cok staff 2018

Compassion Over Killing’s Powerhouse Team!

Erica Meier
President

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
Executive Vice President

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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Irina Anta
General Counsel Operations & Compliance

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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Chris Lasala
Senior Director of IT/Marketing

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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Laura Cascada
Senior Director of Campaigns & Outreach

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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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.
More about Mike!
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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Jessica Carlson
Director of Operations

Jessica joined the FARM team in the Fall of 2017 as their Director of Operations, before moving to COK during the transitional change between the two organizations.

She has more than 9 years of experience in the education field - creating programs teaching compassion to children as well as managing large staff teams, helping them develop and grow their careers.

Prior to relocating to DC, Jessica founded and organized The Erie Vegan Meetup Group where she was successful at organizing meetups and a wide range of community activism and education events such as Erie’s annual 5K "Tofurky Trots" partnered with a mini veg event.

In Jessica's free time, she ventures to concerts and enjoys spending time with her husband and rescued fur babies; 3 dogs (George, Lola, Mazzy), 4 cats (Rosco, Bernie Mac, Billie, Daryl), guinea pig (Beanie) and chinchilla (Chipper). "Exploring the outdoors and connecting to nature is what keeps me energized and inspired"
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Eric Lindstrom
Director of Marketing
Eric C Lindstrom started as COK's Marketing Director in January 2018, transitioning from his role as Program Manager and Marketing Director at Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM). In his role with the COK team, Eric markets and manages the four outreach programs, including the tours, online views, vegan support, and grassroots. Eric also assists in guiding COK's overall marketing goals with more than two decades of professional experience.
Eric is the author of "The Skeptical Vegan" (Skyhorse Publishing 2017) and "The Smart Parent's Guide to Raising Vegan Kids" (Skyhorse Publishing 2018) he also hosts and produces a vegan YouTube series based on "The Skeptical Vegan."
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Simone de Lima
Director of Outreach and Education

Simone comes from Brazil, where she taught Developmental Psychology, organized a network for innovative education and founded and ran ProAnima, an animal advocacy organization. She also co-founded Café Corbucci, Brasília's first vegan establishment, and collaborated with Brighter Green on a study of 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. She joined the COK staff in 2017 and directs the Outreach and Education Department.

Simone is trained in dog behavior, shares her Takoma home with human Bruno Valente and Colombina (canines) 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.
More about Simone!
Jessica Carter
Vegan Food & Lifestyle Coach

Jessica brings several years of project coordination experience to her role as Vegan Food & Lifestyle Coach. She organizes and hosts cooking demos, develops online trainings and multimedia content for TryVeg.com, and coordinates collaborations with vegan influencers to provide people with helpful resources. Her recipes have been featured on FOX45 Baltimore, Let’s Talk Live, and Good Morning Washington.

Jessica officially became a vegan in January 2016, after gradually eliminating animal products from her diet beginning in 2011. She is committed to equipping people with the information and tools that they need to positively impact their quality of life by embracing a plant-powered lifestyle.

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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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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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 record 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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Elena Carter-Vodnik
Data Strategist

Originally hailing from Moscow, Elena came to the US to attend FARM's Animal Rights National Conference and pursue her dream of working to promote animal rights. Elena started as COK's Data Analyst in January 2018, transitioning from her role as Program Associate at Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM).

Prior to moving to the US (with her two cats!), Elena worked in the auto industry as a business/data analyst.

A lifetime lover of animals and vegan for the past 6 years she has volunteered in companion animal protection since 2006.

In Elena's free time, she enjoys traveling and has visited 15 countries.
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Keith Jamieson
Counsel
Keith joined COK's legal team in 2018 after clerking for a federal judge. He stopped eating meat in elementary school, inspired by Lisa Simpson and appalled by a televised game show in which a contestant speared a pig to death onscreen. Keith studied history at the University of Chicago, earned his law degree from Yale, and is admitted to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia. He lives near Boston with his fiancée.
As a hobby, Keith collects old maps of places he's lived. His favorite is a giant pictorial map of his home state, Maryland.
More About Keith!
Radish XVX (Pronouns: They/Them/Their)
PROGRAM MANAGER, BEYOND THE LIES

Radish XVX joined Compassion Over Killing in 2018 as our Beyond The Lies Program Manager. They join us in this capacity after touring with various animal rights organizations since 2012 and managing FARM’s 10 Billion Lives and Have We Been Lied To? Programs in 2017.

These tours have taken Radish all over the United States and allowed them to speak with tens of thousands of people about the issues of animal agriculture. After spending years on the road, they've transitioned into a support and logistics role.

Passionate about animal rights, Radish became vegan at 17, and has been doing human and animal liberation grassroots activism since 2008. Rad likes to spend their free time hanging out with friends, eating all the vegan food, playing video games, and spending time out in nature.
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LaKia Roberts
Office Manager

LaKia Roberts joined COK in January 2018 as Office Manager.

Prior to joining COK, LaKia worked with FARM for 3 years as their Member Communications Manager.

LaKia adopted a vegan diet in 2011, after viewing several documentaries on animal abuse at factory farms.

LaKia lives in the DC area and enjoys spending quality time with her son, as well as patronizing the many DC area vegan restaurants.
More about LaKia!
Stuart McDonald
Creative Writer
Stuart joined Compassion Over Killing in 2018 as a Creative Writer. She holds a B.A. in Social Justice from George Mason University and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Social Justice and Human Rights. Stuart became interested in Animal Rights through her human rights work when she realized that animal issues are interwoven with other social justice topics such as racial justice and environmental sustainability. Plus, she loves animals - especially her cat, Josie.
Prior to joining COK, Stuart worked as a domestic violence advocate for DC SAFE, as executive assistant to consumer advocate Ralph Nader, and a teaching assistant for animal rights, service-learning and social justice courses at GMU.
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Rachel Pawelski
Corporate Campaigns Coordinator

Rachel holds a Master's Degree in Anthrozoology from Canisius College, where she conducted her thesis research determining the effectiveness of a farm sanctuary's vegan advocacy program. She also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Animal Behavior, Ecology and Conservation from Canisius and is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit Honor Society. During her undergraduate studies, she founded and led a Veg Club on campus which played an integral role in the launch of Pitchforks, the college's groundbreaking and fully vegan dining station.

Rachel is also the Exhibits Manager for the Animal Rights National Conference and is highly involved with WNY Vegfest - Buffalo, New York's first and only vegan festival. She previously spent two summers touring with FARM's 10 Billion Lives and Have We Been Lied To? programs, educating others on the plight of farmed animals and advocating for a vegan lifestyle.

Rachel shares her home (and garden) with her human partner, two rescue hounds, cat, and rabbit.
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Hannah Sentenac
Freelance 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 Latest Vegan News, 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