Compassion Over Killing’s Powerhouse Team!

Erica Meier
Executive Director

Erica has served as COK’s Executive Director since 2005, after being an active volunteer starting in 2000. Since taking the helm, she’s taken the organization to new heights with continued growth and accomplishments for animals that include ending the egg industry’s use of the misleading claim “Animal Care Certified” and successfully persuading BOCA foods to stop using eggs.

Vegan for 20 years, Erica has been working in the animal protection field since college. In 2013, she was honored with the prestigious Animal Rights Hall of Fame award.

Before working at COK, Erica spent several years as an animal control officer in Washington, DC where she rescued sick, stray, and homeless animals as well as enforced anti-cruelty laws.
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Cheryl Leahy
General Counsel

Since 2006, Cheryl has served as COK’s General Counsel targeting large-scale abuse of farmed animals through proactive litigation and undercover investigations. Her work includes challenging cruel, yet standard, practices forced upon farmed animals as well as the misleading marketing of meat, milk, and eggs often found in grocery stores.

Cheryl received a J.D. from UCLA School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Chicago in Environmental Studies.

She is a member of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and California bars and currently works in COK’s Los Angeles office accompanied by her dog Hermione.
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Mike Wolf
Director of Investigations

Mike became vegan in 2006 after the loss of his dog Curly, and then spent almost 4 years working as an Undercover Investigator with a focus on animal agriculture. His investigations include hog farm suppliers to Smithfield and Hormel, which have resulted in dozens of criminal cruelty charges. His cases have been featured in several national media outlets as well as multiple books written on the topic.

Mike joined COK in 2014, where he leads investigative efforts into meat, dairy, and egg facilities. Since then, he has overseen multiple viral investigations, including investigations into Quality Pork Processors in 2015 as well as Tyson Foods in 2016.

Mike also has a strong passion for vegan fitness and hopes to help show how easy it is to gain vegan muscle as a member of PlantBuilt's Powerlifting team.
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Chris Lasala
Director of Information Technology

Chris manages all of COK’s websites and IT needs as well as providing support to the entire COK team. Chris holds multiple certifications in IT and has worked web development since the late 90’s.

Prior to joining COK, Chris spent the last 6 years working for an NGO documenting the human rights abuse happening in Iran. He was responsible for building and managing the website for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

Chris is a lover of all animals — however his favorite are cats. He lives with his fiance’ Amie, and sadly at this time they have no cats — although they are looking to change that as soon as possible by adopting a cat and possibly naming him George!
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Jennifer Mishler
Director of Communications

Jennifer joined Compassion Over Killing as Communications Manager in 2016 and is excited to join the team of strong voices for animals!

Prior to working at COK, she was a writer for Ecorazzi.com and Staff Writer/Editor at Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and has volunteered in animal and environmental protection since 2010.

Her furry friend Olivia loves to run around the DC office playing, cuddling and offering Jennifer writing tips.
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Paulette Benjamin
Outreach & Events Manager

Combining her passion for farm animal protection and empowering others, Paulette is excited to join the COK team in DC as the Outreach and Event Manager. Having volunteered for companion animal issues since 2000, farm animals became her passion in 2006.

Helping organize on a grassroots level for several years, she most recently represented COK in the Citizens for Farm Animal Protection coalition this past fall in Massachusetts. With a background in environmental science and aiding the homeless, she brings analytical skills together with compassion for all beings.

She also adores mini snowmen.
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Jonathan Rosenberry
Video Production Manager

As COK’s Video Production Manager, Jonathan creates videos promoting the organization’s mission, including investigation and other campaign-related videos. His love for video started at a young age when filming extreme sports such as skateboarding and snowboarding.

While working on the video team at The Humane Society of the United States as an omnivore, he was inspired to fully embrace a vegan lifestyle in early 2014. After years of professional video production experience, he is very grateful to combine his passion for video with his love for animals and the environment.

In addition to his passion for animals rights, he also enjoys pursuing athletic challenges. His most notable accomplishments are running a 50 mile ultra marathon and riding his bicycle more than 2000 miles from Seattle to San Diego
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Jessica Ellicott Carter
Office Manager

Jessica brings several years of experience in project coordination to the role of Office Manager. She began her professional career working at national non-profit organization supporting college access and success programs for low-income first-generation students.

Jessica officially became a vegan in January 2016, after gradually eliminating animal products from her diet beginning in 2011. She is committed to spreading the message that a plant-based cruelty-free lifestyle is best for our health, the planet, and the animals we share it with.

She had her first hands-on animal protection experience as a college student volunteering at a horse rescue ranch, the Last Chance Corral, in southeast Ohio.
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Irina Anta
Counsel

Irina works to protect farm animals through litigation and undercover investigations. A lifetime lover of animals, she became particularly passionate about farm animal issues in law school after watching documentaries about industrial agriculture. She interned at Compassion Over Killing the summer after her first year and joined the COK legal team in 2016.

She has a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from Yale University in Political Science and International Studies.

Irina is always on the lookout for a good pair of vegan shoes.
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Laura Cascada
Corporate Campaigns Manager

Laura joined COK in 2017 as the Corporate Campaigns Manager, working to increase the availability of vegan options nationwide and bring about positive changes for animals in the meat, dairy, and egg industries.

A vegan since 2008, Laura has advocated for animals and the environment for nearly a decade and previously led successful campaigns for PETA and the Sierra Club. She also writes on animal issues for publications like One Green Planet and is on the Hampton Roads VegFest organizing committee. Laura has a Master of Science in Environmental Policy from the Johns Hopkins University.

Moved by the plight of captive hermit crabs sold every summer as trinkets at beach boardwalks, Laura started her own advocacy effort in 2014 to help keep these animals in the wild. She is also particularly fond of pigs and enjoys snuggling with her rescued potbellied pig, Peppercorn.
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Scott David
Investigations Associate

Scott began cutting animal products out of his diet in 2010. After getting his master’s degree in Applied Ecology, he joined an afterschool education program where he taught students about animals and the environment. He then worked for two years as an undercover investigator for Compassion Over Killing.

Now retired from the field, he spends his time offering support to the current investigators.

In his spare time, Scott likes to play sports and read comic books. He is a great lover of reptiles and enjoys running into snakes while hiking.
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Ryan O'Connor
Web Design

Since 2017, Ryan has been our lead web designer and developer. Working closely with our IT Lead, Ryan builds and manages COK web properties with a strong emphasis on UX and strategy. He has built and managed websites for hundreds of global clients including celebrities, educational resources, financial institutions, and of course, nonprofits.

Aside from a long list of responsibilities at COK, Ryan is a partner with two boutique record labels who specialize in licensing. He's released the vinyl single "Built To Last" for activist/animal rights artist Rise Against, as well as a 2011 vinyl release for Syracuse vegan activist group, Earth Crisis.

After spending many years only ordering the vegetarian options on menus, Ryan officially gave up meat in 2012. In his spare time he enjoys working on new releases for his labels, as well as traveling, kayaking, running, skateboarding, vinyl records, and yelling at his TV during football season. He also cooks a mean vegan burrito.
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Robin Walker
Special Projects Manager

With an extensive background in event planning and fundraising, Robin helps coordinate various special events at COK including the DC VegFest and our annual holiday celebration. Robin has been active with COK as a volunteer and team member for several years.

She has also worked at the Washington Humane Society and PETA, and she also currently volunteers with Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary to help organize the 5K Run for Animals.

Robin shares her home with the sweetest little four-legged dog, Wilma!
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Mary Beth Wood
Public Relations Manager

Mary Beth joined the team at COK in 2016 to help shape branding and public relations initiatives and has since played a key role in garnering national press coverage for COK’s undercover investigations in The New York Times and USA Today.

Mary Beth brings to the table a passion for animal protection combined with extensive experience in producing dynamic and effective PR. She has created media-focused strategies for Fortune 500 companies, beauty and lifestyle brands, and celebrity partners.

Mary Beth is the proud mother of a three-year-old goldendoodle named Holly Wood and an energetic 18-month-old named George.
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Simone de Lima
Development Assistant

Simone comes from Brazil where she teaches Developmental Psychology and founded ProAnima, an animal advocacy organization which worked on issues such as animal experiments, spay neuter campaigns, veganism and the use of animals in entertainment. In 2014, her organization succeeded in a ban on the use of horse-drawn carts in the capital. She has also collaborated with Brighter Green on a project on the environmental impact of animal agriculture in Brazil.

A passionate educator and intersectional activist, Simone transitioned from vegetarian to vegan after leafleting for COK in 2007. Now back in the DC area, she is excited to volunteer with Compassion Over Killing on a regular basis, helping with outreach, research, and wherever needed!

Simone is trained in dog behavior, shares her Takoma home with Bruno (human), Valente (canine) and wonderful friends of many species who visit and enjoy her Brazilian vegan cooking and likes to work on her research projects on the intersection of human/animal rights.
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Greg Muren
Counsel

Greg is a member of COK’s legal team. He seeks to promote justice, accountability, and transparency in the animal farming industry through litigation, policy initiatives, and investigations.

He has a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. from the University of Chicago, where he studied Philosophy and Biology. During law school, he worked at Public Citizen Litigation Group and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).

Though he can’t be sure, Greg believes that he may eat more tofu cream cheese than anyone else on earth.
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Gwen Jakubisin
Social Media Manager

Gwen joined the Communications team in August 2017 as Social Media Manager. With over 10 years of social media and marketing experience, Gwen is excited to grow COK's social presence. Gwen also runs Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Scio, Oregon.

A lifelong vegetarian and vegan of over 12 years, Gwen has spent the majority of her life advocating for animals. She graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in Art History.

Gwen shares her home with four rescue pups, two pigs, and a rabbit.
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Elena Johnson
Special Events Volunteer

As Special Events Volunteer, Elena helps plan a variety of events—from fundraisers to volunteer trainings.

Before joining COK, Elena worked on events and educational programs for a national cat protection nonprofit and for a retail corporation. She is now a vegan chef and caterer who uses her knowledge of vegan ingredients to offer cooking demonstrations to the public.

She shares her home with 2 black cats: Buster and Lucy.
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Lara Dalinsky
Graphic Designer

Lara has been designing for COK since 2005, bringing visual awareness and accessibility to the organization’s mission. She lays out Compassionate Action, our member magazine, as well as other printed pro-veg materials. She’s also created logos and developed the visuals for many of COK’s campaigns, collateral, and events including US VegWeek and the DC VegFest.

In addition to being passionate about animal rights, Lara also loves dance, yoga, photography, and travel.

She recently relocated to Seoul, South Korea with her husband and two cats, Isabella and Tasha, where she continues to do design remotely and work on adventures for her online travel magazine, En Route Traveler.
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Hannah Sentenac
Content Writer

A wizard of words, lover of all living things and vegan mac ‘n cheese master, Hannah Sentenac writes content for COK that helps spread the word about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.

Also the Editor-In-Chief and Founder of http://latestvegannews.com/, Hannah’s writing has appeared in Live Happy magazine, the Miami New Times, the Huffington Post, OneGreenPlanet.com, MindBodyGreen.com, and numerous other publications and websites.

She’s obsessed with Cocowhip, Just Mayo and Dandies marshmallows, and spends her free time trekking through the mountains of North Carolina with her rescued chihuahua, Luigi.
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Wilma Jean Walker-Johnson
Chief Happiness Officer

Wilma plays an integral role in sustaining the energetic day-to-day operations at COK. Found as a stray in Prince George’s County, Maryland in 2014, she brings street-smarts, an assertive-looking under-bite and a positively optimistic personality to the team (plus lots of squeaky toys).

Her favorite snacks are watermelon, sweet potatoes and raspberries. Wilma enjoys flopping around the office and begging for belly rubs. And when she’s not spreading joy in the office, you’ll often find her hiking and going everywhere with her mom, Robin.

Olivia Mishler
Chief Cheerfulness Officer

Olivia (Liv) plays a pawsitively pivotal role in ensuring that everyone in COK’s DC office is smiling. She can’t wait to get to work every day – after all, every day is the best day ever. Liv works closely with colleague Wilma Jean, brainstorming ways to make the team even happier.

Liv’s favorite snacks are green beans and apple. She enjoys hopping around the office like a deer, laying on as many pillows as possible, and checking each room to find out what her co-workers are eating. When she’s not at the office, Liv loves to spend time with her friend Mister, who has patiently taught her how to be a cat.

Valente de Lima Saraiva
Title: Volunteer trashcan and lap investigator
Valente was thrilled to join canine COK colleagues Olivia and Wilma in October 2016. From his days as a wounded, starving street dog in Brazil he brings his distinctive mohawk (the result of a skin graft), a keen nose that will guide him to any vegan goodies in the office and his "will-you-love-me-and-take-me-home" attitude. He enjoys spending some time with each of the staff, chilling on his favorite armchair close to friends Liv and Wilma and trying to figure out how toys work.

 

Compassion Over Killing’s Offices


Washington, DC – Headquarters:

301-891-2458 | info@cok.net

Los Angeles, California:

info@cok.net