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Brenda speakers pageBrenda Sanders
Vegan Meal Planning
Making The Connection: Sustaining Veganism by Understanding the Big Picture

Brenda Sanders is a community health advocate and the Executive Director of the Better Health, Better Life organization. Her outreach has taken her to many Baltimore communities to conduct healthy living workshops and food demonstrations. Ms. Sanders’ passion for health and wellness is the inspiration for her Passport to Better Health and Eating for Life workshops, in which she teaches how easy, economical and rewarding living a healthy lifestyle can be.

As Executive Director of the Better Health, Better Life organization, Brenda Sanders has made it her mission to bring the healthy living message to people in underserved Baltimore communities. She’s conducted workshops at senior centers and afterschool programs as well as a six-week intensive series of healthy living classes that was completely free and open to the public. Brenda Sanders has teamed up with Open the Cages Alliance for the 2014 Vegan Living Program in an effort to promote the importance of living a healthier, more compassionate lifestyle. Brenda will speak Saturday, March 15th, 2014 at VLP Session 1, and Saturday, April 5th at VLP Session 4.

Dr. Ruby LathonRuby Lathon, PhD
Vegan Nutrition and Meal Planning

Dr. Ruby Lathon is a holistic health and wellness educator who motivates and inspires with her own powerful story of overcoming thyroid cancer through a plant‐based diet. After learning how to care for the body naturally, Dr. Lathon left behind a career as an award‐winning engineer and began teaching the benefits of plant‐based nutrition. Dr. Lathon has over fifteen years experience in business development, artificial intelligence research and development, modeling and simulation optimization strategies. Dr. Lathon also served as Vice President of an engineering and management consulting firm. Prior to that, Dr. Lathon was a Senior Engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, a national security research laboratory, and also served as a Research Fellow at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

She received a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and a B.S. in Computer Science. Dr. Lathon was inducted into the Girl Scouts of Chaparral Council, Hall of Fame: Women in Science, Technology, & Engineering and has received several awards and honors, including the National Society of Black Engineers’ “Technologist of the Year Award,” and was awarded an assistantship from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Lathon then served as Nutrition Policy Manager at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine where she developed and led a national grassroots campaign to advocate legislation formore healthful, plant‐based meal options in the National School Lunch Program.

Dr. Lathon is now a certified holistic nutrition and wellness consultant and advocate for the life‐saving benefits of plant‐based nutrition. Dr. Lathon now teaches others how to re‐engineer their lives to live disease-free.

Dr. Lathon is a dynamic speaker and educator, hosting a number of seminars, workshops and healthful vegan cooking demonstrations and was a speaker at the Congressional Black Caucus Panel, In Pursuit of a Healthier Black America. Dr. Lathon is a health and wellness contributing writer for African American Lifestyle Magazine, and author of the upcoming book, Above the Clouds. Dr. Lathon is also host of The Veggie Chest, a plant‐based cooking show, now featured on and the cable television channel, The Venture Channel. Dr. Lathon will speak Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 at VLP Session 2.

Demosthenes Maratos
Vegan Living and the Environment

Demosthenes Maratos serves as the Communications Director at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, where he has been employed since 2009. Demosthenes has worked in the field of environmental and public policy since 1989. He began his career with the Long Island Neighborhood Network, the New York region’s largest and most active environmental advocacy organization. There, in addition to many successful efforts, he campaigned for the two most significant pieces of pesticide legislation in New York State history - the Neighbor Notification of Pesticide Spraying law and the Safe School Grounds law. Now with the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, Demosthenes is part of a team that provides community education and fosters informed debate on key issues related to sustainability. His work also includes integrating concepts of sustainability into the curriculum, operations and culture at Molloy College and the larger Long Island community.

Demosthenes holds a Bachelor’s degree in both Sociology and Business Management from St. John’s University. In his spare time, he enjoys playing competitive ice hockey, weight lifting and classic muscle cars. He has been an ethical vegan since 1989. Demo will speak Saturday, March 29th, 2014 at VLP Session 3.

Mary FinelliMary Finelli
Focus on Aquatic Life

Mary Finelli is founder and president of Fish Feel, the sole organization devoted exclusively to promoting the recognition of fish as sentient beings deserving of respect and protection. Mary is a long-time animal rights activist, writer and researcher, with a B.S. in Animal Science. She has worked for a number of animal protection organizations, and produced Farmed Animal Watch, a weekly on-line news digest sponsored by various animal protection organizations. Mary has assisted with research for several books and, with Jim Mason, co-wrote a chapter of In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave. She is a top contributor to AR-News, Animal_Net, and other animal rights and vegetarian news listservs. Having previously concentrated her activism on farmed animals, she has chosen to focus on fish since they constitute the greatest number of exploited sentient animals, who suffer some of the worst abuses, yet receive the least protection or attention. Fish Feel primarily serves to help educate the public as to why these animals are deserving of our appreciation, the immense problems caused by their exploitation, and how we can help them. Mary will speak Saturday, March 29th, 2014 at VLP Session 3.

Terry CummingsTerry Cummings
Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary

Terry Cummings is Co-founder of Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary is a 400 acre non-profit refuge for farm animals and wildlife located in Poolesville, Maryland. Their mission is to offer care, rehabilitation, and permanent sanctuary for neglected, abused or abandoned farm animals, to provide protected habitat for wildlife, to furnish information to the public regarding farm animal and wildlife issues, and to promote compassion and humane treatment for all animals. Terry wrote an essay for which is included in Vegan Pledge binders. Terry will speak and lead a tour of Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary Saturday, April 12th, 2014 at VLP Session 5.

Meg GraneyMargaret Graney
Veganism and Spirituality

I grew up with the privilege of a deep connection to the living Earth. It's been through that connection, from an early age, that I've come to understand some fragment of our immense relation to the universe and to each other. This has defined my spirituality.
Coming to Veganism three years ago opened a new door to my heart, and blew apart the walls I had unintentionally built to contain my compassion, empathy and intuition. It challenged the foundations of my identity, and has demanded of me a level of personal honesty that is revolutionary, and deeply spiritual. I believe that veganism offers solutions to every major crisis we face as a species, and on this suffering planet. It's a privilege to be connected to anyone whose spiritual path brings them to veganism, and I'm grateful and honored to be among you. Meg will speak Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 at the Veganism and Spirituality Group Discussion.

Ihsan BeyIhsan Bey
Veganism and Spirituality
Veganize It! Cooking Demonstration

Ihsan Bey has been passionate about vegan food since he was first introduced to vegan cooking in 2003. His understanding of how difficult it can be to transition to a different diet has driven him to specialize in preparing vegan food that nourishes the body AND tantalizes the taste buds.

Chef Bey’s monthly brunches at Grind House Juice Bar attract people from all over the Baltimore area to enjoy a variety of delectable vegan menu items. His dedication to crafting cuisine that exceeds people’s taste expectations has caused many people to declare, “I can’t believe it’s vegan!”

His commitment to spreading the word about how delicious vegan food can be is what motivated Chef Bey to team up with Open the Cages Alliance for the 2014 Vegan Living Program. His goal is to show people that it really is possible to have food that tastes fantastic and makes you feel great too! Ihsan will speak Saturday May 3rd, 2014 at the Veganism and Spirituality Group Discussion, and Saturday May 17th, 2014 at the Veganize It! Cooking Demonstration.

Kyle speakers pageKyle Harvey
Veganize It! Cooking Demo

Kyle Harvey is the owner and operator of Alternative Cultures, which specializes in healthy desserts and smoothies. The company is dedicated to making all natural, delicious, cruelty free foods readily available to people in the Baltimore area and beyond.

He is also an active student of permaculture, which he uses to help empower others to grow food in a way that not only regenerates the earth but improves their own health as well. Kyle’s passion for healthy living has motivated him to serve as a personal coach for people looking to improve their health. Through his work he hopes to enhance the lives of people in Baltimore through education and self-empowerment. Kyle will present a vegan cheese-making demo Saturday, May 17th, 2014 at the Veganize It! Cooking Demonstration.

Nakia PowellNakia Powell
Raw Vegan Foods Demo

Nakia Powell has a passion to speak and share life in everything that she does. She has been a raw foodist for the past 3 years after first being introduced to the lifestyle by her older brother. She is commited to healing her community with the power of living foods, which is what led her to cultivate Nakia's Peace of Life, a raw food company that shares her experiences while educating and supporting others on their journey to self empowerment. Nakia shares her passion for life-filled foods through demonstrations and educational community events. With a positive outlook on life, great energy and a smile that warms your heart Nakia, is an old soul looking to touch and inspire all. Nakia will speak Saturday June 14th, 2014 at the Raw Vegan Foods Demonstration.

Ayoluwa NzingaAyoluwa Nzinga
Juicing and Smoothie Demo

What started as a friendly teenage dare for Milwaukee native Ayoluwa Nzinga (Ayo) to quit eating pork resulted in an exciting vegan lifestyle almost 20 years later. Her diet steered from vegetarian toward vegan about nine years ago after learning of its long-term health benefits. She was also turned off of meat when she realized the negligent diets and treatment many animals endure before they are slaughtered and sold for human consumption. Ayo’s journey brought her from Milwaukee to Baltimore, where she eventually grew to manage the famous (and now gone) vegan restaurant, The Yabba Pot. It was her experience there, coupled with her vision to one day have her own café, that spawned the opening of Grind House Juice Bar & Market in June of 2012. Ayo's flare for style, taste in funky music, and delicious vegan juices and treats draws faithful customers daily. Grind House was voted Best Juice Bar in 2013 by Baltimore’s City Paper. Ayo is on a fresh veggie “roll,” catering to the vitality of Baltimore’s health conscious community 6 days a week. The Grind House Juice Bar & Market Facebook Page stays live with daily specials, helpful recipes, community events, and more. The shop can be frequented Mon–Sat at 2441 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Phone (410) 366-2441. Ayo will speak Saturday July 12th, 2014 at the Juicing and Smoothie Making Demo, and Grind House will host a Juicy Vegan Social onThursday April 3rd.

Greg BrownGregory Brown
Cooking Vegan for Kids Demo

I was born to eat healthy. "Chef Gregory Brown" is almost strange to me. I had no intentions to become a chef. I fell into it by necessity. I’ve always had the vision to own a restaurant that catered to the health conscious crowd, but early on never really know how it would manifest. I became a vegetarian in the late 90’s…cold turkey…pardon the pun. I found a cookbook on vegetarianism and decided to clean out my refrigerator and cabinets of all animal products and be a vegan. The only issue was I had never cooked like this before and some of the foods in the book were completely new to me. I was always taught that you can learn anything and with that mentality, I began to teach myself how to cook. After several years, a friend called me and asked if I knew any vegetarian chefs. She was part of a marketing group that was putting on an event in Baltimore called Jazzy Summer Nights; which consisted of a free jazz concert every first Thursday throughout the summer. She stated that there was a request for vegetarian options for some of the patrons and musicians. I agreed to ask around however after speaking to a couple of chefs, they felt as though there was not enough of a vegetarian market. As I called her back to relay the news, I thought to myself, let me give it a try. At the time, I had never cooked for more than two people. I called it The Vegetarian Kitchen. We were a success and sold out of food every night. No matter how much food we brought out, we sold out every time. I then saw this as a great opportunity to market my own restaurant idea. I took a couple of years to research and put together a business plan, and we returned with The Land of Kush. I study the history of the African Diaspora from time to time and Kush itself is an ancient African civilization. I wanted to bring ancient and natural concepts to our modern society. I felt as though the name Kush fit and added the “The Land” to invoke a sense of community. Baltimore is the ultimate community city; a city of neighborhoods. I wanted the restaurant to have its roots in a city of community. Our next task was to expand the idea to larger festivals, so starting in 2008 we began cooking at the African American Heritage Festival and ArtScape. After receiving even more positive feedback and creating some name brand recognition, we found a location in the Mount Vernon Community. Greg will speak Saturday August 16th, 2014 at the Cooking Vegan for Kids Demonstration.

Rachel SaxonRachel Saxon
Tofu & Seitan Cooking Demonstration

About 8 years ago I started my venture in to a vegan lifestyle. I started with a vegetarian diet first. Health was a big issue. I had a lot of stomach pain and digestion problems. I then began to slowly cut out eggs, milk and cheese, making healing and preventing upper respiratory issues and the common cold and flu much easier. I soon realized that diet was only part of many changes to come. I wanted to share the knowledge I was given with others, so a few years ago my best friend and I started We Call It Love. He showed me all the ropes when it came to things like tofu and vegan living on a budget. Now I am here today to pass on some of that knowledge to anyone wanting to learn how to better themselves and our universe. Peace. Rachel will speak Saturday September 20th, 2014 at the Tofu & Seitan Cooking Demonstration.

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