Speaker Bios

AR2019 Speaker Bios

Allison Argo has made award-winning documentaries about abused and endangered animals for nearly 30 years. Her films have won six national Emmys (11 nominations), five Genesis Awards (from HSUS) and over 80 awards internationally. Among the many films she’s produced, directed and written, are: Chimpanzees: an Unnatural History, The Urban Elephant, and Parrot Confidential. All were broadcast by PBS and National Geographic, reaching audiences worldwide. Argo’s latest film, The Last Pig, continues her mission to speak out for the silenced. Through this film, she hopes to inspire compassion for all living beings and to repair the disconnect between humans and who we consume. To learn more: www.ArgoFilms.com.

Jaya Bhumitra serves as International Director of Corporate Outreach for Animal Equality, an Animal Charity Evaluators Top Charity. In just three years since launching the department, Jaya has led teams in Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain, India, Germany, the UK, and the U.S. to achieve 115 animal protection policies from the world’s largest food companies, reducing the suffering of an estimated 40 million animals raised and killed for food each year. Jaya also serves on the advisory council of Encompass, a nonprofit seeking to increase effectiveness in the animal protection movement by fostering greater racial diversity, equity, and inclusion while empowering advocates of color.

Aryenish Birdie founded Encompass after witnessing and experiencing the urgent need for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive animal protection movement. Prior to Encompass, Aryenish spent seven years at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine promoting alternatives to animal tests. In addition to her more than two decades of experience in animal protection, Aryenish has worked in other social justice movements, including those striving for racial justice, queer rights, and reproductive freedom. Aryenish received an interdisciplinary Bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College in critical social thought/race and feminist theory. She also completed her Master’s degree, magna cum laude, in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University.

Edita Birnkrant is the Executive Director of NYCLASS, a NYC based animal rights and political action non-profit organization dedicated to ending the abuse of NYC’s carriage horses, enacting animal rights legislation into law, promoting laws and policies that widely provide vegan food, and electing pro-animal candidates to office. NYCLASS is committed to fighting for all animals by working both legislatively and embracing grassroots efforts to educate and activate the public. Following on the momentum of NYCLASS’s recent victory for carriage horses moved out of traffic and into Central Park, Edita is currently working on passing crucial legislation in the City Council that would gain needed protections for carriage horses and end cruelty.

Darina Bockman brought strategic vegan activism into the Fortune 500 companies. Extending her own corporate career, she founded LinkedIn-based Vegan Leaders in Corporate Management to mobilize vegan influencers across major companies worldwide. The Vegan Leaders members – now over 3,500 – have a way to influence their banking, tech, consulting, pharma, energy and other corporate firms. Vegan Leaders offers a Corporate Initiatives coaching program to help members launch vegan programs in their workplace. Ms. Bockman is fiercely passionate about self-improvement and effectiveness. She was born in Slovakia and she speaks multiple languages. She is the lead author of Vegan Leaders Playbook, a free downloadable guide.

Hope Bohanec has been active in animal protection and environmental activism for over 25 years and has published the book The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat? She is a nationally recognized leader and speaker in the animal protection movement, and serves as Projects Manager for United Poultry Concerns.  Hope is also the Executive Director of Compassionate Living, a California based vegan advocacy organization. She is the primary organizer for the annual Conscious Eating Conference at UC Berkeley, the Berkeley Earth Day, and the Sonoma County VegFest.

Jill Carnegie is a proud New Yorker privileged to be a "professional Vegan." As Co-Founder of NUMU Vegan Cheese, Jill is excited to play a role in making animal-based dairy obsolete, one slice of pizza at a time. In addition, she participates in animal rescue and is also consistently contracted to work with animal advocacy organizations to consult on campaign strategy and execute grassroots campaigns on the ground. A few of the groups Jill is working with (or has recently worked with) are: Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, Save Movement, VoNY - Vegans of New York, NYCLASS, and Tamerlaine Sanctuary & Preserve.  Learn more at JillCarnegie.com.

Alka Chandna has been working to advance human and animal rights for more than 35 years. At PETA, Alka focuses on experimentation issues. She has written dozens of complaints against laboratories for violations of the federal animal welfare regulations and guidelines. After she wrote PETA's complaint against a North Carolina–based contract animal-testing facility, the company surrendered more than 250 dogs and cats and shut its doors. She also worked on PETA's successful campaign to end maternal-deprivation experiments on monkeys at the National Institutes of Health. She has had original research published on policies pertaining to oversight of animal experimentation. Before coming to PETA, Alka served as a tenured professor of mathematics at Memorial University of Newfoundland. 

Alycia Corpiel is the Founder and President of Bunn-411 and the global #NotJust4Easter Campaign, a grassroots initiative that aims to end live-animal gifting at Easter.  #NotJust4Easter is endorsed by Lush Cosmetics and has been featured in publications around the world, including USA Today.  When Alycia is not fighting for animal rights, she enjoys time at home with her husband, Matt, and two rescue rabbits, Skye and Kermit.

Susie Coston - known as “the farm animal whisperer” - is the National Shelter Director for Farm Sanctuary and a leading authority on farm animal care and behavior. With more than two decades of experience working with farm animals, she calls on both her expertise and her deep connections with these animals to oversee a team of caregivers who provide individualized care to hundreds of rescued farm animals across Farm Sanctuary’s shelter locations; act as a mentor to many peers who have started their own sanctuaries; and advocate for compassion for farm animals everywhere.

Alan Darer is director of food policy for Mercy For Animals, overseeing a global team working on institutional meat-reduction in Brazil, Mexico, and India. The program, called Conscious Eating, has successfully partnered with four cities in Brazil and one state in Mexico to replace 20 percent of meat, dairy, and eggs with plant-based meals in school districts and social assistance centers. Once fully implemented, these policies will replace 7 million meat-based meals with vegan meals per year. Alan also supports the organization ’ s international teams and efforts to expand Mercy For Animals programs to India and China.

Karen Davis, PhD is the President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl including a sanctuary for chickens in Virginia. Inducted into the National Animal Rights Hall of Fame for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Liberation, she is the author of Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry; More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality; The Holocaust and the Henmaid’s Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities and other works including her children’s book A Home for Henny and Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey: A Poultryless “Poultry” Potpourri, a vegan cookbook. Karen’s latest book is For the Birds: From Exploitation to Liberation: Essays on Chickens, Turkeys, and Other Domesticated Fowl (Lantern Books, 2019).

Deborah DiMare is showing the world that no living creature need suffer or die for beautiful furniture. After learning of the inhumane treatment of animals within the skins & fur industry, her company, DiMare Design, became and to date is the only 100% vegan design firm in the US.  Deborah demonstrates how less toxic, durable and luxurious faux alternatives can easily replace wool, fur, leather & other animal derived materials. Deborah also leads the VeganDesign.org Council, a community of industry professionals from over 60 countries seeking education and change for all living species within the skins and hides industries. Deborah is a vegan interior design expert, author and influencer for the compassionate design movement.

Nichole Dinato and Callie Coker are the founders and hosts of Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack, a philosophical, anti-oppression podcast launched in 2015. Over the years they have “attacked” a wide range of topics through in-depth discussions; from the efficacy of consumption-based veganism, to media deconstructions, to their persistent existential dread. They focus on building a better movement by calling in their own and advocating for a radical, anti-capitalist, pro-intersectional approach to veganism through community building, boundary setting, consent culture, anarchist and feminist concepts, and a whole host of other topics that would piss their fathers off. Plus, an unhealthy but realistic fixation on the apocalypse for which neither of them has any skills to survive.

Stephanie Frankle is the Culture and Engagement Specialist for The Humane League, where she focuses on supporting THL staff to do their best work. She has been at The Humane League for the past five and a half years, and worked as a grassroots organizer and then oversaw the organization’s Campus Outreach department before moving into her current role. Prior to joining THL, she toured the country by truck with FARM’s 10 Billion Lives Tour, and introduced folks to rescued farm animals at Farm Sanctuary. She lives in San Francisco and can often be found practicing partner dancing, scuba diving, and hiking in her neighborhood canyon.

Shalin Gala has, for more than 15 years, worked on and overseen legislative and campaign efforts at PETA that have led to the successful replacement or reduction of animal use globally in military pre-hospital training, chemical casualty drills, pediatric intubation exercises, undergraduate and postgraduate medical curricula, and surgical training courses, as well as in non-applied experimentation and food ingredient testing. He has conducted scholarly work that focuses on the transition from animal use to human simulation models for biomedical disciplines, and his work has appeared in medical journals and popular media. Gala has also brokered academic, industry, and expert coalitions to advance the goal of modernizing medicine without harming animals.

Leah Garcés is the president of Mercy For Animals. She has been fighting for better food and farming systems for her whole career, and she has nearly 20 years of leadership experience in the animal protection movement. She oversaw international campaigns in 14 countries at the World Society for the Protection of Animals then launched Compassion in World Farming in the United States.  Leah  is also on the advisory boards of Encompass and Seattle Food Tech. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three kids, and two cats.

Kathy Guillermo is senior vice president of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department. A 30-year veteran of PETA, Guillermo leads the organization’s work to end the use of animals in experiments. Her many victories include shutting down the construction of a massive monkey-breeding facility in Puerto Rico and exposing the abuse of animals at a North Carolina product-testing laboratory, Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc.—which led to the closure of the facility and the adoption of hundreds of dogs and cats into good homes. She is the author of the 1993 book, Monkey Business: The Disturbing Case That Launched the Animal Rights Movement.

Susan Hargreaves aka Mother Nature has been advocating for all species of animals for 40 years. Susan is an inspiring author, educator, investigator, activist, wildlife rehabilitator, and a long term vegan agitator. She is the founder of the global Kindness Education and Youth Empowerment charity, Animal Hero Kids. The Animal Hero Kids story telling character Mother Nature is one of the many costumed characters presenting in her school programs.

Mark Hawthorne is an activist and the author of three books on animal rights and social justice: A Vegan Ethic: Embracing A Life Of Compassion Toward All; Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering; and the bestselling Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism, which has just been updated as a 10th-anniversary edition. Mark is a frequent contributor to VegNews magazine, and he volunteers with the vegan food justice group Food Empowerment Project. You’ll find him blogging about activism at markhawthorne.com and tweeting @markhawthorne.

Christopher Hendrickson is a Regional Organizing Manager for The Humane League, with a focus on political advocacy and state ballot measures. He has been with The Humane League for four years and in that time, has worked on state ballot measures in Massachusetts (2016) and California (2018), helping to pass some of the strongest farm animal protection laws focused on ending the extreme confinement of hens, calves, and pigs. Chris specializes in organizing and mobilizing citizens to band together and make a real impact for animals. He has roots in Michigan where he co-founded Vegan Kalamazoo after working in biotechnology.
Krista V. Hiddema is the President of the Board for Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, home of the Esther the Wonder Pig. After spending two decades in the for-profit sector, most notably as the VP of Human Resources for a large global software company, and then as a Partner in law firm in Toronto, Krista left to lead Mercy For Animals in Canada. She was involved in twelve undercover investigations; was a registered federal lobbyist; and also secured some of the largest animal welfare commitments in the country.  She consults to animal protection organizations across North America, and is also pursuing her doctorate in ecofeminism. Learn more about Krista here: https://kristahiddema.com/

Dr. Melanie Joy is a Harvard-educated psychologist, international speaker, strategic vegan advocacy trainer, and relationship coach. She is the author of five books, including the award-winning Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows as well Powerarchy: Understanding the Psychology of Oppression for Social Transformation. Dr. Joy was a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, for 11 years, where she taught courses on privilege and oppression, feminist psychology, and animal rights. She has given talks and trainings on six continents and in over 45 countries, and her work has been featured in major media outlets around the world. She is the eighth recipient of the Ahimsa Award – previously given to the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela – for her work on global nonviolence. Dr. Joy is also the founding president of the charitable organization Beyond Carnism, co-director of the Center for Effective Vegan Advocacy, and co-founder of ProVeg International. You can learn more about her work at carnism.org.

Mara Keisling is the founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Since around the turn of the century, she has been a national leader in efforts that have made the movement for trans rights among the fastest and most effective social justice movements in American history. She is one of the nation’s leading voices for transgender equality and a significant movement strategist. A proud Pennsylvanian, Mara received her bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and did graduate work in American Government at Harvard University. Mara has been a vegan for 22 years.

Anita Krajnc is co-founder and campaign organizer for Toronto Pig Save and The Save Movement. The group’s main strategies are bearing witness to animal victims at slaughterhouses and Gandhian love-based community organizing. With the launch of its new Climate Save and Health Save movement branches, the organization’s strategies and tactics have expanded to include local climate actions such as beach cleanups and screenings and global strategic corporate campaigns targeting the animal feed companies that are wreaking havoc on the environment and causing deforestation around the world. The campaign promotes a vegan lifestyle, reforesting the earth, and pressuring feed companies into transitioning into sustainable plant-based farming as essential elements to reverse the climate crisis. The Health Save Movement engages in policy reform and corporate campaigns aimed at making a healthy vegan diet universally available. Projects include the Vegan School Menu, Vegan Restaurants and Vegan Street Food campaigns. These initiatives will bring us closer to an vegan activist world. Anita holds a PhD in Political Science and has taught courses in social movement strategies and tactics.

Cailen LaBarge serves as Animal Equality's General Counsel, overseeing the organization's international compliance and proactive legal initiatives. Since going vegan in law school, she has assisted a number of animal protection organizations through litigation, public policy, and corporate governance. Cailen earned her J.D. in 2011 from Suffolk University Law School, where she served as President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and her B.A. in 2006 from The University at Albany in upstate New York. She is admitted to the bars of Massachusetts, New York, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

Audrey Lawson-Sanchez is the founder and executive director of Balanced, a public health and nutrition advocacy organization. Because she understands how difficult it is in today's food system for everyday families to find foods in line with the best nutrition-science, Audrey is committed to making it possible for anyone, anywhere to demand better. As an advocate for family and community health, Audrey's work focuses on holding the food industry accountable while empowering people across the world to improve the health of their communities by replacing known disease-causing foods on menus with plant-based alternatives. Audrey lives in Kansas City with her husband, Elliot and the inspiration behind Balanced, her daughter Ada.

Joshua Levine is a Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor with RBC Wealth Management. He focuses on integrating environmental, social, and governance metrics (socially responsible investing) in investment decisions.  Within that framework, he specializes in animal welfare investing through customized social screening and shareholder advocacy.  Joshua works with individual investors and nonprofits to provide highly customized financial and investment solutions.  Joshua’s team is structured to provide a consultative relationship with clients to preserve their wealth, develop detailed Investment and Social Policy statements, and construct properly diversified portfolios within the context of supporting animal welfare.  As an investment fiduciary, he empowers clients to make investment decisions that are in line with their personal ethics, without sacrificing return.

Lindsay Lewis is an animal rights activist and artist based in Orange County, California.  Lindsay's devotion to saving animals is revealed through her artwork, and she has served as an artist  for Mercy for Animals, PETA, Eat Drink Vegan, The Humane League, Farm USA, The March of Silence, and many more 501c3 organizations and sanctuaries. Additionally, Lindsay is the Social Media Team Lead at Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center and teaches college Mathematics and Statistics.

Jasmine Leyva is a filmmaker and actress based in Los Angeles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in TV, Film and Media and a Masters of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from California State University (Northridge). Leyva worked as an Associate Producer on the NAACP Award winning docuseries, Unsung, and was subsequently a writer and producer for Being, a docuseries highlighting dynamic entertainers in film and music. Leyva was also an Associate Producer for a variety of unscripted television. In front of the camera, Leyva has appeared in commercials and print ads for major brands including American Express, Apple, BlackPeopleMeet.com, Credit Sesame, Diesel, Elle Magazine, Michelle Watches, Uber, and more. She also starred in the Lifetime the show, My Crazy Ex, along with other TV projects. In 2019, Jasmine and Kenny Leyva released their own feature-length documentary, The Invisible Vegan, a film that chronicles Jasmine’s personal experience with plant-based eating. The film also explains how plant-based eating is directly linked to African roots and how African-American eating habits have been debased by a chain of oppression stemming from slavery, economic inequality, and modern agribusiness.

Eric Lindstrom has more than two decades of marketing experience across corporate and non-profit channels. He is the Director of Marketing for Compassion Over Killing (COK) and author of two books about going vegan (The Skeptical Vegan and The Smart Parent's Guide to Raising Vegan Kids). In his role at COK Lindstrom promotes the animal protection agency's undercover investigations, corporate campaigns, education and outreach, vegan support, fundraising, and annual events; through traditional advertising strategies, online video, and social media.

Nora Constance Marino has been a vegan and animal rights activist for fifteen years.  She is the President of the Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund, a not for profit organization that exposes animal cruelty thorough main stream media such as TV and social media.  ACEF has gotten five anti-cruelty/pro-vegan commercials on the air in several states across the nation, and is working on its sixth.  Nora is also an experienced trial attorney who engages in litigation on behalf of animals and those that protect them. She speaks regularly at animal rights events, lobbies for animal-friendly legislation, and is a regular on the protest scene.  Nora ran for State Senate in her home state of New York, was a JAG officer in the United States Army Reserves, and is a mayoral-appointee on New York City's Taxi & Limousine Commission.  In her spare time, she sings in a rock band.

Amy Meyer is the Grassroots Organizer for NEAVS, leading grassroots campaign efforts nationwide against institutions that conduct experiments on animals. In 2019 NEAVS efforts focus on exposing the most horrific abuses happening to primates, dogs and cats inside laboratories, and working with local and student activists to close these labs. In addition, Amy is a grassroots activist in Utah. In 2013 she became the first person in the U.S. to be charged under an ag-gag law when documented abuse outside a slaughterhouse in Utah. She joined as a plaintiff to challenge Utah’s ag-gag law in court, which ultimately struck it down as unconstitutional.

Kimberly Moore is the Director of Public Relations for Fur Free Society, Inc. and a frequent speaker at conferences. Kimberly presented two research papers at Oxford’s Animal Ethics Summer School on (i) claims that fur is “green” and (ii) marketing targeting children as future consumers. Kimberly is an expert on animal welfare laws and a dedicated vegan advocate who is committed to advancing rights for all animals. Kimberly has represented and worked with organizations, including rescue groups, animal sanctuaries and other organizations, on strategic, organizational and fundraising matters. Kimberly Moore is a senior tax attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop and President and CEO of Greenbrier Residential Properties I and II.

Brenda A. Morris is the founder and CEO of Humane Investing, LLC (www.humaneinvesting.com ), a fee-only financial firm dedicated to helping activists make money while making a difference.  She has volunteered with the Vegetarian Society of Richmond for two decades and has been a coordinator of the Richmond VegFest since 2003.  One of her favorite hobbies is giving out samples of amazing vegan food at non-veg events and watching people who have never considered going vegan consider it for the first time.   While she encourages anyone who cares about animals to invest in companies that do not support, cause, or contribute to animal exploitation and suffering, she hopes this “specialization” isn’t needed much longer as more and more companies move towards incorporating cruelty-free practices into their business models.

Liberty Mulkani, as Director of the Project Management Program, oversees the planning, monitoring and fulfillment of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s key events and campaigns, including: the popular Animal Law Conference in conjunction with the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School, the organization's animal law receptions, exhibits, fundraising, legislative and educational events, the annual staff retreat, and logistics for internal leadership and board meetings. Liberty received her Master of Education from the Institute for Humane Education and Cambridge College in 2008. She is passionate about using her training to help incorporate sustainability policies, plant-based menus, and cruelty-free products into the events her team produces.

Sharon Núñez is Animal Equality's co-founder and President. Animal Equality is a leading international animal protection organization ranked as one of the four most effective animal organizations in the world. Sharon has studied Sociology, and before dedicating her time to Animal Equality, she worked at highly recognized animal protection organizations in Madrid and London. Sharon has been featured on international media, and Animal Equality's campaigns and investigations have appeared in The New York Times, CNN, BBC, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and El País. As a speaker, Sharon has given presentations at Harvard Law School, MIT, New York University, and The University of Vienna. Recently, she was named one of the eleven Spanish women changing the world by the newspaper El Pais. Sharon is the co-founder and co-director of the book collection "LiberAnima," a prestigious book editorial that promotes equality and justice towards animals through the publication of several key books in Spain and Latin America. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Jose, and her two cats, Lince and Glen.

John Oberg is a social media influencer and animal activist dedicated to making the world a kinder place for animals by utilizing the power of social media. He recently launched his own independent project for animals through Patreon. Prior to that, he served as Director of New Media for the international animal protection organization, The Humane League. And prior to that, John served as Director of Communications for Vegan Outreach. In both of these roles, John oversaw social media for the organizations which led to a tenfold increase in following for both, as well as over 1 billion views of content posted to these pages. In his new project, his social media posts have garnered over 70 million views since the beginning of 2019.

lauren Ornelas is the founder/director of Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.), a vegan food justice nonprofit seeking to create a more just world by helping consumers recognize the power of their food choices. F.E.P. works in solidarity with farm workers, advocates for chocolate not sourced from the worst forms of child labor, and focuses on access to healthy foods in communities of color and low-income communities. lauren has been active in the animal rights movement for more than 30 years. She is the former executive director of Viva!USA, a national nonprofit vegan advocacy organization that Viva!UK asked her to start in 1999 and for which she investigated factory farms and ran consumer campaigns. In cooperation with activists across the country, she persuaded Trader Joe’s to stop selling all duck meat and achieved corporate changes within Whole Foods Market, Pier 1 Imports, and others, and she helped halt the construction of an industrial dairy operation in California. She was also the spark that got the founder of Whole Foods Market to become a vegan. In addition, lauren served as campaign director with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition for six years. Watch her TEDx talk on “The Power of Our Food Choices.” Learn more about F.E.P.’s work at foodispower.org and veganmexicanfood.com.

Marissa Price, as the senior strategist for PETA's Campus Mobilization team, helps run the Campus Rep program, which is the largest student animal rights program in the world. She mentors student activists and helps them plan outreach events and campaigns on their campuses. Additionally, she travels around North America throughout the year to organize immersive training retreats for college students as well as a vegan activist camp each summer. She got her start in animal rights activism when she was a student at George Washington University, where she founded the student group GW Animal Advocates. She's also a trained PETA spokesperson, and this will be the sixth consecutive year that she's attended the Animal Rights National Conference.

Taylor Radig works as the Director of Campaigns and Social Media for Vegan Outreach—running their restaurant outreach program in the United States. Taylor works with restaurants and leading food providers to help them match their menus with the booming industry of vegan eating, with the goal of making vegan food more accessible for everyone. Her use of positive pressure campaigning and restaurant partnerships has led to new vegan options all over the country.

Clifton Roberts is a member of the Humane Party, the first US Political Party representing the rights of all human and non-human animals, established in 2009. Roberts ran for President of the United States in 2016 and will compete for the Party’s nomination in the upcoming Humane Party Presidential Primary for 2020. With over 25 years of corporate organizational experience in finance, healthcare, and technology, Roberts currently serves as a Global Director of Public Policy for the foremost data-centric corporation in the world, formerly managing ethics and compliance initiatives for over 100,000 employees. A vegan himself for nearly 22 years, his speech, titled “Voting Humane Vs. Republicrat,” will confront and dispel the age-old myth of a “wasted vote, as well as discuss a groundbreaking strategy to creating a vegan world through the abolition of animal slavery on a national level.

Kimberly Roemer is a CPA with over 25 years of experience in public accounting and has also worked as an adjust professor at Salisbury University's business school teaching individual and corporate/partnership taxation. Kimberly has a specialty in income and estate/gift taxes working with clients to assist them in understanding complex Federal income and estate tax laws and assisting them in accomplishing their business and personal goals. Kimberly also works with several not for profit groups acting as an advisor to ensure compliance with the law and adoption of good business practices.

Michelle Rojas-Soto serves as managing director of Encompass. Michelle has nearly 15 years of leadership experience in nonprofit and social enterprise work. Her work is focused on the interconnectedness of issues and she is committed to fighting prejudice, hate, and apathy on all fronts. Prior to Encompass, she was managing director of Better Eating International and is a founding member of Gender Equity in Animal Rights. Michelle has a Master’s in Biology from Caltech and a Master’s in Business Administration from USC. Michelle lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and four children and she is actively engaged in her local community.

Steven Rouk is “a very social nerd.” He loves people, math, and thinking deeply about how we end animal exploitation. Steven’s long journey to animal advocacy looks a bit like f(x) = sqrt(x)*sin(x) + x. After a two-year stint as a business analytics consultant, Steven decided to devote all of his time to animal advocacy, volunteering his programming and analytics skills for organizations until joining Mercy For Animals full-time as a data analyst and researcher in early 2017. Steven also runs Animal Movement Project, where he publishes weekly articles. He enjoys running, keeping up with the latest machine learning developments, programming in Python, and learning about community organizing.

Mike Ryan directs NEAVS’s federal and state campaigns against animal experiments. While working as a senior staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2004-2010, Ryan successfully pressured NASA and the Dept. of Energy to end certain cruel radiation experiments on monkeys. From 2010-2014, Ryan was Policy Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee under Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Chairman Rep. Steve Israel. From 2015-2018, Ryan was a consultant to PETA on several of their successful campaigns, including one that resulted in the US Coast Guard permanently ending all “live tissue trainings” that abused animals. Ryan’s first volunteer activism was organizing protests against Gillette in the mid-1990s.

Cristina Stella is a senior staff attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), where she litigates on behalf of animals who are subjected to systemic cruelty and exploitation in commercial industries. Her cases focus on increasing transparency and challenging industrial agricultural practices that harm animals, the environment, and public health. Before joining ALDF Cristina spent five years as an attorney with the Center for Food Safety, where she litigated cases against the federal government to improve its oversight of the U.S. food system. Cristina also teaches Animal Law as an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. She graduated with honors from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011.

Sarah Thornton is a music educator in Pennsylvania with eighteen years of K–12 teaching experience. She serves as Director of Education at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary where she develops and implements educational initiatives focused on compassion and kindness. Sarah has volunteered at Indraloka since 2014 as a tour guide, speaker, writer, and friend to the animals. She also has experience as basketball coach, camp supervisor, and youth sports instructor. Her degrees include a BM and MM in Music Education from Susquehanna University and Ithaca College. Sarah is a free-spirit dedicated to instilling joy and kindness in those around her through mindful listening, reiki, music, and the power of unconditional love.

Karla Rosa “KR” Vargas is the Founder and Executive Director of La Raza For Liberation, a non-profit organization that connects and supports Latinx and Indigenous activists working across human, animal, and environmental justice movements. They were born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area to Central and South American parents, and have a degree in Speech Communication from Ithaca College in New York, as well as a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in partnership with Cornell University. KR has over 10 years of public speaking experience, and has traveled across the U.S. and overseas working in community development, conflict resolution, homelessness, domestic abuse, mass incarceration, and animal rights.

Brenda Sanders is a vegan food justice activist in Baltimore City who Co-Founded Thrive Baltimore, a community resource center that offers classes, workshops, cooking demos and other programming that supports people in living a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. She’s also Executive Director of Afro-Vegan Society, a nonprofit organization that provides resources to people in marginalized communities to assist them in transitioning to vegan, Co-Creator of Vegan SoulFest, an annual festival that celebrates culture and all aspects of vegan living and Co-Owner of The Greener Kitchen, a plant-based deli and food distributor that produces vegan foods that are both affordable and accessible.

Toni Vernelli is UK director of Animal Equality. Over the past 25 years she has worked for numerous animal rights organisations and campaigned passionately for animals around the world. During this time, she has carried out undercover investigations inside dozens of farms and slaughterhouses and believes that revealing the suffering hidden within these secretive places is not only a powerful catalyst for dietary change, but is also vital for corporate and political advances. She also holds a PhD in animal behaviour.

Danny Waltz (previously Lutz) is a staff attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. His litigation work covers a variety of animal law issues, from industrialized animal agriculture, to backyard slaughterhouses, to captive wildlife exhibitions. Before working at Animal Legal Defense Fund, Danny was a staff attorney at the Humane Society of the United States and a staff attorney and clinic teaching fellow in the environmental law clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. He has a J.D. from NYU School of Law and an LL.M from Georgetown. Danny is from Colorado and lives in Washington, D.C.

Patricia Welty is the founder and director of A Vegan Life.  She earned her J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law. She has a Master's Degree in Counseling from Trinity University.  Patricia is a member of the Florida Bar and works with the Animal Law Section’s Wildlife Committee.  In 2016 she thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail to raise money and awareness of the elephant poaching crisis.

Mike Wolf is the Director of Investigations for Compassion Over Killing (COK), a national non-profit animal protection organization based in Washington, DC. He joined COK in 2014, and since then has led investigative efforts into meat, dairy, and egg facilities, overseeing multiple investigations that have gone viral, sparking a national debate, and ultimately, change. Before working at COK, Mike spent several years working as an Undercover Investigator with a focus on animal agriculture.

Becca Woodruff was born and raised in northern California with her three older siblings and many family pets. As a lifelong competitive swimmer and water polo player, she’s truly happiest when in the water. Becca became vegan in 2013 after taking an animal ethics class in college, and ultimately graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Behavior from the University of Redlands. Since then she has joined Best Friends Animal Society, whose mission is dedicated to ending the killing of companion animals in shelters across the United States. Becca currently works as a behavior consultant at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where she focuses her work on helping dogs who are more difficult to place in homes, such as those with bite histories. She enjoys cooking vegan food with her partner as well as hiking, kayaking and canyoneering near her home in southern Utah.