned so much through working with the other staff members at GFAH and enjoy passing my knowledge onto our new recruits.  I am a graduate of Virginia Tech with degrees in both biology and psychology.

I adore animals and have many over my life but I will always have a special place in my heart for labs.  I currently have a handsome black lab named Badger.  I adore him even when he eats things he shouldn’t.  In my spare time I enjoy cooking and spending time in the outdoors by gardening, hiking, and bird watching.  I love GFAH and love helping out clients, patients, and employees!


Nathan McMichael

Hello, my name is Nathan.  I have been working at GFAH since June 2002 and working professionally with animals since 1997.  When I’m not here at GFAH, you might find me working with Loudoun Habitat for Humanity.  When I’m not working, you’ll find me strumming my guitar or taking hikes in Shenandoah National Park.  Hope to see you all soon!


Mike Catalano

Hello everyone, my name is Mike.  I have worked at Great Falls Animal Hospital since summer of 2012.  I love working here and learning new and exciting things every day.

When I’m not working or pet sitting, I love to spend time with my two dogs, Bailey a golden retriever, and Coco who is a black lab, and my daughter and son.

I have played soccer my entire life, I love going hiking and camping in the Shenandoah, and hanging out with my family and friends.  Thank you for taking the time to look at my bio.

Leela Abrishami

I started working at GFAH in December 2017, during my senior year of high school. I have always loved animals, and the furry members of my family include two cats, a dog, and a horse. I love having the opportunity to help other people’s pets and work with all the amazing people here. I will be headed off to college this fall, where I hope to continue to pursue my passion for animals and the outdoors.

When I’m not baking unhealthy treats or curled up with a good book, you’ll find me knee deep in mud exploring new trails with my dog, kayaking in the Potomac river, or falling off of various horses.

Quinn Steffy

I started volunteering at GFAH because they have taken such good care of my dog, Noel for 14 years! I’m now working as an assistant veterinarian here and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with such wonderful people and animals. I am attending American University in the fall and I’m excited to be close enough to still work at GFAH. I enjoy working with all animals and I’m hoping to combine my love of animals and my interest in criminal justice in my career.

Krista Benson edited

Krista Benson

My name is Krista Benson and I started working at GFAH in October of 2017. It’s been an amazing learning experience, and I truly feel my work here has a positive impact on all of our beloved furry friends! Another one of my favorite parts of the job is working hands-on with wildlife. If I am not at work, you can probably find me riding my bike on the W&OD trail or hiking somewhere in Great Falls. I also enjoy crafting- making candles & jewelry too! I live with my fiance in Herndon with our sweet cat, Willow. Thanks for stopping by, and we hope to see you soon!

Jonathan Weller

Jonathan Weller

I have been working at Great Falls since October 2018. Prior to Great Falls, I spent a year and a half working with animals. Before that, I was in the Navy for 5 years as a Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman treating our service men and women and their dependents. I enjoy watching all things DC sports, going to the beach, and hanging out with my wife and dog. He is a 3 year old pit-bull mix named Snoopy. I cannot wait to see everyone at Great Falls!

Piers Chapin

Hello, I’m Piers, one of the Veterinary Assistants at Great Falls Animal Hospital. My interests include diagnostics, lab work, research, and providing the best care for you and your fur baby. I have a B.S. from Northern Michigan University, and am interested in continuing education. I enjoy hiking with my husband and dog, music, creating art, and making the most out of life. I look forward to caring for your pet!

Amber Sophia Bear

Hello, my name is Amber Sophia. I have been with GFAH since July of 2018 and I’m loving it! I grew up with pets and knew at an early age that I had a special connection with animals so I wanted to dedicate myself to caring for them. I love caring for animals in general but especially want to continue to learn more about caring for animals with special needs, senior animals, and animals in recovery. Caring for special needs animals and animals recovering from physical and/or psychological trauma have been interests of mine since I was a little girl and have increased as I continue to work with animals in a professional environment. I plan on going back to school to become a licensed veterinary technician and to learn more about animal psychology and behavior. On my free time I love to meditate, write poetry, watercolor paint, cook, read the comic section of the news paper, and spend time outdoors. Thank you for checking us out!

Tracy Kiser

Hi, my name is Tracy Kiser.  I have been an assistant at Great Falls Animal Hospital since 1992.  I really enjoy working in the animal health field.  I learn so much every day, and I get to meet so many interesting people and their pets.

I live in downtown Leesburg with my husband, Dave, and our German Shepherd mix, Bella.  In my spare time I like to  read, watch movies, play with Bella, and work in my garden.  I also like to travel, go to concerts and festivals, and visit family.