Mark has been involved with Vegan Outreach since 1995, when he helped fund our launch to become a national organization. In 2004, he became a member of the board.
Mark became aware of veganism from his sister in the late 1980s; and then in 1990, while a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he joined the campus group Students for Animal Rights. In 1995, Mark attended the vegan School of Natural Cookery and began disseminating recipes through his online cookbook at Vitalita.com.
Mark worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC until he graduated with a Master of Science in Computer Science in 1992. From there, he went to work on European Community projects in Italy for three years. After returning, Mark started his own IT systems consulting firm specializing in Oracle software implementations.
When not stuck in front of a computer, he enjoys baking, traveling, yoga, and getting around by bike.
Lauren looked at the burger on her plate in 1995 and spontaneously decided to stop eating animals. She went vegan in 1999 while attending a class at UC Davis about animal exploitation.
After getting her BA in Political Science and Economics, she spent four years managing a vegan cookie company before venturing into the world of software and becoming a technical writer.
In 2004 she became aware of Vegan Outreach and later participated in Team Vegan. She’s been a member every year except one.
Lauren was born and raised in northern California. When not working too many hours, she enjoys reading and writing fiction, hiking in national parks, and watching movies with her husband and two cats.
Suzanne is originally from Oklahoma, where she grew up on a cattle ranch and discovered the many individual personalities of the cows on her family’s land. She left Oklahoma to attend Amherst College in Massachusetts, where she majored in English and French. She went vegetarian in 2002 and vegan in 2003.
Suzanne started her animal advocacy working with the Animal Defense League of Arizona and Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Tucson. It was during this time that she began leafleting for Vegan Outreach’s Adopt a College program. When Suzanne moved to Mountain View, CA, in 2005, she stepped up her leafleting efforts and distributed thousands of booklets from San Jose to San Diego. She has now given out over 60,000 booklets.
In 2007, Suzanne became a board member of Vegan Outreach, but also developed a chronic illness that now prevents her from leafleting. She is still excited to help animals by supporting Vegan Outreach.
Yvonne credits Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation for making her an instant vegan in 1996. She has enthusiastically supported Vegan Outreach since 2005, and started leafleting in 2007. To date, Yvonne has handed out over 97,400 booklets to students at 64 different schools, and has generously contributed to VO campaigns and projects like Team Vegan, the Compassionate Athlete booklet, and research to study the effectiveness of some leaflets. As if that weren’t enough, Yvonne runs our Guide request follow-up program, reaching out to those who order our Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating, to find out how things are going and invite them to connect with a Vegan Mentor.
With an MS in Physics from North Carolina State University, Yvonne spent the first part of her working life as a process engineer in the semiconductor industry. She has slowly transitioned to volunteering full-time for animal-related organizations, gaining skills in nonprofit accounting, fundraising, and outreach.
Originally from North Carolina, Yvonne currently lives in Southern California, where she enjoys hiking and camping in the desert, spending time with her wonderful husband and herd of cats, and searching local restaurants for the spiciest vegan food she can find.
Melissa Li, MD
Melissa is a pathologist at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, OR, where she specializes in gastrointestinal pathology and is the director of autopsy services. She obtained her bachelor’s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her MD at Oregon Health & Science University. She trained in pathology at the University of Washington and is board certified in anatomic, clinical, and forensic pathology.
Melissa’s first exposure to animal rights came from reading Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation her last year of college; she immediately gave up meat, and eventually became vegan in 2009. In addition to Vegan Outreach, she is involved with Portland Animal Welfare Advocates, and national groups such as MFA, PETA, and HSUS. With HSUS’s help, her hospital now participates in Meatless Mondays.
Although a native Oregonian, Melissa has lived in all four corners of the United States. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her dogs, and playing indoor soccer.
Jack is a cofounder of Vegan Outreach. He was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2005. Jack is also a registered dietitian, and is responsible for all of VO’s writings on nutrition. With Ginny Messina, he cowrote Vegan for Life.
Jack grew up in Cincinnati, OH. He attended Cornell College in Iowa, where he was a Division III All-American in the pole vault. He has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, philosophy, and sociology. He performed his dietetic internship at Georgia State University. For fun, Jack plays ultimate frisbee, takes hikes with his spouse, Alex, and hangs out with his rescued companion turtle, Richard.