Our Team

Our executive team brings over 100 years of collective experience within all aspects of the veterinary industry – clinical, marketing, hospital operations, training, and administrative functions.

Craig Niebur


Craig has spent his entire career working in human and veterinary healthcare services companies with high growth profiles, serving in a variety of roles including finance, operations, and executive leadership. These experiences have continually reinforced his view of the importance of the placing clinical excellence and patient interaction at the forefront of daily operations and development efforts. Most recently, Craig helped expand a veterinary services provider from operations in six states generating $9 million in annual revenues, to operations in 34 states across the United States and nearly $70 million in revenue over a six-year period. Craig spends his free time with his wife and the busy schedules of twin daughters.

Jim Herring

Chief Development Officer

Jim has worked in the Animal Health Industry since 1974 for manufacturers, distributors, and also owned his own veterinary distribution company during this time frame. He worked in many leadership roles throughout the years, including Sales Representative, Branch Manager, Regional Sales Director, Vice President of Sales and, most recently, Vice President of Business Development. Jim helped build Webster Veterinary Supply from a regional distributor to the largest animal health company in the world (Patterson Animal Health). He also developed the Patterson University educational program in order to help the veterinary profession manage their practices more effectively, now and in the future.

Jim and his wife, Carletta, have three children and six grandchildren that keep him busy when he is not working.

Christopher Smith, DVM

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Christopher Smith obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Agribusiness degree from the University of Florida and has worked in the veterinary profession for the past 18 years. Dr. Smith’s clinic practice focuses on small animal medicine and surgery, with a special interest in exotic species. His style of clinic practice aims to provide excellent patient care while meeting the unique needs of individual clients. During his spare time, Dr. Smith volunteers with several state agencies as a consultant on wildlife issues unique to Florida. This includes monitoring the health of the threatened American crocodile population, as well as ongoing research on the invasive Burmese Python and Argentine Tegu. Dr. Smith and his wife, also a veterinarian, share their home with multiple rescue animals: three dogs, two cats, a sulfur-crested cockatoo, rabbit, guinea pigs, leopard tortoises, iguana, and turtles.

Jonathan McSheffrey

Director of Finance

Jonathan brings more than 19 years of diverse accounting and finance experience to American Veterinary Group. He started his career in public accounting with Arthur Andersen LLP and then Ernst and Young LLP in Boston. Since relocating to the Tampa Bay area, he has worked in numerous corporate accounting leadership positions within the office solutions, non-profit, retail, and restaurant industries. Jonathan is a resourceful, change-oriented and innovative leader who enables an organization to enhance its business growth and maximize its potential.

Jonathan is a licensed CPA in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from the University of Richmond with an Accounting major and a Sports Management minor. He also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Florida with concentrations in Finance and Management.

In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys spending time with his wife, son and daughter as well as coaching two soccer teams.

Julie Stern

Julie Stern

Director of Marketing

Julie has spent the last 17 years in cross-functional leadership positions in the veterinary, real estate & business consulting industries. She is passionate about helping businesses build life-long relationships with clients, delivering exceptional experiences at every step in the process. Over the past 9 years, Julie helped grow a veterinary services provider into a national presence with prominent online visibility. Later, she developed formalized training programs & operational support processes, enabling over 700 veterinary support staff to deliver the highest standards of care to pets and their parents.

Julie holds an MBA from Yale University’s School of Management, with a concentration in Marketing. In her spare time, Julie enjoys spending time with her husband, three-year-old twins and their dog, Stormy. She is a competitive tennis player, voracious reader, and loves to travel.

Christina Ruffer

Christina Ruffer

Regional Director of Operations

Christina started working in the veterinary industry 17 years ago, and her passion for pets and people flourished the moment she walked in the door at her first veterinary job. She enjoyed the daily routine of working in the kennel, assisting clients and pets, working at the front desk, managing inventory, and managing staff at her local veterinary hospital. After learning multiple veterinary software systems, Christina started to consult and work with other veterinary hospitals to teach them how to properly setup and use their systems. Christina started with American Veterinary Group in May 2016 and has quickly developed bonds with each hospital, working hand in hand with each team. It is difficult to learn a new software system, but Christina makes sure each staff is confident in their training and their ability to provide excellent customer service in the process.

Raul Cardona

Raul Cardona

Regional Director of Operations

Raul has worked in the veterinary healthcare industry for 9 years, serving as Practice Manager and Field Trainer for multiple locations. He has supported the opening of 25 locations throughout the Southeast and was Brand Ambassador for MARS in Puerto Rico. Previously, Raul gained experience in the hospitality industry, where he learned the importance of service and people. Understanding leadership dynamics, keeping a team engaged and motivated, integrating functional strategies to reach financial and operational objectives, and looking onward in growing the business are key factors on Raul’s daily agenda.
Outside of work, if Raul is not talking about sports, he’s playing sports! His two kids and boxer, Papo, also keep him busy.