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Speakers

We are honored to have the following speakers join us at our conference. More speakers will be added as they are confirmed. Speaker bios will be added to this page in the coming weeks.

 

A leading expert on understanding and measuring the connection between human wellbeing and biodiversity conservation, Beth Allgood has more than 25 years of experience in conservation and community development. She has developed approaches to measure and support community wellbeing in biodiversity and climate work to create more sustainable outcomes for people and wildlife. Beth was recently named one of the Explorers Club’s “Fifty People Changing The World, The World Needs To Know About.” She is a consultant and advisor to several organizations and a member of three International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commissions. Before founding OneNature, Beth was the U.S. director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare and has worked for USAID, World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Peace Corp Headquarters, and The Nature Conservancy. Beth has a master’s degree in business management from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from James Madison University.

Bio coming soon.

Sarah Barnett is executive director of ACCT Philly, the largest and only open intake shelter in the Philadelphia region, directly helping more than 18,000 animals a year. A non-profit organization and one of the most underfunded animal shelters in a major city, it is also the only animal care and control provider for Philadelphia, serving the city by contract. The organization works with a wide network of rescue partners, in addition to adopters, to place thousands of animals of all kinds each year. It operates surrender prevention, adoption, foster, volunteer, and rescue partnership, in addition to animal control services. Barnett joined ACCT Philly and moved to Philadelphia as director of development and communications in 2020. With a passion for helping animals and people, she has gained experience and a unique perspective through her work at the local level for the Northern Virginia-based Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, and at the national level at the Humane Society of the United States, where she worked in several communications roles prior to working in the executive office on special projects and communications for the CEO. She is also the founder and principal of Social Media for Animals, which is dedicated to supporting those who manage social media for animal shelters or rescues. She co-founded and helps run the Animal Shelter Social Media Facebook group, a community of more than 1000 individuals who manage social media at brick and mortar animal shelter or rescue facilities.

Kelly Burley is the director of Common Bonds, a network of local, state, and national animal welfare organizations united by a common goal to increase Oklahoma’s shelter animal save rate to 90 percent by 2025. Kelly builds relationships with government-run and non-profit animal shelters, municipalities, and community stakeholders. He also works to raise awareness of Oklahoma’s shelter animal population and euthanasia challenge with the public. Previously, Kelly led NPR member station KOSU (2008- 2019), raising more than $14 million to expand the station’s local content services through collaborative journalism, music, and community programming initiatives while building new broadcast studios and radio frequencies. In earlier content development roles with KOSU, Kelly received three national Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association and two Scripps Howard National Journalism Awards. From 2003 to 2008, he served as associate state director with AARP Oklahoma, communicating association priorities with the state’s 400,000 members.

Dr. Sean Butler has been a Fellow of St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge for some 20 years, where he has taught Roman law, intellectual property law, and animal rights law. He is also an affiliated lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Cambridge, where he lectures animal rights law. He studied law at the University of Oxford (St. Edmund Hall) and the LSE, London, as well as genetics at Cambridge, before taking his Ph.D. in social science at Imperial College, London. With Dr. Raffael Fasel, he co-founded the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law and co-authored the textbook Animal Rights Law (Hart Publishing 2023). He has published books, articles, and book reviews. His primary research interest is animal rights law, which he wants to develop into a widely-taught subject around the world.

Katie Campbell is the director of collaboration and outreach for RedRover, with more than 15 years of experience in the non-profit world. She has worked with diverse communities across racial, ethnic, and economic lines in positions ranging from front line service to management roles. This has included working closely with survivors of domestic violence, as well as other individuals at risk, and with many non-profits serving these communities. In partnership with Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Rebuild Program, Katie created and spearheads the Don’t Forget the Pets collaborative project. The project aims to support and connect representatives from animal welfare organizations and human services organizations to create pet housing programs to support people and pets in crisis.

Allison Cardona joined the University of California, Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program in January 2022 as California state director. She manages the $37.5 million California for All Animals grant program funded by the State to help animal shelters reduce the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals. Previously, she worked as deputy director for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control. In that role, she oversaw three full-service animal care centers, a communications center, public relations, adoption partners, behavior and enrichment, and volunteer programs. Allison also served as liaison to the County’s homeless initiative, ensuring that people experiencing homelessness have options and resources for their pets. She also participated in the County’s anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion initiative, assisting with the implementation of an anti-racist policy agenda. The proud daughter of Colombian immigrants, Allison is deeply committed to racial justice and equity work. She lives in Los Angeles with her partner, Yvonne, and beloved dogs, Emma and Dito.

Meg Daley Olmert is a world-renowned expert on the neurobiology of the human-animal bond and its therapeutic effects. Her groundbreaking book, Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond, published in 2009, was the first to trace the evolution of this ancient bond to the emerging neuroscience that underlies this most powerful interspecies phenomenon. She is a subject expert, author, and lecturer on the therapeutic effects of the human-animal bond. Her two TEDx talks have been viewed by tens of thousands. She currently serves as science advisor and proud board member of The Comfort Dog Program of Northern Uganda. Meg also was a co-creator of Warrior Canine Connection’s Mission Based Trauma Recovery Program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Bryna Donnelly founded Rescue Rebuild, an animal shelter renovation program, while a college biology professor. Teaching is still her passion, and she now uses her knowledge of construction and animal welfare to help people by building pet spaces in domestic violence and homeless shelters. Bryna and her team have renovated over 185 facilities worldwide and consulted with countless others to help keep people and pets safe. As part of her work to help pets of people in crisis, she started the Don’t Forget the Pets (DFTP) project in partnership with RedRover. The DFTP project helps human service shelters start, sustain, and evolve their pet programs through training, consulting, and funding opportunities.

Bio coming soon.

Nathaniel Fields is the CEO of Urban Resource Institute (URI), the leading and largest provider of shelter and services for domestic violence survivors and homeless families. Under his leadership, URI has focused on innovation and coalition building, exemplified by groundbreaking programs, including People and Animals Living Safely (PALS), the first pet-inclusive, co-living program in New York City allowing domestic violence survivors and their pets to live and heal together. Nathaniel has been included in the annual NYC and State “Non-profit Power 100” list and the “Responsible 100” leaders of NY. He has been appointed by governors and mayors to serve on a variety of committees and taskforces, and is a proven leader in the sector. Nathaniel holds a bachelor’s degree in U.S. history, focusing on Black and Hispanic studies, and a Master of Social Work from Fordham University. He also holds a certificate in executive leadership in the not-for-profit sector from New York University.

Becca Franks is assistant professor of Environmental Studies at New York University. After earning a B.A. in anthropology from New York University (NYU) and a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University, she was a Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia, where she was awarded the Killam Research Prize. With expertise in animal behavior, human-animal relationships, aquatic animals, and quantitative methods, her research and teaching lie at the intersection of environmental and animal protection. The core question driving her work is: How can science help repair human relationships to other animals and the rest of nature? In addition to publishing scholarly articles, chapters, and commentaries, she is the co-director of the Wild Animal Welfare Program at NYU and an associate editor for the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Rachel Herman (She/Her) is the founder and executive director of Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS NY), a non-profit established in 2008 to help older adults and others in need remain together with their animal companions. Rachel has worked in the non-profit sector for 17 years. During her time at PAWS NY, Rachel has been named “New Yorker of the Week” by NY1, “Holiday Hero” by The New York Times, “40 Under 40 Rising Stars in the Non-profit World” by NYN Media, and “Young Social Impact Hero” by Thrive Global. Rachel received her B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan and her Master of Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. After 17 years in NYC (the last 13 in Brooklyn), Rachel relocated to Connecticut in 2021 with her husband, two daughters, and their cat Milo.

Bio coming soon.

Mandy Hood (They/She) has twenty years of experience in community outreach and labor organizing and began their career in Miami, Florida working on a statewide anti-poverty initiative. In 2009, Mandy joined the labor movement in Pennsylvania to support healthcare workers in their fight for better working conditions. In 2015, Mandy joined the Pennsylvania SPCA (PSPCA) as the community outreach and humane education manager, synthesizing over a decade of experience to develop and lead anti-poverty efforts within the animal services field. Mandy develops programs and policies at the PSPCA that prioritize the voices and needs of Philadelphia residents with pets in generational poverty who are denied access to comprehensive services. Their best day is in the field door knocking and leading free veterinary clinics. Mandy has a Master of Science in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.

Candace Kenyatta is an esteemed practitioner with over two decades of experience as an educator, learning and development professional, change management leader, executive coach, researcher, and management consultant. This includes providing capacity building and coaching to state and local education agencies, institutions of higher education, non-profits, and philanthropy in the areas of change management, organizational culture (including DEIB), and organizational development, and leading equity-centered research and evaluation projects. Candace is the co-founder and CEO at Grovider, a consulting firm committed to supporting social impact organizations. In this role, she drives the company’s multidisciplinary research-based approach to consulting. Finally, Candace founded and convenes the Anti-Racist Research Collaborative which focuses on the application of equity-centered research practices and elevating the voices of those most impacted by research and evaluation activities. Candace received her M.S.Ed. in Education, Culture, and Society from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. from Cornell University. She began her Ph.D. at Temple University, where she completed National Science Foundation and was published in the American Educational Research Association’s Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research. Candace was a 2020 Philadelphia Business Journal “Forty under Forty” honoree, a Greater Philadelphia Social Innovations Awards Finalist in the area of Social Justice, and was named one of the Philadelphia Tribune’s “Most Influential African Americans in Philadelphia.”

Bio coming soon.

Vance Lehmkuhl is a top expert on American veg history and operates the tour program at the American Vegan Center. In addition to running the Center, he serves as communications director for the American Vegan Society and news editor of American Vegan magazine. He spent 20 years as a journalist writing on vegan issues, including his six-year stint as the official vegan columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News ("V for Veg"). His long-running political cartoon for Philadelphia City Paper, "How-To Harry," was awarded "Best of Philly" by Philadelphia Magazine and retains its championship status to this day.

Melissa Levy is the executive director of PAWS, having led the organization from its grassroots, volunteer-driven inception in 2006 to become Philadelphia’s largest rescue partner and provider of affordable spay/neuter and veterinary care. PAWS now employs 65 caring people who operate three facilities, serve over 30,000 pets annually, and are supported by an extraordinary community of hundreds of volunteers. PAWS’ core values, sense of urgency, and strategic approach stem from its beginnings as the lifesaving arm of the City’s animal control agency. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Melissa graduated from Friends Select School and Cornell University. Prior to PAWS, she spent 11 years in the for-profit and non-profit sectors, focusing on business development, communications, marketing, and community outreach. Her beloved dog Rosie, adopted from the city shelter in 2005, inspired her to channel those skills in a new way, and was by her side for nearly 15 years while PAWS took shape.

Amelia Linn is the director of global policy at Mercy For Animals, leading the organization’s international policy program. Amelia has nearly a decade of experience working on international climate change policy, including most recently with Environmental Defense Fund’s climate-smart agriculture program, and, previously, serving for six years as an adviser to the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of 39 member countries at the United Nations. She also served as an International Climate Fellow at the Guarini Center for Environmental, Energy, & Land Use Law at NYU School of Law, where her research focused on the intersection of animal agriculture and climate change.

Mia is the executive director and founder of Brighter Green, and the former president of Culture and Animals Foundation. She is a public policy analyst and writer, who has worked for a number of international non-governmental organizations and has published articles, policy papers, and reports on environment, sustainable development, and gender equality. She has taught at Columbia and New York universities. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Brian Morvant is program manager for CancerCare’s Pet Assistance and Wellness (PAW) Program. He has worked in the non-profit field for seven years, including roles with Cancer and Careers, Doctors Without Borders, and as a Medical Caregiver at ASPCA’s Kitten Nursery.

Kathy Nizzari has been rescuing animals since she was five years old. She has advocated for animals as a former board member of various organizations, as a volunteer for numerous groups, as a former campaign manager for PETA, and in various other pursuits. Several years ago, Kathy became very involved in the New York City Democratic Party in several key positions, which she still holds, as a means to amplify the needs of animals to elected officials and influential voters. She was appointed to an environmental advisory board by then-New York City Council Speaker. She has provided testimony before City and State legislators on several key animal, environmental, and human health issues. Kathy founded and serves as chair of the Lights Out Coalition, a diverse group dedicated to protecting New York's wildlife and demonstrating the interconnectedness of animals, humans, and the environment. Lights Out has successfully steered unanimous passage of two NYC Council bills that eliminate non-essential nighttime building illumination and help to reduce the quarter of a million bird deaths from building collisions each year. Kathy has been vegan for 44 years and recently went from a two-cat home to one, Gabriel, when her beloved 21-year-old Prima passed away in August.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Christine Robinson is a seasoned national and international thought leader with expertise in non-profit and public sector systems and generative networks. She builds pathways to policy and systems change for justice. She is a nationally recognized strategist in equity, vision articulation, and program development and design. Robinson brings extensive experience in program evaluation, forming collaborative projects, and launching local, statewide, regional, and national initiatives on social justice issues. She has worked as an executive coach, consultant, facilitator, and strategist, and creates initiatives across the U.S. focused on nurturing a culture of wellbeing. She worked closely with staff across Los Angeles County, the largest county in the U.S., to develop an equity framework across more than 38 municipal offices. Throughout Robinson’s career, she has utilized her expertise to make significant strides in a multitude of initiatives across several sectors. For example, she served as a consultant to the Obama Administration’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which involved crafting a municipal strategy. She also served as an advisor to the H.W. Bush Administration Dept. of Treasury on economic security models for youth. Her focus areas included economic security and asset strategies, health and education disparities, human development, two-generation strategies, policy alignment, equity and inclusion, and place-based endeavors. Robinson has served as a senior program staff member, director, and consultant to some of the nation’s leading foundations, including the Ford Foundation, as co-architect of the six-year initiative to close the racial wealth gap; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as coordinating consultant for the national childhood obesity initiative; the Pew Charitable Trusts; the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Lumina Foundation; the Moriah Fund; and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Robinson prioritizes intersectional equity in all of her work. Intersectionality examines power dynamics, transcends communities, practices, and realms of society, and is grounded in application and training. Intersectional equity goes further by recognizing and valuing each person’s multiple identities. Equity can be exhibited through an open invitation to participate, unbiased access, co-creation with those directly affected in building strategies and programs, and the infrastructure of institutions, systems, and communities. Robinson was appointed director of the Division of School Age and Adolescent Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was intimately involved in establishing the statewide network of school-based health centers and the first violence prevention coalitions in the U.S. She facilitated the creation of the first multicultural HIV/AIDS coalition in the U.S. and the first K–12 HIV/AIDS curriculum. She also designed a significant disability initiative and brings an abiding commitment to co-creation, inclusion, the inherent dignity of all people, and recognition of historically marginalized communities’ numerous intersectional realities. Robinson studied at Vassar College, Brandeis University, and the University of Pennsylvania, and is trained as a developmental and community psychologist. She was the 2017-18 Christopher Peterson Memorial Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Applied Psychology. She is currently a lecturer and Senior Fellow at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy, working with graduate students across the University.

Bio coming soon.

Martin has been engaged with the animal advocacy movement for 30 years. A graduate of Oxford and New York Universities, in 1994, he co-founded Satya: A Magazine of Vegetarianism, Environmentalism, Animal Advocacy, and Social Justice. For five years, he worked at Continuum Publishing Company, the publishers of The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams and An Unnatural Order by Jim Mason, among many other animal advocacy titles. In 1999, he co-founded Lantern Books (1999), and subsequently the non-profit Lantern Publishing & Media (2020), where he published scores of books on veganism and animal advocacy. He is the author of The Polar Bear in the Zoo: A Reflection, The Elephants in the Room: An Excavation, and The Animals Are Leaving Us (with photos by Jo-Anne McArthur), among several other works. In addition to his work at Culture and Animals Foundation (CAF), he has ghostwritten over 12 titles, and is currently also engaged in the Vegan America Project for Brighter Green. Before becoming executive director of CAF, Martin was the co-vice president of the CAF Board for five years. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Bio coming soon.

Dr. Shaina Sadai is the Hitz Postdoctoral Fellow for Litigation-Relevant Research at the Science Hub for Climate Litigation within the Union of Concerned Scientists. She is a climate scientist, critical physical geographer, and political ecologist. Her research focuses on projecting future global changes in climate and sea level; attributing climate impacts to corporate emitters; and understanding climate justice, particularly through critical geographies of sea level rise and multispecies climate justice frameworks. Part of her dissertation work, published in Earth’s Future, explored climate justice and sea level rise by critically interpreting the UNFCCC Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal through the lens of sea level rise impacts and the interface of science, policy, and political power. In 2021, she was honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award from UMass Amherst. She holds a Ph.D. in earth, geographic, and climate Sciences, M.S. in applied mathematics, B.S. in astrophysics, and B.S. in physics.

Before joining Media Impact Funders in 2011 as executive director, Vince Stehle was program director for non-profit sector support at the Surdna Foundation, a family foundation based in New York City. Prior to joining Surdna, Vince worked for 10 years as a reporter for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, where he covered a broad range of issues about the non-profit sector. Vince has served as chairperson of Philanthropy New York and on the governing boards of VolunteerMatch, the Non-profit Technology Network (NTEN), and the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

Valerie Taylor currently serves in the role of executive director for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). Previously, she managed the GFAS equine and farmed animal programs as program director. Valerie has more than 20 years of experience in leadership, non-profit association management, education and advocacy, fundraising, and credentialing program operations in the animal welfare and protection fields. Her career has spanned roles including credentialing for animal sanctuaries, rescue, and rehabilitation centers in North America and internationally; time managing humane education programming for a statewide animal shelter; and overseeing organizations providing equine assisted activities and therapies. These roles have afforded Valerie not only hands-on interactions with animals and clients, but also valuable skills such as overseeing staff, fundraising, and strategic planning. Valerie’s educational background includes a degree in equine studies, as well as two certificates in the equine assisted activities and therapies field.

Bio coming soon.

Bernard Unti is senior principal strategist for communications at the Humane Society of the United States. An historian by training, he frequently speaks and writes on the evolution of human attitudes toward animals, the development of pet keeping, animal sheltering, and the kindness-to-animals ethic, the humane education of children, and the place of animal protection within the history of American social reform.

Marie Wenzel, executive director of Hand2Paw, brings 15 years of social service experience to her position. After earning her master’s in social work from Temple University, she began her career in the child welfare system. Over the years, Marie has spearheaded initiatives to increase access to innovative programming for underserved populations. She is dedicated to promoting positive social change and improving the systems that perpetually harm people from marginalized communities. Having used therapy pets in a youth mental health clinic, Marie understands the healing power that animal assisted interventions have with humans. That propelled her into expanding opportunities for youth to heal through helping rescue animals at Hand2Paw. Marie’s passion is addressing the violence crisis in Philadelphia by offering paid internships to youth interested in developing work skills in the animal wellbeing and veterinary spaces, and expanding Hand2Paw’s impact, offering creative humane education workshops and pet food pantries in the community.

Janet White is founder and director of Carriage Horse Freedom, an animal advocacy organization working to ensure a legislative ban on horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia, and CEO of FREe-CARRIAGES, LLC, a start-up enterprise providing “electric horseless carriages” (e-carriages) as viable alternatives to horse-drawn carriages. Carriage Horse Freedom’s “Caroline” carriage was debuted at Philadelphia’s 2023 Independence Day Parade, making Philadelphia the first major U.S. city to introduce an electric carriage. A native Philadelphian and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Janet is passionate about promoting the ban/replace model for Philadelphia and other U.S. cities and providing electric carriages as an eco-friendly and cruelty-free alternative.

Dr. James Yeates is a qualified veterinarian, including working in private practice and shelter medicine as a clinician and as chief veterinary officer of the RSPCA in the U.K. He has a Ph.D. in animal welfare and ethics and a M.B.A., and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. He has published over 50 papers and four books on animal welfare, veterinary science, and animal ethics across all animal types. He is now CEO of the World Federation for Animals, which brings together leading animal heroes from around the world and advocates for all animals within the United Nations.

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