Speaker Bios

The conference features experts in the fields of health, nutrition, animal rights, the environment, exercise and related lifestyle areas, plus talented chefs. The following speakers are already confirmed, with more to be added. Please check back for updates.

Maribeth Abrams, MS, CNC

Certified Nutritional Consultant; Certified Holistic Health Practitioner; Certified Lifestyle Educator; author of The 4-Ingredient Vegan and Tofu 1-2-3; NAVS Board Member; Associate Editor Vegetarian Voice magazine; vegan for 20 years; mother of two teens vegan since birth.

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Carol Adams

Internationally-known author of the ground-breaking feminist-vegan work, The Sexual Politics of Meat, also, Living Among Meat Eaters, and How to Eat Like a Vegetarian Even if You Never Want to be One (co-written with Patti Breitman); her Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show has been shown on more than 100 campuses and in several countries and a 20th Anniversary Edition of the book is being released this year.

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Jonathan Balcombe, PHD

Biologist; life-long animal advocate; author, Pleasurable Kingdom (first in-depth examination of animals’ capacity to enjoy life), Second Nature, and The Exultant Ark (present animals in a new light and presage a revolution in the human-animal relationship); author of the New York Times best-seller, What a Fish Knows (explores the private lives of the planet’s most misunderstood and maligned vertebrates); Director for Animal Sentience with The Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy; Associate Editor for Animal Sentience, the first scholarly journal of animal feeling

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Chip Ballew

Juggling teacher; with 20 years experience in the field teaching ball/club/ring/scarf juggling, diabolo, poi, juggling stix and other skill-toys and cooperative games; boomerang, frisbee, kendama, rola-bola, footbag, etc.; co-founder of the Vegetarian Club of the Ozarks; 20 plus years advocating for animals and veganism; vegan for 26 years.

 

Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

Adjunct associate professor of medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine; President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; founded the Barnard Medical Center where they work with patients to prevent and reverse diseases through nutrition and lifestyle changes; led numerous research studies investigating the effects of diet on diabetes, body weight, and chronic pain, including a groundbreaking study of dietary interventions in type 2 diabetes, funded by the National Institutes of Health; authored more than 70 scientific publications as well as 18 books and hosted three PBS television programs on nutrition and health

Carol H. Barnett, PhD, JD

Co-Coordinator, Rochester Area Vegan Society; provides the recipes, cooking and food sampling for a six-week course in Plant-Based Eating which has reached more than 300 people in the Rochester area; mother of three adult children who are lifelong vegans.

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Ted D. Barnett, MD

Founder, CEO and Medical Director of Rochester Lifestyle Medicine, PLLC, launched in 2016, which utilizes the plant-based Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) as the core curriculum of a year-long intensive lifestyle intervention; Board-Certified Interventional and Diagnostic Radiologist; teaches a six-week course in Plant-Based Eating which is accredited for physicians by the University of Rochester and which has reached more than 350 people in the Rochester area; Co-Coordinator, Rochester (NY) Area Vegan Society; father of three adult children who are lifelong vegans.

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John Bolus

America’s sole instructor of Chinese Wand Exercise; ranked 1st in his state’s 5K races in the 65-69 age group, 5th in National Sr. Olympics; professional musician (keyboards) frequently performing at top clubs, including the Ritz Carlton; released “Naples Medleys”, a CD collection of easy listening standards

Patti Breitman

Co-author of Never Too Late to Go Vegan, How to Eat Like a Vegetarian, Even If You Never Want To Be One; and How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty; Founder and Director of the Marin Vegetarian Education Group; Co-founder of Dharma Voices for Animals; on the advisory council of the Animals and Society Institute; has been teaching vegan cooking classes for 15 years

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Harold Brown

President, Farm Kind, Ltd.; born and raised on a cattle farm in Michigan and spent over half his life in agriculture including three years in the dairy industry; featured in the Tribe of Heart documentary, Peaceable Kingdom, the Journey Home, his story is one of transformation from animal farmer to vegan animal advocate; works as an advocate for sustainable independent family farms, environmental justice, social justice, and peace through non-violence.

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Sherry F. Colb

Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell University, where she teaches courses in animal rights, criminal-related constitutional law, and evidence law; author, Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger?; co-author (with Michael C. Dorf) of the forthcoming book, Beating Hearts: Animal Rights and Abortion; writes a bi-weekly column for lawyers, law students, and general audiences at Verdict.Justia.com, where her topics frequently address animal rights themes.

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Jim Corcoran

Co-founded VegFund, Plant Peace Daily, Santa Fe Veg and VegMichigan; has a BS in Emergency Medicine; certification in the Living Foods Lifestyle; certified fitness instructor; is a former softball champion/all-star; has been leading life-altering programs on health and the environment for over a decade now; his talks empower people to make informed and lasting changes in their lives; currently a business development consultant for Thai Vegan restaurant, one of the top 10 vegan chains in the country

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Fran Costigan

 Vegan chef-educator, cookbook author and Director of Vegan Baking and Pastry at Rouxbe Cooking School, is internationally renowned as the authority on vegan desserts. Professionally trained, Fran cheffed in traditional and vegan pastry kitchens before moving into teaching 20+ years ago. Her 90 day Essential Vegan Desserts Course, an expanded version of her Vegan Baking Boot Camp®, is available online; A member of New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, International Association of Culinary Professionals; Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Fran is an advisory board member of Coalition for Healthy School Food, Vegan Trade Council; Main Street Vegan Academy, and member of Plant Based Food Association.

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Anne Dinshah

Co-author (with H. Jay Dinshah) of the forthcoming book Powerful Vegan Messages; co-author of Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake: Kids! Teach Yourself to Cook; author of Dating Vegans; vice president of American Vegan Society; managing editor of American Vegan magazine; professional rowing coach; lifelong vegan, third generation vegetarian, and mom to vegan son Clint.

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Freya Dinshah

Co-author of Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake: Kids!  Teach Yourself to Cook a great new book that inspires kids to make healthy snacks and meals; author of The Vegan Kitchen which in 1965 was the first U.S. cookbook to use the word vegan in the title and espouse the vegan philosophy; lecturer & teacher; lifetime vegetarian (55 years vegan); President of American Vegan Society and editor of American Vegan magazine; inducted to the Vegetarian Hall of Fame

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Michael C. Dorf, JD

Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School; graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School; author of four books and numerous articles on law and its relation to social change; co-author (with Sherry Colb) of the forthcoming book Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights; as a vegan activist, he applies the lessons he has learned from studying other justice movements.

 

Rev. Russell Elleven, Dmin

Minister emeritus of Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth, Texas and vegan since 2006; earned bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University, master’s degree from Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School, and doctorate from Meadville Lombard Theological School; Board Certified Coach and Certified Wellness Practitioner; former board member of the Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry and contributor to the UUAM’s Reverence for Life Program.

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Mylan Engel Jr.

Professor of Philosophy at Northern Illinois University specializing in animal ethics and environmental ethics; co-author (with Kathie Jenni) of The Philosophy of Animal Rights: A Brief Introduction for Students and Teachers (2010); lead editor of The Moral Rights of Animals (2016); he has developed a common sense approach to animal ethics, which he uses to defend ethical veganism and to argue that animal experimentation should be abolished.

 

Joann Farb

Microbiologist, and former biodecontamination consultant for Pharmaceutical giant Merck and Co Inc. Then an activist and founder of Vegetarians of Kansas City. Vegan for 20 years. Mother of two lifelong vegans. Her first book, Compassionate Souls — Raising the Next Generation to Change the World, was a primer for raising healthy compassionate children. Her newest book, Get Off Gluten aims to help vegan’s learn how getting off gluten can be beneficial, and to help gluten sensitive omnivores discover veganism for their health.

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Jennifer Greene

Presenter forBeyond Carnism, the organization founded to expose and transform carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals; author of Demonstrating Our Values through Eating, an ethical eating curriculum developed for church groups or individual study, with 100% plant-based recipes; creator of “Eating on the Side of Love” Facebook campaign; board member of Unitarian Universalist Food Justice Ministry; founder of Vegan Long Island Meetup group; volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and has been responsible for getting several CCL conferences to go all-vegan with their menus

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Michael Greger, MD

A founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues.  He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, and was invited as an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the infamous “meat defamation” trial. His latest book is How Not to Die. More than a thousand of his nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org, with new videos and articles uploaded every day.

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Lee Hall, JD, LLM

Lawyer and grass-roots advocate connecting vegetarianism with ecology and animal rights; board member of Compassion for Animals, Respect for the Environment (CARE) and co-facilitates Pennsylvania’s annual Chester County Vegan Festival; penned the “Vegetarian” and “Environmental Racism” entries forThe Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice; Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Environment & Climate Law and a member of the adjunct faculty at Widener University; Hall’s new book is On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century (2016)

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Joel Kahn, MD

Preventive Cardiologist; Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine; Director of Cardiac Wellness at Michigan Healthcare Professions; founding member of the International Society of Integrative, Metabolic and Functional Cardiovascular Medicine; first physician in Michigan to be certified by the Society of Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication; author, The Whole Heart Solution; frequent commentator on Fox News, HuffingtonPost, and Mindbodygreen, among others; his goal is to prevent 1 million heart attacks through educating on the lifestyle for optimal health and longevity; devoted athlete, vegan and yoga practitioner

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Amie Hamlin

Executive Director of New York Coalition for Healthy School Food; responsible for first vegetarian public (non-charter) school in the United States; co-author of Food UnEarthed: Uncovering the Truth About Food full-year curriculum for 4th and 5th graders; wrote NYS Legislative Resolution that passed unanimously in the NYS Legislature in 2004, which requested vegan entrees each day and nutrition education that includes information on multi-cultural and vegan eating styles; founder and president of Club Veg: Vegetarian Education Group in the Southern Tier of NY (Binghamton & Ithaca).

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Christopher Hirschler, PhD, MCHES

Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education at Monmouth University, Master Certified Health Education Specialist, author of “What pushed me over the edge was a deer hunter”: Being vegan in North America (Society and Animals, 2011), 16-year vegan, producer of YouTube videos, and athlete.

Ellen Jaffe Jones

Author of Kitchen Divided and Eat Vegan on $4 a Day and co-author of Paleo Vegan; former cooking instructor for PCRM’s Cancer Project for 6 years and a frequent cooking instructor in Florida health food stores; certified personal trainer, certified running coach.

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Ellie Laks

Founder of The Gentle Barn Foundation, humane educator, and author of My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope; she has always loved animals and the Gentle Barn has been her dream from the time she was 7 years old and even at such a young age, Ellie vowed that one day she would teach the world the beauty of these living beings and the important role animals play as therapy partners to children and adults, who have relatable experiences. Gentle Barn’s two locations (in Santa Clarita, CA and Knoxville, TN) are home to more than 190 animals.

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Vance Lehmkuhl

Vegan columnist (“V for Veg”) for the Philadelphia Daily News; cartoonist, speaker, piano-player and all-around entertainer; founding member of vegetarian pop band Green Beings; creator of “Edgy Veggies” cartoon for VegNews; author, Joy of Soy (collection of his vegetarian cartoons); illustrator (created NAVS “Food/Friend” T-shirt) and feature writer for Vegetarian Voice.

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Bob Leroy, RD, MS, EDM

Founder & Coordinator, Plant-based Prevention Of Disease (P-POD) national conference; NAVS Nutrition Advisor since 1990; vegan since 1976; public health nutritionist & educator; fitness instructor; developer of nonprofit initiatives for continuing education of health professionals in plant-based nutrition; long-time activist promoting local food & economic self-reliance measures; advocate for personal & agricultural carbon-footprint reduction.

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David Madow, DDS

Vegan speaker, dentist, author and podcaster; passionate about helping others become stronger, thinner, healthier, happier and much more; loves changing lives and has been inspiring sold-out audiences across North America with his unique, fun approach. When he is not teaching, you may find him running, walking, backpacking, skiing, or perhaps climbing up a mountain! Dave lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife and three cats.

Mark  Messina, PhD, MS

Co-owner of Nutrition Matters, Inc.; an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, at Loma Linda University; Executive Director of the Soy Nutrition Institute; organized and chaired nine international symposia on the role of soy in preventing and treating chronic disease; Chairperson of the editorial board of The Soy Connection, a quarterly newsletter on soy; given more than 600 presentations on soy in 51 countries and has published approximately 90 peer-reviewed papers on the health effects of soyfoods

Virginia Messina, MPH, RD

Dietitian with more than 25 years of experience in the field of vegan nutrition; founding member of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group and serves on the group’s newsletter editorial board; written ten books for vegans and is co-author of the first vegetarian textbook for health professionals The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets andVegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet speaks about vegan nutrition at events for both the public and physicians; on the board of directors of Vegfund, Eden Animal Sanctuary, and Alley Cat Rescue 

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Milton Mills, MD

Associate director of preventive medicine with Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM); co-author of PCRM’s report on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Victoria Moran

Motivational speaker, certified life coach, certified holistic health counselor (HHC, AADA); author of ten books including the vegan weight loss classic, The Love-Powered Diet, the best-selling Creating Charmed Life, and the Oprah-featuredLit from Within and Shelter for the Spirit. vegetarian since age 18, and mother of lifelong vegan actress Adair Moran.

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Lanie Muelrath, MA

Award-winning teacher, author, TV host, and top plant-based vegan lifestyle coach; Certified Specialist in Behavior Change, Plant-Based Nutrition and Mindfulness Meditation Instruction; Lani has been featured on CBS TV, ABC TV, Prevention, USA Today, Huffington Post, and The Saturday Evening Post; presenter for Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, Complete Health Improvement Program, and guest lecturer at San Francisco State University and Associate Faculty at Butte College where her book has been adopted as required text; author, The Plant-Based Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide to Transition to a Healthy Lifestyle and Achieving Your Ideal Weight, and Fit Quickies: 5 Minute Workouts.

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Jill Nussinow, RD

Nutrition specialist with more than 25 years experience, culinary educator and Registered Dietitian teaching at the McDougall Program; author of 3 award-winning cookbooks Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy and Vitality, The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes and The Veggie Queen™: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment; and the recently released Vegan Under Pressure: Perfect Vegan Meals Made Quick and Easy in your Pressure Cooker; producer, Pressure Cooking: A Fresh Look, Delicious Dishes in Minutes DVD and starring in Creative Low-Fat Vegan Cuisine DVD

John Pierre

Personal trainer to top celebrities and Fortune 500 CEOs, and his client list has included Ellen DeGeneres and Emily Deschanel; vegan nutrition and fitness consultant who lectures throughout the US sharing the principles of compassionate living to people of all ages; best known for his innovative work helping older adults enhance cognitive functioning, and his fun, yet effective approach to functional fitness; author of The Pilars of Health.

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Kathy Pollard, MS

Instructor for the renowned T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, offering the plant-based nutrition certification course through eCornell; contributor to the Campbell Center newsletter and instructor material; Board member of P-POD, which holds an annual conference offering training and professional CEUs; holds a MS in applied clinical nutrition from New York Chiropractic College and a BS in Mass Communications from the University of California; cofounder, Habits of Health support program, helping individuals to successfully transition to a whole food, plant-based diet and serves as a resource for doctors and healthcare practitioners.

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Mark Rifkin, MS,RD,LDN

Registered Dietitian in private practice, who focuses on whole-food, plant-based diets to prevent and treat chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression; MS in Health Education and has been conducting presentations on food-related topics since 1997; using good foods and great flavors, he also specializes in helping vegetarians and vegans optimize their eating habits; vegan since 1986.

Allison Rivers Samson

The Maven of Mmmm… passionate about living a delicious life in all realms; empowering others to joyfully recreate themselves in the kitchen and in life; started Allison’s Gourmet, the first vegan online bakery and confectionary, which she closed in 2016; health and wellness coach; award-winning author of Comfortably Yum and The Dairy Detox Cookbook; Nia Black Belt instructor; vegan mom; co-founder of The Dairy Detox.

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Miyoko Schinner

Entrepreneur for 30+ years in the food world as a chef and creator of delicious, decadent, healthful plant-based food, Miyoko is dedicated to pleasing the omnivore’s palate in all of us; former owner of a restaurant and natural food company that distributed products nationwide and supplied cookies and pastries to United Airlines; author of the best-selling and groundbreaking Artisan Vegan Cheese and the just-published The Homemade Vegan Pantry—the Art of Making Your Own Staples; founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen, an artisan vegan cheese company, which set out to redefine the category of “cheese” with its unctuous, decadent, delicious flavors of handcrafted cheeses made from nuts; co-host of the national cooking show Vegan Mashup.

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Rae Sikora

A full-time spokesperson for other species and the environment for over 35 years; co-founder of Plant Peace Daily, Vegfund and the Institute for Humane Education; she leads compassionate living and ethical consumerism programs internationally for diverse audiences ranging from schools and prisons to businesses and universities

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Marcella Torres

Professional meal planner, dancer, PhD student in mathematical biology, and mother to a thriving vegan child; half of the husband and wife team of competitive bodybuilders behind Vegan Muscle and Fitness, where they have shared their training and nutrition tips, recipes and more since 2009; co-owner of Richmond, Virginia’s only plant-based personal training studio, Root Force Personal Training, which seeks to promote a fit and active plant-powered lifestyle and shatter the perception that strength and athleticism can’t be achieved with a plant-based diet – the mission: to generate as many fit vegan role models as possible to get the message across that a plant-based diet isn’t a handicap in the world of athletics – it’s an advantage!

 

Derek Tresize

Three-time natural bodybuilding champion and WNBF pro bodybuilder; A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, is certified in Plant-Based Nutrition, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology; half of the husband and wife team of competitive bodybuilders behind Vegan Muscle and Fitness, where they have shared their training and nutrition tips, recipes and more since 2009; co-owner of Richmond, Virginia’s only plant-based personal training studio, Root Force Personal Training, which seeks to promote a fit and active plant-powered lifestyle and shatter the perception that strength and athleticism can’t be achieved with a plant-based diet – the mission: to generate as many fit vegan role models as possible to get the message across that a plant-based diet isn’t a handicap in the world of athletics – it’s an advantage!

 

Robert C. Victor

Former Staff Astronomer at the Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University, where he served for over 30 years; he still designs and produces occasional issues of their monthly Sky Calendar, and writes on sky watching for theCoachella Valley Independent, and for the California and the Michigan Science Teachers Associations; he received the Clifford W. Holmes Award for his “Major Contribution to Popularizing Astronomy,” and the Shiny Apple Award from Palm Springs Unified School District for sharing his passion and knowledge of the sky with students and parents.

 

Kim Allan Williams, MD, MACC, FAHA, MASNC, FESC

Vegan Cardiologist; completed his internal medicine residency at Emory University, and overlapping fellowships in cardiology, clinical pharmacology, and nuclear medicine at the University of Chicago; board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases, nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology and cardiovascular computed tomography; joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1986; served as professor of medicine and radiology and director of nuclear cardiology at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine until 2010, when he became the Dorothy Susan Timmis Endowed Professor and chair of the division of cardiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine; In 2013, Williams assumed the position of James B. Herrick Professor and chief of the division of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center; immediate past president of the  American College of Cardiology

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