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Our Team

Michael J Blackwell, DVM, MPH
Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS (Ret.)

A life of public service is what exemplifies Dr. Michael Blackwell. Like his father, he earned a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Tuskegee University. He also earned a Master of Public Health degree from Loma Linda University. Dr. Blackwell’s career has been anything but traditional. He currently serves as the Director of the Program for Pet Health Equity, College of Social Work, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His mission is to improve access to veterinary care, especially for families with limited means. He chairs the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition.

Previously, Dr. Blackwell served as chief of staff, Office of the Surgeon General of the U.S., chief veterinary officer of the U.S. Public Health Service, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, and chief veterinary officer of the Humane Society of the United States. He achieved the rank of Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General during 23 years on active duty with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. In addition, he has served on many national boards and committees Dr. Blackwell has received numerous awards and recognitions, most notably, the U.S. Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal (which is the highest personal honor award), and the Meritorious Service Medal (the second highest personal honor award). He also twice received the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal.

Candice Hinkle, MBA
Assistant Director

From a young age, Candice knew that animal welfare was her passion. While attending Walter’s State Community College, Candice began her career as a Keeper at Zoo Knoxville. There she was able to learn more about the Species Survival Program and received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee. Candice’s love for exotic animals never faltered, but it was her experience in animal sheltering that would influence her career and fuel her passion. While working in Development at her local animal shelter, Candice never forgot her experience of cleaning kennels and the difference that interaction made not only for the animal waiting to be adopted but also for their caretakers.

Candice left sheltering to work at Knoxville Habitat for Humanity to learn more about Development and Nonprofit Administration. After earning her Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management at Tusculum College, Candice knew that it was time to put the knowledge she had gained into keeping families together.