Advisory Board

Meet Vegetarian and Vegan Youth’s Advisory Board!

These brilliant Advisory Board members help spread the word about Vegetarian and Vegan Youth and the VegYouth Alliance, and provide suggestions for content and improvement. We’re humbled and inspired to have these amazing people on board!

Colleen Patrick-GoudreauOver the last 14 years, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has guided thousands of people through the process of becoming and staying vegan. With a master’s degree in English literature, she draws upon world literature, poetry, etymology, linguistics, history, film, and the arts to engage her audience and to fulfill her mission: to empower people to make informed food choices, to debunk myths about veganism, to be a voice for animals, and to give people the tools and resources they need to live according to their own values of compassion and wellness. Using her unique blend of humor, passion, intelligence, and common sense, her message of compassion reaches countless people all around the world. Calling Patrick-Goudreau “a star in the vegetarian universe,” VegNews Magazine bestowed upon her The Vegan Martha Stewart award. Considered a “vegan guru” by everyone who hears her message, Colleen is an exhilarating speaker, a powerful writer, a talented chef, and a persuasive advocate whose success can be measured by the thousands of people whose lives have been changed by her work. She is a bestselling author of six books, including the award-winning The Joy of Vegan Baking,considered the bible of vegan baking, The Vegan Table, Color Me VeganVegan’s Daily Companion, and On Being Vegan. With a command of traditional and new media, Colleen is the creator of the popular online multimedia program, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge; the host and producer of the life-changing podcast Food for Thought; and she delivers inspiring lectures around the country. She has appeared on the Food Network and PBS and is a contributor to National Public Radio.

Jon CampJon Camp is Director of Outreach for Vegan Outreach. Throughout the last nine years, Jon has traveled throughout North America, reaching out to college students with the plight of farm animals. In this time, he’s visited over 500 schools and reached close to a million students with his leafleting efforts. Jon regularly speaks on farm animal issues and has done so at Harvard, Yale, UPenn, and dozens of other schools. Jon’s commentary on animal advocacy has has been featured in books (Striking At the Roots and Uncaged) and documentaries (Speciesism and Seeing Through the Fence).

Paul ShapiroPaul Shapiro has played an integral role in numerous successful legislative and corporate campaigns to improve the plight of farm animals. Shapiro’s work has helped enact farm animal protection laws in CaliforniaArizonaMichiganMaineColorado, Oregon, and Ohio. He’s also worked with dozens of companies, including some of the world’s top retailers, to improve animal welfare in their supply chains. He founded Compassion Over Killing in 1995 and served as its campaigns director until January 2005. While there, he worked as a farm animal cruelty investigator and led initiatives such as the successful effort to end the use of the misleading “Animal Care Certified” logo on battery cage egg cartons nationwide. Shapiro is currently Vice President of Farm Animal Protection the Humane Society of the United States. Shapiro has been interviewed in hundreds of print, broadcast, and online news sources as an authority on farm animal welfare and animal advocacy. He has also published dozens of articles about animal welfare in publications ranging from daily newspapers to academic journals.

Julia Butterfly HillJulia Butterfly Hill brought international attention to the plight of the world’s last remaining ancient forests when she climbed 180 feet into the branches of a 1000 year-old redwood tree and refused to come down. Her historic protest to the environmental destruction caused by the clear-cutting of ancient redwoods culminated after 738 days with an agreement that provided permanent protection for the tree known as Luna and a 3 acre buffer-zone around it. Julia Butterfly Hill is an activist, a writer and a poet.  She is the author of the national best seller The Legacy of Luna, co-author of One Makes The Difference, and her latest release, Becoming, poems, pictures, and short stories. The audio release, Spiritual Activation, captures Julia’s vital message as it is given at standing-room-only appearances across the country.  All of Julia’s books (and the packaging for the CD) have been published with 100% post-consumer recycled paper with soy-based inks and chlorine-free processing, pushing the publishing industry to a higher standard of ecological sustainability. The recipient of numerous prestigious awards and distinctive honors, Julia Butterfly Hill is one of the most internationally recognizable figures in environmental activism.

Alissa HauserAlissa Hauser has been in the nonprofit world for over 20 years, and is the Executive Director of The Pollination Project, a foundation that gives $1000 seed grants to individual changemakers every day of the year.  Prior to her work with the Pollination Project, Alissa was the Executive Director of the environmental group, Circle of Life, and also co-founded and directed a network that forwarded best practices in citizen-driven grassroots organizing.  Alissa worked with clients including Habitat for Humanity International, Slow Food USA, The Pachamama Alliance, Off the Mat Into the World and the Flawless Foundation.  In addition to being an advisor to GIG, she participates on several other nonprofit advisory boards and boards of directors, and regularly provides strategic and business consulting to nonprofit corporations, artists, and small, socially responsible businesses.

Gary SmithGary Smith is co-founder of Evolotus, a PR agency working for a better world. Evolotus PR specializes in animal rights nonprofits and campaigns, documentary films, books, vegan foods and products. Evolotus helps these clients tell their stories, gain visibility and generate sales to in turn create a better, more sustainable and peaceful world. Gary’s current and past clients include documentary films like Earthlings, Food Matters, Got the Facts on Milk, Forks Over Knives and The Ghosts in Our Machine; animal advocacy groups including Mercy For Animals and Mercy For Animals Canada, Animal Place, FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement), Animal Rescue Corps, White Coat Waste, Stray Cat Alliance, Beagle Freedom Project, the successful Fur Free West Hollywood campaign, and the bill to ban traveling animal circuses in the U.S. introduced by Animal Defenders International; books such as That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, Vegan Is Love, The Lucky Ones, We Animals, and Saving the White Lions; as well as vegan food products like Coconut Bliss and Vegan Vine Wines. In 2011 Gary created The Thinking Vegan, a blog on veganism as a social justice movement as opposed to a dietary plan. The blog quickly became popular for its philosophical bent of abolitionism and liberationism, and for its frank discussions of tactics and strategies to end all uses of animals. The Thinking Vegan includes articles and rants, interviews with thinkers and doers in the vegan/animal rights community, and a thinking vegan’s take on newsworthy events. Gary also mentors vegetarians and non-vegans towards veganism individually, coaching them on the ethics of veganism. Gary has written about vegan and animal rights issues for Elephant Journal, Jewish Journal, Mother Nature Network, and other publications. He and his wife live in Sherman Oaks, CA with their cat Chloë and two beagles rescued from an animal testing laboratory, Frederick and Douglass.

Nick CooneyNick Cooney serves as director of education for Mercy For Animals, spearheading the organization’s vegan advocacy efforts, including its online, television, and other national and international advertising campaigns. He also oversees MFA’s highly influential and websites, literature distribution, festival and youth outreach, and the efforts of MFA’s thousands of volunteers around the country. A graduate of Hofstra University, Nick is the author of “Change Of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change” (Lantern, 2011) and “Veganomics: The Surprising Science on What Motivates Vegetarians, from the Breakfast Table to the Bedroom” (Lantern, 2014). He has lectured across the U.S. and Europe on effective animal advocacy, and his work for farmed animals has been featured by hundreds of media outlets, including “Time” magazine, “The Wall Street Journal,” and National Public Radio. Nick didn’t grow up with animals and never questioned what he ate until reading Peter Singer’s book “Animal Liberation” at the age of 18. He went vegetarian right away, and vegan a few months later. Nick also immediately got involved with animal advocacy. A semester spent working in rural Mexico and a pair of speeches by powerful animal rights advocates led Nick to conclude that he could do the most good in the world by focusing his life on helping animals.

Aaron RossAaron Ross is the National Director of Campaigns at The Humane League.  Aaron has been advocating for animals for over a decade and has won dozens of campaigns for animals both locally and nationally.  He focuses on changing institutional and corporate purchasing policies to make them more animal-friendly. His work has caught the attention of media programs across the country such as CNN and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In addition to campaigning for animals, Aaron also spends his time speaking in schools and educating students about factory farming and the benefits of vegetarian eating.  He currently resides in Ellicott City, MD with his wife and three dogs.

Screen shot 2014-03-31 at 4.49.50 PMWhitney Calk is a youth marketing assistant manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and helps oversee the largest youth animal rights group in the world—peta2. In her years with PETA, she’s worked on several eye-catching campaigns, including peta2′s “WTF?!” campaign, which has inspired more than 80,000 young people to pledge to go vegan and subscribe to text message tips for living cruelty-free. Whitney currently oversees peta2’s social media presence and online efforts, peta2′s Youth Advisory Board, and PETA Kids—PETA’s program for young activists under the age of 13. She also works with peta2′s Street Team with more than 80,000 members and helps them get active for animals in their schools by encouraging them to start animal rights groups, get vegan foods added in their cafeterias with the “Veggie Burger Project,” and help end cruel classroom dissection with the “Cut Out Dissection” campaign. Whitney also works with students who want to get active outside school and in their own communities by helping them organize protests and leafleting events and providing them with free posters, leaflets, stickers, and petitions to help get the word out that animals aren’t ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Nora KramerNora Kramer is the founder and executive director of Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp, an activism camp for teens who want to make a difference in the world, and which serves all vegan food. She developed YEA Camp’s curriculum that is designed to develop campers’ knowledge, skills, confidence, and community to get started and be more effective as an activist for a cause of their choice. In addition to supporting youth working on other important causes, like bullying, protecting the environment, and gay rights, Nora has worked with dozens of teens to support them in launching school veg or animal rights clubs, expanding veg options in their cafeteria, leafleting and influencing classmates to consider vegetarianism, and overcoming their fears to get started in activism and speak up for what they believe in in the first place. Nora has worked promoting vegetarianism and compassion for farmed animals for over a decade, organizing grassroots outreach events, speaking in schools, helping to pass statewide legislation protecting farmed animals in 3 states, and talking to thousands of people about the impact of their food choices. During the school year, Nora works for Mercy For Animals, whose mission is to prevent cruelty to farmed animals and to promote compassionate food choices and policies. After two years working in Dallas promoting veg eating in Cattle Country, she is now based in LA and is MFA’s media campaigns coordinator.

Jasmin SingerJasmin Singer is the Executive Director of the non-profit, Our Hen House – a multimedia hub of opportunities for anyone who wants to change the world for animals. With her partner, animal rights law attorney Mariann Sullivan, Jasmin produces a weekly podcast and an online magazine. In 2013, the Our Hen House podcast was named an “Official Honoree” by the Webby Awards, and in 2011, Our Hen House was named the “Indie Media Powerhouse” by VegNews Magazine. Jasmin is a contributor to the anthology Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and the Sexual Politics of Meat (Lantern, 2013). She has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, HuffPo Live, and can be seen in the documentaries Vegucated and The Ghosts in Our Machine. She lives in New York City with Mariann and their perfect pit bull, Rose.

Lauren OrnelasLauren 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. While Lauren was the director of Viva!USA, 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 was the spark that got the founder of Whole Foods Market to become a vegan. She also helped halt the construction of an industrial dairy operation in California.  She 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 and

Ginny Messina

Ginny Messina is a dietitian who specializes in vegan diets. She is the co-author of eleven books on vegan and vegetarian food and nutrition including  Vegan for Life, Vegan for Her, and Never Too Late to Go Vegan. Ginny was a dietetics instructor at Central Michigan University and a dietitian for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She speaks about vegan nutrition at events for animal activists and also at scientific conferences for dietitians and physicians. She writes about a variety of issues related to health and animal rights on her blog TheVeganRD and she is also TheVeganRD on Facebook and Twitter. When she isn’t working on projects related to nutrition, Ginny volunteers for her local animal shelter and works with programs to promote spay and neuter. She lives in Port Townsend, Washington with her husband and an ever-changing population of rescued cats.

zoeweilmainepic500hZoe Weil (pronounced “Zoh While”) is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE), and is considered a pioneer in the comprehensive humane education movement. Zoe created IHE’s M.Ed., M.A. and graduate certificate programs, as well as IHE’s acclaimed humane education and MOGO (most good) workshops and online courses. Zoe is the author of six books, including the Nautilus Silver Medal–winner “Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life” (2009) and two books for young readers, including Moonbeam Gold Medal-winner “Claude and Medea” (2007). She has written numerous articles on humane education and humane living, and given interviews to such outlets as and numerous radio and television stations. Zoe speaks regularly at universities, conferences and schools, and in communities across the United States and Canada and periodically overseas. She has also served as a consultant on humane education to people and organizations around the world, and serves on the board of directors of Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART). In 2012, artist Robert Shetterly painted Zoe’s portrait for his acclaimed Americans Who Tell the Truth series. Also in 2012, Zoe was honored with the Women in Environmental Leadership award at Unity College. In 2010, she was inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame.

HillaryRettigHillary Rettig is an author, coach, and workshop leader specializing in productivity and time management, and helping vegan activists is one of her core missions. She is author of The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way (Lantern Books, 2006) and The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer’s Block (Infinite Art, 2011), which is also available in Spanish, Japanese, and (soon) Russian. A vegan for more than ten years, she was an organizer of the Grassroots Animal Rights Conference in New York City, and currently is a member of In Defense of Animals’ Council for Sustainable Activism. Hillary also cofounded and currently is a principal organizer of Vegan Kalamazoo, and is happy to be part of the expanding vegan scene in southwest Michigan. She is also a former foster parent to four Sudanese teenage refugees (“Lost Boys”), now all adult and living independently, and a living kidney donor. Hillary was born in New York City, lived for many years in Boston, and now resides in Kalamazoo, MI, with her partner, a physics professor at Kalamazoo College, and two senior rescue dogs.