Panel & Workshop Room


We are busy lining up speakers & panelists for our 2018 event. For 2018, we have listened to your feedback and combined the Speaker & Panel room. this will allow attendees the opportunity to experience more of the speakers, chef demos, and panels offered with less overlap.  

"How to Get Active Locally" Panel from 2017

"How to Get Active Locally" Panel from 2017

While you are waiting for our 2018 lineup, check out the panels from 2017 below!

This is where everyone comes together for thought provoking panels and workshops. Main speakers, chefs, and local community members talk about hot topics in the vegan community right now. 

 Our panels are still being fine tuned! Check back for scheduling and topics as the event draws closer.

Links to Chef Demo Kitchen / Main Speaker Stage

Panel & Workshop Schedule

11:00 AM

Caregiving as Activism: Sanctuary & Animal Care

Rachel Hipp - Co-Founder, Sanctuary Moon

Quincy Markowitz - Board of Directors, The Microsanctuary Movement

Robert Grillo - President and Director, Free From Harm (moderator)

12:00 PM

Intersectionality: What It Is, What It Isn't and Why It's Important For Creating Social Change

Dr. Amie Breeze Harper - Diversity Strategist, Critical Theorist, Public Speaker & Author, Sistah Vegan Project.

Leolin Bowen - Food & Nutrition, HSUS

Jessica Zaehringer - Scholar & Activist, Loyola University 

Clarké Snell - Chicago Grassroots Director, The Humane League (moderator)

1:00 PM

Vegan Health Q&A with Milton Mills, MD

Robert Grillo - President and Director, Free From Harm (moderator)

2:00 PM

The Power of Media: How to effectively Utilize Social Media and Podcasting

Laura vanZandt - Social Media Maven, The Herbivorous Butcher

Dominick Thompson - Founder & Creative Director, Crazies and Weirdos

Andy Tabar  - Co-Founding Beardo, The Bearded Vegans Podcast

Robert Grillo - President and Director, Free From Harm (moderator)

3:00 PM

How to Get Active Locally: Current Local Campaigns and How to Find Local Groups

Clarké Snell - Chicago Grassroots Director, The Humane League

Sandi Swiss - Executive Director, Chicago VeganMania

Jodie Wiederkehr - Founder, Center For Ethical Science & Director of Horse Carriage Campaigns, Chicago Alliance for Animals

Rachel Shippee - Chicago Director, Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (moderator)

4:00 PM

Vegan Chefs Q&A

Heather Bodine-Lederman - Founder of Pie, Pie My Darling

Nahum St Martin - Co-Founder, Ste Martaen

Michael Suchman & Ethan Ciment - Cookbook Authors and bloggers, The Vegan Mos

Marla Rose - Co-Founder, Vegan Street (moderator)

About our Panelists

more coming soon!

Rachel Hipp 2.jpg

Rachel Hipp is a Michigan-based animal rights activist and animal caretaker. Rachel serves as the Board President for the Microsanctuary Movement and is the co-founder of Sanctuary Moon, a 501(c)(3) vegan microsanctuary which has been rescuing formerly “farmed” animals since 2014. Rachel holds two Master’s degrees, a Master’s of Public Administration with a Nonprofit Management concentration and a Master’s of Social Work with a public policy focus. Rachel is passionate about mentoring others interested in starting microsanctuaries and learning more about animal care, while being a lifelong student herself! Rachel resides in Michigan with her husband Ryan, 15 roosters, 7 hens, 4 ducks, 2 goats and 11 cats.


Quincy Markowitz began her journey with farmed animals six years ago, when she visited Heartland Farm Sanctuary (Madison, WI) for the first time and immediately fell head over heels for a rooster named Sonny, began volunteering immediately and was hired soon after. Quincy serves on the Board of Directors for The Microsanctuary Movement and works at Heartland Farm Sanctuary as the Avian Consultant. Quincy earned the first ever, Bachelor’s degree in Animal Welfare through UW-Madison after starting her major in Animal Science and realizing agricultural-based education wasn’t something that aligned with her values as a vegan. Quincy’s education included internships and a focus on ornithology. In 2016, Quincy began her own farmed bird microsanctuary with a focus on domestic birds with special needs. 


Robert Grillo is the founder and director of Free from Harm, a non profit animal rescue, education and advocacy organization. Free from Harm excels at online activism: building an online community, publishing content that serves activists as well as the general public on its 700-plus page web site, and syndicating its content to search engines, websites and social media touchpoints. Grillo has a professional background as a creative consultant, integrating his 20 years of marketing and design experience into his animal advocacy strategy. He also enjoys organizing movie nights and activist events and speaks on chickens, overcoming objections to a vegan lifestyle and popular culture. Robert loves exploring the outdoors, hiking, biking, hanging out in cafés, and creative vegan cooking.


Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a diversity strategist and analyst with Critical Diversity Solutions and the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project.Dr. Harper has a PhD in Social Science with emphasis on leveraging diversity challenges for social impact. She holds a MA in Educational Technologies (emphasis in black feminist theory, social impact, and educational technologies) from Harvard University, where she received the Dean’s Award for her masters thesis work. She earned her BA in feminist geography from Dartmouth College and received the Innovative Thesis award for her work on heterosexism in rural geographies. She has 10+ years career experience as a diversity and inclusion consultant, ranging from curriculum development, to conference planning, to research and reporting, to publishing books and articles. Harper is also an accomplished writer.

Dr. Harper created and edited the ground-breaking anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society. Her most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

In 2016, Dr. Harper’s latest book Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through the 'Post-Racial' Ethical Foodscape will be released. You can learn more about her professional work at and her publications 


Leolin Bowen is a Food and Nutrition Specialist for The Humane Society of the United States. Leolin has collaborated with some of the nation’s most influential school districts and higher education institutions to develop and implement innovative plant-based meal programs. Her writings on plant based eating have been published in media such as Momma Cuisine and Chicago-Woman and she also has been featured on Black Vegans Rock and Chroma Kitchen. Leolin was one of the co-founders of the Chicago Veggie Pride Parade and was a content manager and writer for the website The Vegan Woman. When she is not working to get more plants on people’s plates, she is spending time with her son or exploring her local museums.


“Jess” Zaehringer was born and raised in Chicago. In 2010 she took a year off of school to work with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) promoting veganism all over the country. After returning to the Midwest, Jessica obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in psychology and sociology. In the winter of 2014, Jessica spent the entirety of her final college break before graduating, working alongside staffers at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Federal Affairs and Legislative Funds working on mobilizing membership for key legislative initiatives on Capitol Hill. After graduating, Jessica was hired at the political fundraising firm, specifically for the Kennedy Forum, a nonprofit focusing on removing the stigma from mental health. Succeeding the contract position, Jessica worked in New Jersey with HSUS’s Public Policy Department on efforts to pass legislation to ban gestation crates on New Jersey factory farms. Following the end of the #S998 Campaign, Jessica was hired as an Organizer for Sierra Club - Illinois Chapter, where she focused on conservation and political campaigns. Jessica’s work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and on WGN News Chicago.

Jessica is a dual-degree graduate student at Loyola University Chicago, where she serves as a Graduate Student Advisory Council Representative. Jessica is pursuing her master's degree (MA) in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies in addition to a master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) with a specialization in mental health.

Recently, Jessica was awarded 1st place for Loyola’s School of Social Work 2017 Annual Student Clinical Practice Writing Award competition. Currently, Jessica is finishing up her last year of classes at Loyola and completing her final clinical placement at RUSH University Medical Center as the Psychiatric Social Work Care Coordinator. Jessica is looking forward to graduating in May 2018.


Clarke' Snell is the Chicago Grassroots Director for The Humane League (THL) & on the Advisory Council/Board for Encompass. Originally from NY, she moved to Chicago last summer to start THL's first Midwest office! The Humane League's work here in Chicago ranges from giving presentations in colleges and community centers, working on campaigns to reshape the industrial agriculture industry, hosting community outreach (like The Activist Olympics), networking (like Campaign & Coffee's/Work Parties), fundraising (like the gala), and engagement opportunities (like Chicago Vegan Drinks), and doing education and outreach in areas of Chicago that are typically under-served. When she's not working, you can find her at an ice rink, training personally or coaching her students, at a hospital or birth center assisting mothers through labor, or going on hikes, bike rides, or other various adventures with her partner.


Milton R. Mills, M.D., serves as Associate Director of Preventive Medicine for the
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a North American group
of doctors and laypersons dedicated to promoting improved health care, better
and more appropriate nutrition, and higher standards in medical research.
Dr. Mills practices outpatient clinic-based medicine in Northern Virginia and works
as a Critical Care physician with Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia and United
Medical Center in Washington DC. His varied experience specializing in Internal
Medicine and HIV disease, and in the relationship between nutrition and chronic
diseases has made him extensively knowledgeable about the unique healthcare
needs of minorities, the challenges of practicing medicine in inner cities, and the
special medical and nutritional requirements of HIV+ and AIDS patients.
As an African-American physician focusing on preventive medicine, Dr. Mills has
delved into some of the environmental and societal influences affecting the health
of African Americans and other racial/ethnic minorities. Dr. Mills has lectured and
given research seminars across the United States and in Mexico and Canada on
such topics as the negative impacts of meat and dairy consumption on human
health; nutrition and HIV/AIDS; nutrition and cancer; and the dietary needs of
various ethnic groups.
Dr. Mills, who graduated in 1991 from Stanford University School of Medicine,
began working with AIDS patients while still in school. He also served as student
body president of the medical school, founded the Minority Students' Alliance,
and worked as Editor-in-chief and Managing editor of the Stanford Medical School
newspaper. He did his internship at the University of California-San Francisco, and
completed his residency training at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington,
Dr. Mills' papers on race and diet have appeared in the Journal of the National
Medical Association.