Jack NorrisJack Norris

Executive Director

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 maintains the website VeganHealth.org. With Ginny Messina, he co-authored the book 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 and hangs out with his spouse, Alex, and dog, Zoey.

Lena LudwigLena Ludwig

Executive Vice President

As Executive Vice President, Lena oversees the day-to-day operations of Vegan Outreach. She provides strategic management and has over 20 years of experience in leadership with a background in engineering, technology and finance.

Lena has been involved in the animal protection movement for many years and has been vegan since 2001. She was most recently vice president of administration at Mercy For Animals. Lena studied at Johns Hopkins University and holds a degree in engineering.

In addition to visiting local animal rescues, Lena enjoys hiking, camping and water sports. She and her partner, Kay, enjoy scoping out vegan restaurants in the Los Angeles area, with new ones to explore all of the time.

Alex BuryAlex Bury

Vice President of Development

Alex leads Vegan Outreach’s development efforts, working in partnership with donors to fuel our work for animals. She brings over a decade of fundraising experience to her role, having worked in development at PETA and HSUS. She went vegan in 1995 while living in Anchorage, AK where she was rescuing dogs and learning about animal rights from PETA.

Alex trained at the Culinary Institute of America. She made the move from restaurants to fundraising when she realized that insufficient funding was the biggest hurdle standing between activists and their goals to end violence towards animals.

For fun, Alex enjoys participating in endurance sports challenges, reading, cooking for friends, and seeing Broadway musicals. Alex lives in Davis, CA, with her partner Jack, their rescued turtle Richard Karen, and their rescued dog Zoey.

Vic SjodinVictor Sjodin

Vice President of International Outreach

Victor oversees our international outreach, ensuring that as much of the world is reached with our 10 Weeks to Vegan program as possible. Victor previously served as our leafleting specialist and vastly increased the success rate of many of our Outreach Coordinators and volunteers.

Victor has leafletted, spoken, done Virtual Reality outreach, or signed students up for the 10 Weeks to Vegan program at over 700 college campuses throughout the U.S. and abroad since 2008. In this time, he has reached over 875,000 individuals with a Vegan Outreach booklet. Victor paved the way for our exceptionally successful international programs in India, Kenya, and Mexico and has a strong interest in expanding to other countries.

Victor was born in Sweden and grew up in the New York area. He studied philosophy and geography at Hofstra University. Victor enjoys reading, stand-up comedy, learning about nutrition, and being out in nature hiking.

Rania HannanRania Hannan

Director of Online Outreach and Evaluation

Rania manages the creation and email system for Vegan Outreach’s 10 Weeks to Vegan series. She also assesses the impact of our programs, researches the impact of diet on the environment, and manages the content of our booklets.

Rania lives in Michigan and has been vegan since 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oakland University and received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. Her previous background includes working in nonprofits and as a research project manager on a community project in Flint, Michigan.

Rania enjoys reading, improv and sketch comedy, traveling, hiking, and baking.

Sara LaycockSara Laycock

Director of Development

Sara assists Vegan Outreach’s development and volunteer efforts in addition to organizing a variety of events to promote the vegan lifestyle in the Atlanta region.

Sara grew up in the midwest and became vegan after realizing how it perfectly aligned her values surrounding animals, health, and the environment. She graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in public affairs and is a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator from the Main Street Vegan Academy.

Sara worked as an economic and community development lobbyist before transitioning her career to animal activism with Mercy For Animals, where she served as the campaigns manager. She founded the brand Love Is Vegan with her mother-in-law and volunteers with Full Circle Farm Sanctuary. Sara enjoys live music, comedy, traveling to beaches, and spending time with her husband and fellow Hoosier, Rob.

Richa Mehta HeadShotRicha Mehta

Director of Programs, India

Richa oversees the team in India, taking the vegan message all over the country via leafleting, virtual reality outreach, humane education, institutional campaigns, and more. Prior to leading the India team, Richa was the campaigns manager for India and helped businesses and universities reduce the amount of animal products served in their cafeterias. She also did extensive in-person college outreach for Vegan Outreach.

Richa has several years of experience working with animal and environmental protection organizations and has worked extensively for the welfare of chickens and cows in Rajasthan. She holds a post-graduate degree in mass communication and journalism and loves the work she does for animals.

Aneeha PatwardhanAneeha Patwardhan

Director of Technology

Aneeha audits, streamlines, and automates VO’s processes so that we can direct more of our resources into directly spreading veganism to more people in more countries. Aneeha originally came to VO to manage our India campaigns and outreach team. After two and a half years, she had developed that team into a self-sustaining powerhouse and is now bringing her talents to all of Vegan Outreach.

Aneeha holds a degree in electronics and telecommunication engineering from Pune University. She has a background in data modeling, analytics, and programming, and worked in business consulting before becoming a full-time activist. In her free time, Aneeha enjoys reading, art, and spending time in nature and with her family.

Taylor RadigTaylor Radig

Director of Campaigns and Social Media

Taylor works with restaurants and leading food providers to help them match their menus with the booming industry of vegan eating. She also manages Vegan Outreach’s social media.

Working and volunteering in the animal protection movement since 2009, Taylor not only brings her campaign experience, but also over eight years working in the food industry. She uses both experiences to help make vegan eating even more accessible, while creating a kinder and more sustainable world for everyone.

As a former undercover investigator for Compassion Over Killing, Taylor has seen firsthand the violence inherent in animal agribusiness. Her undercover work earned her recognition as Whistleblower Insider ’s 2013 Whistleblower of the Year.

Taylor lives in Los Angeles, where she volunteers for various grassroots organizations working on addressing racism and supporting the LGBTQ community. She holds two degrees in philosophy with a minor in theological studies. Outside of advocacy, Taylor loves traveling, indoor cycling, and has a newfound love of archery.

Breege TomkinsonBreege Tomkinson

Director of Finance

As Director of Finance, Breege makes sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. She pays the bills, balances the checkbook, keeps our registrations in dozens of states up to date, and handles a number of human resources functions.

Breege hails from the East Coast, having been born in New Jersey and spending most of her time in Connecticut and Vermont. She moved to California in 1999. Prior to working for Vegan Outreach, she spent five years with Nonprofit Financial Administrators (NPFA) working with animal rights and environmental organizations. Prior to NPFA, she spent six years at the Animal Protection Institute managing the accounting department. She has a BS in accounting from Colorado State University. In her free time, Breege can be found eating Ethiopian food, at various coffee shops, at the gym, riding her bike, or hanging with her three lazy cats.

Perla Anerol

Outreach Coordinator

Based in Mexico City, Perla Anerol conducts outreach throughout southern Mexico. She has been an activist for animals since her teenage years—she became vegetarian at age 14 after seeing chickens killed at her grandmother’s house, and at 16, she decided to become vegan.

Perla recently earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). In addition to her work with Vegan Outreach, she co-founded and continues to volunteer for a local organization called PLAN Por La Liberación Animal.

Perla enjoys spending time with her adopted dog, Ollin, and activist friends, being in nature, photographing insects, dancing, and reading—especially about psychology, social movements, and effective activism.

Jean BettannyJean Bettanny

Vegan Mentor Program Coordinator

Jean has been volunteering for Vegan Outreach for many years. Most recently she has taken charge of the Vegan Mentor Program to make sure mentees and mentors are matched up appropriately.

Jean has been a passionate advocate for animals since 1994 and a supporter of Vegan Outreach since 2000. Before settling in Port Townsend, WA, she had two careers, one as a computer programmer / systems analyst and later as a hairstylist / salon owner. She earned a degree in Romance languages from the University of Maine in 1966. She has lived all over the US, and in Germany and Argentina. Some of her hobbies are partner dancing and playing tennis with her husband, Tom, advocating for secular causes, and traveling via RV to dances while sampling vegan restaurants along the way.

Brian Chavez

Southern California Community Outreach Coordinator

Brian leaflets, tables at festivals, and shows virtual reality videos to the public.

Brian grew up in San Diego, CA, and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from UC San Diego. He has spent years researching and writing about the intersection between mathematics and preferences of ethical philosophy.

Brian has been volunteering to help animals since 2008. He has leafleted at many colleges in Southern California and the Midwestern U.S. When he’s not advocating for animals, Brian enjoys hiking and going to vegan potlucks. He also loves music, books, bicycling, board games, and his friends.

Abhishek DubeyAbhishek Dubey

Outreach Coordinator

Abhishek leaflets and gives humane education presentations at schools in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. He’s been an environmental activist since 2010 and started volunteering for animal rights when he learned about the cruelty in the dairy industry, and the greenhouse gas emissions due to factory farming.

Abhishek holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering and worked at an IT company before pursuing activism full-time. He’s an avid nature lover and enjoys butterfly watching, rescuing injured animals, planting trees, and protecting wetlands.

Steve ErlstenSteve Erlsten

Technology and Development Specialist

Steve does technology and development work for Vegan Outreach. Formerly, he did outreach throughout the northern half of California and was one of VO’s most consistently prolific activists. With a record of over a million booklets given out, Steve set a “greatest of all time” leafleting milestone that’s unlikely for anyone to surpass.

A lover of the natural world, Steve was driven to action after reading about the environmental impact of hog farming. He achieved zero-net-energy consumption at his home through major renovations, but promotes a vegan diet as the most effective means of diminishing individuals’ ecological impact. Steve says, “Major home improvements are a great way to improve our world, but that’s a decision you can only make once. Each of us can choose to help protect animals and save the environment every time we sit down to eat.”

Before coming to Vegan Outreach, Steve used his free time to help establish some of the largest vegan and environmental festivals in the country. Steve enjoys cooking and being out in California’s wild open spaces—camping, swimming, and biking.

Victor FloresVictor Flores

Online and Community Outreach Specialist

Victor oversees online and community outreach, and also does outreach to communities in New Mexico and some areas of Texas such as El Paso.

Victor and his spouse, Karla, cofounded the group Otero Veg in Alamogordo, New Mexico, along with other members of the community. Together, they’ve organized community meals, fed vegan food to those in need, planned restaurant events, and have convinced some businesses to add vegan items to their menu.

Born in Dimmitt, Texas, Victor is a previous business owner and enjoys the spirit of entrepreneurship. Some favorite hobbies Victor likes to do with his family include going four-wheeling in the mountains, hiking, RVing, and watching The Walking Dead.

Cara FryeCara Frye

Graphic Designer

Cara serves as Vegan Outreach’s Graphic Designer, creating visual content for our websites, social media, and print collateral. She holds a bachelor of fine arts in communication arts and design from Virginia Commonwealth University and has been an active member of the animal rights movement since 2012.

Cara has worked for global vegan nonprofits, where she’s helped establish the visual identity of campaigns and programs such as Vegan Action’s Certified Vegan Program and Farm Animal Rights Movement’s Animal Rights National Conference. Through her work, she hopes to facilitate wider recognition for animal rights and other social justice movements.

Cara lives in Richmond, VA with her six—and counting—cat companions. She is a co-founder of Porchlight Animal Sanctuary, which creates opportunities for folks in the central Virginia area to learn about and meet previously farmed animals.

Ben GardnerBen Gardner

San Fransisco Bay Vegan Food Aid Coordinator

For Vegan Outreach, Ben has traveled throughout the Eastern U.S., giving presentations, leafleting, and talking to hundreds of students a day about veganism.

Ben grew up in Houston, TX, and calls Austin home as well. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Georgia. He has been advocating for animals for many years, spending time at farm sanctuaries and animal rescue facilities, and working with Speak Out for Species in Athens, GA.

After serving as a community organizer and project manager, he decided to work full-time as an activist. Ben enjoys hiking, playing tennis and golf, reading, riding his bike, and playing music.

Astha GuptaAstha Gupta

Outreach Coordinator

Astha leaflets and organizes virtual reality outreach in Pune, India. In her words, her compassion and love for animals is her motivation to work for them.

Astha holds a bachelor’s degree in law from Pune University and is a classically trained musician. She worked with law firms in Pune before joining Vegan Outreach as a full-time activist. Astha enjoys spending time with her friends and family and likes trying new vegan foods.

Gwenna HunterGwenna Hunter

Greater Los Angeles Vegan Food Aid Coordinator

Gwenna’s outreach in the greater Los Angeles area includes organizing a variety of events to engage and help facilitate the empowerment of local communities in following a vegan lifestyle.

Gwenna has several years of experience as an IT recruiter and social media consultant, as well as in radio and television sales and marketing.

In 2016, Gwenna went from vegetarian to vegan after watching the video Dairy is Scary. As the founder of Vegans of LA, Gwenna enjoys bringing people together for social functions designed to create networking, mingling, dating, and a safe, fun space for non-vegans to experience new and delicious foods, while also learning that it’s unnecessary to eat animals.

Jaydeepsinh JhalaJaydeepsinh Jhala

Outreach Coordinator

Jaydeepsinh conducts virtual reality outreach and gives humane education presentations at schools, colleges, and universities. He also does tabling and leafleting activities.

A graduate from BITS Pilani, Jaydeepsinh has led start-ups in the field of media and food technology. He has also worked for voting rights awareness, hygiene and sanitation awareness campaigns in Maharashtra, and has organized several environmental protection campaigns in Gujarat. He tries to practice a minimal carbon emission lifestyle and became vegan after becoming aware of the high environmental footprint associated with animal agriculture. Having learned about the cruelty associated with the dairy and meat industry, he started working for animal rights. Ever since then he has been working to educate youth about living a compassionate and sustainable life.

Jaydeepsinh enjoys trekking, backpacking, cycling, getting to know about different cultures, listening to music, and reading poems and books.

Emmanuel MarquezEmmanuel Márquez

Mexico Outreach Manager and North America Volunteer Coordinator

Emmanuel has traveled throughout Mexico spearheading our efforts to reach hundreds of thousands of students with a leaflet, talk, or virtual reality experience. Emmanuel is also helping to further expand our work into other parts of Latin America and to train and manage new staff and volunteers in North America.

Emmanuel hails from Monterrey, Mexico, where he was born and raised. He graduated from the Universidad Autónoma del Noreste with a degree in psychology. In addition to animal rights, Emmanuel is passionate about other environmental and social justice causes. Some of his favorite activities include spending time with friends and family, hiking, visiting museums, attending concerts, and watching movies.

Miguel Marrón

Online Outreach Content Specialist

Miguel does online outreach content work. In addition, he’s traveled throughout the Western U.S., leafleting to several hundred, often thousands, of students per day.

Miguel earned a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University in Utah, where he studied psychology and philosophy. While there, he founded Animal Unanimity, the school’s first student animal rights organization.

Before coming to Vegan Outreach, Miguel spent most of his professional career helping people with developmental disabilities to learn independent living skills and become better integrated in their communities. He was an adjunct faculty member at Howard Community College in Maryland, where he taught a college-level class for adults with developmental disabilities.

Miguel is a certified yoga teacher and teaches yoga classes between Vegan Outreach tours. He also enjoys cooking, painting, video games, computers, and being in nature.

Priya MatharuPriya Matharu

Kenya Outreach Coordinator

Priya coordinates Vegan Outreach’s work in Kenya, including the creation of a 10 Weeks to Vegan program made for curious non-vegans in Nairobi and other urban centers.

Priya has been vegan for seven years and has helped several others to adopt an ethical vegan lifestyle. In 2014, she started a small initiative to rescue and rehome stray animals, and from 2017-2018, she served on the executive board of Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals. She continues to volunteer at KSPCA and other animal welfare organizations, and she participates in rescue, rehoming, and fundraising for animals.

Priya has a degree in project management from BPP University in London and works as an operations manager at Langata Hospital in Nairobi. She’s a yoga teacher and fitness enthusiast, and she enjoys drawing.

Yuri MitzkewichYuri Mitzkewich

Vegan Food Aid Manager

Yuri oversees the Vegan Food Aid project and its team. Previously a dedicated Vegan Outreach volunteer, Yuri became part of our staff in fall 2014, leafleting colleges throughout the Southeast.

Yuri studied marine biology and foreign studies at the University of Maryland. Post-college, Yuri toured as a musician in various punk and reggae bands. During this time he developed a love of volunteering, and he’s been active with various organizations, including Greenpeace, RAN, and Service Employees International Union. After seeing the film Peaceable Kingdom in 2007, Yuri became vegetarian and eventually vegan, and began campaigning to end vivisection and marine mammal captivity. When not leafleting or doing virtual reality outreach, Yuri enjoys distance bicycling, spending time in his hammock around Key Biscayne, and perfecting his skills creating the best vegan pizza in Miami.

Roopashree RaoRoopashree Rao

Indian American Community Outreach Coordinator

Roopashree is the Indian American Community Events Coordinator at Vegan Outreach. It’s a new role specially created to advocate for animal rights and vegan lifestyle choices to the large Indian community in North America.

Roopashree has a background in advertising and education, and has lived in India, Japan, Michigan, Southern California, and has now made a home in the California Bay Area. She recently spent a few years living in India and saw firsthand the emergence of veganism and its rapid growth thanks to a small but tight-knit community of vegan entrepreneurs there. Roopashree hopes to help inspire the Indian community here to learn about the nonviolent ways to eat and enjoy life, reminding them that the concept of ahimsa is, after all, very much a part of Indian culture. For fun, Roopashree loves to cook, explore farmers’ markets, stay connected with family and friends, do pranayama, and read books. She lives with her husband, teenage sons, and canine child, Marco Polo.

Katia RodriguezKatia Rodríguez

Mexico Campaigns and Spanish Media Manager

Katia is in charge of all digital and printed Spanish content at Vegan Outreach. She also manages the social media pages and is responsible for the creation and adaptation of our online program, Semanario Vegano (10 Weeks to Vegan) for different Spanish-speaking countries.

She studied at the Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL) to become a biologist. Born in Monterrey, Mexico. She is also involved in the feminist, environmental, and other social justice movements.

Katia is a horror movie fan, enjoys reading, attending drag queen events, and she adores pigs.

Stacy ShepanekStacy Shepanek

Graphic Design and Community Outreach Specialist

Stacy conducts graphic design work, oversees community outreach, and does outreach at colleges and community events in South and North Carolina.

Stacy is an artist, entrepreneur, and advocate. She began her career doing planning and design work in the engineering field and later started her own ceramic art business. Her path to animal advocacy began in 2012 when she became vegan. With a natural ability to connect and motivate others, and to build community, Stacy became an organizer of Charleston Veggies and Vegans. She also cofounded the Charleston Plant vegan dining guide and is now a co-organizer of Columbia Veg.

Stacy is passionate about health, fitness, and friends. She loves hiking, kayaking, and being outdoors, and has a ceramic art studio, Earth to Stacy. She lives in Columbia, SC, with her rescue dogs, Casey and Cookie.

Lana SmithsonLana Smithson

New England Community Outreach Coordinator

Lana has been distributing Vegan Outreach’s literature since 2006 and is our key leafleter in the Northeast. A resident of Maine, Lana focuses her attention on schools in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Quebec. She has also leafleted extensively in Florida. In addition to her work with Vegan Outreach, Lana has done other animal advocacy, including producing informative public access cable television shows, collecting signatures for the Florida farmed animal ballot initiative, and participating in animal rescues.

Lana graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in animal science from Middle Tennessee State University. She previously worked in marine biology and microbiology. For fun, she enjoys swimming, scuba diving, skiing, and painting.

saurabh sonkarSaurabh Sonkar

Outreach Coordinator

Saurabh travels to several major cities in India to leaflet and show virtual reality videos at colleges, educating students and community members about the benefits of veganism for animals, the environment, and human health.

Saurabh holds two masters degrees—one in conflict management and the other in Hindi journalism. He’s passionate about animal rights and enjoys talking to students about veganism. He also owns a tofu and soy milk production plant in Varanasi and works on organic farming in his free time.

Ben Umholtz HeadshotBen Umholtz

Online Outreach and Evaluation Specialist

Originally from California, Ben’s passion for protecting animals and reducing all forms of suffering led him to the Midwest U.S., where he now conducts outreach and spreads the vegan message to as many people as possible.

Ben holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley—one in philosophy and one in peace and conflict studies with a concentration in conflict resolution. He’s also studied supply chain management through MITx and earned a mediation certification. When not advocating for the animals or volunteering for organizations like The Vegan Society, Ben enjoys playing piano and cello, being out in nature, reading, and playing board games.

Jackie VaJackie Va

Northern California Vegan Food Aid Lead Organizer

Jackie does outreach in the Central Valley area in California—including Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, and Fresno—by organizing a variety of engaging events to provide information and encourage others to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

Jackie has a degree in geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After working at private civil engineering firms for a few years, she decided to change course and work for something closer to her heart.

Jackie was vegetarian at 16 and went vegan after visiting cows at PreetiRang Sanctuary. She and her sister, Stina, started the group Stockton Vegan Living in 2014. Jackie enjoys creating vegan social events in her hometown of Stockton and teaching people about veganism.

Jackie is a community organizer for Khmer Space, a group seeking to create more social and cultural events to empower the Cambodian community in Stockton. In her spare time, she likes rescuing bunnies, going beer tasting, hiking, and watching TV shows.

Bhavya VatrapuBhavya Vatrapu

Campaigns and Social Media Associate

Bhavya works on the corporate outreach campaign and manages the social media pages for Vegan Outreach in India and is based out of Mumbai.

Bhavya went vegan after reading a book about the cruelty of animal farming and environmental impacts.

Bhavya holds a degree in electronics and communication and has worked with different corporations for educational and digital literacy projects. In her free time, she works on zero waste projects and volunteers at local farms. She enjoys slow traveling, reading, writing, cooking, and stand-up comedy.